Alex and I took a day trip to Universal Studios Hollywood right before the first of the year to check out the new-to-us areas of the park and to enjoy a long weekend away from the office. We got annual passes (there was a great offer for Southern California residents that was discounted through my work) and decided this trip would be a good opportunity to get our bearings so we can dive in on future trips.
I haven’t been in the park since grade school, rides like E.T. and Backdraft were still there when I went and the Jurassic Park ride was brand new! The park is so different now! There is an area for Dr. Suess, The Simpsons, Harry Potter, Shrek, and Transformers. Alex hasn’t been in years either, so we considered this a “first trip” for both of us.
Before I talk about the park, I have to talk about my tank top. My parents got me three tanks from Jorandene for Christmas and I knew I needed to wear my Mischief Managed tank to Universal Studios because this would be my first time seeing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I wanted to be dress appropriately. The tank tops are super soft and the color combinations are beautiful. All the products on the website are made in the United States and the shirts are hand screened in Brooklyn. I love that there are different fandoms represented in the shop and styles available for adults and kids. Honestly, check them out.
Before we even parked the car (it was 10 a.m. and we had to park on the roof of one of the “cheap” structures), we knew we were in over our heads and underestimated the crowds. We got through the gates and I buried my face in the map so we could find our way to the Harry Potter area. We passed a large sign showing the wait times for the different rides and attractions in the park and most of the rides were over an hour and a half…with one of the Harry Potter rides being a 240 minute wait. Yes, a four hour wait.
Instead of joining the long lines and committing most of our day to one thing, we tried to explore Hogsmeade. The area is very small and there were so many people walking around that it was a little difficult to walk around. Thankfully, it looked like Honeydukes would be a good place to start.
We walked through the other stores and took note of the different things available next time we visit. If you visit on a very busy day, make sure to have cash with you in case you want a Butterbeer and the lines are long. One of the stations (there were two the day we were there) had some drinks available for cash so you didn’t have to stay in line for long. We weren’t able to get a souvenir cup this way, but it was worth the shorter wait!
I think Alex’s favorite part of the park was the Simpsons area, which is super cute and the attention to detail was great. I saw the city symbol and new I needed a quick photo of it. One of the things I love about Disneyland is the insane attention to detail and it was nice to see some of that at Universal Studios. We didn’t go on any rides in this area but we will be back to find one of the Marge Simpson pretzels!
We did end up waiting about and hour and a half for the backlot tour. The tour lasts about an hour, so it seemed like a good trade off and the line moves pretty quickly, so you’re not just sitting in one spot for long, which is nice. The tour is a little different than what we remember from years ago and the 4D additions for King Kong and The Fast and the Furious were really cool. Part of the backlot is set up for The Good Place which was really cute because every other store is a frozen yogurt place.
Our proudest thing about this trip: Taking in enough snacks that we only bought coffee and the Butterbeer while in the park. We will buy an interactive wand eventually and I know I want to try some of the snacks in the Simpsons area! I added our next Universal date to our calendar for next month and I hope the crowds will be less than when we were there so we can hopefully get on more rides.
Here’s to more close-to-home adventures in 2017.