This is the fifth in the series of reviews of my trip to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The following links will become clickable after each review becomes available:
- London Heathrow T5 Business Parking
- British Airways Premium Economy – London Heathrow to Las Vegas
- New York, New York Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas
- Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Anaheim, Los Angeles
- American Airlines Economy – Los Angeles to San Francisco
- Villa Florence Hotel, San Francisco
- Alcatraz Tour, San Francisco
- House of Nanking Chinese Restaurant, San Francisco
- British Airways Lounge San Francisco Airport
- British Airways Club World – San Francisco to London
- London Heathrow Airside Transfer T5 to T3
The Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Experience is $299 per person and that might seem expensive for a day’s visit to a theme park. But that does include valet parking, a light breakfast, gourmet lunch and of course a personal tour with front of line access and the chance to walk around the backlot.
The regular park admission is $84 but that won’t give you front of line access. For that you need to pay $139 up to $169 at peak dates. You’ll also need to pay $15 for parking. Then you’ll need lunch and some bottles of water.
I would say the breakfast was worth $10 and lunch was easily worth $40. Add in $25 for the valet parking and bottled water and the VIP price doesn’t seem so expensive after all.
You can choose a tour start time when you book, but the time is always in the morning usually between 9:15 and 10:15am. If you aren’t staying at a nearby hotel, I’d recommend starting out a few hours before your tour time as the LA traffic is crazy. You’ll also need to work out how to get to the valet parking as the regular signs, or sat nav address, take you to the regular car parking. There are some instructions in an email that Universal send out after you book.
We arrived at the park entrance and were directed through a private door that lead to a breakfast area. The breakfast buffet was cakes, biscuits, fruit, juices and tea/coffee. If you need a full hot breakfast to start your day then you’ll need to hit a Dennys before you arrive. The various tour leaders were wandering around and finding the members of their group. Our guide was Gwen and she asked us what movies we were especially interested in and made some notes. We were also given a VIP pass, an amenity pack with sunscreen, some mints and a few other bits and pieces.
Then we were off to board the backlot tour bus. This was smaller than the regular bus. I won’t describe the whole tour, just the parts that I think were extra. We stopped and were able to disembark at several locations, including the Psycho house and the main square, most famous for Back to the Future and were able to walk around and take photos. I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t able to wander around the amazing crashed aircraft set from War of the Worlds – just drove past. My recommendation would be to get off at the Psycho house and try to walk round the corner to the War of the Worlds set. We also visited the prop store, although this was more furniture than hand-held props and costumes – still it’s nice to be able to go behind the scenes.
After the bus tour, we were given front of line access to several rides. For the Jurassic Park water ride, we were all given plastic ponchos so we wouldn’t get as wet as usual.
Next was a gourmet buffet lunch. It really was a gourmet buffet with fine dining items to choose from. Only soft drinks were available and it would have been nice to have a glass of wine there. Still a really good quality buffet.
After lunch we had preferred seating at the animal actors and Waterworld shows, plus I think a few more front of line access rides.
At the end of the tour I think everyone was happy with the day’s adventure. Thanks Gwen for being a helpful and friendly guide throughout.