Is Universal Studios Hollywood Open on Thanksgiving?

Universal Studios Hollywood is a magical place to visit at any time of the year. That said, the atmosphere is simply incredible on Thanksgiving. However, while combining the excitement of Universal Studios in Hollywood with Thanksgiving may seem like a dream, it’s not always a good idea.

Universal Studios Hollywood is open on Thanksgiving. In fact, it’s one of the busiest days of the year to visit. The park often reaches capacity by 11am, and hotel prices are usually high. So if you’re travelling on a budget or don’t like crowds, this is the worst time of year to visit.

However, if you’re looking to experience an incredible atmosphere and are prepared for the crowds, then visiting Universal Studios Hollywood on Thanksgiving can be a great choice.

Is Universal Studios Hollywood Open on Thanksgiving?

Universal Studios Hollywood is open both on and around Thanksgiving, with the park running its standard opening hours (either 9am until 9pm, or 9am until 10pm, depending on the day of the week Thanksgiving falls on).

Given how popular the park is on Thanksgiving, it’s highly recommended you arrive for opening. Otherwise, you might find the park has reached capacity. Should the park reach capacity before you enter, you’ll be required to wait in line for someone to leave the park before you can enter, which can take hours.

Universal Studios Hollywood Thanksgiving Attractions & Decorations

Universal Studios Hollywood doesn’t decorate specifically for Thanksgiving. However, as the park decorates for the holidays during the first and second week of November, the holiday decor should be in full operation over Thanksgiving, which only adds further magic to the already incredible atmosphere.

Is Thanksgiving A Blackout Date For Annual Pass Members?

At the time of writing (July 2023) Thanksgiving is currently available for every Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Pass type. However, Black Friday (the day following Thanksgiving) is blacked out for all annual pass members except for those holding the Platinum Annual Pass which provides you with entry into the park 365 days a year.

What’s The Weather Like At Universal Studios On Thanksgiving?

November is the start of the rainy season in Los Angeles with average temperatures of 17°C (about 62°F). When it comes to what to wear to Universal Studios Hollywood at this time of year, I recommend long pants and a T-shirt, with a jacket to wear during the morning and evening.

The Universal Studios Hollywood rain policy means that the theme park doesn’t close if there’s rain. As such you’ll also want to pack either a poncho or a raincoat just in case.

How To Avoid Crowds At Universal Studios On Thanksgiving

While Thanksgiving may be one of the best times to visit Universal Studios Hollywood, given the incredible atmosphere, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the crowds. However, there are some things you can do to minimise the impact a larger number of guests has on your experience at the park.

Avoid The Long Weekend

While Thanksgiving specifically is incredibly busy at Universal Studios Hollywood, so too is the weekend that follows. Therefore if you’re planning on visiting Universal Studios Hollywood over Thanksgiving, it’s highly recommended you do it before Thanksgiving rather than during or afterwards.

However, if you do decide that you want to visit Universal Studios Hollywood after Thanksgiving, then it’s best to do it over the following week since most people will have returned home after visiting friends and family.

Go Early To Make The Most Of The Day

Universal Studios Hollywood opens at 9am, and to make the most of your day at the park, we highly recommend being at the entrance ready to enter by 8.45am.

This gives you a chance to head straight to the most popular rides and attractions that often have the longest wait times and either walk on or queue for a significantly shorter period of time. The popular rides we look to visit as the park opens include;

Jurassic World – The Ride

Jurassic World The Ride is one of the newest and most popular rides at Universal Studios Hollywood, situated in the Lower Lot of the park wait times often exceed one and a half hours.

Flight of the Hippogriff

The Flight of the Hippogriff is one of two rides inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and regularly sees a wait time of around one hour. However, unlike other popular rides at Universal Studios Hollywood, this ride lasts a little over a minute.

As a result, provided you walk on the ride at the opening, you should still have time to dash over to the second ride inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

The Simpsons Ride

The Simpsons Ride is one ride we personally choose to avoid when visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. However, it’s still incredibly popular with other guests and often has a wait time of between one hour to one and a half hours during peak hours of the day.

It’s therefore, well worth heading over to this ride as the park opens if it’s one you’re looking to go on during your visit.

Purchase Your Tickets Online

One of the easiest ways to save time at Universal Studios Hollywood is to purchase your park tickets online rather than waiting until you arrive at the park.

This way, you don’t have to wait in a separate line to purchase tickets and another to enter the park, missing out on those vital first 30 minutes after opening.

Consider Purchasing The Express Pass

The Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass is an additional ticket you can purchase alongside entry to the park. This ticket then provides you with one fast-track entry to the vast majority of rides and shows inside Universal Studios Hollywood on the day of your visit.

While this ticket isn’t suitable for those visiting Universal Studios Hollywood on a budget, it’s certainly a way to help ensure you go on all the rides you want to during your trip.

Decide On Your ‘Must Do’ Rides

Before you head to the park, make sure you research the suitable rides for your party, as not everyone may meet the height requirements or wish to go on all of the rides inside the park.

Then from the list of remaining rides, go ahead and decide which rides you’d most like to go on in order of importance. Determining which rides your party can go on and then the rides you’d most like to experience has two significant benefits;

  1. Firstly, it prevents the wasted time and dampened spirits of a child too short to ride queuing for a ride they aren’t eligible to go on.
  2. This then allows you to decide which ride you should head to first as the park opens – thus capitalising on those lower wait times.

Finally, it provides you with an opportunity to track average wait times before your trip. This way, you’ll know if a ride you’d like to go on drops below its average while visiting the park.

Stay In A Nearby Hotel

The cost of staying in one of the Universal Studios Hollywood accredited hotels comes at a premium compared to other accommodation options in the region.

However, staying in one of these nearby hotels within walking distance of the park takes away the hassle of parking at CityWalk and instead allows you to stroll to the park from your hotel room in minutes.

Stay Late

If you can’t arrive early, then consider staying late. That’s because most people leave Universal Studios Hollywood and head for dinner in CityWalk by 6pm.

As such, you’ll find that the wait times for the most popular rides in the park significantly decline (we’ve seen the likes of Jurassic World – The Ride go to sub 20 minutes).

However, a shorter wait time for rides isn’t the only benefit of staying at Universal Studios Hollywood late, as once you’re ready to leave the park, you’ll find that the traffic around the resort has often subsided from its peak.

As a result, you should be able to get to your car or get a taxi significantly easier than you would have just an hour or two earlier.

Get A Two Day Ticket

Typically, you only need a single day at Universal Studios Hollywood to be able to go on every ride and experience every attraction. However, during the height of the peak season like Thanksgiving, it may be worth extending your trip over two days.

Personally, I think you should only need the Universal Express Pass or a two-day ticket. So it’s really up to you as to whether you want to try and experience everything, and then which option is the cheapest or most convenient for you.

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