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Universal Studios Hollywood wait times and how to avoid them

Universal Studios Hollywood gets almost 10 million visitors every year, and on peak days, more than 35,000 guests try out its rides, shows, and attractions. 

This massive crowd results in long queues at the ticket counters outside the gate and lots of waiting at the rides and shows inside.

Visitors can avoid wasting their time at the ticket counter queues by purchasing their General Admission Tickets or Universal Express Tickets online. 

However, avoiding the queues at the rides and shows isn’t as straightforward. 

In this article, we share everything you must know about Universal Studios Hollywood wait times and how to avoid them.

Average crowd level by month

At Universal Studios Hollywood, the peak season is April to August – crowd starts increasing by April, peaks in July, and tapers off in August. 

During these months, irrespective of it being a weekend or weekday, the wait times are sure to be high. 

If you are visiting during the peak months, it is better to get Universal Studios Express Pass, which gets you one-time express access to each ride, attraction, and show. Buy Express Pass!

If cost isn’t a concern and you want the best treatment at the theme park, you can opt for the VIP Experience Tour.

March, September, and October are the shoulder season, which means they see a moderate crowd, with limited waiting at all the rides. 

During the shoulder months, weekdays are relatively easy, but weekends are still heavily crowded. 

December again peaks at March levels because of the Christmas season.

January, February, and November get the minimum visitors – less than half the number of people who visit during the peak months. 

If you visit during the off-season, you can do the rides as many times as you want without having to wait in any queues. 


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Average waiting by day of the week

Queue at Universal Studios Hollywood ticket counter
Long lines at the Universal Studios Hollywood ticket counter are a usual sight. Emily Berl / The New York Times

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are often the best days if you don’t want to spend time waiting in the ride queues. 

On these lean days, average waiting times are around 30 minutes.

Saturday is the busiest day, with the longest queues in front of almost every ride and an average waiting time of 55 minutes. 

Sundays are also crowded but not as much as Saturday.

Day of the WeekAverage Wait Times
Monday35 minutes
Tuesday30 minutes
Wednesday30 minutes
Thursday30 minutes
Friday35 minutes
Saturday55 minutes
Sunday45 minutes

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Average queue time by ride

Universal Studios Hollywood has 12 rides, all of which are massive hits with the visitors.

The Jurrasic World Ride, where you sit in a boat and enter an immersive world where dinosaurs roam freely, is the most popular ride at the Theme Park.

On average, the wait times at the Jurrasic World Ride go up to 55 minutes. 

The Simpson Ride, a virtual reality roller coaster, is the second most popular ride at the theme park.

It sees long queues, and visitors must wait for an average of 45 minutes before they can get on board. 

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is part of the Universal Studios Hollywood Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is the third most popular ride with wait times of up to 40 minutes.

Thrill rides such as Transformers, Revenge of the Mummy, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Secret Life of Pets, etc., have similar waiting times of about half an hour. 

Universal Studios RideAverage Waiting Time
Jurrasic World – The Ride55 minutes
The Simpson Ride45 minutes
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey40 minutes
Transformers – The Ride35 minutes
Revenge of the Mummy35 minutes
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem30 minutes
Studio Backlot Tour30 minutes
Secret Life of Pets – Off the Leash30 minutes
Ollivanders25 minutes
Flight of the Hippogriff20 minutes
Kung Fu Panda Adventure20 minutes
Super Silly Fun Land10 minutes

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Is Universal Hollywood worth it?

With notoriously long waiting times, visitors wonder if visiting Universal Studios Hollywood is even worth it.

Visiting the Los Angeles theme park is worth it if you enjoy movies and TV shows (tour of Universal Studios backlot) or if you love the thrill and adrenalin rush of roller coasters.

Despite the long waiting times, it is a must-visit attraction if you are a family with kids. 

To get the most out of your Universal Hollywood visit, you must arrive early and leave late. 

Experience with zero wait times
If money isn’t an issue but your experience at Universal Studios Hollywood matters, you should opt for the VIP Experience Ticket. It costs $349 per person and gets you unlimited priority access to all rides, attractions, shows, a continental breakfast, a gourmet lunch in the VIP dining room, valet parking, and an exclusive Universal Studios Backlot Tour.


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Tips to reduce wait times 

Nobody loves to spend time waiting in long lines, but unfortunately, that’s what happens at Universal Studios Hollywood. 

There are two places where visitors must wait in the queues – the ticketing counter at the gates and the rides and shows inside the theme park.

However, if you follow a few simple tricks, you can avoid high wait times and use that chance to explore more of the park.

Buy your tickets in advance

When you purchase your Universal Studios Hollywood tickets online, you save both time and money. 

Universal Studio Hollywood’s online tickets help you avoid the long lines at the ticket counters. During peak hours, this wait can even go up to 60 minutes.

The General Admission ticket price at the gate is $139 for all visitors aged ten years and above and $133 for visitors between three to nine years. 

When you buy the same tickets online, you only pay $110 and $104, respectively.

Buy Express Pass

The Express Pass, also known as the Universal Express Pass, is the best way to skip the lines at the rides and get priority seating for shows.

The Express pass, which includes admission and one-time express access to each ride, show, and attraction, costs $269 for all visitors.

But when you buy Express Pass online, you pay a discounted rate of $189 per person, thus saving $80 per person on select days. 

Recommended Reading: Ticket discounts at Universal Studios

Use Universal’s mobile app

The Universal Studios Hollywood app is an excellent tool for finding upcoming shows, reserving a show time, checking wait times, and finding restaurants and shops in the park.

The mobile app is available for both iPhone and Android.

Get Alerts To Get In Line

On the mobile app, you can set alerts for your favorite rides when the wait times reach five minutes and as a reminder for shows. 

These alerts help you avoid waiting in the queue unnecessarily and stay on top of your planned itinerary inside the park.

Get in a Virtual Line

Visitors can also use the Universal Studios Hollywood app to save a spot in the Virtual Line. 

The Virtual Line is available for select attractions, and you can choose a ride time for your family or group and focus on exploring the rest of the theme park. 

The app sends you an alert when it’s your time to ride, and you can head to the attraction entrance anytime within your reservation window. 

Select the perfect day to visit

While all days at Universal Studios Hollywood are good, some days are just better. 

If you visit during a weekday or fall, winter and spring, you are likely to find a less crowded theme park. 

If you don’t want to wait in the queues, it is better to avoid the peak summer months and public holidays.

Visit Lower Lot first

If you want to avoid the lines, be at the theme park when it opens, and start with the rides in the Lower Lot. 

Most people start with the rides and shows in the Upper Lot and reach the Lower Lot later in the afternoon, which is why the Lower Lot has the shortest wait times early in the day. 

It is better to be aware of the minimum height limits for the rides at Universal so that you can plan your route.

Use the Single Riders line

If you are on a budget holiday and can’t afford to buy the Universal Express Pass, you may want to try the Single Riders line to avoid waiting time. 

If you are visiting alone or don’t mind splitting up your family or group on a ride, the Single Riders line is the fastest way to get on a ride.

Here are the attractions that offer the Single Riders line facility – 

  • Jurassic World – The Ride
  • Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride
  • Transformers: The Ride 3D
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Flight of the Hippogriff

Single Riders line is a free opportunity to skip the lines. 

Hardcore theme-park fans visit both Disneyland Park and Universal Studios. Find out how to go from Disneyland to Universal Hollywood and vice versa.

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