The Universal Studio Tour is perhaps the main signature draw of Universal City, Los Angeles. Some know it as the Backlot Tour because it whisks you from the metropolis of glitz and glamour into the very film sets where famous Hollywood flicks are made.

    The whole thing lasts 45-60 minutes and takes place on a tram, which navigates the vast Universal Studios complex. You'll encounter some of the most iconic props and backdrops in cinema history, not to mention lesser-known stages where A-listers work their magic. They include UFO-inhabited Sci-Fi sets and make-believe Mexican towns, dinosaur-ravaged jungles and shark-snapping water tanks.

    A short history of the Universal Studio Tour

    The Universal Studio Tour has been the centrepiece of Universal Studios Hollywood since the attraction first opened its gates back in 1915. It's changed a lot over the last century or so. In fact, it began with spectators coming to see early movie sets on the site of a rustic ranch in the depths of the San Fernando Valley.

    The 1960s saw the addition of nifty trams. Later again, hi-tech audio-visual experiences were dropped in to make it a whole load more immersive and exciting. That's what you get today, along with voiceover guides from Jimmy Fallon, Whoopie Goldberg and others.  

    What are the highlights of the Universal Studio Tour?

    There are plenty of highlights during the Universal Studio Tour. First off, you're standing on hallowed ground in the world of cinema. The tour takes you to the beating heart of the Universal Studios Backlot. It's a place where big-name blockbusters aplenty have been acted out and made, with a history going back to the early 1900s.

    You'll even get to see some sets in action. Take the Metropolitan Area. It's got a recreation of Midtown New York that's hosted the filming for Bruce Almighty and Austin Powers. Next, you could be lost down Wisteria Lane – the backdrop for Desperate Housewives. Then, it's a spine-tingling trip to the Bates Motel from Hitchcock's Psycho, if you dare.

    Some spots will get the adrenaline pumping. An encounter with the great white's snapping teeth from the Spielberg mainstay Jaws comes to mind. So does the post-apocalyptic scenery of the War of the Worlds section.

    Also, keep watch for live events. They're a special part of the Universal Studio Tour that transport visitors behind the silver screen. Events change regularly but include the likes of festive shows by the Whos of Whoville, a close encounter with King Kong, or wobbling tectonics courtesy of the Earthquake set.

    Good to know about the Universal Studio Tour

    The Universal Studio Tour takes place in Universal Studios Hollywood, one of the biggest theme parks in Los Angeles. Find it on the Red Line of the LA metro. The entrance to the Universal Studios itself sits atop the hill close to the station. Don't worry, there's a free tram to whisk you straight there.

    It's always a good idea to pre-book tickets for the tour – this is one of LA's bucket-list activities. Bring your own water and try not to come hungry. The journey through the star-studded Backlot takes about 1 hour and there's nowhere to stop for food. Thankfully, the ride is all in sun-shaded trams and there's an audio-visual guide to help you make sense of the attractions as you go.

    Universal Studio Tour in Los Angeles

    Location: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608, USA

    Open: Saturday from 9 am to 8 pm, Sunday–Friday from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 800-864-8377

    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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