Is Universal Express Pass worth it? The Universal Express Pass is an additional cost ticket that allows holders to shorten the time that they wait in certain queues at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. In this guide we will examine what exactly the universal express pass is, what the differences are between Universal Express and unlimited, what you can use the Express Pass on and more to decide whether the express pass at Universal is worth it for you.
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How does the Universal Express Pass Work?
Note: our Universal Studios Admission and our Universal Unlimited Express Pass were sponsored however all thoughts and opinions contained in the article are completely our own
Before we can get into whether or not the Universal Express Pass is worth it for you, we first must examine what the Universal Express is and how it works.
The Universal Express Pass is an extra ticket, on top of your regular admission. Depending on the type of Express Pass you purchase will affect the cost and the amount times you will be able to ride attractions.
Once you have purchased your Universal Express Pass you will be required to show both your ticket and your express pass when you join ride queues.
The tickets are matched to a specific ticket to ensure the express pass isn’t swapped between members of your party.
You will find that the Universal Express Pass entrance is different to the usual standby line.
When I was at Universal I asked how long the Express Pass cuts down your wait time. I was told that the Express Pass time was usually half of the standby queue on the most popular rides. However the time you waited was reduced further on less high profile rides.
How Much Does The Universal Studios Express Pass Cost in Orlando?
The cost of the Universal Studio Express Pass varies depending on:
- how busy the park is
- how many people have purchased the Universal Express Pass
- Whether you buy the Unlimited or the Regular universal Studios express pass
- the time when you purchase the Express Pass
- whether you get the Express pass included in your package
For instance if you are traveling to Universal Studios on Thanksgiving, over Christmas or over another public holiday you will find the crowds to be much higher. On these occasions you will find the cost of the express pas increases as the demand for them is higher.
Also it will depend on whether you decide to opt for the Universal Express or the Universal Express Unlimited. The regular Universal Express Pass will allow you to ride each ride included in the express package once. The Universal Express Unlimited Pass however will allow you to ride every ride included multiple times.
Also, the Express Pass becomes cheaper if you decide to buy it after 4pm.
And finally and perhaps the most cost effective way to get a Universal Express Pass Unlimited is by getting it included by staying in one of the premium on site properties (we will go into this in more detail later).
Therefore if you are going to Universal on a budget we recommend checking the price of the express pass and premium hotels before you travel so you know expected costs.
What is difference between Universal Express and unlimited?
The main difference between Universal Express Pass and the Universal Express Pass Unlimited is that the Express Pass only allows you to ride each ride on the Express Pass list once.
The Universal Express Pass Unlimited however allows you ride every ride include in the Express Pass system multiple times. It is in fact unlimited.
Is the Universal Express vs Universal Express Pass unlimited more worthwhile
Unless you are staying at a premium resort I don’t think the Universal Express pass unlimited is worth it by comparison to the regular Express Pass.
The Regular express pass allows you entry onto all of the rides once, and as there are so many great attractions at Universal including several thrill rides at each park, you really won’t need to ride each ride multiple times to fill your day at Universal Studios.
What is Universal Express after 4pm?
The other option for Universal Express passes is the Universal Express after 4pm.
This is only available when the park is open late and can be purchased from 4pm onwards. This allows you to spend only 35USD for the pass and will be valid from 4pm until close.
Do Universal Studios Express passes sell out?
It is unusual but not completely unheard of for the Universal Studios Express Pass to sell out. For this reason we recommend buying your express pass in advance especially if you are traveling at peak times i.e. Thanksgiving and Christmas to name but a couple.
What are the Universal Studios Premium Hotels
The Universal Studios Premium Hotels are important to know for those thinking about getting an express pass. The reason for this is that you get express pass included in the price of your room.
The premium hotels at Universal are:
- Hard Rock Hotel Orlando
- Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and
- Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Now although the price of these rooms is high one of the main benefits in staying at one of these hotels is the inclusion of the express pass.
If you plan to get an express pass or express pass unlimited it is worth checking at time of booking the cost of these hotels which will include the express pass versus the price of another hotel or accommodation and paying for entry and express passes separately.
Can I buy Universal Express passes at Gate?
The good news is that you can indeed buy the Universal Express Pass at the Gate. However we recommend buying your express pass online in advance (if your Universal Studios Accommodation doesn’t come with an express pass but more on that later).
The reason for this is because the ride queues are definitely shorter in the morning and lengthen as the day goes on. You don’t want to miss out on the quieter morning times standing in line to organise your express pass.
What is Universal Express Pass good for?
The Universal Express pass is actually good for most rides.
What rides do not take Universal Express Pass?
Although most of the rides at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure accept the Universal Express there are a few notable exceptions. The rides that do not take Universal Express Pass are:
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Jurassic World VelociCoaster and
- Pteranodon Flyers
Also it is worth noting that you also can not use the Express Pass on any of the playground attractions if you are visiting Universal Studios or Islands of Adventures with toddlers.
FAQs about the Universal Express Pass
Does Hagrid’s have Express Pass?
Unfortunately HAgrids Magical Creatures Motorbike adventure does not currently have Express pass entry. The queues for this ride can get VERY long. WE have seen this line top the two hour mark on multiple occasions so if you want to ride this we recommend checking out our rope drop strategies to ensure you get on this ride.
How many times can you use Universal Express?
You can use the Universal Express Pass once on each attraction included. If you have the unlimited version however you can ride as many times as you wish?
Is Universal Express Pass more expensive day of?
The Universal Express Pass price depends on time you are visiting, business of the park and other factors. If there is very high demand the Express Pass could theoretically be more expensive day of than if you had purchased them in advance/
Is Hogwarts Express part of Express Pass?
Yes the Hogwarts Express is indeed part of the Express pass system but there is a caveat.
AS the Hogwarts Express runs between the Universal Studios Park and the Islands of Adventure park you need to have a 2 park one day pass otherwise even with an express pass you will not be able to ride this attraction.
Is Express at Universal Studios worth it?
Express at Universal Studios is the same as Universal Express pass. We recommend buying an express pass if you only have a couple of days in the park and are traveling with people who meet the majority of height restrictions in the parks.
Have you used the Express Pass at Universal? Did you find it worthwhile? We would love to find out your thoughts in the comments below.