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Is Universal Studios Express Pass Worth it? A Complete Guide

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A common question we get, is the Universal Studios Express Pass Worth it?

Recently, we had the opportunity to take advantage of Universal Studio’s Express Pass. We were visiting with a friend who didn’t have his annual pass. We waited in line at guest relations and for whatever reason, our time at the window re-issuing the pass was oddly too long. The employees were courteous and to apologize for our delay and wait time, issued us an express pass to use on that day only. It was August, and hot even for us Floridians, so we were glad to move through the lines quickly. While we didn’t have to pay for the express pass, it did get me thinking. Is an express pass worth the cost at Universal Studios Florida?

This post was updated on February 8, 2020, to reflect updated pricing and attractions.

What is the Universal Express Pass?

Unlike Disney World’s Fast Pass, which is free, yet limited to three rides at a time, Universal Studio’s sells a skip-the-line pass. This pass allows you access to a separate express pass line with shorter wait times at most of the attractions. It is an additional cost on top of your entry park tickets (which I break down below.) Plus, you can choose to purchase an unlimited pass or go for a slightly cheaper option and skip the regular line one time per ride. On top of that, costs vary depending on if you purchase a one park or two parks Express Pass.

Here’s the breakdown for Universal Orlando Resort:

Universal Express Pass – 2 Parks

Universal Express Pass – Universal Studios

Express Pass Rides

Single Rider Lines

Universal Express Pass – Islands of Adventure

Express Pass Rides

Single Rider Lines

Note that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions are included with the exception of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is NOT included in any pass at this time. At one time all of those rides were not, but we did use our Express Pass to avoid long lines on Escape from Gringotts and the Forbidden Journey. I expect in time Hagrid’s will be as well.

Express Passes are good for specific dates only. When you purchase, plan for which date you need.

Note that Universal Express passes are not valid for Halloween Horror Nights, or the Volcano Bay Water Park.

Stay at a Universal Hotel

If you’re staying at one of the following Universal Studios on-site hotels however, they offer complimentary express passes.

Cabana BayAventuraSapphire Falls, Endless Summer Dockside, and Endless Summer Surfside do not offer the Express Pass to hotel guests.

However, if you’re staying there, you can use early park admission. Plus, you can purchase the Express Pass in the lobby for added convenience.

Is the Express Pass worth the cost?

In my opinion, yes. most of the time.

If you are visiting Universal Studios for the first time, spring for the pass. You’ll get the most out of your vacation.

However, I wouldn’t buy an unlimited pass. Skip the line one time. Often, if you’re trying to see and do everything, you won’t return to an attraction a second time. Although, if you choose to return to the popular rides, opt for the single riders line, which is often shorter. Single rider lines do split your family up, so this may not be an option if you have younger children.

If you are visiting during peak times, lines will creep into the 60 minute or higher mark. This includes summer, holidays, and spring breaks. Undercover Tourist offers a free crowd calendar to give you an idea of expected wait times.

Depending on the time of year, you may find the popular attractions don’t require much time. If you arrive at park opening, you can get your favorite rides at no additional charge. Or you can choose to purchase a pass for the express lines in order to spend a full day in the park.

Also, download the Universal App. You can connect your tickets, check wait times, and even buy your express pass.

What do you think? Is the Express Pass worth the cost at Universal Studios? Have you used it before? I’d love to hear your comments.

Be sure to check out Everything You Need to Know about Wands at Universal Studios as well.

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