Did you know that there are five Universal Studio theme parks worldwide?
The names are often used interchangeably, so it’s easy to see how there can be some confusion between the different parks – Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood are often confused, alongside Orlando theme park Hollywood Studios – which is actually a Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando! Confused much?!
What they all have in common is spectacular thrills for all the family to enjoy, with each leaving slightly different themed lands and rides. We’ll include a quick comparison table here, but read on for more details about each park!
Universal Studio Theme Park Locations Around the World
Universal Studio Theme Parks Worldwide
Let’s look at each theme park in more detail and what you can expect to help you decide where you may want to plan your next family adventure with universal theme parks in mind.
We want to thank Marianne from Singapore Travel Insider, Melissa from Los Angeles Traveler, and Kate from Passports and Playgrounds for contributing the details to this article.
1. Universal Studios Florida
In terms of variety, Universal in Orlando, Florida is one of the biggest and best as it’s actually three parks in one, with Universal Studios Flordia, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay water park, connected by Universal CityWalk, making up Universal Orlando Resort. 8 resort hotels are attached to the theme parks offering a fully immersive Universal experience for different budgets.
Major Rides and Attractions at Universal Resort Orlando:
We have to start with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, right? Spread between Universal Studios Flordia and Islands of Adventure; you need tickets to both theme parks to enjoy all the experiences on offer. Note that you can only board the Hogwarts Express train connecting Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) and Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) if you have a Park-to-Park ticket.
Other popular rides and attractions at Universal Studios Florida include Minion Blast, E.T. Adventure, Fast and Furious Supercharged, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit rollercoaster, Men in Black, and The Simpsons.
Islands of Aventure is seen as the thrill-seeker’s theme park focusing more on adventurous rides and experiences, including Jurrasic Park and Marvel favorites.
How to Get There
Orlando International Airport (MCO) is less than 30 minutes away by taxi, shuttle, or rental car. We have a detailed guide here on how to get from MCO to Universal Studios.
Be mindful if you are planning to self-drive in Orlando how the Universal parking garage works and the daily cost associated with this (starting from $27 a day); staying on-site at one of the resorts with a free shuttle to the theme park entrances can make a lot of sense.
Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Orlando Resort
There are multiple onsite accommodations that you can easily package with your theme park tickets to really save. Hard Rock is a popular premium choice for families (including Express Unlimited), while mid-range Cabana Bay is a brilliant choice for tweens and teens.
You can shuttle for free from all Universal resorts to the central transport hub and theme parks. Alternatively, there are also several off-site partner hotels nearby where you can shuttle to Universal Studios (some free, some paid).
What Else is There for Families to Do in Orlando?
Where does the list start and end? This city is absolutely brimming with family activities, including arguably the most famous theme park in the world, Walt Disney World, just 30 minutes away. Add to this SeaWorld, Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and Legoland, to name just a handful.
Keri’s Top Tip: If you’re a Harry Potter fan and only have one day to explore everything on offer at Universal Orlando, get Express Unlimited with a Park-to-Park ticket. Each park really deserves at least a day each, but the only way to experience the Hogwarts Express is on the 2-park-1 day ticket – this will leave you limited time for other rides, so you want to skip some of those queues!
2. Universal Studios Hollywood
Contributed by Melissa from Los Angeles Traveler
Universal Studios Hollywood is nestled in the hills northeast of Los Angeles, just a stone’s throw from downtown LA and the Sunset Strip. It includes a single theme park and a fairly small CityWalk with restaurants and shops. Unlike many of the other parks, it isn’t surrounded by park-specific infrastructure but is instead integrated with LA’s hotel and restaurant scene.
Major Rides and Attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood:
Two of Universal Studios’ most notable attractions are Hogsmeade (home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) and the new Super Nintendo World (which includes Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge along with several mini-games and a battle against Bowser Jr).
Thrill seekers will love The Mummy, Jurassic World (a water ride), and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in the Hogwarts castle.
How to Get There
Universal Studios Hollywood is located in northeast Los Angeles, just 5 miles from Burbank Airport, but most visitors fly into the much larger LAX on the opposite side of town. You’ll likely want to rent a car to explore Los Angeles, and there’s plenty of parking at Universal Studios Hollywood starting at $30 per day.
Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood
What Else is There for Families to Do in Hollywood & LA?
If you love movies, don’t miss the excellent tour at Warner Brothers Studio. Be sure to visit the beach one day, enjoy city views from Griffith Observatory or the Getty Center, and check out one of LA’s excellent museums.
Melissa’s Top Tip: Try to go on a weekday when LA schools are in session to avoid the biggest crowds since many visitors are locals. If the Express Pass is too expensive for your family, consider Early Access instead and head straight down to Super Nintendo World – not only will you have an extra hour, but that time will have much shorter lines!
3. Universal Studios Singapore
Contributed by Marianne From Singapore Travel Insider
Located within Resorts World Sentosa, Universal Studios Singapore is Southeast Asia’s first and only Universal Studios theme park. Within Resorts World Sentosa, you will also find a choice of hotels, restaurants, and shops. It is easily reached by public transport from elsewhere in Singapore and is just a few minutes by monorail to the beaches of Sentosa.
Major Rides and Attractions at Universal Universal Singapore:
Universal Studios Singapore is divided into six themed zones. The most popular rides include:
- TRANSFORMERS The Ride: The Ultimate 3D Battle
- Battlestar Galactica
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure
- Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase
- Canopy Flyer
- Enchanted Airways
- Shrek 4D Adventure
How to Get There
Resorts World Sentosa is easily reached via a monorail from the shopping mall Vivocity. Vivocity can be reached by MRT (underground train) from the rest of the city. Alternatively, a taxi from the centre of Singapore will only take around 15 minutes and is affordable.
Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Studios Singapore
Many families choose to stay on Sentosa Island when planning a family holiday in Singapore to be close to the main attractions. A popular choice is the Village Hotel Sentosa, which is a family-focussed hotel within walking distance of Universal Studios.
Alternatively, there is a Hard Rock Hotel within Resorts World Sentosa that is good for families. You’ll also find several nearby family-friendly beach resorts, such as the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa, the W Hotel, and the Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa. You are spoilt for choice!
What Else is There for Families to Do in Singapore?
Singapore is filled with family-friendly attractions. Some favourites include the world-famous Singapore Zoo, the SEA Aquarium, Bird Paradise, the Night Safari, and the iconic Gardens by the Bay.
Marianne’s Top Tip: If you can afford it, definitely consider buying the Express Pass. Singapore is hot and humid, and it can be a miserable experience queuing for a long time with kids. The Express Pass is 100% worth it.
4. Universal Studios Japan
Contributed by Kate from Passports and Playgrounds
Visiting Universal Studios Japan is a must-see location when traveling to Osaka! Here, guests can experience the world of Minions, Harry Potter, Super Nintendo World, and so much more inside the park. Hotels and restaurants are right next to the park for all to enjoy.
Major Rides and Attractions at Universal Studios Japan:
Universal Studios Japan is home to the first “Super Nintendo World”! Guests can ride Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge and Yoshi’s Adventure.
Children who are 36 inches or shorter can ride Hello Kitty’s Cupcake Dream or The Flying Snoopy in “Wonderland.”
For those who are Harry Potter fans, you can experience the World of Harry Potter with a glass of Butterbeer.
Remember that all characters featured at Universal Studios Japan will speak in Japanese and will not have subtitles on the rides.
How to Get There
Public transportation is the best and easiest way for people to arrive at Universal Studios Japan. Visitors can take the JR Yumesaki train line to Sakurajima Station. From the station, it is a quick 5-minute walk to the front gates. Platform signs in multiple languages help all guests reach the amusement park.
There is no designated parking lot for cars in the area, but visitors can use a taxi service such as MK Taxis. Other ride-hailing taxi services include Go, Uber, and Didi.
Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Studios Japan
There are 5 Universal Studios Japan Hotels sitting right at the park entrance: Hotel Kintetsu Universal City, Hotel Keihan Universal City, Hotel Keihan Universal Tower, Hotel Universal Port, and Hotel Universal Port Vita.
All of the hotels are less than a 5-minute walk from the park itself, giving you more time to enjoy the park than worrying about transit times to the hotel.
What Else is There For Families to Do in Osaka?
Osaka is a fantastic, family-friendly city to visit. Other attractions to explore include the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, and the Dotonbori district for fantastic street food.
Kate’s Top Tip: Skip purchasing the Super Nintendo World Power-Up Bands. They are an extra $40 each and only work inside Super Nintendo World. With the Power-Up Bands, you can smash bricks and hit question boxes with sound effects from the video game, and the Universal app will keep track of all the coins you’ve earned. You don’t really need the Power-Up Bands to enjoy Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge ride, meet the characters and enjoy a meal at Kinopio’s Café.
5. Universal Studios Beijing
The newest of all the Universal theme parks worldwide, and also the largest. COVID delayed the opening, however, doors finally opened in September 2021 to the theme park and Universal CityWalk Beijing.
Lack of access to the country means we haven’t found one of our family bloggers to review this theme park for you just yet, but with borders now re-opened, here’s what you can expect:
Major Rides and Attractions at Universal Studios Beijing:
There are seven themed lands at Universal Studios Beijing:
- Hollywood Boulevard
- Jurassic World: Isla Nublar
- Waterworld – with stunt show
- Kung Fu Panda: Land of Awesomeness
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Transformers: Metrobase
- Minion Land
How to Get There
Universal Beijing is located in Tongzhou District in the city’s southeast, around 30 minutes from the city centre. The easiest way to get there is to use the Subway; you can reach Universal Resort Station on the Batong Line 1 and 7. You could also take a Didi or Taxi.
Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Studios Bejing
There are currently two onsite resorts attached to the theme park: The Universal Studios Grand Hotel with 800 rooms, and the 400-room NUO Resort Hotel.
What Else is there for Families to do in Beijing?
While you’re in Beijing, you won’t want to miss a visit to the Forbidden City and Jongshan Park. A day trip to the Great Wall of China is no doubt also on your itinerary, and if you want yet more theme parks, there are several! Beijing Happy Valley and Shinjingshan Amusement Park are popular, and water parks galore to choose from indoors and outdoors.
We hope this will help your theme park-mad family decide on their next international adventure, exploring all your favorite movies and characters in a fun and interactive way with Universal Studios around the world.
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