Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood Reopening Report and Observations

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Universal Studios Hollywood opened its doors for the first time since March 14, 2020. In this post I’ll share my observations from touring the park, as well as my experiences with their social distancing and COVID-19 safety procedures.

The arrival experience is pretty much the same as in pre-COVID times. After parking and walking through CityWalk, I arrived at the front gate of Universal Studios Hollywood. Along with an airport-style security checkpoint (bags and belongings must go through a x-ray scanner), temperatures of all visitors were taken before entry. You’ll be familiar with the temperature check if you’ve visited Downtown Disney or many restaurants in the LA area in the last year. The check consists of a quick scan of the forehead.

Inside the park many of the walkways have signs directing foot traffic.

The park’s signature Studio Tour attraction is mostly unchanged from pre-COVID times in terms of offerings. Jaws, Earthquake, King Kong 360-3D, Fast & Furious – Supercharged, and many of the famous movie sets (such as War of the Worlds plane crash) are all still a part of the tour.

The Studio Tour can last up to an hour depending on what’s open and available. There was filming taking place on a portion of the New York Street outdoor set so this segment of the tour was skipped.

In the Studio Tour trams, Universal is loading every other row, and one party per a row. This obviously affects wait times since capacity is significantly decreased.
You may even see some wildlife. This actual coyote wondered on to one of the sets. Eat your heart out, Animal Kingdom.

Animal Actors is the only show currently being offered. Each group is sat in six feet increments inside the auditorium.

Seating spots are easily identifiable by these blue stickers on the benches. Traditional character greetings are not available but there are socially distanced character photo opportunities. Here’s Scooby-Doo in The Mystery Machine.

Hello Kitty occasionally appears outside of her shop in the Upper Lot.

Marilyn Monroe appears in the upper lot near the park’s entrance.

Each of the characters have a handler present to make sure no one gets too close.

Eating and drinking can only be done in specially marked areas around the park. Each of these areas have tables that are placed six feet apart.

Gift shops are currently set up with one entrance and one exit. I noticed many of them also had queues set up but didn’t see any of them in use.

Speaking of shops, a great selection of retro merchandise is available for purchase. You have to love that old Universal Studios logo.

Handrails in queues were constantly being cleaned by Universal team members. The handrails at the loading station of Jurassic World – The Ride were being cleaned after each group got in a boat.

Universal is serious about people sanitizing their hands. Every ride had a team member whos job it was to spray everyone’s hands with hand sanitizer.

The Raptor Encounter is back. How cool is that?New for 2021 is The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash attraction. It was originally set to open in March of last year, but got delayed due to the pandemic. I hopped in line immediately after the park opened and waited less than 5 minutes. The line remained low for a couple of hours and then Universal implemented the ride’s virtual queue system. The virtual queue can be accessed in the official Universal Studios app, or at a kiosk located near the ride.

The exterior of the ride looks really nice.

The queue for Secret Life of Pets has a lot of animatronics. It’s really well done.

I won’t spoil much about the ride but I found it to be very cute and fun. The park has been missing a slow moving family dark ride, so it’s nice to see them finally add one.

We also uploaded a full ride through POV video on our YouTube channel.

Also new for 2021 is the addition of the Indominus Rex to Jurassic World – The Ride.

You can see the entire ride on our YouTube channel.

Super Nintendo World construction is well under way in the Lower Lot. The entrance will eventually be located near Transformers: The Ride 3D.

There are plenty of great vantage points if you want to take a look at construction. Seen here are views from the Starway and the queue for Jurassic World – The Ride

I’m happy to report all shops and attractions in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are open.
While most of the park’s other rides reached wait times of 60 minutes or more in the afternoon, I was surprised to see Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey never got above a 20 minute wait.

A portion of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’s indoor queue is skipped and guests take a path directly to the greenhouse portion of the line. Obviously, I had to get some Butterbeer while I was there. It’s unfortunate that visitors can’t sip and stroll through the land but it’s understandable.

There is a seating area near the Butterbeer cart where you can sit and enjoy your drink.
For lunch I got the chicken and waffle sandwich from Cletus’ Chicken Shack in Springfield, U.S.A. It was delicious and I thought there was a great balance of sweet and savory taste.

Overall I had a great time at Universal Studios Hollywood. The park is looking great and the the new additions for this year are a lot of fun. I personally didn’t see any visitors breaking mask and social distance rules, but I’ve heard from others that enforcement from Universal team members is solid. If you plan to visit keep in mind that advanced reservations are required and no day-of tickets are currently being sold. Also keep in mind the park is currently operating with limited hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

When are you headed back to Universal Studios Hollywood? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below. 

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Guy Selga Jr.

Disneyland writer for TouringPlans.com and co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. Also a Disneyland local and appreciator of Disney theme park history. Twitter and Instagram: @guyselga

15 thoughts on “Universal Studios Hollywood Reopening Report and Observations

  • Is it worth to get the express pass if I’ll go on a Friday?

    • I was there on a weekday and the crowd did not get large until the afternoon. With shows and some rides closed, the remaining open ones had longer lines and less people per ride. Still for me it was good to go back and enjoy a well kept maintained amusement park. It will be nice when all the shows and rides are back up and running.

  • Theme Park “Blog”

    Theme parks should not be open yet. They are going to be the cause of the 4th wave of Covid in California. As a concerned citizen, it is going to detrimental, catastrophic even, to the health, safety and well-being of everyone in the state with the re-opening of the theme parks. The East Coast and the Mid West have already started with getting their 4th wave of Covid. As the pattern shows, California is only a few weeks away from it’s 4th wave of Covid. Which will be even worse due to the exposure of theme parks being allowed to open. Yes, I do not have to go to one, however, it does not mean that people that choose not to go will not be exposed because of strangers they run into on the street because of that stranger going. The vaccine is not guaranteed to do anything. It may or may not lessen or worsen the symptoms of Covid. Furthermore, the companies producing these vaccines are released from any and all liability from their product. Meaning, if you suffer adverse effects from the vaccine or even death, the company is not responsible in any way for what happens. It is an utter joke. You can vert much still contract and transmit Covid after being fully vaccinated. It is negligent of the theme parks to be open right now. I used to be an avid theme park goer and I am highly disappointed in the blatant disregard of human life these theme parks have. If they cared at all about their employees and their guests they would not be open yet. All they seem to care about is that they can be open and making money. It reminds me of a line from Jurassic Park. Now, I’m paraphrasing here, however the gist of it is this, the people were so concerned about if they can and not concerned about if they should. Sound familiar? The theme parks are so concerned that they can re-open right now and are not stopping to think that they should not re-open right now. They claim in articles that they are enforcing social distancing, mask wearing, sanitizing conditions, however that is all for show. Just like a movie, no one sees or knows what happens when the cameras are off. They are not enforcing it as much as they like to make health officials and news reporters think. Again, it’s all a joke. I do want things back to normal, however not in blatant disregard to human life. The vaccine is not a cure all, it will not even prevent you from contracting or transmitting Covid, and we do have the new strains of Covid here. Which are deadlier than the original strain. I guess only time will tell how bad this next wave we are going to get will be.

    • Concerned citizen…I would suggest you lock yourself up in a padded room and eliminate and social contact that you would ever have with any other individual. That would also be a great place to keep your opinions as well.

  • When are visitors from other states going to be aloud to go to Universal studios Hollywood? I live in Washington state and me my husband and son want to go there by summer.

    • It’s up to the state government. No one knows when they’ll change the rules to allow out of state visitors.

  • Is the Simpsons ride open?

    • Simpsons and Despicable Me are both closed.

      • Ma universal studios è tutto aperto? Dove si potrebbe andare esattamente e dove no? Nel senso che magari ci saranno posti chiusi lì dove non si potrebbe andare per COVID e dove si?

  • I guess Universal never got the memo from the CDC that there is no such thing as surface transmission.

    • When will it open to other states

      • It’s up to the state government. No one knows when they’ll change the rules to allow out of state visitors.

  • Secret Life of Pets replaced Walking Dead it looks like?

    • It’s next door to where the Walking Dead thing used to be but I heard it may still be open for Halloween Horror Nights. The Pets ride replaced the old theater/flex space where temporary exhibits were located.


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