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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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
- 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.
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Leah has been traveling with her family of 5 since 2012 and sharing her expertise on planning family vacations and visiting theme parks since 2016. Leah has been featured in Visit Rochester, Undercover Tourist, and Home Publications. She has worked with brands like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Hersheypark, Toyota, and various Tourism boards and destinations. Leah creates family travel itineraries based on real trip experiences with her family. Her guides and tips help others plan great family vacations. Learn more about Leah and Five for the Road.