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Taking Public Transportation to Disneyland and Universal Studios

by Leap on May 4, 2016 24 San Diego

The people of Southern California have a love affair with their cars. They love the freedom and control that driving gives them, but with a dense local population, all those cars on the roads can lead to terrible traffic. When you are on vacation you want to relax rather than white knuckle it on unfamiliar freeways.

Public Transportation to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood - Disney California Adventure Street Entertainers

We frogs have been getting a lot of questions from our customers on alternative ways to get to Disneyland or Universal Studios, so we hopped on the trains and did the research for you. It turns out it’s easier and less stressful than we thought. Here’s how to take public transportation to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood.

Taking Public Transportation to and from Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood

Getting to Disneyland

Public Transportation to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood - Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center

Whether you are coming from Los Angeles, South Orange County, North San Diego or Riverside/San Bernardino, you can take the train to the new Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC). This giant dome of a building is located within walking distance of both Angels Stadium and The Honda Center (where the Ducks play). If you take a Metrolink train to ARTIC, you can use your ticket to transfer for free on the ART shuttle (route 14 or 15) to Disneyland. Shuttles leave every 30 minutes and follow Disneyland hours, so they start usually an hour before park opening, and the last shuttles leave about 20 minutes after park closing. The shuttle ride has some stops and lasts about 30 minutes even though it is only going a few miles. Keep in mind that in comparison it can easily take much longer than that to park at Disneyland Resort and wait for a shuttle, so you might be able to maximize your time if you don’t drive to the resort.

How much does this cost? An adult weekday roundtrip Metrolink ticket varies based on distance. From San Juan Capistrano in South Orange County, it runs $17; and a youth/student runs $13. An adult can bring up to three children 5 and under for free. Metrolink tickets are a flat $10 per day on the weekends, but the hours are much shorter, so make sure you check the return schedules before deciding if that is the right choice for you. There are multi-day discounts. Amtrak is another option for taking the train. Prices vary based on distance and they do offer some later hours on the weekend. But you would have to pay separately for the shuttle to Disneyland if you choose Amtrak. (You might consider getting a one-way ticket home on Amtrak if you miss your Metrolink train.) The bus fare is $5 per adult and $2 per child. Prices of all tickets are subject to change. There is free parking at ARTIC, so you can also park there and take the shuttle. In comparison with driving yourself, parking at Disneyland costs $18 per day.

Public Transportation to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood - Train at North Beach

Keep in mind that if you are staying in Anaheim, you can use the buses to get around. Some offsite hotels offer free shuttles to Disneyland, and some offer transportation for a fee. There are many great day trips you can make using the trains. You can travel up to Union Station in LA, which is located near Olvera Street Historic District. You can also take the train for day trips down to south Orange County to historic San Juan Capistrano (home of the Mission and petting zoo) or San Clemente (one of the best beach towns with great walking trails, dining, shopping and a pier).

Getting to Universal Studios Hollywood

Public Transportation to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood - Union Station

We were surprised and excited to learn that you CAN take a train to Universal Studios from Union Station In LA. From Union Station (which has trains coming to it from all directions in the surrounding areas), you can use your Metrolink ticket to transfer to the red line Metro Rail subway. Travel in the direction of North Hollywood, but exit at Universal City. There you will find a free shuttle that will take you right to the front gate of Universal Studios Hollywood. Note that if you are already in the LA area, you can probably buy the Metro Retail tickets for much less if you do not need to use Metrolink to get to Union Station.

Public Transportation to Universal Studios Hollywood - Hogwarts Express

We recommend buying your Universal Studios Hollywood tickets in advance since they are much more expensive at the gate. Our tickets can save you up to $26 from the ticket window prices (depending on when you want to visit). If you are taking Harry Potter fans to the Wizarding World, you can pretend that the train is the Hogwarts Express. That’s the best we can offer since you can’t arrive by broomstick, Floo powder, portkey or by disapparating. But if we figure out how to arrive by magic we’ll let you know!

Here are some Metro tips worth noting: The Metrolink tickets are also good for Metro busses. Also, there is a new Metro rail line opening May 2016 that will take riders to Santa Monica! Santa Monica is home to iconic pier and beautiful beach.

Using Bus Tours

There are a number of companies that offer transportation and tours between LA and Orange County. Some of them take you from Anaheim to Universal Studios Hollywood and include a bus tour of Hollywood. You will have to shop around for the best deal, but a family of four can expect to pay about $120 to $200 for this service and much more if it includes theme park tickets. You might have to weigh the costs of taking the train or simply renting a car and parking. Parking at Universal costs $18 per car (more if you choose closer parking).

You have to weigh in your family’s ages, time schedule, interests and budget to find the right form of transportation for you. For some people, being able to relax on a train rather than navigate traffic and unfamiliar freeways, which can stretch up to seven lanes wide in some spots yet shrink down to one lane in others, to be priceless. For others, they want to come and go on their own without adhering to a schedule.

We are hoppy to present the various options in travel planning so you can find the plan that works best for you and your family. Have a question about public transportation to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood? Share it in comments below.

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
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Comments
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Amy Johns May 4, 2016 at 6:52 p.m.

Hi, this is excellent information. I am going to Disneyland in October and we are staying across the street. However and we are throwing in a day at universal, how does the metrolink option work if we want to go that route.

Reply
FrogBlog May 9, 2016 at 2:34 p.m.

Hi Amy,

You can take a bus to the Metrolink Station in Anaheim, and take the Orange County Line to Union Station in LA (about 54 minutes). There, you can use your Metrolink ticket to transfer to the Metro red line (it's easy—we just did it—and it will take another 20 to 30 minutes). Exit at Universal City. Across the street from the station you can find a free Universal Studios shuttle. The shuttle runs every 10 to 15 minutes from 7 AM until 2 hours after the park closes. Be sure to check train schedules online to plan out your journey there and back!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Ogbnne Jun 2, 2016 at 8:05 p.m.

Hi , I plan to visit ca in August. Can this ARTIC train take me to south coast plaza and the fashion island ?

Reply
FrogBlog Jul 18, 2016 at 10:10 a.m.

Hi there,

The train does not go to these locations. You can take the ART busses from ARTIC to South Coast Plaza and Main Place Mall but they do not have a line to Fashion Island.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
maryanne ulrich Jun 27, 2016 at 2:47 p.m.

How about when you leave Universal , whats the best way to get to back to Anaheim ?

Reply
FrogBlog Jul 18, 2016 at 10:18 a.m.

Hi Maryanne,

If you are taking public transportation, you'll have to look at the metro and train schedules to make sure that you leave in time to catch the trains. There are some gaps in the Metro schedule going back to Union Station, so be sure to look those up in advance.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Michelle Shaw Jul 10, 2016 at 11:22 p.m.

Is their a tour company you can recommend to get to Universal Studios. Taking the trains seem to take longer than perhaps a bus would.

Reply
FrogBlog Jul 18, 2016 at 10:21 a.m.

Hi Michelle,

We have not used any tour companies, but they can take a similar amount of time as trains due to traffic. But a tour might be easier to navigate and be more relaxing.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Lisa Sep 25, 2016 at 10:05 p.m.

Hi my family of 3 will be going from Anaheim to universal studios then to the airport. We don't know what to do with our luggage. Any suggestions

Reply
FrogBlog Oct 12, 2016 at 10:37 a.m.

Hi Lisa,

There are lockers at CityWalk that are 50 x 18 x 23 inches. Lockers in the park are 16 ½ x 20 x 35 inches.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Renee Oct 28, 2016 at 7:08 a.m.

Hi, with regards to the lockers at Citywalk have you an idea of the cost and if it's first in first serve or are there plenty? Like Lisa I'll have luggage that I'm not wanting to drag around Universal. Thanks :)

Reply
FrogBlog Nov 3, 2016 at 1:55 p.m.

Hi Renee,

Many hotels will store your luggage even if your room is not available. The largest lockers at Universal are 21 1/2 x 11 x 16. They are first come, first serve.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Kylie Oct 10, 2016 at 9:29 a.m.

Hi,

Am thinking about your public transport option from Disneyland to universal. But also wondering if it would be realistic to plan to go from universal studio after it closes then onto the Hollywood boulevard for the walk of fame and perhaps dinner- we have 3 kids youngest is 11. If we did this and decided it was too late to try catching public transport home, do you have an idea of costs to return to Anaheim via taxi?

Thanks for all you info.

Reply
FrogBlog Oct 12, 2016 at 10:13 a.m.

Hi Kylie,

Be sure to check Amtrak for the trip home because its trains leave later than Metrolink ... around 10 p.m. Cab fare can vary based on company and time of day. We suggest you get a quote for a flat fee if you can. Expect to pay somewhere between $50 and $120.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Terry Dec 10, 2016 at 7:07 p.m.

We would like to take public transportation to Universal Studios from the Lagunna Beach, California area. We will have a rental car. Your advice on a public transportation route would be greatly appreciated since we will only be visiting and aren't from that area.

Reply
FrogBlog Dec 27, 2016 at 11:26 a.m.

Hi Terry,

--Using your rental car will give you the most flexibility in terms of time--and the fastest route, even with traffic. If you want to take the train, you can take a train from either Laguna Niguel or Irvine up to Union Station n LA. Then take the red line subway (included in Metrolink train ticket) to Universal. A shuttle can take you to the park entrance or you can walk to escalators near the Universal parking structure. You do need to check the time schedule for subway trains back to Union Station and then train times from Union station back to your stop in Orange County in advance to make sure that they work for you. The subway pauses in the afternoon for a few hours, making a late afternoon or evening departure more challenging. You could Uber to Union Station if you can't catch a subway. If you want to stay late you may be better off driving your rental car. Be aware that Universal just increased parking to $20.

Keep Hopping!

Leap

Reply
Amy Jan 31, 2017 at 8:04 a.m.

Hi, is there any shuttle go from Disneyland to Universal Studio?

Reply
FrogBlog Jan 31, 2017 at 7:58 a.m.

Hi Amy,

There are some bus companies that provide pay transportation from Anaheim to Universal. Look for Gray Line and Prime Time Shuttle!

Keep Hopping!

Leap

Reply
Melissa Aug 17, 2017 at 5:31 p.m.

Can I take Amtrak to universal studios from San Diego how close will it take me?

Reply
FrogBlog Aug 17, 2017 at 2:34 p.m.

Hi,

Your Amtrack train would take you to Union Station. From there, you'd take a bus, taxi or rideshare. The Metro RedLine also runs to Universal Studios.

Keep Hopping!

Leap

Reply
Susan Oct 2, 2017 at 4:07 a.m.

Hi. We are wanting to get to Universal Studios from Orchid Avenue Hollywood. Is there a shuttle we could use? Or do you have any suggestions for using public bus? Thank you!!

Reply
FrogBlog Oct 2, 2017 at 9:42 a.m.

Hi Susan,

Visit the LA Metro web site and use their trip planner to plan your route!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Chris Oct 16, 2017 at 3:06 p.m.

Can you discuss transportation from the airport to universal? Is uber an optio/ There are 5 of us. Thanks

Reply
FrogBlog Oct 16, 2017 at 10:41 a.m.

Hi Chris,

Ridesharing such as Uber or Lyft is always an option. You may also take LA Metro. Use the LAX FlyAway to Union Station and transfer to the Red Line. Your stop will be Universal City Station.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
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