Road Trip: Tucson to Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Hollywood | Road Trip: Tucson to Universal Studios Hollywood

Planning a trip from Tucson to Universal Studios Hollywood? We have a full guide to help your road trip be as safe, fun, and stress-free as possible. Read on for information about where to stay, places to stop along the way, and what to eat on-the-road.

According to Google Maps, the trip from Tucson, Arizona to Universal Studios Hollywood is 496 miles and will take approximately 7 hours and 47 minutes. That's the shortest route possible (along I-10), but your time may vary based on the the weather, traffic conditions, and how many people you are traveling with.


This route takes you through Phoenix, Palm Springs, Pasadena, and then to Hollywood. Hollywood is a neighborhood that is northwest of Downtown Los Angeles in Southern California.

A notable stop along this route is in Cabazon, California in Riverside County. The most distinctive feature of this stop are the dinosaurs! You'll want to take a quick photo or two after going to the restrooms. If you have time for an extended break, you can pay $15/adult or $13/child (ages 3-12) to go inside Cabazon Dinosaurs, where you'll view 50+ dinosaurs and climb inside Mr. Rex!

Cabazon is also home to Desert Hills Premium Outlets, which is close to I-10 and has a Five Guys and a Starbucks.

Desert Hills Premium Outlets
Desert Hills Premium Outlets | Cabazon, CA

People sometimes also stop in Palm Springs, a popular luxury destination for celebrities. It doesn't look particularly striking when you drive by, but this "secret city" has a number of high-end resorts and upscale restaurants. Many of the most popular attractions (Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, etc) are not necessarily right off the freeway. If you're just making a quick stop, you can look for (or route to) the In-N-Out along I-10 at 72265 Varner Rd in Thousand Palms, CA. It's Exit 130.


Here is a basic packing list to get you started:

  • One outfit for each day (including socks and underwear)
  • One pair of pajamas for each night
  • At least one sweatshirt or jacket for the chilly Southern California evenings
  • Swimsuit, sandals, and cover-up
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, contacts/glasses, cosmetics, shampoo, hair brush
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes (2 pairs is best)
  • Stroller and/or Baby Carrier (if you have a baby or toddler with you)
  • A bag or backpack to carry into the park (Baggallini's Take Two RFID Bryant Crossbody is perfect for Universal Studios Hollywood!)
  • Water bottles
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Camera, laptop, and/or phone (and related chargers)


If you want to purchase Universal Studios Hollywood tickets BEFORE you get to California, you can go on to the Universal Studios Hollywood website and make your purchase. Tickets can also be purchased from a Tucson travel agent.

Tickets typically range in price from $109-$154/day, depending on the season and day of the week. Children (ages 3-9) receive a small discount ($6 off). Children 2 and under are free.


It's almost impossible to find discounts on 1-day tickets, but you can sometimes find package deals if you are purchasing multi-day tickets or an annual pass.

Costco currently offers a Universal Studios Hollywood Season Pass for $169, which offers access to the park for 11 months. Available only online. Blackout dates apply.


There is no hotel owned/managed by Universal Studios Hollywood. That being said, there are a number of partner hotels in Burbank, Hollywood, North Hollywood, and Sherman Oaks for you to choose from. We recommend Loews Hollywood Hotel, which is only about 10 minutes from the Universal Studios Hollywood entrance!


Located right in the middle of Hollywood, Loews Hollywood Hotel is a high-rise, luxury hotel that is a super quick drive to Universal Studios Hollywood! Because of its' location and event spaces, this hotel draws many business travelers and conferences. That being said, families are another key audience because of the proximity to Universal Studios Hollywood and other Southern California attractions.


  • Address: Loews Hollywood Hotel, 1755 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood CA
  • Check-In: 4:00pm
  • Check-Out: 11:00am
  • Parking: Self-parking is $20 + tax/day (no in-and-out privileges). Valet parking is $55 + tax/stay (with in-and-out privileges).
  • Resort Fee: $24.08 + tax/day
  • Peak Season: Summer
  • Social Media: Follow Loews Hollywood Hotel on Facebook and Instagram.
  • BOOK A ROOM | call 1-877-875-1604


  • Loews Hollywood Hotel is directly adjacent to Ovation Hollywood, a large three-story outdoor shopping center. In fact, the hotel is connected and has a private entrance (accessible with your room key)!
  • If you're hoping to see all of the iconic Hollywood locations (Celebrity Handprints, Chinese Theatre, El Capitan, Hollywood Sign, etc), this property is for you.
  • Some of the rooms have two KINGS. Perfect for families or for guests who enjoy lots of space for sleep!
  • Bring a reusable water bottle. There is a water bottle filling station in the Fitness Center.
  • The swimming pool is on the 5th floor.
  • We recommend valet parking at this property as self-parking is managed by the adjacent shopping center.
  • A shuttle service is not currently available from the hotel to Universal Studios Hollywood.
  • Note that Hollywood has a plethora of marijuana, along with a pervasive homeless population, so the streets don't feel the safest, particularly after dark. It appears that there have been recent efforts to clean up the streets, but improvements are still warranted in this area. The hotel itself, however, feels incredibly posh, clean, comfortable, and safe - a wonderful "base" for exploring the area!


Universal Studios Hollywood opened as a theme park in July of 1964 and encompasses more than 400 acres. The park is particularly known for "immersing guests in the awe-inspiring world of movie-making magic." Fans of Harry Potter tend to be particularly drawn to Universal Studios Hollywood because of the immersive Harry Potter World where you will feel like you are right inside the movie set.


There are currently eleven rides at Universal Studios Hollywood.

See below for an alphabetical listing of all rides.

  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey
  • Jurassic World: The Ride
  • Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge
  • Revenge of The Mummy: The Ride
  • Silly Swirly
  • The Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash
  • The Simpsons Ride
  • The World-Famous Studio Tour (includes Fast & Furious: Supercharged and King Kong 360 3D)
  • Transformers: The Ride 3D


There are quite a few characters who make appearances throughout the day for photos and meet & greets, including:

  • Bumblebee
  • Donkey (from Shrek)
  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein
  • Hello Kitty
  • I Love Lucy
  • Luigi
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Mario
  • Megatron
  • Optimus Prime
  • Princess Fiona
  • Princess Peach
  • Raptor Encounter
  • Scooby-Doo & Shaggy
  • Shrek
  • The Minions
  • The Simpsons

Be sure to check the Universal Studios Hollywood App for the full schedule to make note of times and locations for character meet-and-greets.


There are currently nine shows at Universal Studios Hollywood, but they tend to change throughout the year.

  • 5 Towers Stage (various musical artists)
  • Access Hollywood
  • Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle
  • DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda
  • Frog Choir
  • Raptor Encounters
  • The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle
  • Twiwizard Spirit Rally
  • WaterWorld

Be sure to check the Universal Studios Hollywood App for the full schedule to make note of times and locations for shows and character meet-and-greets.


Dining options are plentiful inside the park at Universal Studios Hollywood and there are 33+ restaurant choices.

  • Bumblebee Man's Taco Truck
  • City Snack Shop
  • Cletus' Chicken Shack
  • Cocina Mexicana
  • Despicable Delights
  • Duff Brewery Beer Garden
  • French Street Bistro
  • Hog's Head
  • Hollywood & Dine
  • Isla Nu-Bar
  • Jurassic Cafe
  • Krusty Burger
  • Lard Lad Donuts
  • Luigi's Pizza
  • Magic Neep Cart
  • Mel's Diner
  • Minion Cafe
  • Moe's Tavern
  • Mulligan's Irish Pub
  • Mummy Eats
  • Palace Deli & Market
  • Panda Express
  • Phineas Q. Butterfat's Ice Cream
  • Power Up Cafe
  • Starbucks X2
  • Studio Cafe
  • Studio Scoop
  • Suds McDuff's Hot Dogs
  • Super Nintendo World Popcorn & Drink Cart
  • Three Broomsticks
  • Toadstool Cafe
  • Universal Tower Snack Bar

If these options aren't enough to entice you, there are 29 MORE eateries just outside the park in Universal CityWalk (which is a strip of restaurants and gift shops that does not require theme park tickets). CityWalk includes many names you will be familiar with - Cinnabon, Johnny Rockets, Taco Bell, and The Habit, to name a few.


As you might expect from a movie-themed amusement park, Universal Studios Hollywood has a wide variety of gift shops, fabulous photo spots, and interesting things to do.

  • If you enjoy carnival games and have money to spend, head over to The Simpsons Carnival Games or Despicable Me Carnival Games where you can win prizes (perhaps your very own minion stuffy?).
  • Dino Play is a playground-type area that is best for ages 5 and under. Glide down a slide, cross a rope bridge, and learn about dinosaurs.
  • If you're visiting Universal Studios Hollywood in the summer with small children, note that Super Silly Land is a minion-inspired play zone with over 80 water features. You may even want to bring/wear swimsuits, flip flops, and towels.
  • Super Fans of Super Mario may be interested in purchasing a Power-Up Band and completing the Key Challenges in Nintendo World. *You can only enter certain areas if you have a power-up band.


What your top tips for visiting Universal Studios Hollywood?

  • Arrive an hour early. The park appears to open early/grant early access so you can get in line before the park officially opens.
  • Bring snacks and water bottles in a backpack. Outside food is permitted (not coolers, etc).
  • The Jurassic Parking Lot isn’t far from the entrance. It's relatively easy to come back to the car mid-day to grab snacks. The cost for parking is $32.
  • Most rides have a height requirement of 40". For Revenge of the Mummy and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, children need to be 48".
  • Be prepared to ride escalators or take A LOT of stairs. Universal Studios Hollywood is divided into an Upper Lot and a Lower Lot. The Lower Lot has Super Nintendo World, Jurassic World, Mummy, and Transformers. The Upper Lot has everything else.
  • Universal Express Passes are approximately $100 more per ticket and allow fast-pass entry into each ride one time (excluding Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge). These tickets may greatly enhance your experience during busier seasons.
  • Consider exiting the park to eat lunch at Universal CityWalk. Dining opportunities abound.
  • In general, Universal Studios Hollywood is not open late, closing between 7:00pm and 9:00pm, depending on the time of year.

Which rides are most likely to give you motion sickness at Universal Studios Hollywood?

Universal Studios seems to be big on 3D/4D/Screen-Centric rides, which can be difficult for people who are prone to motion sickness.

In our opinion...

  • Rides Most Likely to Give You Motion Sickness: Transformers, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Minion Mayhem
  • Rides Okay if You are Prone to Motion Sickness: Secret Life of Pets and Jurassic World. Flight of the Hippogriff and Bowser’s Challenge are probably okay because they are super fast.

What amenities are offered for families with babies and toddlers?

  • All park restrooms have diaper-changing stations
  • Nursing facilities are available in the Family Center.
  • Single or double strollers are available for rent.
  • If your children are too small or unwilling to go on a particular ride, take advantage of the “child switch” program. Each ride and attraction has the option to have one member of your party wait with the little ones while the rest of your party rides. Once they are finished, switch places so whoever rode can stay with the kids and the adult(s) who sat out can enjoy the ride.

Which rides/themes do you hope Universal Studios Hollywood will create next?

Thanks for asking! We'd love for there to be more immersive storytelling rides, similar to The Secret Life of Pets. Themes we'd enjoy: An American Tail, Back to the Future, The Cat in the Hat, The Sneetches, and Won't You Be My Neighbor/Mister Rogers.

What is new at Universal Studios Hollywood?

  • SUPER NINTENDO WORLD opened in February 2023. The highly-themed land features one ride, two dining venues, and a gift shop - along with vibrant, thematic decor. You'll feel like you stepped right into the nostalgic video game from your childhood!
  • Universal Studios Hollywood's first-ever, high-speed outdoor roller coaster - Fast & Furious: Hollywood Drift - will join the theme park family in 2026. Highlights will include groundbreaking 360-degree rotation of the individual ride vehicles as they rocket along an elaborate track, meticulously constructed with sound reduction technology for a breathtaking, superior experience. These attributions will create a seamless sensation of drifting cars as guests spin in motion at furiously fast speeds.


One of the big perks of living in Tucson is that you are in easy drive (approximately 8 hours) from Universal Studios Hollywood!

Not a fan of long drives behind the wheel? No problem! You can fly direct from the Tucson International Airport (TUS) to Burbank Airport (BUR) or LAX in less than two hours!

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