I wanted to preface this blog post by applauding the admirable level of customer service I received from the Guest Communications at Universal Studios Hollywood. After reaching out by email, I had received a phone call from one of their coordinators, who also happens to have epilepsy. They explained their experiences in the park with the understanding that triggers can vary by individual. The information they had provided made me feel more welcome as they overextended their reach from just informative, too personable and genuine.

With that said, within this blog post I’ll be listing the rides that have the strobe effect warning (marked with a red “X”), those that do not, and a few tips for those traveling to the park with photosensitive epilepsy. (Like me! Woohoo!) Keep in mind that I’m not your neurologist and you should acquire a professional opinion before placing yourself into potentially dangerous situations. Also, some of the attraction lines are part of the experience and you are more than welcome to wait in line with your friends and family opting out of the rides before boarding. Hoping you find this information to be helpful!

There are a variety of hotels that have partnered with Universal Hollywood offering early park access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter if you purchase tickets online or with a vacation package. A select few of these hotels offer a shuttle directly from the hotel to the park, otherwise, you will have to Uber or Lyft. I stayed at the Comfort Inn & Suites near Universal in North Hollywood and the Uber ride was around $10 one way, which is great compared to the $25 general lot parking fee. Upon arrival, you’ll enter through City Walk, which has a collection of restaurants, department stores, and gift shops leading to the park entrance.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem X

DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda X

Flight of the Hippogriff™

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ X

Revenge of the Mummy™ – The Ride X

Silly Swirly Fun Ride

The Simpsons Ride™ X

Special Effects Show X

Studio Tour X

Super Silly Fun Land

TRANSFORMERS™: The Ride-3D X

Universal’s Animal Actors

The Walking Dead Attraction X

WaterWorld®

 

Personal Tips & Tricks:

 

Low Traffic Times and Sunlight

Foot traffic and wait times at the parks is at its lowest between mid-January and early February. I recommend booking your vacation during these dates and to avoid weekends and holidays at all costs.

The park hours are listed online as follows:

Monday: 09:00AM-07:00PM

Tuesday: 10:00AM-06:00PM

Wednesday: 10:00AM-06:00PM

Thursday: 10:00AM-07:00PM

Friday: 09:00AM-07:00PM

Saturday: 09:00AM-09:00PM

Sunday: 09:00AM-07:00PM

These times have variations with possible early park access and/or during holiday seasons.

Once the sun begins to set, almost everything is brightly illuminated. Especially City Walk. Which can be beautiful, but also a potential trigger for epilepsy. Seeing as you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the parks and City Walk is the main exit, it’s best to plan your trip around the daylight.

 

Bring A Crowd

Gather ‘round, friends! This park is extraordinarily massive! Bring friends or family you’re comfortable spending time with to explore together. It’s quite easy to get distracted and accidentally lose track of your group.

If you’re traveling with photosensitive children set expectations before going to the parks. A majority of the rides are not photosensitive friendly, so make a list of the ones that are and plan your trip around them. Everyone deserves a day of adventure!

 

Be Prepared

You’ll be walking quite a bit spending a day at Universal Hollywood. As I’m sure you know if you’re reading this that two of the biggest triggers for epilepsy can be exhaustion and dehydration. Bring what you need, or may need, into the parks with you. I always carry my backpack while traveling and inside is an extra pair of clothes and emergency meds, alongside a water bottle secured tightly to my side. Also, my medical alert tag proudly strung around my neck. I was surprised to find that many of the fill stations were only for soda and juice and did not dispense water. When I asked an attendant for a cup of water, they mentioned they were only able to give an eight-ounce disposable cup with a purchase. I highly recommend purchasing the refillable cup and finding times throughout the day to fill it with water to stay hydrated. Some attractions have water fountains and if you ask a food service attendant, they will most likely fill your cup with water or direct you to another that will.

My photosensitive friendly attraction recommendation is WaterWorld®!

Once again, these are just a few of my suggestions and you should acquire a professional opinion before making plans. If there’s anything I may have missed feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Instagram: @iMarrowsJ. Wishing you the best and I hope your next adventure is full of wonder and excitement!

© John Marrows Some Rights Reserved

 

 

Today’s a difficult day for me. Air travel. It’s nothing new, in fact as a nomad I travel constantly from state to state depending on what seasonal job openings there are. With epilepsy it’s not impossible to get a driver’s license, but I’d say it’s more on the rare side if someone with epilepsy drives. Having photosensitive epilepsy (affected by flashing lights) is rarer than people think if they’ve never met someone with epilepsy. Only around 5% of people with epilepsy are photosensitive. If you’re interested I explain my epilepsy in more depth here: Formerly Known As Petit Mal: My Epilepsy

“Ambulances for me, are like irony on wheels.” from BBC Three Video-Things Not To Say To Someone With Epilepsy

My Advice

When I’m traveling there’s a few guidelines I like to follow to make traveling with epilepsy less stressful and more enjoyable. Note that this is the system that works for me, everyone’s epilepsy differs, and their needs may vary.

Plan Accordingly: The best time to purchase a flight is around fifty days out from the departure date. I recommend choosing an aisle seat if possible. Giving you plenty of time to organize things you may need such as extra medications for longer trips.

Sleep Well: A lot of flights, especially if you’re on a budget like me, may be more financially friendly if they’re early departures or red eye flights. No shame in being budget smart but be sure to get an adequate amount of sleep the night before if you’re not a fan of sleeping on planes. (Around 8-10 hours.)

Come Prepared: While traveling I usually have one checked bag and my backpack as a carry on. In my backpack, alongside my laptop and my current novel obsession, I have my emergency medication and an extra pair of clothes folded neatly inside a plastic grocery bag.

Medical ID Bracelet or Necklace: Having some sort of medical ID with your name, home address, primary care physician or emergency contact number could benefit you in case of an emergency.

Communicate: Admittedly, the first time I tried to converse with people sitting next to me I was quite embarrassed. However, more times than not we end up having an intelligent conversation on epilepsy and they speak about their friend that has epilepsy or a family member. Communicate to them that there’s a possibility of you having a seizure and what they can do to help. We’re all human.

My Experience

Out of the dozens of flights I’ve taken, I’ve had two seizures at the airport before boarding and none while airborne. (Knocks violently on every piece of wood. Ha-ha.) By becoming more comfortable and actively speaking about my epilepsy to others, I believe that air travel has become less stressful overall. Taking the time to note what I need to be safe and relaxed while traveling instead of worrying what others might think was the most difficult, but most important note I remind myself every time I fly.

I hope this finds you well and that you don’t let your epilepsy deter your traveling desires. If there’s any travel tips I missed or some that you’d like to add, feel free to comment below!

© John Marrows All Rights Reserved