The Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood is in my opinion one of the best attractions at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.
The World-Famous Studio Tour is a one-hour tour around the backlot at Universal. This is a real working movie studio, as such you’ll see sets from your favourite shows and movies as well as some of Hollywood’s most legendary filming locations.
This tour is suitable for the whole family (I recently did it with my wife and our 14-month-old little boy) and features two cinematic ride experiences; Fast & The Furious: Supercharged & King Kong 3D.
What Is The Universal Studio Tour?
The World-Famous Studio Tour takes you behind the scenes of a real film studio which has been the home to a number of movie and television shows since its inception over 50 years ago.
The tour is hosted by comedian Jimmy Fallon alongside a live guide who provides commentary throughout the duration of the tour.
Highlights Of The Studio Tour
During the tour, you will travel through different past various sound stages, and through movie sets. Throughout this time you’ll experience a variety of attractions including;
This is perhaps the scariest part of the tour.
Here you’ll pull up to the Bates Motel from the epic thriller film Psycho just as Norman Bates himself is carrying a body from a room to place in the back of his truck.
As he does so, he spots you, a witness.
In an aim to cover his tracks, Norman will come towards you with a fake knife. Thankfully, the driver will begin to pull away just in time.
Norman gets closest to the back two carriages of the tram. As such I highly recommend sitting in the carriages closest to the front if you’re travelling with young children.
Plane Crash Wreckage
After escaping Norman Bates, you’ll enter the plane crash wreckage area of the tour. This features a commercial 747 aircraft which was purchased by the production company behind the hit 2005 film War of the Worlds, directed by Steven Spielberg.
The plane was chopped into pieces and transported to Universal where the full set has been left fully dressed as it was during filming.
Obviously, given how realistic this all is, it can be scary for younger guests.
This new area of the backlot tour opened on July 22, 2022 (timed to open the same day as Jordan Peele’s movie Nope).
This is a drive-through area which has been rebuilt at Falls Lake (previously occupied by the Log Cabin) and features select theme park sets used in the sci-fi horror film.
Flash Flood Simulator
As you drive through the Mexcian Village, you’ll experience one of two flooding simulators that feature within the Universal Studios backlot tour.
This is one of the oldest parts of the backlot tour (in operation since 1968) and has appeared in countless films including Big Fat Liar and Fletch Lives.
In my opinion, this isn’t as scary as the other flash flood simulator which takes place as part of Earthquake: The Big One!
Earthquake: The Big One!
Earthquake: The Big One is the only split-level sound stage in the world, and has been in operation at Universal since 1969.
As the tram pulls into the subway area, an 8.4 Richter-level earthquake hits, causing a subway train to come off the tracks as it pulls into the station and flooding from the streets above to pour down into the underground.
Various scenes have been shot here including; Beverly Hills Cop III and Season 5, Episode 15 of the TV show Bones.
The Jaws portion of the Studio Tour dates back to 1967 and subsequently is one of the most nostalgic parts for long-time visitors.
As the tram approaches the water, the tension builds as the tour guide narrates the scene. Suddenly the giant animatronic shark jumps out of the water, jaws wide open.
King Kong 360 3-D
King Kong 360 3-D is one of two simulator-based rides on the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour.
This simulator was created by Peter Jackson himself and is the world’s largest 3-D experience.
The film lasts just a couple of minutes and see’s you caught in the middle of a terrifying struggle between a 35-foot T-Rex and the 8th wonder of the world – King Kong.
Fast & The Furious Supercharged
This is another simulator-based ride situated on the back lot tour.
Once again you’ll put on your 3D glasses and experience a high-speed chase alongside Dom and the gang. This is far from my favourite part of the tour, but sadly it’s not optional. Thankfully, it only lasts a couple of minutes.
Where Is The Universal Studios Tour Located?
The World Famous Studio Tour is located in a dedicated lower lot area of Universal Studios Hollywood which can be accessed from Springfield, home of The Simpsons via a number of escalators.
This dedicated lower lot area is not to be confused with the lower lot escalators down to Jurassic World & Super Nintendo World.
If you’re unsure as to where to go for the Studio Tour be sure to ask one of the Universal Studios team members situated around the park, or the Universal Studios mobile app which features a map with GPS.
How Long Is The Universal Studio Tour?
The Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood lasts between 40 minutes and one hour. During the ride, there are no stops and no toilet breaks.
While the ride itself is between 40 minutes and an hour, the standby wait line for the ride can be another hour (give or take) depending on how busy the park is during your visit.
This ride is eligible for the Universal Express Pass so, if you are upgrading to the Universal Express Pass then you will be able to skip the line here. We did this during our most recent visit and we walked straight on (the standby line at the time was around 20 mins – February 2022).
How Much Does The Universal Studio Tour Cost?
The Universal Studios Tour is free.
However, to go on the tour you will need a Universal Studios Hollywood park ticket.
📝 Note: You can pay to upgrade to a Universal VIP Experience which provides you with a guide taking you around the entire park. This experience features a different, more detailed Universal Studios Backlot Tour.
Universal Studios Hollywood tickets are sold using a dynamic pricing model based on estimated demand.
As such quieter days or times of year often have lower ticket prices, while more popular days and seasons (Christmas, Halloween, Spring Break, Summer etc.) have higher ticket prices.
This dynamic pricing model also applies to Universal Express Pass tickets and tickets for the VIP Experience.
Do You Have To Book The Universal Studio Tour?
Sadly, you can not book your tour of the Universal Studios backlot in advance. Instead, spaces on each tram are on a first-come, first-served basis. Each tram roughly holds between 100 and 150 people split across 6 or so carriages.
How Long Is The Wait For The Universal Studios Tour?
The wait time for the World Famous Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood can vary depending on factors such as the time of day, day of the week, and season.
During quieter times at the park, you can wait as little as 10 or 20 minutes to board the tram. However, during peak periods such as holidays or weekends, wait times can be in excess of one hour.
Can You Use A Universal Express Ticket For The Universal Studio Tour?
A Universal Express ticket at Universal Studios Hollywood can be used for the Studio Tour, as well as for many of the other popular attractions and rides in the park.
The Universal Express ticket gives guests priority access to select attractions, allowing them to bypass the regular standby line and experience the attraction with a shorter wait time.
Best Time To Go On The Universal Studios Tour?
Generally, speaking the best time to go on the tour is in the morning when the park first opens.
During this time the crowds are typically smaller and the lines are shorter, allowing visitors to enjoy the tour with minimal wait times.
On the flip side, the worst time to go on the tour is usually in the early afternoon, just after lunchtime as most people get to this area of the park at this time of day.
Is The Universal Studios Tour Scary?
Certain areas and attractions within the World-Famous Universal Studio Tour may be scary to younger children. However, none of them last long (maximum of four minutes).
If you’re looking for thrill rides then this tour isn’t it!
Is The Universal Studios Tour Suitable For Babies & Toddlers?
The Universal Studios Tour is suitable for babies and toddlers.
However, you will be on the tram ride for up to an hour so be sure to bring any supplies you may need for that duration of time with you.
It’s also worth noting that children must remain seated throughout the duration of the tour for health and safety reasons. So if you have a restless little one consider bringing a book, toy or iPad.
There is an extensive stroller parking lot available in the Lower Lot area from where the tour departs, this is covered so if it does start raining while you’re out on the tour then your stroller should be protected.
Are There Any Height Or Weight Restrictions For The Studio Tour?
Unlike other rides at Universal Studios Hollywood there are no weight or height restrictions on the World-Famous Studio Tour.
Can You Take Photographs & Videos During The Studio Tour?
Visitors are permitted to take photographs and videos during The World Famous Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood.
However, flash photography is not permitted during the tours 3D cinema experiences (King Kong 360 & Fast and Furious: Supercharged).
Is The Studio Tour At Universal Studios Hollywood Worth It?
While going on the Studio Tour takes up a significant portion of your day at Universal Studios Hollywood park. I believe it’s a worthwhile time investment.
This tour provides a unique insight into how scenes from your favourite movies and TV shows are made while the expert tour guide provides some incredible Hollywood secrets.
Can You See Celebrities On The Universal Studios Hollywood Tour?
There is always the possibility of seeing celebrities on the World Famous Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, as the tour takes visitors through active movie and television sets where productions are often being filmed.
However, there is no guarantee.
I’ve been on this tour more than ten times over the past couple of years, and the only person I’ve seen is Mario Lopez who was filming at the entrance of the theme park.
Does Universal Studios Orlando Have A Backlot Tour?
Sadly, Universal Studios in Orlando does not have a backlot tour since it is a dedicated theme park, rather than a film studio.
The Universal Orlando Resort does, however, have a VIP Experience (which is also available at Universal Studios Hollywood).
The VIP Experience is a full-day tour of the Universal Studios park with a dedicated Universal guide. The ratio of guests to guide is roughly 8:1 so it’s a very personal experience in which you’ll skip the line on every ride in the park, go behind the scenes and learn park secrets.