A visit to Los Angeles warrants a stop at Universal Studios Hollywood, a theme park as well as one of the oldest and most famous Hollywood film studios still in use today. You’ll find thrilling rides, movies in-action, shops, restaurants and cinemas, and even your favorite movie characters, from Spongebob to Shrek. If you’re short on time, or if the crowds are at their summer peak, you’ll want to hit these top attractions in order, to make the most of your day. Here are seven must dos at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Take the legendary Studio Tour.

The Studio Tour takes you behind-the-scenes onto Hollywood’s most famous backlot in the world’s largest working movie studio. You’ll board a tram that promises many surprises along the way, while also taking you past the sets of some of Universal Studios most beloved films.

Learn the secrets behind the special effects.

The Special Effects Stage is a 20-minute show that unveils the secrets behind the magical on-screen feats, taking the mystery out of both wacky and scary special effects.

Meet the characters.

You’ll find many costumed characters roaming around Universal Studios, from Scooby Doo to icons such as Marilyn Monroe. Most of them congregate at the center of the Upper Lot, near the Cartooniversal Store.

Undergo Minion Training.

Experience Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is one of the park’s newest attractions, giving you the chance to become an actual Minion. It’s a 3D ride, so though you’ll feel like your being launched into true mayhem, you’re still safe in the arms of virtual reality.

Say hello to the Simpsons.

Step into the park’s brand new Springfield district, where you’ll find Moe’s Tavern, Springfield Elementary School, Android’s Dungeon Comic Book Store, the cooling towers of Mr. Burns’ Nuclear Power Plant, Springfield Police Station, Aztec Theater, Kwik-E-Mart and other iconic landmarks from the popular cartoon series.Then hop on the Simpsons Ride for a crazy Springfield adventure via motion simulator.

Come face to face with the dinos.

On Jurrassic Park: The Ride, you’ll have the chance to meet and greet the dinosaurs, including a 50-foot T-Rex. The grand finale, an 84-foot death-defying raft plunge, makes this ride more appropriate for older kids.

Join Shrek for a fairytale adventure.

Shrek 4-D™ is a multi-sensory movie adventure that will awaken your senses as you join everyone’s favorite ogre on a fairytale rescue mission.

Finally, make sure you buy your tickets online before you go, so you can go straight into the park. If your visit is limited to a morning or an afternoon, or if you just can’t handle waiting in lines, purchase a Front of the Line ticket, which gives you one-time priority access at each ride and attraction.

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