Article: Universal Express Pass
About This Page: This is a discussion on Article: Universal Express Pass within the Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, part of the PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel; Not to toot my own horn, but this is an article I wrote a few months ago comparing the different ...
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Not to toot my own horn, but this is an article I wrote a few months ago comparing the different options of the Universal Express Pass. I hope this information will be helpful for people planning their Universal vacations!
Understanding Universalís ďExpressĒ
Universal Orlandoís ďExpressĒ pass allows guests to bypass standard lines at some attractions. Unlike Disneyís Fastpass, Universal Express is not free. The upside of this feature is that less people will be utilizing the Express lines, making the waits generally shorter.
What options of Express passes are available for purchase?
Express Plus Passes: These are available for purchase on Universalís website, at the ticket gates, or at certain locations inside the parks. The Express Plus pass allows entry into the Express line once per participating attraction. You can purchase Express Plus Passes for 1 or 2 park entry. The one-park pass is good in one park only; you canít use it in two parks on the same day. The two-park passes can be used in both parks on the same day.
Express Plus Passes range in price from $19.99 to $69.99, based upon anticipated demand.
Park to Park VIP Ticket: Includes both park admission and entry into the Express lines. The Park to Park VIP ticket is an upgrade to the Express Plus Pass in that it allows you to use the Express line an unlimited amount of times per day. This pass is good for both parks. Park to Park VIP Tickets can be purchased in 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 days increments. The multiple day passes can be used anytime within a 14-day period from first use of the pass. So if you purchase a 3-day Park to Park VIP Ticket, you can use it on any 3 days within 14 days of first use. These passes will vary in price based upon demand and of course the number of days purchased.
You can expect to pay more for the Express Plus Passes and the Park to Park VIP Ticket during times of peak attendance such as holidays.
Unlimited Express Pass: Allows unlimited entry to the Express lines of participating attractions. This pass is sold only at the gate and not available on the website. 1-day, 1 park pass is $62.00 and 1-day, 2 park pass is $70.00.
Universal Resort Guests: All guests staying in any of Universalís three onsite resorts receive entry in the Express line when they show their room key at the ride entrance. Like the Park to Park VIP Ticket and Unlimited Express Pass, resort guests can enter the Express line an unlimited amount of times. This perk is available from date of check-in to date of departure. You can maximize this benefit by arriving at the hotel early. Plan to arrive at the resort before the parks open. You can check in and obtain your room keys. Most likely your room wonít be ready, but you can store your luggage and head to the parks. On the day you check out your room key is valid all day.
So how does Express work? Itís very easy. Just show your Express pass (or room key) to the Team Member at the ride entrance, and they will direct you to the Express line. Itís convenient as you donít have to return to an attraction at a specific time. You are free to tour on your own schedule.
How many people can use an Express pass? Each pass is good for one person. So each member of your party will need their own Express pass or onsite hotel room key. Universalís Team Members are usually diligent about checking the validity of passes, so donít trying using an old room key!
Where can you use Express? Most attractions participate. However, the two newest attractions, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster in Universal Studios and Island of Adventureís Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, do not have Express access. Also excluded is the Pteranodon Flyers in Islands of Adventure. Very important to know if you are planning to visit the new Harry Potter attraction!!
Will I avoid waiting in line altogether? Maybe and maybe not. Iíve walked directly onto rides in the Express line, and Iíve waited several minutes. Some attractions have a separate Express line all the way to the loading area, and some attractions merge the Express line with the regular line. But itís always much shorter than waiting in the stand-by line.
Do I need an Express pass? This is probably the most asked question in the Universal forum concerning Express. If youíre going at a slower time of year then you probably wonít need it. Iíve been on Labor Day and didnít need an Express pass. But if you are going during a time of peak attendance and have a short amount of time to spend at Universal, it might help you experience more attractions.
Do I have to purchase in advance? No. You can purchase Express Plus and Unlimited Express at the gates, and Express Plus at selected locations in the parks. So if you want to play it by ear and see if you really need Express before you purchase, you have that option.
Which is the least expensive option? I compared Express Plus Pass, Unlimited Express Pass, and one nightís stay at Royal Pacific Resort for September 4-5. Room keys provide Express access on the day you check in and the day you check out, so I compared 2 days of Express Plus and Unlimited Express Passes for a family of four (2 adults, 2 children):
1 Day 1 Park Express Plus Pass - $25.99 each x 8 (4 people for 2 days) = $207.92
1 Day 1 Park Unlimited Express Pass: $62.00 each x 8 (4 people for 2 days) = $496.00
1 nightís stay at Royal Pacific Resort (standard 2 Queen room) = $219.00
Now we will compare these options to the Park to Park VIP Ticket which includes park admission:
2 Day Park to Park VIP Tickets: 2 adults @ $262.99 = $ 525.98 2 children @ $249.99 = $ 499.98 $1,025.96
Now add park admission to the previous options:
1 Day Express Plus Pass - $25.99 x 8 (4 people for 2 days) = $207.92 2 Adult Park to Park Tickets: $134.99 x 2 = $269.98 2 Child Park to Park Tickets (ages 3-9) $121.99 x 2 = $243.98
1 Days Unlimited Express Pass - $62 x 8 (4 people for 2 days) = $ 496.00 2 Adult Park to Park Tickets: $134.99 x 2 = $ 269.98 2 Child Park to Park Tickets (ages 3-9) $121.99 x 2 = $ 243.98
1 night (September 4) at Royal Pacific = $219.00 2 Adult Park to Park Tickets: $134.99 x 2 = $269.98 2 Child Park to Park Tickets (ages 3-9) $121.99 x 2 = $243.98
Based upon these numbers, an onsite stay is a better deal than the VIP Park to Park or Unlimited Express. And if you have an additional child itís even better, as Universal allows 5 to stay in their standard rooms.
Universal offer some packages; prices will vary. Discounts on rooms and/or tickets may be available to residents of certain states, AAA members, and other discount programs. Check www.mousesavers.com for any available Universal discounts. If you register your email address on the Universal website you might receive special offers via email. And it never hurts to call Universal directly and ask about discounts. Iíve found their operators to be very helpful.
You are a genius! (and have very good timing, too!)
i just posted a question about the partner hotels as I have been trying to sort this out myself. You have saved my brain a lot of trouble!
It seems like we may be best off next March (I am assuming it will be pretty busy, as much of Canada has it's March Break the same week as we do) by staying at an inexpensive off-site hotel the night we arrive in Orlando then getting up for a really early c/in at RP. Spend our 1 or 2 nights there and 2 or 3 days in the parks. We don't mind doing a budget hotel while we are "on the road" but don't love the idea of vacationing in a Super 8, plus we've been noticing that there don't seem to be many great deals in the area anyway.
I just came back from my stay at RPH there (as in just got off the plane 2 hours ago!) and I have a bit of advice when booking with AAA. I went to the website and found the AAA price to be only a few dollars below the posted site price at times and other times, I would find it was a good $20 / nite cheaper. When I got ready to book, of course, the price that was $20/nite was no longer showing so I thought I missed it. I called and was able to get the reservation clerk on the phone to locate it and book it for me. Always check, check and re-check. I use the "call 3 times" method, personally. Three times, three days, three different shifts to make sure you get the same answer at least 2 times. I got our room on the AAA rate for $228/nite for Monday through last night (checked out and went to an airport hotel to catch an early flight this morning) so keep checking people!
However, the two newest attractions, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster in Universal Studios and Island of Adventureís Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, do not have Express access. Also excluded is the Pteranodon Flyers in Islands of Adventure.
While talking about *attractions*, don't forget that Ollivander's doesn't participate in EP either.
So with diehard Potter fans, you'll want to hit Ollivander's first, because the line gets long and is very boring. The FJ line can get long, but it is *anything* but boring. So far I've only sped through a nearly nonexistent line at FJ, and I keep hoping for a bit of a longer line so I can actually see and experience some of the line! So if you're going to do Ollivander's, do that first and THEN do FJ. After that, hit Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge (in whichever order works for you), because those take EP.