As a movie lover who is planning a trip to Southern California, you might feel torn between visiting Universal Studios Hollywood® to take its World-Famous Studio Tour™ and also taking the Warner Bros.® Studio Tour.
The good news is that even if you’re only visiting Los Angeles for a long weekend, you can absolutely do both tours which are in completely different locations.
Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the most popular attractions in Los Angeles. Most people associate the name with the theme park, but it’s also a working studio that has been offering studio tours since 1964.
Since then, Universal Studios Hollywood has added rides, shows, and more based on its most popular movies, from Harry Potter™ to Jurassic Park™.
The World-Famous Studio Tour is the park’s amazing, hour-long backlot tram ride. You can absolutely fit it into a day that includes plenty of roller coasters and character sightings especially if you buy the Universal Express pass that allows entry via an expedited line (well worth the added cost on peak days).
A day is really all you need at Universal Studios Hollywood unless you’re traveling with a die-hard Harry Potter fan who you can’t quite get to leave The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ (it happens).
One thing you need to know before you go is that even if you’re only really interested in Universal’s World Famous Studio Tour, you still have to purchase admission to the theme park — so getting discounted Universal Studios Hollywood tickets is worth it.
The other tour option is a 5-hour VIP Experience tour full of exclusive experiences, a private gourmet meal, front of the line access.
Visiting Warner Bros. and Taking the Studio Tour
For a really great behind-the-scenes look at the art of making movies and TV shows, you can’t beat the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.
The small group tour, which is two to three hours long, takes visitors into real sets and sound stages that have been used to create movies like La La Land and shows like The Big Bang Theory®.
You’ll also get to walk around actual working sets and see what the cameras see (and don’t see), though there won’t be anyone actually filming during the tour.
The most important thing you can do when planning out your studio tour is to get your tickets in advance and arrive at least 20 minutes early for parking and the security check.
Touring Universal Studios and the Warner Bros. Studio in the Same Trip
Taking both tours in the same trip is no problem at all. You can take the Warner Bros. studio tour in one morning or afternoon, leaving the rest of the day free to do a second activity and hit Universal Studios Hollywood the next day.
Even if you plan on taking the VIP tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, you’ll still have plenty of time for the rides — especially since the VIP tour tickets include multi-ride, front-of-line passes to all the rides and shows including the World-Famous Studio Tour.
Touring Universal Studios and the Warner Bros. Studio in the Same Day
A lot of people have asked me if it’s possible to do both of these studio tours in the same day and while the quick answer is yes, it does take some planning.
Knowing that you are scheduling both parks for the same day, you’re going to have fewer hours to explore Universal’s theme park. You could, for example, book the earliest Warner Bros. studio tour of the day and then drive to Universal Studios Hollywood, take the tour, and stay until closing time, which may be as late as 10 p.m. during the summer.
Tips for Touring Both Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Studios
Here are some tips for making the most of your visits to both studios:
Know What Makes Each Tour Unique
If you’re not sure if you really want to do both tours, here’s a breakdown of what they look like.
Touring Universal Studios Hollywood
The basic Universal Studios Hollywood tour is shorter, with pre-recorded commentary, and you’ll stay on a tram that holds more than 200 people for the whole tour.
About half of the tour is more like an amusement park ride featuring scenes from famous films. You can’t visit the theme park without experiencing the tour because it’s fantastic for all ages.
The VIP Experience Universal Studios tour is very different. As mentioned above, it’s about five hours long, and you’ll be with an expert tour guide for the duration. You’ll see parts of the studio that are closed to the public, tour backlot locations, and explore the prop warehouse before enjoying a gourmet lunch. You can then skip the line and enjoy the World Famous Studio Tour.
Touring Warner Bros. Studios
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour is a two-hour tour. It takes place on trams that seat 12 and is narrated by a live tour guide. You’ll spend a lot of the tour off of the tram, exploring sets, sound studios, and stages (like Central Perk from Friends below), and there’s plenty of time to ask questions.
There’s also a Deluxe tour, which includes everything that’s in the basic tour as well as visits to the costume department, the property department, and lunch in the Warner Bros.’ Commissary Fine Dining Room.
Choose an Experience
If you’re looking for excitement, prioritize Universal’s tour. It has more themed elements, feels more like a ride, and even has explosions — plus you can spend the rest of your day enjoying the park’s thrill rides.
But if you want to visit a working studio to see where the magic happens, or you’re a serious film buff, make Warner Bros. your first stop.
Plan a Second Day at Universal Studios Hollywood
Serious Harry Potter fans will be happiest if they have more than one day to explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
And, especially if you’re staying at one of the hotels near Universal Studios Hollywood (Hilton Universal/Los Angeles or Sheraton Universal Hotel) it will be easy to walk or shuttle to the park at leisure.
Time Your Drives
It’s easy to get from the Warner Bros. Studio to Universal Studios. Just remember that California traffic can be difficult. To miss peak traffic times, plan to be on the road between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you don’t have a car, Uber and other popular rideshare apps work well in Los Angeles.
It should take about ten minutes to travel between the two Los Angeles attractions without traffic.
Prioritize What You Really Want to Do at Universal Studios Hollywood
If you absolutely must do both tours in one day and you want to spend time going on rides and watching shows at Universal Studios Hollywood, plan your day out in advance. Don’t try to wing it. Or, consider a Universal Express pass that allows entry into an expedited line for popular attractions including the World Famous Studio Tour.
Read up on what there is to do and see, decide what you absolutely can’t miss, and check out those things first. Depending on the time of year, you may find you have extra time to roam after hitting those must-dos.
Split Your Day Strategically
Here’s one more option for checking out both tours in one day. If you’re willing to do more driving, you can split your day at Universal Studios Hollywood by buying tickets with the early arrival option (which can only be done directly through UniversalStudiosHollywood.com) or be sure to buy Universal Express tickets to quickly enter most rides and attractions.
Spend the first 4-5 hours of your day taking the World Famous Studio Tour and going on rides. Then, drive to Warner Bros. and do the basic tour (which you’ve already reserved) at 2:30 p.m.
You’ll be able to get back to Universal with enough time to grab a bite to eat, check out the shows, and go on any of the rides you missed in the morning. Or, assuming you’re staying at one of the hotels near Universal Studios Hollywood, head back for an early dinner and a stroll around CityWalk.
With a little planning, it’s easy to do both of the upgraded studio tours in one trip. Plus, it’s even possible to do both of the basic studio tours in a single day.
That said, if your goal is to relax and not have to rush around L.A., then plan on visiting Warner Bros. on one day and Universal Studios Hollywood the next day. That way, you’ll get more enjoyment out of both.
Have you ever taken both studio tours in one day? I’d love to hear about how you did it!