Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

One of the most exciting parts of our trip to Los Angeles was spending a day at Universal Studios Hollywood. As a movie-lover, an amusement park enthusiast, and a Potterhead, I was incredibly excited about visiting Universal Studios and doubly excited about seeing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We did the VIP Experience and instead of telling you what all I did and saw in Universal Studios, I thought I’d show you, for a picture is worth a thousand words (and well, a lot easier than writing a thousand words).

Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Experience

VIP Lounge

Our VIP Experience began in the VIP Lounge, where we were given complimentary breakfast and bottled water. We were also given a VIP Survival Kit containing sunscreen, mints, hand sanitizer and other stuff we might need during the rest of our day. (Free stuff makes me happy.)

Universal Studios VIP Lounge

Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Experience

This was just the beginning of a day full of good food.

Upon meeting our tour guide Geo, we set off on an exclusive tour of the Universal Backlot in our own private trolley.

Backlot Tour

The tour of the Universal Backlot is one of the coolest parts of the VIP Experience. This tour basically takes you behind-the-scenes to the movie sets, sound stages and the massive prop warehouse. 

Universal Studios Backlot

The Universal Backlot

It’s safe to say that we not only saw but walked along some of the coolest sets during the tour of the backlot. 

Universal Studios Backlot

This set has been used in so many movies and TV shows like Bruce Almighty and The Mindy Project.

Universal Studios Backlot

Recognize this? It’s the City Hall from Back to the Future!

Universal Studios Backlot

The eerie plane crash from War of the Worlds. That airplane is apparently real. :O

There’s a long list of movies that have been shot in the ‘Scary Alley’, such as Gone Girl and Captain America. I obviously had to get a picture taken here.

Universal Studios Backlot

The Scary Alley

Seriously, how amazing do these sets look? Knowing all the countless movies that were shot here only adds to the excitement. The Dark Knight and The Amazing Spiderman were shot in these sets!

Universal Studios Backlot

Universal Studios Backlot

Universal Studios Backlot

Some really cool rides!

Another exciting thing we got to do was to visit the set of an upcoming TV show called The Good Place (starring Kristen Bell). The Good Place, is a town where those who have been good throughout their life go to once they have passed away.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

This set truly lives up to the name of the show.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

The Good Place indeed!

During the backlot tour, we also experienced two really fun rides: King Kong 360 3D and Fast & Furious – Supercharged. Another fun attraction was witnessing the flash flood live.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

It was so unexpected seeing this flash flood out of nowhere.

We loved seeing the sets so much that we did the Nighttime Studio Tour. It was awesome being there at night, and although it wasn’t as good as the VIP backlot tour we did during the day, it was still a fun experience.

The Prop Warehouse

Have you ever wondered where all the props used in movies come from? Well, I surely did and it blew my mind to find out there’s a massive prop warehouse in the Universal backlot that has every possible prop you could imagine! A visit to the prop warehouse is only possible if you get the VIP Experience (or maybe if you’re friends with Steven Spielberg. In which case, hello, let’s be friends?).

Universal Studios Backlot

They had row after row of different props, each separated and arranged by era and type.

Universal Studios Backlot

Our tour guide explained the whole process that set designers go through to find and book the props for different movies and TV shows. It kind of functions like a library where you can rent out props for a particular duration. The set designers place labels on the props they want and if anyone is caught removing those labels, they’re banned from the prop warehouse for life.

Universal Studios Backlot

So call me maybe?

The Gourmet Lunch

After a wonderful tour of the Universal backlot, we headed to Jardin de Paris for a gourmet lunch buffet. This restaurant is only accessible to people who’ve opted for the VIP Experience.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

Look at all that food! We definitely overate (I think we deserved it after all the walking we did).

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

We were joined by none other than Dracula himself!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Ahh! This was undoubtedly the most exciting part of Universal Studios! At the Wizarding World, you can do so much more than just visit Hogsmeade and Hogwarts and I’m sure being here is every Potterhead’s dream come true.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

Hogsmeade looks so magical, even before you enter!

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

As you enter, you’re greeted by the Hogwarts Express.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

How amazing does the Hogwarts castle look?

Hogsmeade is lined by lots of stores like Honeydukes, Ollivanders, Zonko’s Joke Shop, Owl Post and Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Room. Each shop has it’s own authentic architecture and details and the attention to detail is admirable. We spent a lot of time at Honeydukes and ended up buying Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans, some Chocolate Frogs and Butterbeer cake among other things.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience


And of course, we stood in a long line to buy some Butterbeer, and needless to say, it tasted better than anything I’d imagined. Between chilled and frozen, I preferred the frozen Butterbeer. I loved it so much, I had it thrice (although now I wish I’d had more).

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

The highlight of Wizarding World was this delicious frosted Butterbeer!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter also has one of my favorite rides in Universal Studios: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The ride, buried deep inside Hogwarts castle, is a 3D ride that makes you feel like you’re flying with Harry, Ron and Hermione. This ride had an insanely long line and I was so glad we could skip it. I went on this ride twice and if I had the time, I’d have definitely been on it two more times at least.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

While in line for the ride, you can see cool things like this portrait wall located inside Hogwarts.

The other ride was the Flight of the Hippogriff. It’s a simple rollercoaster that is only 30 seconds long and not scary at all but definitely worth going on once just for the magical feel it has to it.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

We also watched the Frog Choir and visited Ollivanders. I could easily spend an entire day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are way too many cool things to see there and I couldn’t possibly fit all of it in this blog post.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

Living in my happy bubble of being accepted to Hogwarts. ^_^

Rides and Attractions

I’m so proud to admit that I went on each and every ride at Universal Studios and must say that I enjoyed each ride and show so much! Unlike Disney World, Universal Studios has a lot of high intensity and thrilling rides and has a completely different feel than Disney (They were both amazing and unique experiences though).

Universal Studios Hollywood: The VIP Experience

The Simpsons Ride

Even though it’s really hard to do, I’m going to try and list five rides/shows that I enjoyed slightly more than the others.

1. Revenge of the Mummy

2. The Simpsons Ride 

3. Jurassic Park: The Ride

4. King Kong 360 3D

5. Waterworld

I haven’t included Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in this list. It goes without saying that it was my absolute favorite ride.

Before I say goodbye, I’m going to take a minute here to tell you why I think you should treat yourself to the VIP Experience at Universal Studios:

1. You get access to the VIP Lounge, where you’re served some delectable snacks, get a VIP survival pack that’s filled with sunscreen, hand sanitizer and mints, get free water bottles and have access to fancy looking bathrooms.

2. You get an expert tour guide who is with you for a good 6-7 hours. Our tour guide, Geo, made us all feel really comfortable and did a great job of showing us around the Universal Backlot and keeping us entertained throughout.

3. You get exclusive access to the Universal Backlot. Unlike the Studio Tour where you hop in a tram with a hundred other people, the VIP Experience comes with a private trolley and you can actually get off it at different locations and walk along the sets that are off-limits to general ticket holders. You’re also taken to an actual movie/TV set and get a tour of the enormous prop warehouse.

4. You get to cut the lines! Unlike the Front of Line pass which only gives you a one time priority access to all rides, the VIP Experience lets you skip the line unlimited number of times throughout the day. Not only that, you get first access to the seats and the tour guides just know where to sit on each ride to get the best experience.

5. The VIP Experience includes an amazing gourmet lunch buffet at a private restaurant called Jardin de Paris, which is only open to VIPs. The food there is to die for, there is a great variety and you also get to dine with characters like Dracula.

6. There’s free valet parking. We didn’t really need to make use of this but valet parking is otherwise for $30.

All in all, the VIP Experience is spectacular and definitely the most exclusive way to go behind the scenes and experience Universal Studios feeling like a super star.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you could check out more of my travel posts.


  • Looks like you had an amazing day at Universal! When I plan my Cali trip I will add this to the agenda, but without the rides (not a thrill seeker at all). The VIP experience looks like a wonderful way to explore the park!

    • Yeah, I loved the VIP Experience and had a blast! There are some easy rides too 🙂 And plenty of fun shows to watch. You’ll have a great time when you visit.

  • Shelly

    I didn’t even know there was a VIP experience there. Definitely looks worth it to see the movie sets and props alone!

    • Totally worth it! It’s a bit expensive but definitely worth every penny. 🙂

  • Didn’t even know there was a VIP experience at Universal! Will have to try that out next time. That burger looks fantastic.

    • I didn’t know until we planned to go too! You might want to book a bit in advance though because they only have limited VIP tickets. 🙂

  • Kim

    My husband will pretty much require that we do the VIP experience now lol! I LOVE the world of Harry Potter, they did a great job! I agree the frozen butterbeer is the best. Escape from Gringots, the new ride in the other half of Universal Orlando, is my favorite HP ride. They did an AMAZING job with the queue line, too! Feels like the ride starts much earlier

    • Haha the VIP Tour is such a great experience and you and your husband should definitely take it! You won’t regret it 🙂
      I was super excited about seeing the Wizarding World. LOVED the attention to detail and just the general magical feeling you get when you’re there. And you’re right about the rides! Would love to go on Escape from Gringots sometime 🙂

  • Ally

    It looks amazing! All the photos and the article <3 Love it! I´m very happy, that I found your blog, will definitely read it.


  • Crashed Culture

    This looks so cool! We have Universal Studios here in Florida but I haven’t been in years so I don’t know how to compare. I’d love to go to the one in California, though!

    • I’m guessing the experience would be similar although the sets in LA are real and frequently used in movies so there’s that. I’d love to visit Universal Studios in Orlando sometime 🙂

  • The Famous Ashley Grant

    I officially want to be VIP. This looks like such a fun filled day!!!

  • My favourite rides were the Harry Potter and Jurassic Park rides too!

  • Very cool! My uncle was a prop master back in the 80s and 90s and I heard about prop warehouses, but I’ve never actually seen one. That’s cool you got to see one on the VIP tour 🙂

    • How nice! Seeing a prop house really blew me away. I never imagined something like that could ever exist! 😀

  • How fun! I would love to tour Universal Studios! I am a big fan of free stuff too!

  • Wow, that’s so exciting! is the VIP experience something you buy or something you have to apply for? A rookie tourist here 🙂

  • Heather Gullett Denniston

    This is so awesome. Hoping to to go there next year for sure! Love all the photos. You look like you had a great experience.

    • Thank you! 🙂 I really did have a great time!

  • I would love to have a VIP experience! I love the Forbidden Journey Ride (but you are so right, the line is insane!)

    • The VIP Experience is a great way to explore the park. You should take it sometime and it helps that you can skip the line on all rides 🙂

  • Cait Weingartner

    Ah! This looks amazing! It looks like you had a great time. So cool!

    – Cait | http://www.prettyandfun.com

  • Kate Hamernik

    this looks like so much fun – we hope to go for our son’s birthday this year!

    • You’ll definitely have a great time when you go! 🙂

  • Julie Mason

    May have to consider the VIP package when I get out there.

  • Candy Kage

    Heading to LA next week and this is on my list. Perfect timing can’t wait to visit.

  • I love Universal, especially for Halloween Horror Nights, but have never seen the backlot!! So jealous!

    • Halloween Horror Nights sound awesome! Would love to go to Universal for that some time. 😀

    • Halloween Horror Night sounds awesome! Would love to go to Universal for that some time. 😀

  • Marvina Musser
  • Debs

    Thank you for the tips! We’re planning to do this with my nephews in the spring and trying to figure it all out.

    • Hope you have a great trip! Glad my post helped 🙂

  • Samantha

    This is so awesome! I’m such a Potterhead, too! I would love to go there one of these days, but for now I’ll keep myself happy reading the books a million times and staring wistfully at other people’s photos. 🙂

    • Haha you’ll honestly have the best time ever when you visit 🙂 So so magical!

  • Wow, what an awesome trip! So cool to get the VIP experience!

  • I would LOVE to do this with my family! If you’re only going to go once – might as well go all out! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Melissa Touchton

    Very cool! I loved getting the details on the VIP experience. Adding it to my bucket list. Your pictures were great! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Thank you, Melissa! Glad you liked my post 🙂

  • This is so cool! I wonder if there’s something similar at the Orlando one? I’m a pass holder there but have never visited the Universal in CA!

    • I just checked and looks like the Orlando one offers the VIP Experience too. You should try it out next time 🙂

  • SO FREAKIN AWESOME. I went to HP world last winter….LIFE CHANGING <3

  • Michelle Connelly Walker

    this looks so much fun! I cant wait to take my kiddos to universal! Looks like you had a great time. and The Simpsons ride looks so much fun!

    • Thanks, I did have a great time! You and your kids will love it for sure! 🙂

  • Oh my goodness, that looks like so much fun! I so want to go.

    • It was SO much fun! You should definitely plan a trip sometime 🙂

  • Wow!! I haven’t heard of the VIP experience, but it sounds amazing! I have wanted to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter so badly; hopefully someday!

    • The Wizarding World is absolutely AMAZING! You’ll love it when you go 🙂

  • Ginger Marie

    I’m still stuck on the Back to the Future bit! SO FREAKING COOOOOOOL!

    • Haha yeah, I was super excited to see it! 😀

  • Talk about the BEST way to go! What a fun trip!

    • Haha the VIP Experience is totally the BEST way to see the park. It was so worth it!

  • Mimi Rose

    I just went to Universal Studios for the first time last week and I loved it!! The VIP experience sounds even better, I’ll have to go for that one next time. That flash flood was crazy, right? Even though I knew it was fake it still got my heart pumping.

    • Awesome! I totally loved Universal and the VIP Experience just makes it all the more fun! And yeah, I loved the flash flood! Felt so real. 😀

  • Oh my god the VIP experience looks SO cool! I would love to go on the backlot tour and wander through the prop house, it’s so fun to see the magic behind th movies.

    La Belle Sirene

    • Yeah, that was the best part of the VIP Experience. Loved going behind the scenes and seeing how movies are made 🙂