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Everything to Know About Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour

by Leap on May 14, 2023 Los Angeles   Video

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Calling all film fans! Take a trip to the Entertainment Capital of the World, Universal Studios Hollywood! Located right in the heart of Hollywood, the park combines the awe-inspiring elements of American cinema with the thrills and frills of theme park fun. While the whole park is filled with attractions and experiences themed after popular film franchises, one ride, in particular, stands out above the rest: the Universal Studio Tour!

Everything to Know About Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour


Overview of Universal Studios Hollywood’s Studio Tour

The Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, along with the park itself, debuted in 1964. After taking on many forms throughout the park’s history, in the current day, the tram tour takes guests on a classic, cinematic journey approximately 45 minutes to one-hour long. During the tour, guests are shuttled around the studio lot, enjoying countless movie sets, sound stages, themed 3D attractions, props, animatronics and special effects — all used in the creation of timeless films.

Now a world-famous attraction, The Studio Tour provides park guests with exclusive insight into the Hollywood show business. It features actual filming sets from iconic movies and television shows, immersive experiences and more!

The Studio Tour is located in the Upper Lot of the park, across from the escalators leading to the Lower Lot. Because the attraction is a more mild, tram ride, it does not have a height requirement. This means you can enjoy this ride with your whole frog squad! It also means that there are no Single Rider or Rider Switch options for this attraction. Although the tour is mainly given in English, some trams hold special tours in Spanish and Mandarin. Ask an employee if you'd like to experience the tour in one of these languages.

Without further ado, let’s hop into all of the important details of this frogtastic attraction. Lights. Camera. Action!

History of the Universal Studio Tour

Everything to Know About Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour - Studio Tour

Before it was a theme park, Universal Studios Hollywood was a giant studio property (known as the Taylor Estate) — purchased by a German American immigrant named Carl Laemmle in 1914. Even in its early days, a simpler version of the Studio Tour was available for guests wanting to visit the "Movie City." At that time, the tour included a Western stunt show, the demolition of a bridge and a simulated flash flood, which served as the foundational pillars of the tour. For 25 cents, guests sat in outdoor bleachers cheering on the actors filming on set. The unwanted noise from the crowds caused the lot to close its gates for three decades!

In the 50s and 60s, the studio lot faced financial hardships due to the rise of television. As a result, the studio lot charged Hollywood tour bus companies to drive onto the property as a way to increase revenues. Soon after, NBCUniversal purchased the lot, and a permanent studio tour was established. It wasn't until 1964 that the studio lot was transformed into an amusement park, boasting the first official version of the studio tour! Despite some hiccups in creating it, the attraction quickly became a success. At the time, the tram tour lasted about 90 minutes and included a make-up show and a stop at the studio commissary (to encourage guests to purchase lunch). Eventually, to keep up with popular demand, Universal expanded by purchasing the land that now forms the Upper Lot of the park.

Some of the original Frog-Favorite attractions were the Submarine Attack, the Avalanche, the Runaway Train, the Burning House, the Ice Tunnel and the Battle of Galactica. Although many of these early attractions in the tour did not stand the test of time, such as the King Kong Encounter, some famous attractions from the past are still a part of the Studio Tour today. This includes the Flash Flood, the Collapsing Bridge, Amity Island from "Jaws" and Earthquake.

Universal Studio Tour Queue and Wait Times

Everything to Know About Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour - Studio Tour entrance

The queue for the Studio Tour is relatively simple. As you walk through the line for the ride, you can see various iconic movie posters and special pre-ride footage playing on small TV screens overhead. Nonetheless, the amount of time you'll wait in this queue can vary drastically based on the time of year (and even the time of day) you visit.

In the summer, the Studio Tour is a hot commodity at the park. To stay out of the harsh SoCal sun (and rest the flippers), most frog families hop over to the Studio Tour for 60 minutes of relaxation. Throughout the rest of the year, the wait for this ride tends to be shorter. We recommend getting in the queue for the Studio Tour either in the morning, late evening or around the park's closing time to experience the shortest wait.

If you want to bypass the standby lines in the park, or just specifically for the Studio Tour, there are a few special options you can explore.

Universal Express and Express Unlimited 

With the Universal Express Pass, guests can enjoy admission to the park AND one-time (per day) front-of-the-line access to each attraction (excluding Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge) and seated show, and one-time (per day) reservation-free entry into Super Nintendo World when Virtual Line reservations are required to enter the land.

Want to take it a step further? At the gate, you can upgrade your Express Pass to an Express Unlimited Pass! This will provide you with unlimited front-of-the-line privileges for all attractions and shows. It also provides one-time (per day) access to Super Nintendo World. Keep in mind that both the Express Pass and Unlimited Express Pass do not include access to the ride in the land, Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge.

Early Access Ticket

This special ticket allows guests to access Super Nintendo World an hour before the park officially opens. Prices for early access tickets can vary from $20-$30 and are limited (due to high demand). However, you reap the benefits of exploring the entire land at its emptiest and get a guaranteed chance to dine at Toadstool Cafe before reservations kick in.

Now, here's the extra hoppy news: Early Access tickets include one-time Express access to the Studio Tour (valid until 11 a.m. only)! That way, you can visit the new land and breeze by the standby line for the Studio Tour.

Universal Studio Tour Attractions and Movie Sets

Everything to Know About Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour - Jupiter's Claim

Over the years, the Universal Studio Tour has included many iconic movie sets and sound stages to immerse guests into the world of Hollywood cinema. As guests are shuttled around acres of production sites, a Universal tour guide plays hilarious clips related to films created on the lot (which also presents Jimmy Fallon as your virtual host) and narrates the tour with film facts they curated themselves. This way, each tour given is perfectly unique!

In Universal Studios Hollywood's studio backlot and front lot, there are about 30 film sets and 35 working sound stages where hundreds of famous movies and TV shows have been filmed. In fact, these sets comprise most of the tour. Some of the most notable films made on the lot include "Back to the Future," "Jaws," "Bruce Almighty," "Psycho," "Jurassic Park," "Cast Away" and many more! A few of the popular television and reality shows filmed on these sets include "Desperate Housewives," "The Good Place" "and "The Voice."

Due to the ongoing television production at the Universal Studios Backlot, the Studio Tour is constantly changing. While some sets and sound stages are in use on certain days, trams will have to skip said attraction or halt the tram until filming ends. While this may seem inconvenient at first, it can also be a great opportunity to experience movie magic in action and spot a few celebrities!

Everything to Know About Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour - Jaws attraction

Here is the lineup of major movie attractions (which are subject to change) that the Studio Tour includes in 2023:

  • Timeline Drive
  • Fire Station 51
  • The Front Lot (35 soundstages)
  • Metropolitan Area (including New York Street, Brownstone Street, Courthouse Square)
  • King Kong 360 3-D Created by Peter Jackson
  • Picture Cars
  • Jurassic Park Sets
  • Flash Flood
  • Mexican Street
  • Six Points Texas
  • Home and Family Set
  • Underwater Tank
  • Denver Street
  • Little Europe / Court of Miracles
  • Mediterranean Square
  • Earthquake
  • Jaws
  • Chicken Ranch
  • Colonial Street / Wisteria Lane (if not in use for filming)
  • Bates Motel
  • Psycho House
  • War of the Worlds Plane Wreck Set
  • Falls Lake
  • Jupiter's Claim from Jordan Peele's "Nope"
  • Fast and Furious: Supercharged

Some stops on the Studio Tour are fun attractions, which include loud sounds, special effects and some rough movements. The Flash Flood and Earthquake attractions mainly utilize physical sets, props and effects. Others, such as King Kong 360 and Fast and Furious: Supercharged are tunnel attractions that require 3D glasses to get the full experience!

Everything to Know About Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour - King Kong entrance

Tips to Know Before You Go

Here are some important tips and tricks to note before getting on the Studio Tour:

  • Some of the attractions that the tour experiences can be loud with lots of rough movement and special effects, so prepare your tadpoles for this in advance! You can even watch our YouTube POV video below to set those expectations.
  • Don't froget to grab your 3-D glasses while in the queue. If you happen to board the tram without the glasses, get the attention of an employee and they will hoppily provide you with a pair before beginning the tour.
  • Use the restroom just before getting in line for this ride! The tour's wait time combined with its long duration means it will probably be a while before you have another chance to go (and you do not want to get stuck on the Studio Tour with a full bladder).
  • Look for Norman Bates himself at the Bates Motel (from the classic thriller, "Psycho"). You might just catch him red-handed!
  • An Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP) can help guests who find it difficult to wait in a standard queue. People with disabilities and health problems can use the card to get return times and come back to rides at a later time.
  • Request a tour in Spanish or Mandarin if you prefer another language over English.
  • If you want to see the Studio Tour in a completely different light, get on at night (or in the evening). You will have a different experience depending on the time of day you choose to ride.

Do you have any questions about the Universal Studio Tour? Please drop them in the comment sections below. Looking to visit the world-famous Universal Studio Tour? You can save on some green by purchasing discount Universal Studios Hollywood tickets through Undercover Tourist. 

Related: The Best Times to Visit Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 and 2024

Related: Universal Studios Hollywood Tips to Maximize Your Time

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