Southern California is a hot destination for families and theme park enthusiasts. One of my frequently asked questions is, “How far is Universal Studios from Disneyland?” It’s not uncommon for people to visit both places, which is entirely possible if you keep the tips below in mind.
In addition to distance, I’ll share your options for getting from Universal Studios to Disneyland (and vice versa). This is all in anticipation of both parks reopening soon (fingers crossed) and for all of you who are ready (based on my inbox there are a lot of you) for this news.
BOOK DISCOUNTED TICKETS TO BOTH PARKS
I have tons of advice on how to buy discount Universal Studios Hollywood tickets and cheap Disneyland tickets from authorized ticket sellers. Which methods you use depend on the length of stay, if you belong to a particular group, and if you’ll visit other nearby attractions.
How Far Is Universal Studios From Disneyland (and Vice Versa)?
The driving distance from Disneyland to Universal Studios Hollywood is approximately 35 miles. As both parks are near freeway exits, the drive should take just over 35 minutes.
Let’s face it, though. This highway corridor between Los Angeles and Anaheim is famous for traffic. Depending on the traffic at the time, the commute can take up to two hours. You will certainly want to pack a few travel games for kids to keep them entertained during the ride.
Are There Shuttles From Disneyland to Universal Studios Hollywood?
There are no free shuttles between Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. Paid shuttle services drive the route between the two theme parks.
Starline Tours runs the most popular private shuttles. A ticket will normally cost you roughly $45 per adult and $35 per child.
Pros: Booking with Starline Tours removes the fuss of having to navigate the journey yourself, and it eliminates the frustration of driving in traffic. As a bonus, you can learn a few fun facts about the city of Los Angeles with the narrative guide.
Cons: You’re limited to the shuttle’s schedule and it may involve stops at other Los Angeles area attractions. So, it’s not a direct transfer between the two Southern California theme parks.
As both parks are closed, these shuttles are not available for booking. I expect availability to resume shortly after they reopen. There are free shuttles that take guests around each resort complex, however, after you arrive.
Can I Take Uber From Disneyland to Universal Studios?
You can save yourself a lot of time and hassle by ordering an Uber between the two attractions. Both Lyft and Uber are available as options.
Pros: You can go directly between Disneyland and Universal Studios without stopping in a car or SUV. Rideshare apps are also easy to use on a last-minute basis.
Cons: Prices vary on how much traffic you hit and what the current demand is like. Without traffic, the cost of Uber from Disneyland to Universal Studios last I checked starts around $90 each way for UberX and go up from there.
Should I Drive From Disneyland to Universal Studios?
Most people drive. If you want complete flexibility and convenience, then renting a car could be your best option. This is especially useful if you plan to explore the surroundings of Los Angeles during your stay.
Pros: It can be cheaper than taking a shuttle tour and definitely is cheaper than rideshare. You can leave and depart on your own timeframe and make stops at your leisure.
Cons: You may find driving in LA traffic aggravating. There are costs associated with renting a car, gas, and theme park parking. Parking at Disneyland Resort is currently $20/day and Universal Studios Hollywood parking is currently $25/day.
Google Maps will help you mark out the route but these are essentially the very simple directions to Universal Studios from Disneyland:
- Take the I-5 freeway north (Where you enter the freeway depends on where on the resort you are. Getting to the I-5 takes no more than 5-10 minutes and is possible from Disneyland Drive.)
- Merge on to US-101 north (This is easy thanks tons of signage.)
- Take exit 11B toward Universal Studios Drive (The exit street’s name is W.C. Fields Drive)
- Turn Right on Universal Studios Drive, and you’ll reach the park. Signage will direct you to parking lots.
Los Angeles is notorious for having crazy traffic, and there’s nothing worse than being stuck in the backseat of a car when you should be feeling the wind in your hair on a fantastic ride.
As a guideline, traffic in Los Angeles is worse on Friday afternoons. It peaks between 7:30–10 a.m. and again between 3–6:30 p.m. during the weekdays (these are rough guidelines). Traveling outside of these times is your best bet.
The issue you may have if departing early in the morning is arriving well before the parks open. At Universal Studios Hollywood, you could park for the day and have breakfast at Hilton Universal City or Sheraton Universal Hotel breakfast restaurants or grab-and-go coffee shops (both hotels also offer day parking at slightly higher rates). Universal CityWalk restaurants are typically not open before the park (aside from Voodoo Doughnuts).
Downtown Disney shops and restaurants are just steps from the entrances to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. You can relax with breakfast from one of the two Starbuck’s there and walk around in preparation for your day.
Waiting out traffic at the end of the day is less of an issue because the parks stay open into the evening. And, you’ll be able to find plenty of places for dinner in or near the parks.
Can You Take the Bus to Universal Studios?
Yes. It is possible to take the L.A Metro bus from Anaheim to Universal Studios. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Pros: It works for people who want to go carless or do not have time constraints. The entire journey costs just over a few dollars, so it is cheaper than driving.
Cons: Although this may be the cheapest option, what you save in money you pay for with time. The trip will take approximately 2.5–3 hours each way, and it involves multiple transfers.
There are a few stops included on the public transport route, and will follow the basic structure:
- Board the bus nearest to you (most likely 460 Bus near Disneyland)
- Disembark at Figueroa and 7th
- Transfer to the Metro Red Line (subway)
- Get off at the Universal/Studio City Station
- Hop on board the free Universal Studios Shuttle to the park shuttle
You can plan your route directly on the Metro website.
Can I Take the Train from Disneyland to Universal Studios Hollywood?
Yes. It is straightforward to reach the Anaheim ARTIC train station from which Amtrak and Metrolink trains depart. Metrolink is a commuter train while Amtrak trains go further afield. In fact, I take Amtrak from San Diego to Disneyland all the time.
Both trains go from ARTIC to Union Station in Los Angeles. From Union Station, if there’s no traffic it should take 10 minutes in an Uber to reach Universal Studios Hollywood.
Pros: Train tickets each way are less expensive than shuttle tours. Trains typically run on schedule and eliminate the risk of sitting in freeway traffic. Union Station is a neat historic building (though it’s a hub for the homeless in certain spots) next to Olvera Street, a fun Mexican Marketplace to browse. Power outlets and WiFi are available on Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains (which you would take) while there are power outlets (no WiFi) on most Metrolink trains. You may also opt for business class on Amtrak.
Cons: You’re limited to train schedules. Taking public transportation to or from Union Station adds significant time. Train WiFi can be spotty in places, but it’s enough to check emails and surf the internet.
Is There a Pass for Disneyland and Universal Studios?
Yes. Both parks are closed right now, so this ticket is not available. But, if you bundle both parks together in a combo pass, you will save money. I’ll post them here when they resume sales.
Should I Just Spend the Night?
It depends. If you’re not up for a long day, then I would spend the night. The closest hotels to Universal Studios Hollywood are within a short walk of the park. Spending the night can give you more time to experience LA. One day though, is enough to experience everything Universal Studios Hollywood has to offer. You can see my list of things to do in Los Angeles with kids.
Most people traveling to Southern California spend at least one night, usually two or more, at Disneyland Resort. If you can stay at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels, I’d recommend it.
Not only are they a fun chance to immerse in all things Disney, but you receive Extra Magic Hour, where you receive park entry one hour before it opens to the public on the day you check-in and the day you check-out. Which park Extra Magic hour applies to depends on the day, but the current schedule is:
- Disneyland: Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays
- Disney California Adventure: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays
You can get a lot done in the parks in one crowd-free hour, trust me. However, there are also plenty of excellent hotels near Disneyland that are walkable and easier on the wallet.
The Bottom Line
These transport options cover the distance from Disneyland to Universal Studios in style and are well-versed in making the journey comfortable and efficient. Los Angeles is a vibrant city that promises countless members for families, individuals, and partners alike. With so many incredible Los Angeles family attractions, you may have a tough time fitting in all of the fun things to do.
Luckily, there’s no need to choose between Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, as you can get between the two attractions, using various transportation options. How you cover the distance from Disneyland to Universal Studios depends on your budget and timeline.