Review: Is the Go Los Angeles Card Worth It?

tom-bricker-seinfeld-set-sony-pictures-studio-tour-california-694

The Go L.A. Card is an unlimited, all-inclusive pass offering admission to 31 Southern California attractions, museums, and tours, including Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Legoland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Sony Studio Tour, Discovery Science Center, The Hollywood Museum, Dolby Theatre Guided Tour, Madame Tussaud’s Hollywood, Aquarium of the Pacific, and more. In this post, we’ll review the Go Los Angeles Card to determine whether its value for money justifies the purchase.

We used the 1-day Go Los Angeles Card last week, trying to strategically visit locations to get the most bang for our buck. We’ve been wanting to do the 3 studio tours in Burbank/L.A. for a while, and the Go L.A. Card was an easy way to do 2 of these in a day for less than their combined cost. From this perspective, anything else we managed to accomplish was icing on the cake.

In a single day, we were able to do the Sony Pictures Studio Tour, Madame Tussaud’s Hollywood, The Hollywood Museum, Dolby Theatre Guided Tour, and Warner Bros. Studio Tour. The combined cost of these experiences would have been $175.95 per person had we paid out of pocket, versus $79 for the full-priced Go Los Angeles Card…

In fairness, we wouldn’t have necessarily paid full price for all of those experiences. There are currently discounted SoCal resident tickets for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, and the things we did in Hollywood always seem to have coupons lowering their cost.

Personally, I would not have paid full price for the Dolby Theatre Tour, Madame Tussaud’s, or (maybe) the Hollywood Museum. In fact, but for the Go Los Angeles Card, we probably wouldn’t have done those things at all. I do think two of those experiences have some value, but they are not “worth” full price to me. (Your mileage may vary.)

warner-bros-studio-tour-burbank-california-686

On the other hand, even assuming the best discounts and throwing out the stuff in Hollywood, we still saved money over booking the studio tours individually. Moreover, had we scheduled things better (or had traffic been in our favor) we also could’ve visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in the same day, and that’s something I definitely would (and will) pay for at some point.

If I were a tourist heading to Southern California, I’d give serious thought to a 3 or 5 day Go L.A. Card, but only if I planned on visiting the theme parks that are included with the pass. For the value to be worth it on any of the longer duration cards, you pretty much have to do Universal Studios Hollywood (which is only valid weekdays on a 3-day or longer Go L.A. Card), Knott’s Berry Farm, Legoland California, or Six Flags Magic Mountain.

hogwarts-castle-pavers-wizarding-world-harry-potter-universal-hollywood-los-angeles

If you want to do even one of those parks, the math on a 3-day Go Card works out. If you want to do 2-3 of the parks, a 5-day Go L.A. Card makes sense.

We are big fans of both Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood, and would highly recommend them to anyone visiting Southern California. We have yet to do Six Flags Magic Mountain (it’s surprisingly far north of us), but thrill junkies love it.

madame-tussauds-hollywood-california-690

On the other hand, I would really hesitate to purchase the 7-day Go Los Angeles Card. While the incremental cost over the 5-day card is relatively low, you’d have to do every single theme park on the card, plus several of the high-dollar other experiences. In my opinion, the likelihood that someone is going to want to do this is pretty low.

Beyond that being a lot of theme parks (and that doesn’t even include Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, which are the real theme park must-dos in SoCal), it’s also a pretty spread out experience. Magic Mountain is a good distance north of Los Angeles and Legoland is near San Diego.

los-angeles-skyline-griffith-observatory

Moreover, it requires a really long trip to Southern California spent doing pretty much nothing but the locations on the Go L.A. Card. Some of Los Angeles’ best points of interest are not included–and many of those other highlights are free.

This includes Griffith Observatory, The Getty, El Matador Beach, the California Science Center, and many other points of interest. Unless your trip is 10-14 days long, optimal use of the 7-day Go L.A. Card in addition to other attractions seems unlikely.

central-perk-friends-warner-bros-studio-tour-burbank-california-688

There is one group to whom I would recommend the 7-day Go Los Angeles Card: locals on spring break or a ‘staycation.’ It might seem counterintuitive for locals to purchase a card with a bunch of touristy spots on it, but I think it could make sense.

Many SoCal residents are like us: they only have Disneyland Annual Passes, and don’t get to the other parks nearly as much because Disneyland admission is already paid. This pass is a good way to hit the other parks at a low per-park cost, and do other things you might not normally do in Los Angeles due to the admission cost.

dolby-theatre-hollywood-california-692

If you do the 4 theme parks on separate days, plus both studio tours, Aquarium of the Pacific, Queen Mary, and one of the bus tours (I know, they’re cheesy!), the 7-day Go L.A. Card more than pays for itself. Even if you were to get discounts for admission to some of the locations, you still come out ahead with the Go L.A. Card.

So, from a cost perspective, the various Go Los Angeles Cards–particularly the 5-day and under ones–are an excellent value for tourists and locals alike. With that established, let’s cover a few tips…

la-la-land-warner-bros-studio-tour-burbank-california-687

The first and biggest tip is to read the fine print. Some of these experiences must be scheduled in advance (notably the studio tours), are blocked out on weekends (Universal Studios Hollywood), or entering before a certain time (pretty much everything requires arriving before 5:30 p.m.).

None of these are “gotcha!” fine print terms that diminish the card’s value: you’d have to schedule a studio tour in advance regardless, and Universal Studios Hollywood is overrun with locals on the weekend, so you should visit there on a weekday if you’re a tourist.

madame-tussauds-hollywood-california-691

Other than scheduling our studio tours in advance, we found the Go Los Angeles Card really easy to use. We scanned it just like a normal ticket at the other locations, all of which were very familiar with it. There shouldn’t be any confusion about the card with staff at these attractions.

When we were in line for Madame Tussaud’s, literally everyone in front of us was also using the Go L.A. Card. I suspect a good percentage of business for some of these locations comes from the card…because who really wants to pay $30+ out of pocket to take selfies with wax figures?!

silence-lambs-hannibal-hollywood-museum-california-689

Next, use Google Maps to determine the distances/times between the things you want to do when building your Go Card itinerary. This is really important to do if you’ve never visited Los Angeles because it’ll give you an idea how far apart some of these things are from one another. The greater Los Angeles area is a cautionary tale of urban sprawl, and you may not realize how spread out it is–and how bad traffic gets–if you’ve never been.

Another thing to keep in mind is parking. To my knowledge, it’s not included with any of the attractions, and parking in Los Angeles can be expensive. To the greatest extent possible, do things that are within walking distance of one another on the same day so you only pay once for parking. Additionally, in Hollywood, you can get validated parking at the Hollywood & Highland parking structure (the easiest option there, by far) if you go up to the Visit Los Angeles office and show them your ticket from any of the things you did in Hollywood.

go-los-angeles-card

That’s really about it in terms of tips, info, etc. for the Go Los Angeles Card. As with any ‘all-inclusive’ passes like this, it’s not for everyone and you should definitely do the math on the out of pocket ticket cost for the things you want to do versus how much the pass costs. When it comes to what’s included on the Go L.A. Card, I think the lineup is solid. With some cards like this, the attractions are mostly junk no one would want to visit in the first place, making the value of the card suspect. That’s not the case with the Go L.A. Card. I’d say it covers around half of the places most people are going to want to visit in Los Angeles, making it well worth consideration for your Southern California vacation.

If you’re planning a California road trip or vacation, check out my California category of posts for other things to see and do. If you enjoyed this post, please use the sharing buttons above to help spread the word via social media. I greatly appreciate it! 

Your Thoughts

Have you used the Go Los Angeles Card, or any of the other Go Cards? How many days did you get on your card? Did you feel it was worth the money, or did you not get your money’s worth? Any thoughts on the various attractions included with the Go Card? If you have any other thoughts or questions, please share in the comments below!

101 Things to Do in Southern California
The eBook is 51 pages long, featuring 75 photos, and (obviously) 101 things to do in Southern California. If you want a copy of this totally free 101 Things to Do in Southern California eBook, all you need to do is subscribe to our newsletter and you will receive a link to download the eBook.
We respect your privacy.

13 replies
  1. Ricky
    Ricky says:

    How do you use the LA Go card at Universal Studios? Just show up and present the card? Also, can you skip the line with it or it is a regular entry ?

    Thanks a lot.

    Reply
    • Akua
      Akua says:

      You just go in and present the card or qr code and they’ll scan it. And its regular entry, youd have to pay extra for Express pass

      Reply
  2. David from travelscams.org
    David from travelscams.org says:

    Great article, thanks for the tips! Canyons, glaciers, skyscrapers, Hollwood, you name it, the USA has it. However, there are numerous tourist targeted scams to be wary of.

    Do be wary of the music artist scam, fake takeout menu, hot dog mustard scam, three card monte scam, ferry to staten island/fake tickets scam, casino theft, can you help cash out my chips scam, VIP pass scam, double tip scam and many more!

    Reply
  3. Mike
    Mike says:

    How do you schedule the studio tours using the card? Does it include a promo code that you enter on the studio tour checkout pages?

    Reply
    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      You have to call. When your purchase the card, you receive info about how to book a number of the experiences in advance. There are special phone numbers for each of the studio tours.

      Reply
  4. Shayne
    Shayne says:

    Coming in from Australia in September with a group of 7( 5a 2 kids).. and we want to do all the theme parks and a huge amount of the attractions on this card..will be in Cali for 14 days so will have more than enough time including Disney. We will have a 4 year old with us and the rest of us are really wanting to do the Warners Bros Tour so will take turns in doing so whilst one adult stays with the little one. What would you recommend we could do with the littly while the other people are on the Tour ? we would like to park at WB and be able to walk to another attraction. Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Unfortunately, there isn’t really anything. The studio is located in Burbank, which is not really a metropolis with a ton to do. It’s a pretty area you can walk around, but it’s not Los Angeles or even Hollywood–there isn’t much else to do in the area aside from other studios, office complexes, and hotels.

      Reply
  5. Andy
    Andy says:

    Growing up in LA, I never realized how many of the touristy things I have never done. Besides DLR and USH, I had never visited any of these attractions until I visited the Griffith Observatory on a work trip a few months ago.

    Reply
    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      I think when you live in a place, you have no sense of urgency to visit places in it, and miss a lot of things as a result. Despite living in Indianapolis for several years, we did next to none of its museums, which is unfortunate.

      With that said, I’m not sure I’d consider Griffith Observatory a ‘touristy’ thing. Whenever we go to Griffith Park, it’s a good mix of locals and tourists.

      Reply
  6. Will
    Will says:

    I’m considering a Go LA card or a Go SD card for my trip this summer. It looks like you can even combine activities from both for the “build your own” option, but at not quite as good of a deal.

    I have one day free, and I’m trying to decide if I should try to hit some of the LA attractions I haven’t been to (maybe the Tar Pits, Space Shuttle, Observatory? ) or if I should go to Universal again. I’m thinking it may be logistically easier to just go to Universal- and that the cost of all of those attractions with parking may be roughly equal to the cost of a Universal ticket, but I could be off. I know that many of those are relatively cheap in terms of admission price. I don’t dislike USH but it’s not my favorite either. I’m not sure what would be the best choice.

    How does the Sony tour rank? I’ve done the Universal and Warner Bros. tours and am wondering how it compares to those.two. Is it comparable or disappointing?

    Reply
    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      I’d definitely do some of the free things in Los Angeles over returning to Universal Studios Hollywood. Even with parking (which USH also charges), you can come out far, far ahead by doing some of the many free activities in L.A.

      We are going to be dramatically expanding our SoCal coverage in the next couple of months, so stay tuned for that (including a review of the Sony tour very soon–the short version is that I’d recommend it).

      Reply
  7. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    You are a talented photographer, but even you cannot make wax statues look any less creepy! My mother loves visiting these museums, my wife and avoid them like the plague.

    Thanks for the information on the LA Card – I had not heard of it before.

    Reply
    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Sarah refused to go to Madame Tussaud’s with me. We’ve made fun of it quite a bit (to one another) in the past, questioning how such a place still exists. The answer, from what I could ascertain: selfies.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *