Los Angeles Freeways or Subway Will Get You to Universal Studios, Eventually
Universal Studios is conveniently located near the intersection of two freeways and offers immediate access to the Los Angeles MTA “Metro” transit system; thus you have some options on getting there.
Los Angeles Freeway Warning
The 101 Freeway can be pretty jammed both night and day. You might consider getting to the 134 Freeway and take Cahuenga or Lankershim south to the entrance. Even if you’re coming from Orange County, it may be worthwhile to get up to the 134 instead of going through downtown and the heart of Hollywood. Remember that rush hour can be 2-3 hours in the morning and another 3 hours in the mid-afternoon through early evening. And sometimes the 101 Freeway through Hollywood just stays busy at night because of the hoppin’ night life on Sunset, Santa Monica and Hollywood Boulevards. Driving directions are given on the USH web page, by the way.
The Universal Studios theme park lies within the larger development known as Universal City, which includes the two hotels and a high-rise office complex. Universal City fronts along Lankershim Boulevard; at the main street entrance is a subway station and a commuter parking lot with bus stops.
There is an area not far from the upper park entrance where a taxi can drop you off; this might be a good idea if you’re staying a couple miles away. You’ll pay out the savings in the parking fee in cab fare, more or less, but with less walking from the parking lot. It should be pretty easy to get a cab from most area hotels to USH.
Parking at Universal Studios or CityWalk
Although there are some minor disadvantages to the hillside location in terms of access and parking, it’s no big deal. As you’ll see on the web site, there are three primary parking choices. There’s regular parking, closer-in parking, and valet parking. I would not get that excited about paying more to be a little closer in unless you’ve got strollers or wheelchairs, or somebody who struggles with a bit of an uphill walk. You’re going to be walking like crazy anyway, so what’s a little further out to your car?
When you visit Disneyland, you park in lots named for cute and wonderful Disney characters like Mickey, Donald and Pumba. At Universal, they give their own charming names to the parking areas, as you see in the photograph. The Frankenstein Parking lot is to the left of the main entrance and provides escalators so you can make your way up the hill. The other two main lots, on the right side of the park entrance, are the Jurassic Parking lot and the Curious George Parking lot, both of which require you to walk through a portion of CityWalk.
By the way, the web site does not give you the price for Valet parking; you’re supposed to get the price when you get there. We tend to be cautious when they won’t give you the price up front, as it may be hard to back out of line if the price is too high. After all, it’s not like you’re ordering the catch of the day at a seafood restaurant; they should know in advance what the valet parking will cost. We’ll get an answer to this and report back!
Taking the Subway to Universal Studios
The Guru understands that some people don’t want to tackle the Southern California freeways; you don’t have to drive. We already talked about taking a taxi cab. Another option is the Metro Red Line subway station right at the bottom of the hill. And, an added bonus is the tram that Universal from the bottom of the hill up to the entrance and to the hotels. So if you’re staying near, or have easy access to, any station in the entire Metrolink system you can get to Universal Studios with a little patience (and not that much money). The Red Line subway train runs out from downtown Los Angeles Union Station and runs through the heart of Hollywood before passing Universal Studios and terminating just a bit further out in North Hollywood.
Back at Union Station are links with the other subway lines as well as Metrolink (connects to Orange County and the Inland Empire out east). With a little time and/or money spent on short taxi or bus rides from your hotel to a station or bus stop, you can visit most of the SoCal vacation destinations without driving a car. It will probably take you longer of course, but give it some consideration as you plan your trip. Check out the Los Angeles MTA public transit system on this web site. Click on the Red Line link for starters, but spend some time getting a feel for this great public transit system; if you’re from New York and many other large cities then you’re used to this, but it hasn’t always been this convenient for Angelenos.