My Western US Roadtrip to Disneyland

by Emma Hackwood

The “Wild West” isn’t just for cowboys, as we learn from Writer Gal Ashley Mikulik’s wild tour of the Western United States. Here she gives us the highlights of, and lowdown on, Universal Studios, Southern California along with some great tips of things to see and do:

We’ve set up a base in Anaheim for a week and we’re going to take advantage of the Southern California City Pass.

The Southern California City Pass includes a three-day “hopper ticket” for Disneyland, one day at Universal Studios, one day at Sea World, and our choice of either a day at San Diego Zoo or San Diego Wild Animal Park. It was worth getting this pass as we saved 30% compared to buying these tickets individually. Such passes can be purchased easily through Flight Centre and picked up from the Disneyland entrance. (Other cities offer similar passes, so it’s worth inquiring with your Flight Centre representative.)

Universal Studios City Walk

Driving from Anaheim to Universal Studios can be quite the experience if you’re not used to LA traffic. It’s bumper to bumper, full of tailgaters and drivers making sudden lane changes. When we finally made it to Universal Studios, we found a parking spot easily as it was just after park opening.

To get to the park you must walk through the Universal City Walk. This is like the Downtown Disney of Universal: a pedestrian-only street full of shops and restaurants. Thanks to the city passes, we skipped the Universal Studios ticket booth and breezed through the turnstiles.

The Universal Studios: Backlot Tour

I recommend that you arrive early and make a run for the Studio Backlot Tour first, as it had the park’s longest line-up. In this narrated attraction, a tram drives you through the Universal Studios backlot, where we get to learn some movie “secrets.” Some lucky visitors may even see celebrities! The tour route may vary slightly depending on filming. This is a must at Universal as you are sure to see the backdrops from your favourite movies!

Universal Studios: Thrill Rides

The Simpsons @ Universal Studios

Universal Studios is not very big compared to some other theme parks, but it does have several amazing rides:

  • Take a riverboat through the waters in the Jurassic Park ride. You’re in for some adventure so hold on to your hats!
  • Scream on a roller coaster ride in the dark on The Revenge of the Mummy. Expect some surprises along the way!
  • Take your chances in a low-budget theme park designed by Krusty the Clown in the The Simpsons Ride virtual simulator. This is the park’s newest ride and replaces the old Back to the Future Ride. It is definitely a ride for kids as well as adults!


There are many shows in the park too. We chose 2 of them: The Special Effects Stage and Shrek 4D.

The Special Effects Stage is a series of three shows/rooms where your live hosts will explain how many popular movie special effects are made. Audience participation is encouraged and you may even end up on stage (at your own risk)! It’s a very entertaining show.

As a huge Shrek fan, I was super excited about the Shrek 4D show. When entering the theatre building, you are escorted into a dungeon, I mean waiting room, where several well-known fairyland creatures appear to be held captive. You learn that things have gone terribly wrong in Duloc. After a short introduction, you are seated in a large auditorium where you put your 3D glasses on and the show begins. It’s another amazing show that is not to be missed!

Universal Studios can be easily being done in one day, especially in the low season. In the busy season it might be worth purchasing the front of the line pass, which gives you a special entrance and generally shorter line-ups for the rides and attractions. It costs about twice as much as a regular admission pass, but if you want to ensure you get everything done during the busy season, it might be a worthwhile investment.

For more information about planning your next family trip to Disney, contact on of our specialists at one of our Disney Specialist Stores or call 1-866- 502-4605.


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