Universal Studios Hollywood is a popular vacation destination and a great day to add on to your current Disneyland vacation. We've found the best Universal Studios discount tickets and compiled all your options in one guide so you can save on general admission.
Universal Studios Hollywood Basic Information
Universal Studios Hollywood is a popular theme park destination in Los Angeles, California and is about 35 miles from Disneyland. Realistically, the drive to Universal from the Disneyland area can take closer to 90 minutes depending on LA traffic.
Universal Studios Hollywood is smaller than Universal Orlando but is known for being a working studio first and a theme park second. It's also the place to ride the famous Studio Tour where you get a tour of actual movie/tv sets on the backlot of the park. It is also one of the first Universal theme parks with one of the oldest movie studios in the area. The theme park features popular movie themes and attractions including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic World, Despicable Me, Transformers, the Simpsons, and more. There are also a variety of quality stage show entertainment to enjoy such as the famous Water World show. Universal Studios Hollywood also has an adjacent CityWalk district which offers popular restaurants, entertainment, and shopping.
Universal Studios Hollywood is split into two main areas called lots that connect by a large escalator. Each lot includes these popular attractions:
- Upper Lot: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Boulevard, Minon Way, Sprinfield U.S.A, Studio Tour, and Streets of the World.
- Lower Lot: Jurassic World, Revenge of the Mummy, and the Transformers 3D ride.
The lower lot is the smaller of the two areas with most of the food and entertainment happening in the upper lot. The lower lot has been greatly improved in the past year with the transformation of the Jurassic World ride to add more dinosaur encounters and Jurassic Park themed food. I always recommend heading to the lower lot first when you arrive as those attraction wait times don't get longer until the afternoon.
There are a variety of great experiences aside from attractions (but whatever you do, don't miss Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey!) such as stage shows, entertainment, character meet and greets, dining, and seasonal events.
How to Beat the Lines with the Express Pass
The Express Pass at Universal is a common topic of debate but it's the one way to beat the lines if you're willing to pay the price. The Express Pass lets you skip to the front of the line by offering a separate line queue for guests that purchase this pass. The purchases are limited each day so that way these separate lines are always drastically shorter than the regular line. This system is similar to Disney's FastPass system where essentially you get to cut down the length of time spent in the queue for popular attractions.
One of the most asked questions about the Universal Express tickets: is it worth it? This is hard to answer because it really depends on your personal preference, budget, and how much time you plan on spending at Universal. If you plan on spending two days at the park then I don't think it's necessary. However, if you only have one day to spend and it's a busy time of year- the purchase would be worth it. Lines at Universal can get quite long during popular times of the year such as summer, spring break, and holidays.
If you're looking to see Universal Studios Hollywood on a budget, here are some tips to help you save money and still see all the attractions:
- Buy discounted passes: not always but on certain days you can get same day discounted Express Passes from the box office. Usually these passes are only valid after 2pm or 4pm. So if you arrive later in the day, this can be a great way to beat the lines at a lower cost.
- Use single rider: if you're okay with being split up from your group, some of the most popular attractions use single rider. Single rider is a system theme parks use to fill empty seats on ride cars. You will wait in a separate line and then be split up from your group and placed in empty seats as needed. The rides that offer single rider at Universal are: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Revenge of the Mummy, and Transformers 3D.
- Arrive early: if you get to Universal 30 minutes or an hour before opening time, you can be first in line for many of the most popular attractions. If you can get a few of these checked off your list before the crowds arrive around 11AM, you'll be in good shape.
The Universal Express Tickets Pass typically costs about $70 per person depending on the time of the year. The price will fluctuate depending on the season with peak times of the higher resulting in higher cost.
*In the past, our travel partner Get Away Today has offered reduced prices for the Universal Express Tickets Pass. This offer is currently not available right now but keep checking back to see if it returns.
Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Experience
The Universal Studios Hollywood VIP experience is for guests looking to splurge and be treated like royalty for a day. The VIP experience includes your one day admission, a special small group guided tour of the world famous backlot, access to restricted areas, a light continental breakfast and big buffet lunch, valet parking, and unlimited express access tickets access to all attractions with the VIP tour guide.
Your itinerary for the day with the VIP experience typically will play out like this:
- After using the valet parking, you will be escorted into a breakfast area that overlooks the front entrance of the park.
- Once breakfast is finished, you will either start your tour or enjoy the Universal Express Pass in the park to ride attractions.
- Your VIP tour trolley will be in a small group with an average of about 10-15 people and two tour guides.
- After the tour you can either stay with your tour guide or go off on your own with your express access.
- At lunch time, you'll receive your large gourmet buffet in a private VIP dining room with the rest of the members of your group and tour.
The VIP Experience always gets rave reviews by anyone that experiences it. But be prepared to splurge, especially if you have a large group. One ticket ranges from $349-$409 depending on the time of year you visit the theme park. This experience is only available for ages 5 and up.
*In the past, our travel partner Get Away Today has offered cheap tickets on the VIP Universal Studios Experience. This offer is currently not available right now but keep checking back to see if it returns.
Where can I get discount Universal Studios Hollywood tickets?
Here are all the best ways to save on general admission for Universal Studios Hollywood tickets with our exclusive offers, discounts, and resources for all possibilities to save you the most money on your vacation.
1 Approved Ticket Reseller Get Away Today
The best ticket prices available for tickets for Universal Studios in Hollywood are from the authorized ticket reseller, Get Away Today. They have the best ticket prices around and fantastic customer service. And they are always offering exclusive ticket sales!
To offer a Universal Studio ticket discount, Get Away Today purchases huge blocks of tickets and breaks them up to sell to guests. Don't get caught paying the general admission price when you can get a tickets to Universal Studios at a lower price from them. All tickets are sent electronically to save guests the hassle of going to a ticket booth to pick up will call tickets and no way to forget them at home. If you book your ticket at least two days before you arrive to Universal you can ensure they are processed in time for your first day of vacation.
Get Away Today also offers layaway plans that allows guests to make as many payments as you would like on your vacation up to five days before the departure date. The first payment requires a minimum payment of $175, including the layaway plan fee, guests can then decide how many payments they'd like to make. The vacation is held until the final payment is made for ticket and hotel which makes this a great option for families to be able to plan and save for their trip.
Pro Tip: Most guests bundle a day at Universal Studios Hollywood with their Disneyland vacation and Get Away Today offers low prices for combo tickets that include a discount Universal Studios Hollywood 1-day ticket along with a Disneyland ticket for 2 or 3 days. See ticket listing here>
2 Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Pass
Universal Studios Hollywood has an annual pass program that can be a great way to save money on your visit to Universal. If you plan on spending a few days at Universal or are a local resident, these passes are a great way to save money due to all the perks offered. Annual Passes can be purchased in advance on the park website.
The four types of Annual Pass/Season Passes are:
California Neighbor Pass
This is the lowest tiered annual pass so it has more block out admission dates that includes some weekends, holidays, summary days, and spring break. You get an average of 35 weekend days a year with this pass.
This pass is $159 when purchased at the gate and $149 when purchased online.
Silver Annual Pass
This pass has less block out admission days than the California Neighbor Pass that includes some weekends, all holidays, summer dates, and spring break. You get around 60 weekend days in a year with this pass and you can come any date for your first visit.
This pass is $189 when purchased at the gate and $179 when purchased online.
Gold Annual Pass
The Gold Annual Pass has various blackout admission dates but less than lowered tiered passes, 15% off park merchandise and food, and free general parking. While there are black out dates for many weekends and holidays, you get around 75 weekend days in a year with this pass and you can come any date for your first visit.
This pass is $319 when purchased at the gate and $309 when purchased online.
Platinum Annual Pass
The Platinum Annual Pass includes no blackout admission dates, free parking, 15% discount on merchandise and dining, a ticket to Halloween Horror nights on select nights, a ticket to the New Years Eve celebration, free general parking, and a Platinum Annual Pass lanyard.
3 Annual Passholder Universal Studios Hollywood Discounts
Annual Passholders can get a Universal Studios tickets discount for $1 off 1-day tickets for up to six people at the ticket booths. If you purchase tickets on the website, passholders can get a Universal Studios ticket discount of $15 off park admission for up to six people.
Once purchasing and activating your Annual Pass in person you will have to wait 24-48 hours before you can use the Universal Studios tickets discounts. Once that time has passed simply create an account on the passholder website.
4 Military Universal Studios Discount Tickets
Like most theme parks military can receive Universal Studio tickets discount for all serving and inactive members of the armed forces and their families. This Hollywood Studios Universal discount amounts to $3 off the general park admission for you day in Los Angeles.
To secure the best Universal Studio discount ticket for military members you need to plan in advance:
- Purchase your tickets to Universal Studios at your local MWR/ITT ticket office. If your local base ticket office does not have the Universal tickets in stock, they can try to order more for you. Usually a ticket office can secure tickets within five business days for you. Call ahead if you can.
- You can also order your tickets over the phone from Commander, Navy Region, Southwest by calling (619) 767-6000. Your tickets will arrive in about 6-7 business days. You can also pay for overnight shipping on your Universal Studios tickets.
You can read more about the general admission Universal Studios Hollywood military discount on their park website.
5 University Universal Studios Hollywood Discount Tickets
Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles has a discount program for select universities to access discount theme park tickets and annual passes. You can find the list of eligible schools listed out on their website.
In order to get access to discounts for park admission you must register with your school provided email. Although some schools prefer that these general admission park tickets be purchased on campus in the student tickets office.
6 Rewards Programs for Universal Tickets
There is a variety of rewards programs for you redeem points for park admission to Universal Studios Hollywood. It helps to plan in advance before your trip using these reward programs so you can secure these general admission tickets.
- American Express Rewards Points can be redeemed for one day child and adult tickets. Let me caution you that both a child and adult ticket cost the same amount of points, meaning that there has to be a better deal with your points somewhere else.
- Canadian Air Miles can be redeemed for Universal Studios Hollywood one day tickets on their website.
- Various other credit card redemption websites. Be sure to check your own credit card for information on redeeming points for a Universal Studios ticket.
7 Southern California Resident Discounts
At select times Universal Studios Hollywood will offer Southern California Residents living in zip codes 90000-93599 discounts on annual passes and general admission tickets. Your best bet is to watch the Universal Studios Hollywood website for these park discounts when they become available.
There are currently no Southern California specific Universal Studios park discounts for Southern California residents.
8 AARP Universal Studios Discount Tickets
The AARP, or American Association of Retired Persons, offers their members discounts on Universal Studios park general admission. These discounts can be found through the AARP Travel Center that is curated by Expedia.
9 Universal Studios Discount Tickets Coke Can
In the past Universal Studios Hollywood offered coupon codes on the sides of Coca-Cola cans but they haven't run in years because of how this world-famous studio has increased in popularity.
When this Universal Studios Hollywood Coke Can promotion was running you could get a $15 discount off of the park admission price.
This Universal Studios Hollywood tickets discount hasn't run in awhile and we don't anticipate it returning anytime soon.
Universal Studios Hollywood Frequently Asked Questions
There are many frequently asked questions guests for planning their Los Angeles vacation and receiving the best Universal Studios Hollywood discount tickets.
Is it cheaper to buy Universal Studios Hollywood tickets online or at the gate?
As with most general admission tickets, you will always get discounts off admission when you purchase in advance. You will often save about $10 per park ticket and you must purchase your park admission 24 hours in advance to get the discounts. But this option does lock you into a specific date so be sure you know which day you'll be in Los Angeles before choosing.
How much is general admission to Universal Studios Hollywood?
Universal Studios Hollywood Gate Prices:
- 1-day tickets for ages 10 and up range from $109-$129 based on the date and $103-$123 for ages 3-9. Kids under 3 are free.
- 2-day Universal Studios tickets for ages 10 and up range from $149-$169 and $143-163 for ages 3-9. Kids under 3 are free.
Keep in mind that your ticket price is determined by the day of your visit- less popular days are cheaper while high peak times are going to be on the more expensive end of the ticket. Another great reason to book with Get Away Today! You can use these general admission tickets portion of the guide to help you price check the discounts in our guide.
How much is parking at Universal Studios Hollywood?
If you plan on driving to Universal Studios, the only way to get discounts on parking is if you have a higher tiered annual pass. Otherwise parking will cost $25 for general parking, $35 for preferred parking, and $50 for front gate parking. Prices will go down in price after 5PM with $10 for general parking, $20 for preferred, and front gate for $30.
How much is Universal Studios pass at Costco?
You can find Universal Studios Hollywood discount tickets at various Costco stores that sometimes may carry cheaper tickets during the slower times of the year. But this discount isn't too reliable as it varies depending on season and park attendance. Since Universal added the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it's harder to find these Universal Studios Hollywood discount tickets.
You can also find discounts for the Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Passes at certain times in the year. It's harder to find discounts for these passes so it's great to grab them when you get the chance.
The Costco Universal Studios Tickets and Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Pass are a members only items on Costco.com.
How much are AAA Universal Studios tickets?
You can find slight discounts for members of AAA (and the Canadian equivalent- CAA) for Universal tickets. Members can get $3 off admission into Universal Studios Hollywood at the front gate and 10% off many locations at Universal CityWalk restaurants.
You will get the best discount price when you purchase your tickets in advance on the AAA and CAA joint website.
How much is the Universal Express Pass?
The Express Pass price varies with the season. You can see the current price for express access on the Universal Studios Hollywood website. Typically the cost for express tickets is around $70 per ticket.
How much is the VIP Experience?
One VIP Experience ticket ranges from $349-$409. This experience is only available for ages 5 and up.
Universal Studios Hollywood Planning Tips
The best way to to experience a great day is to research your trip in advance! Here are some tips we've learned from experience when it comes to experiencing all the fun at Universal.
Buy the Express Pass
If you're only planning a day to see the park during a busy time of year, consider purchasing the Express Pass. If you visit on a day that is extraordinarily busy, upgrading to the Express Pass is worth it. Similar to Disneyland's FastPass, Express Pass is a way to beat the long lines by entering a quicker priority line. You can wait until you arrive to gauge how busy it is but keep in mind they only sell a limited amount- this is what helps keeps the Express Pass lines short.
Use Single Rider
If you and your party don't mind being split up, using the single rider line can be a great way to beat the crowds and limit time spent in line. Universal uses this line to fill in empty spots in ride vehicles so they're never sending any empty seats through the ride. If you don't want the expense of the Express Pass, this is a great way to beat the lines. You can use single ride for the following rides:
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride
- Transformers: The Ride 3D
Arrive early and plan ahead to get the most done and maximize your time. Getting to the gates 30 minutes prior to opening is enough to get you ahead of the crowd. Plan your day so you know where to head first.
Prioritize Harry Potter
If Harry Potter is at the top of your list, make that your priority in the morning. Head straight to Ollivander's to do the wand experience- don't wait until later in the day because once that line builds it never lets up. After that head straight to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey!
Don't Skip the Studio Tour
This is the most unique part of the whole theme park. Since Universal is a working studio first and a theme park second, experiencing the Studio Tour is pretty cool to witness. Save this tour for the afternoon when the sun starts warming up. You will be sitting down on a shaded tram for the duration of the tour making it a perfect time to rest and cool off.
Do the Lower Lot First
Since Universal is built on a literal hill- you have these large escalators taking you from the top to the bottom of the separate lots. There are some great views on the way but it can be time consuming taking about 10 minutes each way to get to both areas. Do all the rides in the lower lot at once so you don't have to make the trip down again. In the morning this area is quite empty making it possible to ride some of those popular rides like The Mummy repeatedly!
See a Show
Sometimes guests can get caught up in the rides, shopping, and dining and forget to see the shows! This has happened to us before and we immediately regretted it. Definitely take the time to see one of the Hollywood quality stunt shows like Waterworld. The afternoon and evening is the best time to take in the shows while mornings are better spent tackling the popular rides.
If you plan on visiting during the Halloween or Holiday season, Universal has really amped up their decorations and activities for seasonal events.
Their big event of the year is the Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights. This Halloween event is geared towards adults looking for crazy terrifying mazes and performances by the most frightening films and shows. This event usually runs through September to the beginning of November and is a separate ticketed event.
Universal Studios has two main events to celebrate the holiday season: Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Grinchmas inspired by the classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss. Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter runs from the end of November through the beginning of January while Grinchmas occurs on select dates in December. Both events feature holiday entertainment, a nightly dark show on Hogwarts castle, special meet and greets, a 60 foot tall Grinchmas treet, and snow fall in Hogsmeade.
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