It felt so good to hop down the red carpet, scream our way down the drop on Jurassic World — The Ride and drink Butterbeer. Finally, we put on our wizard robes and flexed our wand hands to return to our magical place! We frogs were toadally excited to visit Universal Studios on its official reopening date on April 16 and ride a new ride! Then we've hopped back a few more times to see how things are doing in Tinseltown (and to visit Halloween Horror Nights). Since the Universal Studios Hollywood reopening, the park has moved to almost normal operations (except for masks). All rides and most entertainment and dining have returned, but there are a few minor differences we'll go over.
Our trips to Universal felt like we had never left. Obviously, some things are different for now, but it feels great to be back. Masks are once again required both indoors and outdoors for all guests ages 2 and up (regardless of vaccination status). Keep in mind that some photos in this post were taken while masks were not required. We have said goodbye to the reservation system. Guests may purchase dated tickets online in advance or at the ticket booth. However, tickets could sell out, so we recommend purchasing online (plus you can save money if you buy discount Universal Studios Hollywood tickets through us! Universal Express tickets are back, baby!).
There is an important change to note as of Oct. 7, 2021. According the Universal Studios Hollywood site, "Per LA County’s Public Health order, beginning October 7, all persons ages 12+ must be prepared to show proof of full FDA or WHO approved COVID-19 vaccination (a full 14 days after final dose was administered), or a negative test taken within 72 hours of visit, prior to entry to the theme park. A home test or self test is not acceptable. A PCR or antigen (rapid) test is acceptable. Persons ages 18+ must also show photo ID.
Verification will take place when required based on theme park attendance (on days when park capacity exceeds 10,000 people). There is no calendar to tell you if Universal will be checking or not, so come prepared no matter what. If you froget your card or test, you can get tested on-site. You'll go through the vaccine card or test check after the metal detectors, and a line to security can form at peak times (but it moves quickly).
Regardless of vaccination status, face coverings are required to be worn at all times, both indoors and outdoors, when visiting the theme park. At Universal CityWalk, face coverings are required to be worn indoors. For important safety information at Universal Studios Hollywood, please visit UniversalStudiosHollywood.com/safetyinfo."
Universal Studios Hollywood Events, Rides, Shows and Restaurants
It's awesome that Universal Studios Hollywood reopened, but the all-new Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash ride that opened with the park is the icing on the cake. And the new ending for Jurassic World — The Ride! is the sprinkles. Can you tell we are celebrating the return of SoCal theme parks? Let's jump into the action!
Theme park restrictions were lifted by the State of California on June 15. Our post on what to expect when the California theme parks to reopen has all of those details. In the meantime, Universal Studios Hollywood reopened with rides, restaurants and most shows. All of the rides are open now, but some shows will open at a later date.
Universal CityWalk has been open since summer 2020, and the park is operating a little differently as it reopens, but every day we inch closer to the way things used to be. The park is still encouraging all guests to keep a safe distance between their travel party and others when possible. Hand sanitizer is still available around the park. Masks are required for all guests indoors. Stay tuned as we learn more about new sanitation protocols, distanced characters and changes to dining.
What rides and shows are open during the Universal Studios Hollywood reopening period?
Yay! Single Rider lines are back! So are pre-shows. There is no more distancing on rides (which greatly shortens wait times). The following rides and shows are operational (subject to change):
- Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash (the Virtual Line only operates in the afternoon on crowded days — it was not in use on our July visit — so you might want to visit early or late in the day)
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- Jurassic World — The Ride (with a new ending and other surprises)
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (you'll queue outside and then have no wait once you enter the castle)
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- Transformers: The Ride – 3D
- Revenge of the Mummy — The Ride
- Silly Swirly Fun Ride
- The Simpsons Ride
- DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda
- The World Famous Studio Tour, featuring Fast & Furious Supercharged and King King 360 3D (tours are only in English at this time)
- Games are open at Super Silly Fun Land and in Springfield U.S.A.
- Universal's Animal Actors
- Water World
- Wet and dry play areas
- Triwizard Spirit Rally (on the hour throughout the day)
Check out Tad's video of Jurassic World — The Ride on our YouTube channel.
The following rides and shows are temporarily unavailable (subject to change):
- Special Effects Show
- Frog Choir
Show capacity is limited. Arrive at least 30 to 45 minutes early.
What restaurants are open or closed?
Most restaurant locations are open, but you may see more limited menus at this time. Of course, there is the new Minions Cafe to check out. We hopped by for some cute snacks. You can find available restaurants on the Universal Studios Hollywood app.
We noticed that the following restaurants are temporarily closed (subject to change on what feels like a daily basis):
- Despicable Delights
- Hollywood & Dine
- City Snack Shop
How to Get Tickets
There are no more limits on party size or number of households. Reservations are no longer required. General admission or Universal Express tickets purchased for park visits on a selected visit date during the theme park’s closure (or otherwise purchased prior to April 8, 2021 without a selected visit date on or after April 16, 2021), will be automatically extended for use through Dec. 16, 2021. Discount Undercover Tourist Universal Studios Hollywood tickets are on sale now! (You can save up to $34 when you purchase from your favorite froggy friends! Save more if you are a California resident!)
Even though the ticket booth is open, you'll want to purchase tickets online in advance to save money and time. Plus, at times, the park reaches capacity and tickets are unavailable for purchase at the ticket booths. Check with Universal FAQs before you visit for the latest information.
Annual Pass Holders and Reservations
Passholders can visit without making reservations. You may resume regular use of your pass in accordance with its terms. You will receive a new printed pass upon entry to the park at the time of your first visit, which will include your new pass expiration date. The expiration date of your pass will be extended by the number of days the park was closed including the additional “Bonus Days” period between April 15, 2021 and May 16, 2021. Passholders may visit on any day the pass is valid (i.e. not blacked out).
Hours and New Parking Rates at Universal
You can check the park hours calendar online for the latest information. Universal Studios has expanded park hours. The park opens at 9 a.m. daily and closes at various times. The park opens the gates about 30 minutes early so you can enter and get to your must-do attractions first. Parking rates have changed. Parking generally opens an hour before park opening.
Daily parking fees:
- General parking - $28 from open to 5 p.m. and $10 after 5 p.m.
- Preferred parking - $35 from open to 5 p.m. and $20 after 5 p.m.
- Front Gate parking - $50 from open to 5 p.m.
- $5 parking with purchase of General Parking and a movie ticket at Universal Cinema at CityWalk Hollywood. To receive your $5 parking, present your general parking receipt at the Universal Cinema ticket window. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotional offers, discounts or prior purchases and is subject to change without notice.
Valet parking is available at this time. The following parking rates apply:
- $25 for the first two hours
- $45 after two hours
Valet parking with validation from CityWalk full-service restaurants:
- $10 for up to 2.5 hours
- $15 for 2.5 to 3.5 hours
- $45 after 3.5 hours
Electric vehicle charging stations (rate is $0.35/kWh). Prices subject to change without notice:
- Frankenstein Garage: 4 ports (Level 2 and Level 7)
- Jurassic Parking Garage: 8 ports (Level 1 and B1M)
- ET Garage: 16 ports (Level B1)
- Woody Woodpecker Lot: 1 port (near Front Gate parking)
- Curious George Garage: 2 ports (Level 1)
Universal Studios Hollywood Reopening Health and Safety Procedures
When visiting, guests should review and comply with all travel requirements including state travel advisories and local travel advisories. The State of California strongly recommends that visitors be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, obtain a negative COVID-19 test result prior to visiting, or wear a face covering.
New health measures in place during the Universal Studios Hollywood reopening include (these are subject to change):
- All guests must wear face coverings indoors and outdoors.
- Team members continue to wear masks.
- Guests should maintain proper physical distancing of at least 6 feet (or 2 meters) between their party and other parties or employees.
- Guests should avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Use hand sanitizer when offered.
- Employees regularly clean and disinfect tables, chairs, ride vehicles, escalator railings and all high-touch areas.
- Cashless payments are available at all areas (although cash is accepted, as well).
- Virtual Lines may be in use for some attractions.
- You can rent wheelchairs, strollers and ECVs for your visit. Per usual cleaning protocol, each wheelchair, stroller and ECV will be cleaned and disinfected between each guest use.
- The procedure for getting to the Lower Lot for wheelchair users is generally the same with reduced capacity.
- No more temperature checks
You may wonder how the indoor mask ordinance works for rides. You'll see signage reminding guests of the rule inside and outside of the park. When you go to enter an indoor ride queue, a team member will remind you to wear a face covering indoors. We did not have to wear masks on Jurassic World even though it does have an indoor portion. On the Studio Tour, we were asked to wear it whenever the tram entered a building. At the DreamWorks Theatre, team members reminded guests to keep the face covering over the nose. We were all warned that if someone's mask slipped below the nose, team members would turn off their chair.
You will wear the mask when you enter a shop or restaurant, but you can remove the mask when seated to eat.
What to Expect When Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood
Virtual Line Pass (as needed)
During the Universal Studios Hollywood reopening, you can expect changes to the line system. The newest ride — The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash — initially offered a Virtual Line at times through the Universal Studios Hollywood app, or you could collect a physical ticket from a subway ticket machine — in theme with the surrounding city buildings. On days when the wait is short, the Virtual Line is not activated. Even if the Virtual Line returns, you may still wait an hour to ride. You can still use Universal Express to skip the line. But then you'll skip part of the toadally adorable and immersive queue.
Most of the time, you'll encounter a standby queue. When you join a Virtual Line, you input your party size, so you only need one spot in line. We were able to join the Virtual Line in the app and at the machine at the same time. They are not linked to your ticket. We liked having a physical ticket because when the ride broke down just as we were going to get in line, we could just bring it back later to get in.
A New Ride and Store
It was exciting to ride a new ride when Universal Studios Hollywood reopened. The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash ride opened with the park. Lily was extra excited as this ride works for smaller tadpoles with its height requirement of 34 inches! It's a slow and gentle ride, perfect for tadpoles. But the ride vehicle was a tight fight for Leap's long legs and frog belly. You are supposed to be a puppy in a box, but Leap's a big dog, I mean frog. Try the test seat out front to see if you fit. The new gift shop is toadally cute! You can "adopt" a plush pet.
Hop along with our Secret Life Of Pets: Off the Leash! ride video on our YouTube Channel.
A New Pet to Meet
Hop by to meet Captain Snowball. Look up to a balcony across from The Secret Life of Pets ride. You can chat with Captain Snowball. We talked about our pets and all our favorite carrot dishes. Lily had so much fun talking with him!
Jurassic World — The Ride debuted a new ending too! That was toadally fun. You'll want to ride this one first thing in the morning, as the wait climbed to 90 minutes and stayed there all day on our visit. The Lower Lot generally opens at posted park opening time.
A New Restaurant
There's also a new restaurant in Super Silly Fun Land. The new and colorful Minion Cafe serves El Macho Nachos, various grilled cheese sandwiches, Gru's rotisserie chicken, Dispica-Bowl ramen, salad and adorable desserts. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a unicorn cupcake, a felonious float (raspberry slush with banana frozen yogurt topped with whipped cream and banana candy), chocolate banana pudding with hazelnut spread, a Minion cookie and more!
Use the photo-op outside of the restaurant to take fun food photos!
Shows and Play Areas
Some shows, such as the Special Effects Show, remain closed and will reopen at a later time.
Your favorite characters will still visit with you and entertain you. Honestly, it did not affect our visit to stay a safe distance from the characters. We were still pretty close and had many fun interactions with them, from Hello Kitty to Frankenstein. You can still chat, wave and take a socially distant picture, but you will not be getting that high five or hug for some time.
Look for the Transformers and Raptor Encounter in the Lower Lot and the Hogwarts conductor in front of the Hogwarts Express. Blow kisses to Hello Kitty and have fun watching the mischievous Minions at play. We spotted the Simpsons and Scooby Doo with Shaggy too.
Universal Mask Souvenirs
Universal Studios Hollywood sells masks in case you want to get your Universal spirit on or are looking for a unique souvenir that will be useful for the next several months. You can hop by CityWalk to purchase one outside of the park or find them at souvenir shops in the park. They have Wizarding World masks too! Remember, you'll need a mask to go indoors.
VIP Private Theme Park Experience
The most exclusive way to go behind the scenes is with a private VIP Theme Park Experience. The normal VIP experience has returned. Call (818) 622-8477 to book your tour 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Reservations for the VIP Private Theme Park Experience are limited and subject to availability and will vary by date. All VIP Experience tour content is subject to availability based on production schedules and other factors.
Wand Pairing at Ollivanders Has Reopened
One of our favorite things to do in the Wizarding World is to hop into Ollivanders, Makers of Fine Wands Since 382 BC for a wand pairing. This attraction was closed initially, but it's back! The wandmaker chooses a young witch or wizard from the small audience to demonstrate a wand pairing.
If you will be purchasing a wand, you might want to hop over to Tad's posts on wands. You'll find Choosing a Wand at the Wizarding World in Hollywood and Toadally Cool Wizarding World of Harry Potter Spells at Universal Studios Hollywood most hopful.
Tips for Visiting During the Phased Universal Studios Hollywood Reopening
Here are few tips and some advice for visiting during Universal's reopening period:
- Arrive early — you'll want to maximize your time in the park! (The park often opens 30 minutes early with access in the Wizarding World.)
- Purchase your theme park ticket in advance (and you can save some extra green when you purchase from Undercover Tourist!)
- Opt to upgrade to Universal Express early in the day. The price varies per day (on a Thursday in July, the price to upgrade was $130 for Express and $170 for Unlimited Express).
- Single Rider lines have returned, so that's a free way to skip the lines.
- Hit the Lower Lot early (at opening is recommended).
- Save the Wizarding World for the last two hours of the day for short waits.
- Note the time of the last Studio Tour and be in line before that time.
- Set wait time alerts for rides in the app to receive notice if the wait time drops.
- Plan your meals.
- Double check the mask policy and bring a back-up mask.
- You can try out the test vehicle for Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash out front. But even if it's not a good fit, the queue is just as enjoyable as the ride, so hop through!
- Chat with Captain Snowball across from The Secret Life of Pets.
- Bring swimsuits and water shoes for the kids to cool off in Super Silly Fun Land.
What to Expect at Universal CityWalk
Universal CityWalk reopened before the theme park June 10, 2020. Most restaurants and shops are open, which we detail in our CityWalk Hollywood guide. CityWalk Hollywood complies with health and state/local government guidelines. Check the mask policy for CityWalk as it may differ from the theme park. At this writing, masks are required indoors at CityWalk. We keep the most updated list of open restaurants and stores in our CityWalk post.
Are you excited to make some magic during the Universal Studios Hollywood reopening? If you need tickets for your next visit, you can get a hoppin' deal on discount Universal Studios Hollywood Resort tickets.
In connection with your purchase of Universal Hollywood products and your visit to Universal Hollywood including Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk Hollywood, please be advised that you must follow Universal Hollywood’s policies, CDC guidelines and the recommendations of health officials. Please note that any public location where people are present provides an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 and Universal Hollywood cannot guarantee that you will not be exposed during your visit. By visiting Universal Hollywood, you acknowledge and agree that you assume these inherent risks associated with attendance. When you enter Universal Hollywood, you understand that you are subject to the Universal Hollywood terms of service (including arbitration, class action waiver, assumption of risk, and infectious disease release of liability).