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Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens

by Mommy Frog on December 26, 2023 Los Angeles

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - pinterestDo you have teens obsessed with Harry Potter books and movies? Are they gamers who love Nintendo and Mario Kart? Do they enjoy action movies such as "Jurassic World," "Transformers" and "The Fast and the Furious?" Then this is the perfect time to take them to Universal Studios Hollywood!

This theme park and active movie studio immerses your teens in their favorite film moments and takes them behind the scenes to show them how movie magic is made. Follow our tips for going to Universal with teens and tweens to make it an award-winning day.

Top Tips for Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens

Purchase Early Access

Now, we know early mornings and teens do not necessarily go together, but if Super Nintendo World is a priority, then you'll need to motivate your teens and tweens to wake up early for the shortest lines of the day at Super Nintendo World.

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Early Access in Super Nintendo World

You can purchase an Early Access ticket through Universal separate from your theme park tickets. With Early Access, you can enter Super Nintendo World one hour before the park opens. That allows you to play all of the challenges, ride Mario Kart and explore the land with low capacity before the crowds pour in. Don't froget to join the reservation list for Toadstool Café!

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Power-Up Band in front of boxes

BTW, your teens are going to want a Power-Up Band. The band allows them to play the challenges, collect virtual keys, punch bricks and question mark boxes for virtual coins and more in the Universal Studios Hollywood app. Add that $40 to your trip budget.

As the park opens, you can exit Super Nintendo World to visit all the other Lower Lot attractions with short wait times. Then you can use your Early Access ticket for Express Access to the Studio Tour by 11 a.m. We cannot stress the value of Early Access. If you do Early Access, you may even be able to save money by skipping buying Express because you'll be getting your day off to a great start.

If you cannot get them up early, try visiting Super Nintendo World in the evening. By then, wait times should drop off.

Purchase Universal Express When Going to Universal Studios with Teens

Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens - Express Line

With height requirements most likely a concern of the past for these kids, they can now go on any ride in the park. To do it all — ride the rides, see the shows and take the Studio Tour — you’ll want to skip the lines. A Universal Express ticket can help you do just that. (Your best frog friends can help save you money when you purchase Universal Studios Hollywood tickets in advance, too.) The Universal Express ticket does not work for Mario Kart. But if Super Nintendo World hits capacity, Universal Express does give you access to the land.

Even though Mario Kart is not included with Express, it is included in the VIP Experience. If a VIP Experience is in your budget, your movie-loving teens can get behind the scenes of movie-making and get unlimited access to Mario Kart (and all the other rides). You can save big money (up to $161 per person) when you book the VIP Experience through Undercover Tourist! The tour includes valet parking, exclusive access to backlot sets and a multi-story prop warehouse that is not open to the general public, a guide to escort you through the park and a gourmet meal with snacks and refreshments. On top of all that, you can skip the line as much as you want for every ride in the park, including Mario Kart!

Enjoy Themed Foods

Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens - Food

Teens love their snacks and meals. At Universal Studios, there are fun, themed treats. From the Krusty Burger and Flaming Moe (nonalcoholic drink) in Springfield, USA to Felonious Floats near Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, to Butterbeer and all kinds of magical Wizarding World treats in Hogsmeade, your teen will have no shortage of delicious options. If you have big appetites in your crew, share the Great Feast at the Three Broomsticks. But the hottest meal ticket in town is Toadstool Café in Super Nintendo World. From Mario burgers and Pesto Chicken Luigi sandwiches (complete with mustaches and souvenir hats) to themed desserts and Super Star Lemon Squash drinks with popping boba, this is the place to feed your teens. But you need to make a same-day reservation through this link.

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Mario and Luigi Burgers

Hop over to Lily’s post on tasty Universal treats for some inspiration. She may not be a teen yet, but she certainly has a teen's appetite when it comes to snacks. You can also visit our guide to Universal Studios Hollywood restaurants.

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Flaming Moe

Be sure to keep your teen hydrated. The Southern California climate is very dry, so you'll all need to drink plenty of fluids. You can bring bottled water or save on soda by purchasing a refillable souvenir sipper that comes with a day of cold refills (every 10 minutes up until park close) from the Coca-Cola Freestyle stations. Your teens will also be hoppy to know that there is a Starbucks in both the Upper Lot and the Lower Lot, so there is always one nearby.

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Mario soda

There are also Mario-themed sodas and snacks in the Lower Lot. You can find them across from the bottom of the escalators.

Plan Movie Nights Before the Trip

We’ll admit that some of the older movies that are featured on the Studio Tour are a bit before our tween, Tad’s, time. Knowing he will get more out of the experience and make connections if he’s actually seen some of the movies filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood, we have family movie nights. Classic movie sets and elements from "Jaws," "The Great Outdoors," "Back to the Future," "Gremlins," "War of the Worlds," "Psycho," "Jurassic Park/World" and more are all featured in the park. We don’t need to let him know what we are doing. If there’s a lesson there, he won’t want to watch the films with us. But when he recognizes sets and props from scenes in movies we’ve watched together, he gets toadally excited.

Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens - Wand ShoppingBudget for Souvenirs

If you are going to Universal with teens or tweens who aspire to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they might want to wear robes and house colors to the parks. Tad arrives in full black and yellow Hufflepuff attire. The park sells robes, but you can save a lot of money by purchasing robes ahead of time. But shopping for some items is definitely an important part of the in-park experience. Buying an interactive wand in the Wizarding World can be fun and meaningful, so definitely wait to purchase a wand in the park. You'll receive a map of all of the spell locations. A wand might just so happen to choose your wizard during a wand pairing at Ollivanders, and if it does, that’s truly a magical experience! Hop over to learn all the details about choosing a wand in the wizarding world.

You might set a budget for how much you want to spend on souvenirs because it's easy to get carried away. As a Harry Potter fan, I can't help but want everything, too! Your wizard wannabes will love perusing the special candies and merchandise. We recommend purchasing food items (such as chocolate frogs) at the end of the day so they do not melt. (But you can also have them sent to package pick-up to collect before you leave the park.) Definitely budget some time for souvenir shopping, though, whether your teens are into Transformers, Hello Kitty (there's a Hello Kitty shop!), Harry Potter, Jurassic World, Nintendo, the Simpsons and more.

As mentioned, the big item needed to fully experience Super Nintendo World is a Power-Up band.

Check the Park Hours, Arrive Early and Stay Late

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Wand Use

We know it’s not always easy to get a tween or teen out of bed early in the morning, but we have a saying: "The early frog gets the flies." The flies in this case are the shortest lines and coolest temperatures. Consider staying nearby (within walking distance) to cut down on the commute and parking process so you can get to the park before it opens. Some hotels have shuttles to the park!

Here is a post on hotels near Universal. We love the breakfast buffet and walking distance of the nearby Hilton (as low as $211 a night through Undercover Tourist). The Hilton and the nearby Sheraton also offer a free shuttle to the park entrance. Check the park hours before your visit. Some days, especially in the off-season, Universal has short hours. It can be hard to get it all in unless you start early. Lines also drop off towards the end of the night, so it's worth it to stay late.

Follow a Park Plan

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Studio Tour

There seems to be a pattern of movement at Universal Studios Hollywood, and if you know where the crowds are headed, you can avoid them or beat them to it. Follow our 1-day park plan to put you ahead of the crowds. You might notice that the plan has you hopping in and out of the Wizarding World. That's on purpose. Arrive early for Early Access, then leave Super Nintendo World at the official park opening time to hit all the Lower Lot attractions. Head up to the Lower Lot to get on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and then exit the Wizarding World to go on the Studio Tour. You can come back up to the Upper Lot to shop, visit other attractions and spend more time admiring all the details of the Wizarding World later while the wait times are long.

Use Single Rider Lines When Going to Universal with Teens

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Transformers

Your teens and tweens can take advantage of Single Rider lines for several rides to save time. Attractions with the Single Riders Line include:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Revenge of the Mummy - The Ride
  • Transformers: The Ride 3D
  • Jurassic World - The Ride
  • Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge

Check out these other ways to maximize your time at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Find In-Park Entertainment and Characters

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Plane flying in during Waterworld

Teens who love stunts and action will enjoy WaterWorld (be aware that the front rows are soak zones). If your teens want to get wet and you do not, you might want to split up for WaterWorld. There are also other smaller shows, such as the Triwizard Spirit Rally and Frog Choir on the stage across from Hogwarts Castle. At certain times of the year, you might get to experience Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, with varying projection shows. (The Dark Arts at Hogwarts or The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle could be playing during peak seasons).

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Boy poses in front of dinosaur

While they are not shows, different dinosaurs come out to greet guests in the Lower Lot, which is pretty cool (and a little scary!). There are many character meet and greets such as the crew from Scooby Doo, classic Universal Monsters, Minions, Gru and the girls from Despicable Me, Transformers, "The Simpsons" characters, DreamWorks characters and more.

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - People pose with Mario and Luigi

Plus, you can meet Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad in Super Nintendo World!

Visit During a Special Event

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - Scene from Stranger Things at HHN

Certain times of the year bring special entertainment to Universal Studios Hollywood. If you are going to Universal with teens during the fall, they may be ready for their first Halloween Horror Nights.

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - The grinch poses

If you’re visiting during holiday time, Grinchmas is toadally fun. You can watch the lighting of the Christmas tree, meet the Grinch and try holiday treats. There may be palm trees present, but snow falls at night during Grinchmas and Christmas in the Wizarding World. Harry Potter fans will enjoy drinking hot Butterbeer and watching the Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. They may even pick up an interactive wand souvenir for casting spells in the park as an early holiday present!

Check Out Universal CityWalk After the Park Closes

Tips for Going to Universal Studios Hollywood with Teens and Tweens - USH Sign

Take a stroll through Universal CityWalk to go shopping, get crazy shakes at Toothsome, eat creative doughnuts from VooDoo Doughnuts, try indoor skydiving and more.

Going to Universal with teens can be a hopping good time! Remember to purchase your Universal Studios tickets in advance from Undercover Tourist to save some green. You can also get a jump on a good Los Angeles hotel deal. Do you have any tips to share for going to Universal with teens or tweens? You can ask in the comments below.  

Related: Southern California Theme Parks by Age Group 

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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