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Tips for Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood

by Leap on April 8, 2021 28 Los Angeles

We get a lot of questions about using a wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood. So when our friend who uses a wheelchair was planning a trip to Universal Studios, we hopped along for the ride and research. Our friend sometimes uses a walker at home, but usually requires a wheelchair for more strenuous outings. She couldn’t bring her own wheelchair with her to Universal Studios, so she planned to rent one in the park. We had a lot of questions before our journey such as the best place to park, how to rent a wheelchair and how to access rides and shows (as well as keeping her cool, safe and comfortable). We are sure many other families have similar questions, so we’ve compiled this easy guide for using a wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Everybody is different, so there is not one simple approach when it comes to using a wheelchair. If someone in your party has physical limitations or other health issues, you might be worried about using a wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood. It’s normal to have soooo many questions and concerns about this. Whether your family member uses a wheelchair full time, has a temporary injury or only needs a chair for longer excursions, our guide to using a wheelchair at Universal Studios should cover what you need to know. Here are some common questions about using a wheelchair at Universal Studios.

Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood

Can I rent a wheelchair?

Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood - Wheelchair Rentals

If you aren’t bringing a wheelchair with you, you can rent wheelchairs (and strollers) just inside the entrance to the park. They can sell out, and you cannot reserve in advance. So if you want to rent a wheelchair, arrive in the morning. Universal Studios Hollywood rents both regular manual wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs, also called electric conveyance vehicles (ECVs). You can store your walkers or other equipment at the rental place. Manual wheelchairs run $15 per day (plus a refundable $25 deposit), and ECV rentals cost $60.

Do I need a special pass?

Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood - AAP

When you rent a wheelchair, team members may give you an Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP) to present to a team member at rides or shows. If the wait is less than 30 minutes, they will most likely let you in the accessible entrance, which is usually a different a line from the regular queue. If the wait is more than 30 minutes, they will likely give you a return time to come back to the accessible entrance. You may only hold one active return time on the pass at a time. Keep in mind that you may bring up to three companions for a total party size of four when using the AAP at Universal Studios Hollywood.

If you bring your own wheelchair or have other special circumstances, you can visit Guest Relations just inside the park entrance (to the right) and talk to an employee, as they may offer different benefits based on individual needs and difficulties. They may offer you a pass or another accommodation to help access their attractions. The Attraction Assistance Pass may not be transferred or sold. It is not valid for front row seating on rides and is only valid for the date printed on front. If you have health issues other than mobility issues, hop on over to our overview of the Universal Studios Guest Assistance (GAP).

Where should I park?

Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood - Handicapped Parking

If you have a handicapped placard, there are a couple of places to park. There is some handicapped parking near the front gate, but it fills up quickly. Level 2 of the Frankenstein Lot offers the closest garage parking and is fairly close to the park exit, which can be a huge relief after an exciting but long day at the park. The Jurassic Parking handicapped spaces are probably fine if you are bringing your own wheelchair, but if you can only walk short distances and plan to rent a wheelchair in the park, this lot is pretty far. We parked there first but it was way too far to walk with a disability, so we asked for help and got sent back in the car to the Frankenstein structure, which was much closer. Front Gate handicapped parking was full by park opening.

How does using a wheelchair affect rides and attractions?

Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood - Wheelchair Sign One of your biggest concerns may be how using a wheelchair affects access to rides and attractions. Each attraction has a different process and each guest’s disability or injury will affect how they access the ride, so there is not one easy answer. For most rides (except the Studio Tour), the guest will need to transfer out of the chair. For other non-ride experiences, the guest may have to transfer from an electric wheelchair to a manual wheelchair. Some rides have separate loading areas for modified vehicles to make it easier to transfer.

Tips for Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood-Wheelchair ramp sign for Secret Life of PetsHere is a ride-by-ride look at how people who use wheelchairs can access rides and attractions. You can get a more detailed description of each ride by consulting the Studio Map, signage outside each attraction and the Rider’s Guide for Rider Safety and Guests with Disabilities.

  • The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! — This queue has a staircase, so you will use an elevator but still be able to catch most of this adorable queue. ECVs and motorized vehicles are not allowed in the queue, so talk to a team member at the ride entrance about transferring to a manual wheelchair. There is a ride vehicle that fits a manual wheelchair. (Be sure to look for a dog who uses a wheelchair on the ride!)
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem — You must be able to take a small step into the compartment. Several vehicles have been modified to aid with transferring, so ask a team member for assistance.
  • Flight of the Hippogriff — You must be able to step into the compartment.
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey — This ride has a moving platform that allows only 30 seconds to load. For guests who have difficulty transferring and who need extra time, there is a non-moving transfer station on the second floor (you still access the same ride). Ask a team member for assistance. You cannot take ECVs through the castle line, so whether you want to ride or just experience the castle walkthrough, you will need to take the elevator to the third floor to transfer to a park-provided manual wheelchair. Then you can transfer back into your chair when done. Your ECV will be stored in a secure area during that time.
  • Kung Fu Panda Adventure — This multi-sensory theater experience is like a cross between a ride and movie, with seats that shake and move. You may stay in your wheelchair or ECV or transfer to a seat. There are both moving and non-moving seats.
  • The Mummy — This ride has vehicles modified to aid with transfer. You will leave your wheelchair on the loading side and then exit back to the loading side after riding.
  • Silly Swirly Fun Ride — You must independently (or with help from a companion) get over a 10-inch high barrier to access the vehicle. Some ride vehicles have been modified to aid with transfer.
  • The Simpsons — You must be able to negotiate a 10-inch high barrier to get into the ride, either independently or with help from a companion.
  • Studio Tour — The Studio Tour has a separate handicapped line at the far end of the loading area. You may transfer from the chair to a tram seat (there is a step up), or you can ride in a standard manual wheelchair. Guests using an ECV who wish to ride in a wheelchair must transfer to a manual wheelchair and use the ramp.
  • Transformers: The Ride-3-D — You must be able to take a small step into the vehicle. Team members will store your chair in a separate room. They may transfer you to a manual wheelchair upon exiting to take you back to the ECV.
  • Wand Pairing at Ollivanders — To witness a wand choosing a wizard, you can approach the wizards at the entrance of the experience to enter more quickly. They will help position guests in wheelchairs and other guests for the easiest and best viewing for everyone.

Is it safe to leave my wheelchair while I ride?

Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood - Wheelchair Parking

Your wheelchair is most likely safe. But you should take extra steps to secure your belongings and the chair by removing the key from the ECV (each ECV key comes with a bracelet) and taking valuables with you. You can fold the seat back down when parking the ECV so the seat does not get too hot if left in the sun. Keep your receipt with you just in case. Only park in designated areas. Many of the parking areas inside attractions are fairly secure and in a separate room. You can use free lockers where available (such as at The Mummy or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) to store valuables.

How does using a wheelchair affect shows?

Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood - Wheelchair Viewing

The Special Effects Show, Animal Actors and WaterWorld shows all have designated wheelchair and ECV parking in the shows. Arrive at least 30 minutes early. Team members let guest with disabilities enter first before other guests (consult team members for each show for exact timing). The wheelchair-accessible viewing areas have companion benches. All seating is bench style without back or arm support. Guests may choose to stay in chairs or transfer. There is designated parking located at the attraction for guests who wish to transfer. The WaterWorld show has top-of-bleacher seating accessible by a lift.

How can I get to the Lower Lot in a wheelchair?

Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood - Lower Lot Shuttle

The Lower Lot is usually accessed by several long escalators. Naturally, that won’t work for a wheelchair or for someone with other mobility and balance issues. Near the sign for the Lower Lot, before you get to the first escalator, you’ll see some elevators on the right. Take those down to the waiting area for Alternate Transport Vehicles (ATVs). The covered waiting area has seats. Shuttle buses transport guests with mobility issues to the Lower Lot and back. During busy times, team members may restrict the person with the disability to one companion. The rest of the party can use the escalators. Guests in ECVs must transfer to a shuttle seat. We recommend visiting the Lower Lot in the morning before both ride times and ATV lines get long.

Can I save money on Universal Express if I am using a wheelchair?

Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood - Express/Wheelchair Queue

This is a question we get a lot. Having a wheelchair does not equal front of line access. The Attraction Assistance Pass is designed to assist guests needing assistance, separate loading areas or accessible queues and should never be abused by anyone not requiring assistance. People using wheelchairs can bring a limited number of guests with them to the attraction, and they may receive return times to come back later, which is not the same instant access that Universal Express ticket holders get. The person holding the pass must be riding, and not all people want to go on all the rides, so if the person with the pass cannot handle the attraction or needs a break, then other party members will be left waiting in standard lines for those attractions. Universal Express can sell out on busy days, so waiting to purchase in the park may  mean you miss out.

How do I use the restroom with a wheelchair?

There are handicapped stalls in each restroom. There are family companion restrooms at both First-Aid stations (one in the Lower Lot and one in the Upper Lot near WaterWorld). We found the sinks challenging to access from an ECV, so we recommend bringing hand wipes and sanitizer just in case.

What if my child with a disability uses a stroller as a wheelchair?

There are places you can take a wheelchair that you cannot bring a regular stroller, so just let a team member know if your child uses the stroller as a wheelchair, and you should have no issues accessing rides and shows. It’s best to visit Guest Relations when you enter the park so they can offer you a pass or a plan that meets your needs.

Tips for Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood

Tips for Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood-Dog in Wheelchair in Secret Life of PetsIt’s not always easy to get around Universal Studios Hollywood in a wheelchair. Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Try to plan your visit for a less crowded time.
  • Spring for the electric wheelchair to save your energy instead of a standard wheelchair.
  • Plan to visit the Lower Lot early in the day for the shortest lines for the accessible vehicle.
  • Bring USB phone power cords — the electric wheelchairs have USB ports and they charge your phones!
  • Arrive early to secure a wheelchair — they can sell out!
  • Choose air-conditioned shows or the Studio Tour during the heat of the day.
  • Never be afraid to ask an employee for help or information.
  • Bring hand wipes and/or sanitizer because it can be challenging to access the bathrooms sinks from a wheelchair and not all bathrooms have paper towels.
  • Arrive early for shows to secure handicapped seating.
  • Ask about accessible seating at restaurants. They may seat you before you order and offer you a menu to peruse at your table at places such as The Three Broomsticks.
  • People in wheelchairs can talk to a team member about skipping the line for character meet and greets.
  • The shops in the Wizarding World are very tight spaces for wheelchairs. Consider doing some shopping for Harry Potter candy and souvenirs at the more spacious Universal Studio Store near the park exit.
  • Plan breaks, and don’t overdo it!

Using a Wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood - Simpsons

Overall, our friend had an exciting day using a wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood. I mean, she had us frogs there to hop along to help her maximize her time and guide her towards the best experiences for her abilities, of course. We visited the Lower Lot early in the day for the shortest lines (for both rides and the trip down there). We consulted the weather report and chose the coolest day of the week to visit so she wouldn’t get overheated, and we planned indoor meals and the air-conditioned Special Effects show during the heat of the day. We all took advantage of the USB ports on the ECV to keep our phones fully juiced! We learned a thing or two, like getting to see where service animal cages are kept and how people with disabilities can access rides from different areas. It was a hoppin’ good time for all!

If you have any tips for using a wheelchair at Universal Studios Hollywood, let us know in the comments below! Be sure to hop over for more information on managing Universal Studios Hollywood with disabilities and general tips to maximize time at Universal Studios Hollywood to make the most of your day in the park.

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
View Comments
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Oct 12, 2021 at 3:36 p.m. Lisa Says...

Is it okay to leave a regular wheelchair outside of a shop? It sounds like it might be crowded to bring it in (I can walk, just not long distances). Also, are there charging stations in different locations in the park? Thanks!

Reply
Oct 13, 2021 at 11:22 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Lisa!

We think you should be fine if leave it outside as long as it's not blocking anything, but you can also check with a team member nearby to see where the best place to park it would be! There aren't any specific charging stations, but the Family Center has outlets so you may be able to use the ones in there. Some restaurants may also have outlets that you could use.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 12, 2021 at 7:47 a.m. Brad Says...

I know your article says to come early to rent an EVC, but my girlfriend and I will be acquiring the 2pm-2am tickets, so that we can enjoy the regular park as well as Horror Nights. Will I be out of luck in renting an EVC by the time we arrive at 2 pm?

Reply
Oct 12, 2021 at 9:25 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Brad!

The availability varies by day since ECV rentals are limited and operate on a first-come, first-served basis. For instance, if it's a weekday, you may have better luck with availability when you arrive. But if they are out, there are also manual wheelchairs available for rent, or a team member may be able to give you an idea of when they expect some ECVs to come back in.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 9, 2021 at 9:01 p.m. Tami Says...

Hello,

I have 2 individuals with mobility issues that want to go to universal Hollywood. In normal life, they use walkers, but a theme park is way too much for them. I was planning to rent 2 ecv but am worried about getting my parents into the park. Would taking an Uber get them closer to gate? How long is the walk from the parking lot? I could also rent the ecv’s offsite but then need to get the ecv’s to the park (one seems doable, 2 seems like a challenge). I went to six flags recently and I don’t think they could make it from the regular parking to the ecv rental there, which has me worried. Thanks!

Reply
Oct 12, 2021 at 11:37 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tami!

Using a ride-share service would be a great option, depending on how far you're coming from, since the pick-up/drop-off locations are close to the gate. General and preferred parking are not incredibly far (and some spots can be closer than others), but it's about 5-10 minutes and you walk through CityWalk. We'd suggest you bring their walkers to get to the wheelchair rental if the distance may be too much for them. There is also front-gate parking which lets you park right in front of security, though it is pricier at about $60.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Sep 28, 2021 at 12:45 a.m. Beth Says...

I’m in a wheelchair and wanted to attend Halloween Horror Nights but will this be an event I can participate in or is it not doable with the chair?

Reply
Sep 28, 2021 at 8:42 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Beth!

It's toadally possible! Guests may remain in a standard wheelchair throughout the event. There may be instances where it might be hard to navigate the chair in a house such as tight corners or uneven flooring, but there are team members available to assist. If there are any spots that aren't accessible in the houses such as stairs, then the team members may direct you to an alternate route. Hope this helps! If you have any other questions, you can also reach out to Guest Relations at 800-864-8377.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Sep 26, 2021 at 11:39 p.m. Kelly Says...

Hi. We will be 5 in our party, (my husband, my 2 sons - 7 and 13 y/o, my mom who will use the wheelchair and I)

Do you think they will allow all of us to be my mom's companions when going to a ride?

She comes to visit us by the end of October.

Please let me know.

Reply
Sep 27, 2021 at 2:24 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Kelly!

The Universal Attraction Assistance Pass allows up to three additional guests (a total max of four), so you may need to split the party. It wouldn't hurt to ask if they could accommodate the extra person, but if they cannot, we'd recommend using the single rider line where offered or purchasing Universal Express for one person.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Aug 9, 2021 at 5:15 a.m. Michelle Says...

Is there parking for evc near diagon alley and hogsmede so can walk through shops? Can walk just not long distances? Thanks

Reply
Aug 9, 2021 at 12:50 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Michelle!

There is stroller/wheelchair/ECV parking (or as the British muggles say, "tram parking") near Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in Hogsmeade outside of the queue, and next to the Scribbulus gift shop in Diagon Alley.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jul 17, 2021 at 11:40 p.m. Kris Says...

Just left the park early because we found my rented wheelchair very unsteady on all the uneven surfaces, particularly the cobblestone of Hogwarts. Of course, there the park wheelchairs were sold out so we were out of luck. Dear I will be left at hotel tomorrow. Very disappointed in lack of equitable accessibility.

Reply
Jun 30, 2021 at 5:04 p.m. Patty O’Donnell Says...

Can you reserve a ECV in advance? I will be going to Universal on Aug 9 and 10th with my daughter and grandkids and do not want to distract their fun because I am slow.

Reply
Jun 30, 2021 at 2:10 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Patty!

Unfortunately, you cannot reserve in advance. ECVs are rented out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jun 10, 2021 at 9:31 p.m. Donald L Taylor Says...

Does the handle bars move up to get out easy?

Reply
Jun 14, 2021 at 10:23 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Donald,

Yes, the handle bars on the rental wheelchairs are able to move for easy access.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 28, 2021 at 3:12 a.m. Lois Says...

Is it far from handicap parking to electric wheelchair rental? Do they store regular wheelchair while you rent electric?

Reply
Jun 1, 2021 at 1:52 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Lois!

Some handicapped parking areas are actually quite far from the entrance. The Front Gate spaces are the closest and the Preferred spaces are second closest, but both require an additional fee. Universal has let us store a walker one time while we rented an ECV. Hope this helps!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 12, 2020 at 4:53 p.m. Linda McElwain Says...

I have been to universal florida twice and have used both a walker and rented an evc. I would recommend the evc to anyone that has a problem walking. I didnt experience any problems at all. The staff was super nice.

Reply
Feb 17, 2020 at 7 p.m. Charles Lewis Says...

My wife and I don't need a wheelchair, but we have problems walking long distances. I know we can rent an electric vehicle, but that obviously has some drawbacks. Are the distances in the park great enough that I would need the vehicle? It was a life saver in Disney, but I understand Universal isn't as large. We'll spend most of the time doing Harry Potter with my grandson.

Reply
Feb 18, 2020 at 3:28 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Charles!

The Upper Lot is not that big, and having a wheelchair can be a little bit cumbersome when it comes to transporting to the Lower Lot. Get either Front Gate or Preferred parking because the regular parking has a long walk to the park. You can always see how it goes and if you find you need to rent an ECV, go get one. Having the chair can shorten the amount of time you stand in line by allowing you to wait elsewhere and sending you through a shorter accessible line, so you’ll definitely be on your feet less if you have it. Have a great trip with your grandson!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Dec 28, 2019 at 3:43 a.m. Jacqui Says...

Do they offer free escort pass for those with disabilities that need an attendant?

Reply
Dec 31, 2019 at 7:58 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jacqui!

Unfortunately, we don’t know of any caregiver/escort admission discounts at this time. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open!

Leap

Reply
Nov 26, 2019 at 6:23 a.m. Brandon bair Says...

So if I am unable to take my wheelchair in to the park then what do they do with my wheelchair when I get to the rental?

Reply
Dec 2, 2019 at 1:03 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Brandon!

You are able to bring your own wheelchair into the park! Have a great time!

Leap

Reply
Oct 25, 2019 at 10:21 a.m. Neomi Says...

Thank you sooooo Much for information!!! It really helped me. I was a little nervous on taking my kids tomorrow by myself, I’m getting used to trying to go to places in my Wheelchair. but with your Awesome information I now know what to do! Thank you!

Reply
Oct 25, 2019 at 8:29 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

We are just hoppy to help, Neomi - have a wonderful time!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
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