Summer Family Fun: Universal Studios Hollywood

"The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle" at "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" - Universal Studios Hollywood -- Hufflepuff house featured

Universal Studios is located just minutes from Burbank making the amusement park the perfect family adventure this summer. With the recent release of Jurassic World Dominion, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, and the upcoming release of Minions: The Rise of Gru on July 1st, Universal Studios Hollywood is a great place to get up close with characters and interactive rides from the hottest movies of 2022.

Photo by Ashley Erikson

When visiting the park I highly recommend upgrading your tickets to Universal Express passes.   Summer lines can get really long and it’s not unusual to wait 50-60 minutes for a ride. With the Express passes you get one-time express access to each ride, attraction and show.  The passes helped us to get on every ride almost immediately and see every show during our visit to the park, so it’s a must when visiting during peak season.

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is an area of the park that has been fully transformed into the magical realm of witches and wizards.  Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry sits atop a rocky mountain while below the shops of Hogsmeade are alive with guests purchasing their wands from Ollivanders, their school robes from Gladrags Wizardwear, their Quidditch gear from Dervish and Banges, and of course a chocolate from from Honeydukes.  While exploring Hogsmeade, purchasing Butterbeer is a must. We especially love the frozen option and it’s a great way to cool down and enjoy a sweet treat on these hot summer days.  Even the bathrooms in Hogsmeade are themed and inside you will hear water bubbling and the cries of Moaning Myrtle.

Photo by Ashley Erikson

One of our favorite shops to visit and experience is “Ollivanders™, Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC.” The experience takes groups of guests through the wand shop where the wand shop wizard picks one very special child to fit them for a wand.  Of course things go awry as the wand does not match the wizard, but eventually the right wand is chosen and a magical display of lights and sounds beam down on the chosen child.  The wands sold inside Ollivanders can be used around Hogsmeade to interact with shop windows, igniting sounds and movement activated by the precise flick of your wand.

On the lower lot of the park you’ll find all things Jurassic World including the ride featuring an Indominus rex and an 84 foot drop that is sure to put you in the splash zone. The area also gets you up close with Blue, the velociraptor from the Jurassic World movie trilogy.  The Raptor Encounter lets you meet and take pictures with Blue, while other times of the day you can meet a baby raptor or a giant triceratops that trots around the park with its keepers. 

Photo by Ashley Erikson

Next to the ride you’ll find Isla Nu-Bar, which is a fun play on the words Isla Nubar, the island where the dinosaurs of Jurassic World are known to be.  The bar offers tropical adult beverages in collective tiki cups that are topped with an edible orchid flower.  It’s a nice little break for parents in the day when you’re trekking kids around the park. You can sip your cocktail while the kids explore the Dino Play Area. In the play area cargo nets, ladders, and fossils transform kids into mini paleontologists while getting out some extra energy.

Jurassic World Ride. Photo by Ashley Erikson

If you are visiting between July 2nd and July 4th, you will get to experience the spectacular fireworks show put on by the park at 9:00pm each night.  The elaborate fireworks display will be played to the sounds of Universal-themed music and patriotic favorites in two areas of the park.  The Nightie Lights at Hogwarts Castle is also back so if you are staying late make sure to venture back over to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” and watch the castle come alive with lights and music.

Triwizard Spirit Rally. Photo by Ashley Erikson

Other Fun Things to Check Out:

  1. Triwizard Spirit Rally: Happening a few times a day, students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang compete with ribbon dancing and stick fights.
  2. Take Pictures with Characters:  Keep your eye out for Scooby Doo and the gang, Doc from Back to the Future, Frankenstein, Dracula, Shrek and Fiona, Poppy from Trolls, King Julien and more.
  3. Special Effects Show:  Starting July 1st the show is back open to the public but will only be available until August 14th so make sure you hurry over.
  4. Waterworld Splash Zone:  The live action show of the 90s film, Waterworld, is one of the best shows in my opinion.  Sitting in the splash zone is sure to get you soaked and help you cool down on those hot summer days.
  5. Giant donuts: Get the giant pink donut in the Simpson’s area at Lard Lad Donuts. This donut is bigger than your head and will absolutely feed an entire family!
  6. Meet the Minions: From now until July 17th you can meet your favorite minions outside the “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Ride”.  Keep your eye out for the newest Minion, Otto, and everyone’s favorites: Jerry and Dave.