Universal Studios Hollywood celebrates Studio Tour’s 60th anniversary with limited-time experiences

2 weeks ago 11

Universal Studios Hollywood is just as well known for its rides and theme park lands based on entertainment powerhouses like Super Nintendo World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as it is for its blockbuster movies. This is because of one iconic attraction: the world-famous Studio Tour.

The Studio Tour turns 60 this year, and the Southern California theme park is marking the occasion with limited-time experiences, merchandise and food offerings.

As the Studio Tour celebrates 60 years, this fan-favorite attraction that is practically synonymous with the park itself will host special entertainment during the spring and summer months. It will commemorate this milestone anniversary by blending the attraction's nostalgia with a glimpse of what's to come; it's set to be an iconic peek behind the curtain of movie-making magic.

History of the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood

Since opening the attraction in 1964, Universal Studios Hollywood has taken more than 200 million guests behind the scenes of real, working TV and film productions for an inside look at how movie magic is made.


The popular production spot, then Universal City Studios, invited guests to tour its film set on board "Glamor Trams." In its inaugural year, the trams took guests on two-hour trips through the studio's various film sets. (The Bates' house from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 movie "Psycho" was a popular stop.)

The tour also revealed moviemaking secrets with a special effects makeup demonstration, costume display and stunt performance. Universal continuously added staged events along the tour as it released new films and developed new special effects.

By the late 1970s, guests could experience the parting of the Red Sea from "The Ten Commandments," an encounter with a runaway train and an attack from none other than Bruce, the shark from "Jaws."


As the tour grew in size and popularity, Universal Studios Hollywood added new attractions, staking its claim as a full-fledged theme park. After debuting shows like the Star Trek Adventure and meet-and-greets with He-Man and the Transformers in the 1980s, Universal saw a major expansion in the early 1990s.

Universal Studios Hollywood opened its first traditional theme park ride, E.T. Adventure, in 1991. It added more attractions like Jurassic Park — The Ride, play areas for kids and stunt shows based on "Waterworld" and "The Terminator" through the next decade.

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This period included the opening of Universal Studios Florida (now Universal Orlando Resort) in 1990. The Florida park drew inspiration from many staged effects in Hollywood's Studio Tour, including stand-alone rides based on films like "Jaws" and "King Kong."


Sixty years later, the Studio Tour takes guests on an hourlong tour through famous sets from movies like "Back to the Future" and "War of the Worlds." All this comes alongside other iconic special effects demonstrations that have been thrilling guests for decades — including that freakishly realistic run-in with Bruce the shark.


There are also moments inspired by newer films, like a high-speed car chase with the stars of "The Fast and the Furious" and, more recently, a visit to the Jupiter's Claim set from "Nope." Some days, you may even catch a glimpse of a live production.

Related: 8 best theme parks in California for thrill-seekers and families

Universal is often touted as the theme park where you can "ride the movies," and no ride embodies that sentiment more than Universal Studios Hollywood's Studio Tour.

Studio Tour anniversary celebration


The Studio Tour's limited-time celebration will run from April 26 through Aug. 11, and guests who ride the attraction will have the chance to experience it like never before.

Although Universal is converting its fleet to modern electric-powered trams, several red-and-white stripe trams with ruffle awnings (reminiscent of the original Glamor Tram design) will make the rounds through the tour.

Guests can also step off the trams onto one of the tour's iconic movie sets, where they can see a fully restored original Glamor Tram and larger-than-life photo opportunities. These include the first-ever authorized replica of the original Hollywood sign, a giant King Kong and the park's original hanging "Jaws" shark.


Even on board the tram, there will be plenty of new (and old) things to see.

In Courthouse Square, the filming location for the famous clock tower scene in "Back to the Future," guests will drive past an original time machine car and see Doc Brown walking around the area.

Universal is also adding props to the tour, including a massive Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur display used to promote the "Jurassic World" films.


Universal will also bring back Studio Tour moments from years past, including the "Earthquake—The Big One" attraction. Debuting in 1989, this attraction simulated a realistic 8.3 magnitude earthquake; the 2024 version will have new technology and aesthetics.

Other nostalgic moments include the temporary return of the 1976 Runaway Train and clips depicting former Studio Tour attractions on the tram's monitors.


Universal Studios Hollywood is also offering exclusive merchandise and themed food and beverage items during the celebration.

Guests can rock retro Universal Studios gear and purchase a Glamor Tram-shaped popcorn bucket. Several of the park's dining locations will have specialty menu items, as well, including retro dishes that hark back to the lunches served on the lot in its early years.

If you want to try them all, Universal is offering a 60th anniversary Dining Pass that will allow you to choose six menu items: two entrees and four snacks, sides, desserts or beverages at select locations.

Bottom line

The Studio Tour has changed a great deal during its 60-year run. However, at its core, it is still a unique and pioneering look into how movies are made.

Learning some of these insider secrets, like how Universal can create an earthquake over and over again every day or make just a few buildings look like a New York City street, doesn't make watching movies any less magical.

In fact, it makes them more magical when you can see the creativity and technical know-how that goes into building the sets and creating the effects you see on the screen.

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Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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