I can't believe January was only a few short months ago. It seems like SO much longer since we've been in sunny and warm San Diego weather. I hope April showers really DO bring May flowers, because I want to go to the beach again!
The "last stop" for us on our Southern California City Pass was Universal Studios, a place I hadn't been to since I was 7 years old! I barely remembered it, and of course most things have changed since then. I didn't think there would be a whole lot for kids to do there, so we left the kids with my parents (!!!) and got to spend the day at Universal Studios by ourselves! It was SO great!
So Universal Tip #1 is. . . either leave the kids with someone else or skip it until your kids are old enough to enjoy it. There would have been a few things our little kids could have done, but not really that many. Most of the rides and shows are geared towards adults, teens, and older kids.
#2- For SURE go during the off-season. We didn't have to wait in very many lines at all, and most of the shows had no wait times either. I've never been when it's crowded, but Stephen remembers going in the summer as a teenager and waiting for hours for the Studio Bus Tour and all the different shows. Doesn't sound very fun to me! Most of the rides are short, so it would be a huge pain to wait a long time for them. They do sell a "Front of the Line Pass" you can buy if it's extremely busy, but it's pricey.
#3- Go see ALL the shows. They have all different ones depending on the year and the season. I thought they were all entertaining and fun. We also rode all the rides (I think we did every attraction except for House of Horrors.) My favorites rides were Revenge of the Mummy (short but scary and fun roller coaster!) and Jurassic Park (you WILL get wet!)
#4- You'll want to have your camera with you, at least for part of the day, to get a few character pictures. A lot of the characters they had there weren't too interesting to me, but I HAD to get a picture of Stephen with his favorite cartoon character (and my least favorite), Spongebob.
#5- I recommend starting your day the same way we did, by heading to the Studio Tour first. This tends to get the busiest, so you'll avoid some crowds if you head there first thing when the park opens. The Studio tour was great! They added a new section to it called King Kong 360 3-D. Billed as the world's largest and most intense 3-D experience, it really WAS scary and awesome and completely fun! The bus went into a dark tunnel and then suddenly we were surrounded by 3-D dinosaurs who were all trying to chase and eat us, and then King Kong showed up to pound on the bus and save us. The bus bounced and clattered around and we totally did feel part of the King Kong experience. Very cool!
#6- Unlike Disneyland (I could go there over and over again, easily!) I think of Universal Studios as a place that you only go to every few years. It just doesn't have that "I've got to come back here soon!" feel, at least not for me. I had a fun time there, mainly because I hadn't been in so long so most of it was new to me. But I would get bored of this park easily if I went too often.
#7- There are a lot of good food options right outside the entrance to Universal Studios. These would especially be great for lunches. But if you don't have kids with you and you want to eat one of the BEST burgers I've ever had. . . go for dinner after the park closes to 25 Degrees, right on Hollywood Boulevard. It's a burger bar, located inside the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, and Stephen and I were seriously wowed by their thick, juicy, delicious burgers and yummy chocolate malts. You KNOW a place is good when you're still thinking about it and talking about it months later, and that's how this place is! Stephen and I both want to go back! I read about it in Sunset magazine (love getting restaurant recommendations from there!) and it even exceeded my expectations!