The kids are beginning to realize the magic of the movies, so why not take them behind the
scenes of a working movie studio? At Universal Studios, they can tour a historic set, learn movie-making tricks on the Special Effects Stage, and meet costumed characters like Spongebob, Shrek, Curious George, and even Marilyn Monroe, who are often spotted wandering around the park. The rides and shows are always a blast as well.

Go: The summer season is the most crowded and the hottest – not the best combination with kids, especially because of those extra-long lines. If you are going in the summer, Monday through Thursday are the best days. Avoid Saturday if you can – it tends to be the most crowded day of the week in the park. Also, if it’s a really warm day or on the weekend, consider waiting until later in the afternoon. The lines may be shorter and you can stay ‘til closing as the weather cools down. General parking is also $5 cheaper after 3:00 pm. Remember, visiting off season is always an option. Universal Studios is open year-round!

What to see: Some of the best bets for the kiddos include the Shrek 4-D feature where you’ll don “OgreVision glasses” and feel, as well as see and hear the action on the screen. The Adventures of Curious George play area, based on the children’s book series, will take some time. Water games and a gazillion foam balls are among the highlights here. Among the rides, The Simpsons Ride has the lowest height restriction at 40”, and of course, the studio tour is great for the whole family and a must during your visit. For shopping, dining, and movies, Universal Studios has a CityWalk, similar to Downtown Disney.

Possible lunch spots: Try seafood at Bubba Gump shrimp or pasta at Buca Di Beppo, both located on the CityWalk, along with a Crepe Café and a Ben and Jerry’s for dessert. Within the park, good options for young ones are Louie’s Pizza & Pasta, Mel’s Diner, and Jurassic Café.

How to dress: Wear comfy walking shoes and hats for shade. Most of the park is open and unprotected. 

Need to know: Universal Studios accommodates baby swap. This means, once you get to the front of the line, parents/caregivers can take turns riding with the older kids, without having to stand in line again.

Bonus: Strollers are available for rent for $12.

Cost of trip: General admission is $77, and you when you buy online, you get a second day free (subject to change). This may come in handy to break up long hours at the park. Also, kids under 3 are free, and guests under 48” tall receive a lower general admission price of $69.

Online: universalstudioshollywood.com

With visiting family in town for the holidays, will you be taking the clan to Universal Studios?

-Renee Macalino Rutledge