2024 ULTIMATE Guide to the Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour: Secrets, Photos and Tips!

Are you ready to take a ride on the World-Famous Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour?

Going to Hollywood, California is a big deal for those who visit!

Our eyes tend to be full of stardust, waiting to run into a glamorous celebrity while dining or visiting a set of your favorite movie.

As someone who is really into films from the golden age of Hollywood, visiting Hollywood just has that certain charm to it.

But the best way to really get the full immersive experience, is to do a Backlot Studio Tour.

There are many options like the Warner Bros Studio Tour, Sony Pictures, Adventures By Disney: Disney Backstage and Paramount Pictures.

But my personal favorite is the one we will be doing a deep dive of today, The World-Famous Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour Creature from Black Lagoon and Wolfman Mural

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Iconic Scenes: Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour

When it comes to a walkthrough, because the tour can change so frequently that you may not see the same thing every time.

Universal Studios Hollywood backlot Studio Tour Cars from Movies Dinosaur Bones

However, there are certain staples that you will guarantee to see unless under refurbishment.

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Time to Start the Tour

Before you take your seat on the tram, you are asked to pick up a pair of 3D glasses, which the tour guide will let you know when to put on throughout the tour.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour Escalators

As you go off, you will take a drive down the hill to the lots and get some insight on the history of the studio.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour

The start of the tour goes the the studio hits with a combination of the tour guide giving insight and Jimmy Fallon hosting on the screens in the tram.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio backlot Tour with VIP Guide Private Bus Interior

You’ll also see movie posters on either side with the debut year.

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The Soundstages

Along the tour you will pass various working soundstages along with some of the current and past films and shows that filmed there.

Universal Studios Hollywood backlot  Studio Tour passing by stage 11 with Super Mario Bros Movie Poster

Stage 12 is the busiest and biggest with over 29,000 square feet.

It was home to films like Frankenstein and the Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, all three Jurassic Park movies and Back to the Future.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour Dracula Wolfman Frankenstein and Creature from Black Lagoon Mural

Soundstage 12 was also home to the iconic NBC tv series, “The Voice.”

Residential Streets

You will come across various general-purpose sets like residential streets, Main Street Squares and more where films like:

  • Desperate Housewives
  • The Good Place
  • Psycho
  • The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
  • Nacho Libre
  • Back to the Future

Along the tour, you will experience various special effects demonstrations and staged events. Here is what you can see, with it being subject to availability:

Jupiter’s Claim

The most recent addition to the studio tour is the Jupiter’s Claim set from Jordan Peele’s “Nope.”

Jupiter's Claim Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour Nope Scene

This is the actual western theme park set from the film that was disassembled during pre-production and debuted during the tour the same day as the film’s opening.

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King Kong: 360 3D

With your 3D glasses, you will enter Skull Island and go through a harrowing adventure, encountering various twists, turns and creatures not seen since days of dinosaurs.

And yes, you will encounter Kong!

Skull Island Reign of Kong Ride Entrance Islands of Adventure
Skull Island: Reign of Kong at Universal Orlando Resort

If you have ridden the Kong attraction at Universal Islands of Adventure, its almost shot for shot the same experience.

Fast and Furious: Supercharged

This is another 3D experience within the tour that takes you through the streets with Dom Torretto and the cast of the Fast and Furious Franchise.

Backlot Studio Tour Fast and Furious Supercharged Universal Studios Hollywood California

It is an exact copy of the attraction at Universal Studios Florida.

Pyscho: Bates Mansion & Bates Motel

One of the biggest draws for the studio tour is the Bates Motel and Mansion.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour Psycho Norman Bates House

At the mansion, you will pass by the mansion with Norman awaiting you on the porch. As you leave, you will narrowly escape his attack as he approaches with a rubber knife.

At the hotel, you will come across Norman carrying what seems to be his most recent victim and putting them in the trunk.

Once spotted, he slowly comes for the tram with a rubber knife.

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Disaster Zone

Here you’ll journey through the disastrous wreckage of the Boeing 747 from Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour War of Worlds Disaster Plane Crash

It’s one of the most amazing, yet terrifying set pieces on the whole tour!

If you do the Universal VIP Experience, you’ll be able to get even closer and walkthrough the actual wreckage.

Flash Flood

During your tour, you will stop in the street of a Mexican Village and a storm will quickly roll in.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour Western Water Scene Flash Flood

Suddenly, you will be caught in the midst of a flash flood, watching as the storm waters rush towards you from down the village hills.

Graveyard of Movie Cars

Here you’ll get to see some of the most famous cars from your favorite movies such as the Harry Potter Films, the Flintstones, Jurassic World and more!

This is one of my favorite scenes on the Hollywood Studio Tour.

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Jurassic Park

The Tram tour continues through the Isla Nubar set, encountering some silly dinosaurs along the way.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour Cars from Movies Jurassic Park Dinosau

Along the way, you will get to see props and pieces from the Jurassic Park films.

Jaws

Another extremely popular staged event during the tram tour is encountering Bruce.

Backlot Studio Tour Jaws Universal Studios Hollywood California

As you drive through the harbor area, everything is peaceful and serene.

But if you have seen the film, you know it’s not all it seems. Bruce eventually makes a shocking appearance!

Earthquake

The tram tour enters a San Francisco Subway Station underground when a sudden 8.3 earthquake hits.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour Disaster Earthquake Scene with Large Truck

This effect is achieved with a hot set, in which certain props stay in place and won’t move.

The hot set features flooding water, a derailed subway train, a gasoline truck crashing through the roof with fire and spark effects.

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History of the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour

For context, Universal Studios Hollywood is still a working film studio.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio backlot Tour with VIP Guide in Western Scene

It’s on top of being a theme park nestled within the glimmering San Fernando Valley hills of Universal City.

Universal Studios Hollywood backlot Studio Tour view of Universal City California with mountains in San Fernando valley

To this day, it is still one of the oldest film studios to exist to this very day.

While some like myself also visit to enjoy the shows and attractions that the theme park side offers, one should ALWAYS make time to enjoy the studio tour.

In fact, this is how Universal Studios Hollywood started its roots as a theme park!

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The Early Days of Universal Studios Hollywood

Back in 1914, Carl Laemmele purchased a ranch in the San Fernando Valley and Universal City was born!

Universal Studios Hollywood backlot Studio Tour with VIP Guide in Western Scene

It included the studio itself, a working zoo, its own police force and mayor, along with Native Americans living on the land.

On March 14, 1915, Universal Studios had a two-day grand unveiling with approximately 10,000 guests in attendance.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Backlot Studio Tour Western Scene

Later on, for the price of 5 cents (about $1.50 in today’s money), visitors could come and see everything that went on inside the huge studio while it was cranking out movies.

At the time, Universal City was still rural, and visitors were able to purchase fresh produce.

Universal Studios Hollywood backlot Studio Tour view of Universal City California with mountains

Their admission included a boxed lunch with chicken as well!

However, because of the rise of “talkies” or Movies with sound in 1927 and the fact that sets were not yet soundproof, the tour was ended in 1930.

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MCA Takesover Universal Studios Hollywood

Once MCA (Music Corporation of America) took over in 1962, it was suggested that the tour be reopened once again to increase revenue.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour Entrance

The Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour was revitalized on July 15, 1964, and technically that is the day the theme park was born.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour Trams

Upon its return, it featured dressing room walkthroughs, peeks at productions and later down the line, staged events.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour

One of the early issues was giving things for younger children to do.

Earlier parts of the tour included the Ark Park petting zoo, which was an expanded version of the zoo already on site.

Universal Studios Hollywood. Opt in Lead Magnet Blog Banner

It boasted 200 animals and birds representing over 30 different species.

The Flash Flood Scene is Added to the Studio Tour

In 1968, the Flash Flood scene was added due to a screen actors guild rule that stated that visitors couldn’t visit soundstages.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour Western Water Scene Flash Flood

This meant they couldn’t show as much of the real experience and improvised with these special effects addition.

It proved extremely successful with 20,000 gallons of water rushing down the street of a Mexican Village.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Backlot Tour Western Water Scene Flash Flood

In 1970, the Animal Actors Stage School was opened, which sadly recently closed to make way for the rumored Fast and Furious roller coaster.

Many things have come and gone with the tour such as a King Kong Encounter, a Battlestar Galactica laser battle, a rockslide and a collapsing bridge.

Backlot Studio Tour Universal Studios Hollywood California

Today, the tour still remains one of the most popular attractions at the park, featuring tour guides, some who would later become celebrities in their own right.

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What to Know Before You Go to Universal Studios Hollywood

Now that you know what to expect on the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, let’s go over a few of the most commonly asked questions.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour with VIP Guide in Western Scene

How much does the Universal Hollywood Studio tour cost?

The tour is included in the price of your Universal Studios Hollywood admission ticket.

Is the Universal Studios Tram Tour accessible?

Yes, there is accessibility seating and other options available for you on the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour Cars from Movies Back to the Future and the Flintstones

How long does the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood last?

The tram tour can last anywhere between 45 mins to an hour so make sure you use the restroom before you get in line.

What time does the tram tour run at Universal Studios Hollywood?

The Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood runs from park open to an hour before park close.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour with VIP Guide in Western Scene

Am I allowed to take photos and videos on the Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Tour?

Yes, you are welcome to film unless otherwise stated by the tour guide.

Does the tour stop for breaks or to walk around?

The tram tour does not stop until it returns to the station where you loaded in.

Can I use an Express Pass for the Universal Hollywood Studio Tour?

Yes, you can use the Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass for this attraction.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour Cars from Movies Jurassic World

Is this attraction suitable for children?

There may be certain sequences that may scare children so I would recommend using your judgment and knowledge of your child ultimately to determine if its appropriate.

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7 Beginner Tips for Riding the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood

  1. Try to make the tour one of the very first things you do for the day as the line gets longer once the park opens.
  2. The best place to sit on the tram depends on what specifically you wish to see. My favorite is in the middle on the right side.
  3. Be mindful to go to the bathroom prior to boarding as the tour will not stop.
  4. Before entering down the walkway entrance, to your left hand side on the building wall is a board that will tell you everything that is filming that day and what you may see on your tour.
  5. Make sure to eat something and bring water with you just in case.
  6. The tour ends about 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to park close so plan accordingly.
  7. Best time to do the tour is first thing in the morning, lunchtime between noon and 1 p.m. or close to park close.

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My Final Thoughts and Review on the Universal Studios Backlot Tour

The Universal Studio Hollywood Studio Tour is not only one of the most favored attractions at the park, but a favorite amongst the studio tours in the city.

Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour Cars from Movies Craw Daddy Boat and Us Truck

It has a storied history and is fun, exciting and puts you right in the middle of some of your favorite past and present television and film productions.

And as mentioned before, it is the reason why the park exists today.

Universal Studios Hollywood Backlot Studio Tour War of Worlds Disaster Plane Crash

It’s a great way to take a break from the excitement of other attractions from the day.

Plus, it truly will leave you with stars in your eyes saying “Hooray for Hollywood!”

Full Guide to the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood
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Let us know if you have done the Universal Hollywood Studio Tour and what you liked about it in the comments section below!

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

Victoria Wade Disney Writer at ThemeParkHipster

About the Author

Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.

She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.

She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.

(Original Article Date: July 10, 2023/Updated by Editor on March 2, 2024)

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