Is Universal Studios Express Pass Worth It?

Is the Universal Studios Express Pass worth it? We are diving into that question to help you decide if you need the express pass at the Universal Orlando resort.

universal orlando express pass entrance

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The Express Pass at Universal Orlando Resort theme park can help you skip regular lines to use the express line, and not have long waits for the most popular rides.

be a time saver at the parks but can also increase your vacation budget. Today we are answering the commonly asked question “Is Universal Express Pass worth it?” and help you decide if it is worth it for your Universal Orlando family vacation.

We have been visiting Universal Orlando for the last 4 years as a family of five and we have done vacations with and without Universal Orlando Express Passes.

First you need to know there are 3 parks that offer express access. They are Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Advenuture, 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.

Let’s dig into all the details of the express passes at Universal and see if they are a good choice for your Universal Orlando vacation.

Is Universal Express Pass Worth It?

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. Let’s start with how the express pass work.

Related Post: Universal on a Budget: Ways to Save on Your Universal Orlando Vacation

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. It is accepted at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay.

You will get 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.

How to Get Universal Express Pass for Free

If you are staying at an on-site Universal premier hotel, Universal Express Unlimited Pass is include the with your stay.

Express passes are included in your resort stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific resort. These are the premier resorts on-site at Universal Orlando.

Read this article about all the resorts at Universal Orlando to compare resorts.

You will want to compare 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. Compare hotel prices here.

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.

using universal 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 is $89.99 per person/per day and this does not include regular park admission.

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 is $99.99 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 costs $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.

universal express passes at volcano bay

Sample Price Comparison for Universal Orlando Express Pass

Below is the cost comparison for 4 days in September for a family of four. I checked these prices directly through Universal’s website. The dates I checked are September 14, 2021-September 18th, 2021. This is for 2 adults and 2 juniors.

Staying at Loew’s Royal Pacific

The cost for a family of four would be $2,294.65. This include 4 nights at the hotel, a 4 day park to park ticket, and the resort includes Universal Express Pass Unlimited.

Purchasing Express Pass at a Ticket Add-On

For this stay I picked Surfside Inn and Suites Resort. We loved this resort! You can read our review here. Surfside does not include express passes and you would have to purchase them as an add on.

The cost for a family of four with accommodations, 4 day park to park ticket, and 4 days of Express Pass would cost $2,785.82.

As you can see it is beneficial to stay at a premier resort to have the express pass. This is not always the case and it is important to research and check the prices on Universal’s website.

All prices above were updated March 2021. Check Universal ticket pricing here.

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
  • 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
  • Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • E.T. Adventure

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
  • Poseidon’s Fury
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World Velocicoaster 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.

After comparing prices above I will always check the on-site resorts before I purchase the express pass options.

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.

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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Express Pass at Universal Rides and Tips

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2 thoughts on “Is Universal Studios 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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