Background: About a year ago, I got a great idea for a road trip. I’d take my kids, fly from my hometown of Houston TX , to San Diego CA, and then drive from San Diego to Oakland. We’d stop and see all the sights along the way, and then fly home from Oakland. Then I asked my friend Gina, who lives in California, if she’d like to come along. With her kids. She agreed, and Death Match 2014 was born. Two ladies, seven kids, and a 15-day road trip up the California Coast.

Day 8- Today was Universal Hollywood day! We started with the Holiday Inn Express breakfast, then packed everything, checked out, and got on the road. It took a lot longer than that sentence looks like.

Death match Family Road Trip

We bought our tickets online before we left the hotel, and chose “Front of Line” passes. We knew we only had one day for this park, and with this many kids and the assortment of food breaks, restroom breaks, stops to tie shoes, etc. we knew time would be of the essence.

We arrived around 11:00, parked in the parking garage (there were lots of attendants to help direct the cars, which was very nice!) and walked through the CityWalk area on our way to the theme park. There were many restaurants, and everyone was already picking out dinner locations as we went.

There was a bit of a wait to get through the entrance gate when we arrived, but it wasn’t too bad. Then we got a map, and made a plan.

We managed to do every ride (plus lunch) in about seven hours, with minimal meltdowns from the kids. The “Front of Line” passes were invaluable! We would have been waiting in 45-60 minute lines otherwise, but with the passes our average wait was about 5 minutes. Very definitely worth it, if you only have one day for this park!

The favorite rides, by age group, were Shrek 4D and the Simpsons Ride for the six-year-old. (although she was afraid to get on both of them initially, but LOVED them once inside)

Simpsons Ride

The ten-year-old and 16-year-old really liked The Mummy, Jurassic Park, and Transformers.


As for me, my favorite was the Studio Tour where they show you all the different sets and soundstages. We saw the neighborhood from Desperate Housewives, the set from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and a lot of Jaws stuff. There was also a cool 3D King Kong thing during the ride.

Desperate Housewives


This park is really do-able in a day, and it was a good time!

Next up: Time at Disneyland…

My name is Brenda Arnold-Richard, and I’m a travel planner with Travel with the Magic. Like the Travel with the Magic page on Facebook, and follow me on Pinterest to see more of our trip.

It’ll either be fabulous or awful, but it’s bound to be interesting!