Super Nintendo World is sure to draw a whole new legion of fans to Universal Studios Hollywood, just like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter did years ago.
Planners like me will already have lists of things they want to see and do, but what about things to avoid? That’s just as important for first-time guests, especially when it comes to crowds and queues.
You can skip most long lines with a Universal Express pass or VIP Experience, starting at $199 and $369 respectively, but you don’t need to spend anything to save time and energy at the Southern California park.
Here’s what NOT to do at Universal Studios Hollywood as America’s first Super Nintendo World opens:
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1. Visit during peak times
Universal Studios Hollywood is open every day of the year. Don’t visit when everyone else does. If possible, try to avoid long weekends, spring and summer breaks and busy holidays.
You can check the ticket calendar on the park’s website and look for the dates with the cheapest admission, $109. Those are safe bets for avoiding the biggest crowds.
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2. Buy tickets at the gate
Not only does this waste precious time, but buying tickets at the gate costs more than buying them in advance on Universal’s website.
Guests purchasing online also get the option to buy early access to Super Nintendo World, which lets them into the land a full hour before most guests. An Express pass to the popular World-Famous Studio Tour is also included with this add-on perk. Prices start at $20. Quantities are limited and subject to availability, and regular park admission is still required.
3. Go in without a plan
I am all for being in the moment, but some planning is required to navigate Universal Studios Hollywood, which is divided into two main levels – Upper Lot and Lower Lot. If you don’t plan accordingly, you can waste a lot of time riding the long series of escalators or elevators between the two levels.
Many guests used to start the day on Upper Lot, where the main entrance, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the World-Famous Studio Tour are located, while savvy guests headed to Lower Lot first. Now with Super Nintendo World located in Lower Lot, either level can be busy.
Just pick one and try to do everything you can there before moving on to the next lot, instead of going back and forth.
4. Skip Universal’s app
The best way to keep track of wait times and show times is to use the free Universal Studios Hollywood app. You can also use the app to join the virtual queue for The Secret Life of Pets from anywhere in the park, instead of having to go to the ride in person to get a return time.
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5. Dilly dally in Super Nintendo World
This is what you came for, so you may be inclined to slowly soak in the immersive theming or photograph everything you see as you enter. Put a pin on that. If you want to dine at Toadstool Cafe, walk up and get a reservation to save yourself a wait, then head straight for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge because that line will only get longer. You can always take your time exploring the land afterward.
Note, depending on how busy the park is, reservations may sometimes be required to ride Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, and there is no Express lane for the ride. On days when reservations are required, guests who purchased Universal Express won’t need a reservation, but they will still need to wait in line.
Plus, if you miss out on anything the first time around, there will be plenty of other chances to visit: Super Nintendo World is coming to Universal Orlando Resort, too, Mark Woodbury, chairman and CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts officially announced this week.
6. Skip single-rider lanes
If you don’t mind being split up from your party or you are traveling solo, you can save a ton of time using the single-rider line on most attractions, including Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge.
Last summer, it only took me 30 minutes to ride all three attractions in the Lower Lot as a single rider. I walked right onto Jurassic World – The Ride and waited less than five minutes each for Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride and TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D. I also saved 150 minutes of wait time on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, spending only 10 minutes in line.
Sure, you miss out on seeing family and friends’ reactions and some of the cool features built into attraction queues, but you can always talk about the experience afterward.
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7. Skip child-switch
Every ride with a height requirement has a child-switch option. Take advantage of this if you’re traveling with other adults and kids who are either too small for the rides or who simply don’t want to go on them.
You and the kids can wait in the child-switch room while others in your party go on the ride. When they come out, they can watch the kids while you enjoy the ride without having to wait through the entire queue again.
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8. Skip the World-Famous Studio Tour
This is what puts the Hollywood in Universal Studios Hollywood. You can see actual sets and props from iconic films and TV shows. Plus the lengthy tram tour lets you rest your feet for a whole hour.