Is Universal Express Pass Worth It?

Skipping the lines at a busy theme park sounds great, but is the Universal Express pass worth it? We are sharing the pros and cons to Universal’s Express pass to help you decide if it is worth the money.

The Express Pass at Universal Orlando Resort theme park is a way guests can skip the regular line for shorter wait times and to maximize your time in the parks.

The times we have used Universal Express Unlimited Passes and visited Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure were awesome visits. We didn’t have to wake up early or rush to attractions.

Is Universal Express Pass Worth It?

Is it worth it? Yes! Yes! Yes! It is worth it… IF it is in your budget. The Universal Express pass is not cheap. Guest must have valid theme park tickets and purchase it as an add-on.

If it saves so much time why wouldn’t it be great for everyone? It comes down to the cost. Adding express pass to your theme park tickets start at $100/per day, per person. The price increases for park-to-park tickets.

For a family of 5, like us that is an additional $500 for our tickets. We don’t always have it in our budget to splurge a bit but we have found ways to use it on our trips that make financial sense.

When deciding if the express pass at Universal is worth it for your family you want to consider a few things like cost, is it included in your resort stay, and do you need it for everyday of your vacation.

Want to learn more? Read on for details on Universal Express Passes, how to get Universal Express Pass for “free”, and is Universal Express Pass worth it for your Universal Orlando vacation.

universal orlando express pass entrance at the mummy ride

What is Universal Express Passes

Universal express pass allows guests to enter in the express pass line, skip the standby line entrance, and have much shorter wait times for attractions.

There are 3 parks that offer express access. They are Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay.

Express pass can save you time and allow more flexibility in your day at the parks, but they can also be expensive and may not be in your Universal budget.

How Does Universal Express Pass Work?

The Express Pass at Universal Orlando is a paid system that you can purchase, in addition to your Universal Orlando park tickets, to allow shorter wait times for attractions at the parks.

Each person in your party with have a ticket that can be scanned at the express pass location at each attraction. You will have this scanned each and every time you ride an attraction and everyone in your party will need one.

The passes are assigned to a specific date and you will need to know what date you are planning on visiting when you book your passes. You do not purchase express pass per ride, they are per day.

How to Get Universal Express Pass for Free

Universal Express Unlimited Pass is include the with your stay at any of the Universal Orlando Premier Resorts.

Theses include stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific resort.

I highly suggest comparing the price of staying at Universal’s Premier hotels to what it would cost adding on express passes to your tickets. At times it may be worth the resort upgrade.

If you are staying at a different Universal hotel like Cabana Bay Beach Resort or the Endless Summer Resorts: Dockside or Surfside, express pass is not included.

Tip: We planned a split stay during a recent visit to save money and take advantage of the included Express Pass. For a weeks long vacation we stayed 2-nights at Hard Rock Hotel and 5-nights at Dockside Inn & Suites. This gave us 3 days of Express Pass because you have them for check-in day and check-out day.

hard rock hotel orlando pool
Hard Rock Hotel has a great pool, is within walking distance to the theme parks, and includes Unlimited Express Pass.

Universal Express Pass Prices

There are three types of Express Passes at Universal to choose from. Universal Express, Universal Express Unlimited, and Volcano Bay.

Universal Express

Universal Express allows you to skip the long lines on each attraction one time. Express pass start at $89.99 per person/per day and this does not include regular park admission. This allows guests to ride each participating attraction once during the day of visit.

Universal Express Unlimited

Universal Express Unlimited allows you to skip the line on attractions as many times as you would like. This Universal express pass cost start at $109.99 per person/per day and does not include regular admission to the park.

Universal Express PLUS (Volcano Bay)

Volcano Bay Express allows you to skip the line for specific attractions. This cost starts at $19.99 per person/per day and does not include regular park admission.

The attractions included in the regular Express Pass at Volcano Bay are:

  • Krakatau Aqua Coaster
  • Punga Racers
  • Maku of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides
  • Puihi of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides
  • Honu of Honu ika Moana
  • ika Moana of Honu ika Moana
  • Tonga of Taniwha Tubes
  • Raki of Taniwha Tubes

When purchasing be sure to add 1 park, 2 parks, or Volcano Bay to your tickets. If you have a park to park ticket and plan on visiting both parks in one day you should book an express pass for both parks.

All prices are accurate at time of writing and are starting prices. Expect higher pricing during spring breaks and high season.

universal express passes at volcano bay
Volcano Bay Water Park at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Express Pass Rides and Attractions

Universal Studios Florida

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™
  • Hogwarts™ Express (Park-to-Park admission ticket required)
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast
  • The Simpsons Ride™
  • Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
  • TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D™
  • Fast & Furious – Supercharged
  • MEN IN BLACK™ Alien Attack™
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • E.T. Adventure
  • The Bourne Stuntacular

Universal’s Islands Of Adventure

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Hogwarts Express (Park-to-Park admission ticket required)
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Caro-Seuss-el™
  • The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Storm Force Accelatron
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Jurassic World Velocicoaster
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure DOES NOT offer express pass.

Express Pass at Universal Review

Is the Universal Express Pass worth it? If it is in your vacation budget or you are staying at an on-site resort that includes it with you stay, it is totally worth it.

I always check prices of staying at a value resort with the add-on express pass to staying at a premier resort that includes the express pass. At times it will make sense for us to stay at a premier.

If you have to pay extra for it, you might not find the cost to be worth it. The express passes are pricey but they will save you time at the parks.

With that being said we have had visits where we had them but didn’t need them and we have visited on busy days without them. Below I am sharing our best tips to enjoy the day without an express pass.

How to Maximize Short Waits at the Universal Parks without Express Pass

You will find the average wait time to vary depending on if you visit during peak season or off season. During the busy time of year you will spend more time waiting in long lines. During the off-season you will have short waits.

If you want to go during low season avoid spring break, any school breaks, and the week between Christmas and New Years.

If you must visit during busy time stay on-site and take advantage of early park admission. This is an on-site perk that allows guests to ride specific attractions before park opening.

Typically this has been great to take advantage of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter rides. We usually ride Hagrid’s and Velocicoaster before park opening at Islands of Adventure or Escape from Gringotts at Universal Studios.

Another way to avoid the long lines is to take advantage of the single rider lines. These are usually much shorter wait times but your party will get split up. I wouldn’t suggest this with younger children.

The parks can be managed without staying on site or purchasing express passes. The best way to do this is to arrive early, at least 30 minutes before park opening. Read our Tips for Visiting Universal Orlando.

Have a plan for how you will visit the parks and make it a priority to ride the busiest attractions first. Express pass is a great perk to have if it is in your budget but you can still have a great time without it.

The Universal Express pass allows you to explore the park at your leisure. It is worth it if you can take advantage of it being included in your hotel stay or it is in your budget. If it is not don’t worry too much, you can still have a great day at the Universal parks.

Read Next: Top Things to Do at Universal Orlando You Don’t Want to Miss

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2 thoughts on “Is Universal Express Pass Worth It?”

  1. This is a great article, I get this question all the time about Universal. Correct me if I am wrong, but some other factors I discuss with clients – time of year. I have to imagine peak times you might need EP. Also if you only have one or two days, if your kids hate waiting, or if you would be SUPER DISAPPOINTED if you couldnt ride certain things?


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