Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza
Photo by Lisa Corson, AFAR Media
Universal Studios HollywoodCall it the magic of Hollywood: Since opening in 1964, this theme park has continued to reinvent itself, creating ever-more ambitious experiences inspired by blockbuster movies. For Harry Potter fans, a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade is essential, while Peter Jackson’s King Kong 360 3-D, and the immersive Fast & Furious—Supercharged simulator ride will get the adrenaline going. To be truly swept up in the park, sign up for the VIP Experience. You’ll get a special escort to the front of the line for rides, along with breakfast, a private lunch prepared by the studio’s executive chef, valet parking, and backlot access, where you’ll see thousands of set pieces and props. (Production schedules can affect the availability of these tours.) The adjacent Universal CityWalk’s restaurants and massive movie theater make the destination worthy of even more time, especially if you visit around notable holidays, when themes take over in spectacular fashion, from “Grinchmas” to the Lunar New Year. Pro tip: Download the Universal Studios app, which you can set to send alerts when certain rides’ wait times reach five minutes.