5 Secret Things To Do at Universal Studios Hollywood

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On my recent Easter visit to Universal Studios Hollywood, I discovered I had not nearly exhausted things to do at the studios despite it being my sixth tour of the venue.

I had a blast and decided to share my unique experiences on what to look out for on your next visit.

Here are the top 5 secret things to do at Universal Studios Hollywood to maximize your tour experience.

1. Power Up at Super Nintendo World

The breathtaking Super Nintendo World was officially opened on 17th February 2023, much to the delight of Mario fans.

To have a wholesome experience at Super Nintendo World, purchase one of the six different designs of the Power Up Band and sync it with Universal Studios Hollywood app. 

The interactive wristband comes in handy during the Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, where it collects your digital coins as well as keeps individual and team scores.

Moreover, it tracks all the challenges you’ve won including:

  • Goomba Crazy Crank
  • Koopa Troopa POWer Punch
  • Piranha Plant Nap Mishap
  • Thwomp Panel Panic

You need at least three keys from the challenges to square it out with Browser Jr in the final battle for the coveted Golden Cup.

Thanks to the Power Up band, you can repeat the Key Challenges multiple times to increase your best score rankings.

Besides, the band enhances your immersive experience when you meet with Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach during various sectors of the Mushroom Kingdom.

2. Get Up Close And Personal On The Studio Tour

Having taken the Studio Tour several times on General and Express tickets before, I went all in on the VIP ticket this time.

Instead of the slow trot as the tram approached the TV and movie sets, we were allowed to get off the VIP bus for a memorable behind-the-scenes tour.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour

The stop was a pleasant surprise since I had not anticipated it, and our tour guide had not mentioned it beforehand.

My favorite prop area was from the iconic Tom Cruise movie, War of The Worlds, with the set of the thriller, Jaws, coming in a close second.

The awe and excitement were visible across my entire tour group just standing on the original locations used for classic and award-winning movies and shows.

We were lucky to stumble upon an active shoot near Little Europe sets, but no filming/photography was allowed.  

We were all blown away by the magnificence of these sets, and the tons of photos taken started flooding the gram as soon as we got back on the bus.

The bus is air-conditioned, and complimentary chilled water couldn’t wash down the exhilaration. 

3. Have Lunch at the Moulin Rouge

After the Studio Tour, we went for lunch at the Moulin Rouge, an exclusive restaurant for VIP ticket holders.

The restaurant has private chefs, fantastic buffet options, an adequate dining area, and a place to plug in phones.

Universal Studios Hollywood Moulin Rouge

The food is fresh, and being a foodie, I had to go for another slice of their sumptuous barbeque pork pizza.

Besides, they have plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, ensuring even those with dietary restrictions have a bite.

The dessert options are also impressive; the chocolate-dipped strawberry I ate was hands down the best I have ever tried.

With a full platter, I settled at a table adjacent to a window taking in the superb aerial view of the surrounding valley and Super Nintendo World.

I particularly loved their alcoholic policy, which states you must be 21+ and provide a valid photo ID to purchase alcoholic beverages from any venue, VIP or not.

4. Explore the Universal CityWalk Hollywood

The breathtaking CityWalk has to be the least explored section of Universal Studios Hollywood, as most visitors tend to leave in a hurry after the theme park rides.

The Universal Cinema has one of the most immersive movie experiences with a 7-story IMAX with 4K laser projection and Dolby Atmos multidimensional sound. Watching a film here is quite literally like being on the movie set. 

The Universal CityWalk Hollywood

Watch electrifying performances at the 5 Towers Stage, which hosts daily shows. It is a futuristic concert venue with 5,000 LED lights beaming on stage and a booming sound system.

Away from the theatre, the fascinating CityWalk fountain makes for jaw-dropping solo and family entertainment with its brilliant display of dancing water and Technicolor lights.

CityWalk is a shopping haven for souvenirs and merchandise that can quickly max out your credit card, and the food scene is also top-notch, with 20+ restaurants to sample from.

The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen is a must-visit. A Steampunk-inspired setting and a 19th-century theme provide an enchanting dining atmosphere with various savory menu options.

You can officially get married or renew vows at the cheeky Voodoo Doughnut. The establishment has crazy but creative doughnut options and witty phrases on its products, which makes it a fan favorite.

Being an Italian food lover, I couldn’t resist walking into the VIVO Italian Kitchen, which expertly prepares heirloom family recipes. The Chicken Picatta and the Pannacotta dessert dazzled my taste buds.

5. Start with the Lower Lot

You have to be unconventional to avoid crowds and maximize your experience. As most people start in the Upper Lot, do the reverse to save time.

Universal Studios Hollywood Lower Lot

The rides and attractions in the Lower Lot are: 

  • Jurassic World: The Ride
  • Raptor Encounter
  • Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride
  • Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge
  • Power-Up Band Key Challenges
  • Transformers: The Ride 3D

If the lower lot is open, start with these rides first since they are popular, and the lines get longer during the afternoon as people troop down there.

For visitors with children, the different rides have a minimum height restriction ranging from 40 to 48 inches.

However, sometimes these rides can start an hour late after the gates open.

Consequently, start with the Wizarding World since it usually opens first and is also notorious for long lines up to the afternoon. Remember to revisit at sundown to witness the spectacular Wizarding World of Harry Porter light show.

Bonus Tip: Enjoy Frozen Margaritas at Duff Beer Garden

The Duff Brewery Beer Garden is an excellent alternative to the infamous Moe’s Bar. I learned this tip during Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Festival.

While the menus and pricing are identical (almost) in both establishments, Duff Beer exclusively serves frozen margaritas for 15 bucks giving it an edge over Moe’s Bar during the warmer months.

Besides, unlike Moe’s, the open-air bar has no long queues and plenty of ample seating.

The table umbrellas come in handy in summer, providing much relief from the scolding LA sun, with the topiaries of the Seven Duffs gleefully watching over you as you take gulps from your pint.

Final Word

While more than one tour to Universal Studios Hollywood is required, purchasing a VIP ticket is the best way of exploring and experiencing the theme park on your first visit.

The private tour guides know the place inside, all the tips, and the secret things to do at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Besides, from stepping on to behind-the-scenes movie sets, jumping to the front of waiting lines, free ponchos on entry into Jurassic World, complimentary valet parking, and eating at an exquisite private restaurant, isn’t it worth it? Enjoy your visit!

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