5 Universal Studios Tips with Baby in Tow!

Universal Studios was never on my radar growing up. Despite being raised in Pasadena, we were all about Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. It took dating (and marrying) a San Fernando Valley boy to get acquainted with the Entertainment Capital of LA. I have such great memories of Universal Studios since Mike first took me eight years ago. I spent my 30th birthday on the studio tour drinking canned wine and enjoyed a boiling warm 4th of July with Mike right after we got married.

Just like mommy, Mabel’s first taste of Universal Studios was during their annual Grinch-Mas celebration. Only difference? Her first visit was this past weekend and she’s barely one. We were definitely a bit nervous to go with an 11-month-old. Since the opportunity arose, how could we say no? We hadn’t been in a few years, let alone any theme park for that matter. Not only did we survive, but we had a fantastic time. Granted, it was a very no-frills, go with the flow day. How’d Mabel do? Read on for our adventures and some helpful tips for a day with a toddler at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Arrive Early for Security Check

We went the day after New Year and the park was open nine AM to eight PM. Parking is $30 with no in/out entry. We packed everything we thought we may need in the car and did a quick checklist once we were parked. We decided on our Graco stroller without the car seat, two fruit puree pouches, two bananas, two snack bars, teething crackers, and water. That’s not to mention plenty of diapers, extra clothes, you get the idea. Our security check was exceptionally fast and worry-free. Much like the airport, everything (and one) goes through scanners and metal detectors. I was nervous they would need to “paw” through Mabel’s very heavy diaper bag. But, nope.

The lines looked VERY intimidating but moved quickly and efficiently.

Merry Grinchmas. (c) Mary Farah
The Secret Life of Pets ride is CUTE. (c) Mary Farah

LA County COVID Rules in Effect

Proof of the COVID vaccine or a negative COVID test within 24-48 hours (depending on the test) of visiting is required. This LA County rule is in effect for those ages five and older. Thankfully, we didn’t need to get Mabel tested nor was she required to wear a mask. For those in need of a test, Universal Studios does offer a testing site in the Jurassic Park parking lot. I’ve been told it gets very congested quickly so if you plan to utilize this service, I’d say get there extra early.

Something else to keep in mind, masks are required at all times while in Universal Studios. Guests may not remove masks to take pictures with characters. The only acceptable time to take it down is when eating or drinking.

Take Advantage of the Family Center

Universal Studios has a very handy Family Center right next to Waterworld. This was helpful as Daddy was all about seeing the pyrotechnic spectacle with Mabel. The center has three private bathrooms with changing tables, two quiet rooms ideal for nursing/feeding, and a microwave. If I’d brought one of Mabel’s oatmeal cups, that would have been perfect. A vending machine was also available and movies like Despicable Me were playing. Only downside? The center opens daily at noon, never earlier.

I was hoping they might offer another Family Center on the lower lot, but alas, they do not. If you’re like me and find yourself in a pinch while Daddy’s on Jurassic World, there is a family restroom nearby.

Mabel took over the Family Center. (c) Mary Farah
Gorgeous views of LA. (c) Mary Farah

Dining Inside Universal Studios

I’ll be honest: Dining within Universal Studios has never impressed me much. They have basic gluten-friendly options at a few restaurants. I’d be most interested to try the taco truck or Mexican restaurant next time we visit. Mike decided on Panda Express ($16 a plate) and my one purchase was Starbucks. I usually pay $5.45 for my “splurge”; an oat milk matcha latte. At Universal Studios, it was $7.10. They also had my usual go-to’s for Mabel (bananas, protein box) but I decided against any. Although there used to be a very convenient Starbucks on the Lower Lot, there is now one main shop inside the park.

Everywhere to eat is, naturally, very kid-friendly. Mabel shared some of Daddy’s fried rice combo. If I needed to grab her a meal of her ownl, we would have been covered. Check-in advance and plan accordingly should you have a kiddo with allergies. So far, Mabel’s enjoying everything we’re trying with no issues.

City Walk has many more selections in my opinion. Wasabi Sushi, Blaze Pizza, Bubba Gump’s, and Buca Di Beppo are all places I’ve enjoyed. It’s easy to head back inside since they offer re-entry with a hand stamp.

One More Weekend for Grinchmas

Universal Studios always has terrific seasonal events. Even though I’m a wimp for their beloved Halloween Horror Nights, I adore Grinchmas. Mabel got to see Cindy Lou Who read How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a stage show with the Bah Humbug guy himself, a photo with Max the Dog, and a magical snowfall.

The surrounding areas are also decked out for the holidays. There’s one more weekend to take in the Winter magic before it melts away until next year. It’s a great atmosphere for all ages yet especially the littles. Although there were many attempts, we couldn’t get Mabel to look at the camera with the characters like Max. She was too in awe!

Plan your visit with Universal Studios HERE. Let me know what baby hacks you learn along the way! xo