Is The Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Pass Worth It?

Despite living in the UK more than 5,000 miles from Universal Studios Hollywood, I am a Universal Studios Hollywood annual passholder. However, I’m also incredibly frugal and so when making the decision as to whether an annual pass was right for me, I had a lot of questions. The primary one, is a Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass worth it?

The difference between a one-day Universal Studios Hollywood park ticket and the lowest tier Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass is less than an additional one-day park ticket. As such if you plan to visit Universal Studios Hollywood twice in a 365-day period then the annual pass is worth it.

Of course, this is based on the lowest tier annual pass (Silver) which is the cheapest but also comes with an extensive number of blackout dates and limited benefits when compared to the other, higher-tiered annual passes.

For that reason, I’ve put together this comprehensive guide, including all the questions and thoughts I had about a Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass so you can decide not only if an annual pass is right for you, but if so what tier you’re likely to get the most benefit from.

How Much Is Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Pass?

The cost of a Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass varies depending on the tier of annual pass you purchase.

  • California Neighbour Pass: $179
  • Silver: $229
  • Gold: $319
  • Platinum: $619

All annual passes except the California Neighbour Pass can be purchased using Flex Pay which allows you to pay for the pass monthly.

  • Silver: Less than $8 per month with a $149 downpayment
  • Gold: Less than $13 per month with a $179 downpayment
  • Platinum: Less than $30 per month with a $289 downpayment

However, unlike outright annual pass purchases, Flex Pay auto-renews on a month-to-month basis after the first year; cancel at the end of any monthly renewal term without penalty.

When visiting Universal Studios Hollywood you can choose to upgrade your park ticket to an annual pass by simply paying the difference (which is what I did). The cost of the upgrade is determined based on the park ticket you’re using to visit Universal Studios Hollywood and the pass that you’d like to upgrade to.

While you may only see promotional banners for upgrading to the silver annual pass during your visit, you can upgrade to any eligible pass during your visit.

Upgrades can be made at the Box Office which is located opposite the Dreamworks Theatre, the Hello Kitty Store and Starbucks in the Upper Lot.

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What’s The Difference Between Each Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Pass?

With such a difference in price between each Universal Studios Hollywood pass tier, it’s important to know the benefits of each to get a better understanding as to which holds the most value for you personally.

California Neighbor Pass

šŸ’µ Cost: $179 plus tax

The California Neighbor Pass is the cheapest annual pass available at Universal Studios Hollywood and is limited to California residents only. You will be asked to provide proof of residency to complete your purchase.

Access to Universal Studios Hollywood with this annual pass is limited to just over 150 days of the year with most weekends, major holidays and summer being blackout dates in which you are unable to visit the park. Meanwhile, the benefits of this annual pass include;

  • Invites to special events
  • Discounts on general admissions tickets for your family
  • Inclusion in sweepstakes
  • Discounts on Halloween Horror Nights tickets
  • 10-15% discount on all participating CityWalk locations

Is The California Neighbor Pass Worth It?

If you live in California and are predominantly looking to visit Universal Studios Hollywood midweek then the California Neighbour Pass offers great value for money. However, in most cases even (or especially) California residents are going to get more value from a higher-tiered annual pass.

Silver Annual Pass

šŸ’µ Cost: $229 plus tax

The Silver Annual Pass is the cheapest Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass available to residents from outside of California.

Silver Annual Passholders can access Universal Studios Hollywood for more than 275 days of the year, meaning there are roughly 90 blackout dates on which you’re unable to visit the park. Meanwhile, the benefits of this annual pass include;

  • Invites to special events
  • Discounts on general admissions tickets for your family
  • Inclusion in sweepstakes
  • Discounts on Halloween Horror Nights tickets
  • 10-15% discount on all participating CityWalk locations

Is The Silver Annual Pass Worth It?

A one-day ticket to Universal Studios Hollywood costs between $109 and $149 plus tax depending on the day you plan to visit. Subsequently, in most cases, a Silver Annual Pass is worth it if you plan to visit Universal Studios Hollywood twice or more in a 365-day period.

If you’re looking to visit Universal Studios Hollywood for two consecutive days then a two-day park ticket is still cheaper than a Silver Annual Pass. Instead, the calculation is based on purchasing two one-day park tickets separately.

However, there are still 90 blackout dates with this annual pass, so you’ll want to check the blackout date calendar in advance if you’re looking to return on specific dates or at specific times of the year.

There is just a $50 difference between the California Neighbour Pass and the Silver Annual Pass yet the Silver Annual Pass only has 90 blackout dates whereas the California Neighbour Pass has 215.

Subsequently, for both non-California and California Residents I recommend the Silver Annual Pass as a starting point when it comes to investing in a Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass.

Gold Annual Pass

šŸ’µ Cost: $319 plus tax

Gold Universal Studios Hollywood annual passholders are able to access the theme park for more than 325 days of the year. Meaning that there are roughly just 40 blackout dates on which you’re unable to visit the park. Other benefits of this annual pass include;

  • 15% discount on food, merchandise, and beverage within the park
  • Free general parking (entry before 6pm)
  • Invites to special events
  • Discounts on general admissions tickets for your family
  • Inclusion in sweepstakes
  • Discounts on Halloween Horror Nights tickets
  • 10-15% discount on all participating CityWalk locations

Sadly, at the time of writing the 15% discount is not eligible for any merchandise Super Nintendo World related purchased across the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. However, the discount can be used at the Toadstool Cafe inside Super Nintendo World and on any Super Nintendo World themed food & drink purchased in and around the park.

Is The Gold Annual Pass Worth It?

There are three differences between the Silver Annual Pass and the Gold Annual Pass at Universal Studios Hollywood;

  1. A 15% discount on food, merchandise and beverages at Universal Studios Hollywood
  2. Free general parking (entry before 6pm)
  3. Access to Universal Studios Hollywood for 325 days instead of 275 days

Meanwhile, the difference in price between the two annual passes is $90. As such what you need to consider is whether the three additional benefits available to Gold annual passholders are worth $90 to you.

Now, general parking at Universal Studios Hollywood currently costs $30 before 5pm. Subsequently, if you are planning on driving to Universal Studios Hollywood and visiting more than 3 times a year then you’ve already made your money back on that benefit alone.

Alternatively, if you spend $600 on food, drink and merchandise inside the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park during your 365-day period then the 15% discount you get for being a Gold annual passholder is $90 and you’ll have therefore broken even on that benefit alone.

In most cases Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Pass Members I know rarely spend in excess of $600 on souvenirs from Universal Studios and instead try to cut back on expenses within the park given how much has already been spent on the annual pass.

Finally, there are the additional 50 days in which you’re able to visit Universal Studios Hollywood. It’s hard to put a monetary value on these, so I recommend comparing the blackout dates between the Silver and the Gold Annual Pass if this is the only driving factor behind opting for this annual pass tier.

Platinum Annual Pass

šŸ’µ Cost: $619 plus tax

The Platinum Annual Pass is the most expensive Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass available and has zero blackout dates which given that Universal Studios Hollywood is open 365 days a year means you can visit the park any or every day of the year. Other Platinum Annual Pass benefits include;

  • 15% discount on food, merchandise, and beverage within the park
  • Free Universal Express Pass (from 3pm)
  • Free Halloween Horror Nights ticket
  • Free general parking (entry before 6pm)
  • Invites to special events
  • Discounts on general admissions tickets for your family
  • Inclusion in sweepstakes
  • Discounts on extra Halloween Horror Nights tickets
  • 10-15% discount on all participating CityWalk locations

Is The Platinum Annual Pass Worth It?

There are three differences between the Gold Annual Pass and the Platinum Annual Pass at Universal Studios Hollywood;

  1. Complimentary Halloween Horror Nights ticket
  2. Complimentary Universal Express Pass after 3pm
  3. Access to Universal Studios Hollywood 365 days of the year

Meanwhile, the difference in price between the two annual passes is $300. As such what you need to consider is whether the three additional benefits available to Platinum annual passholders are worth $300 to you.

The complimentary Halloween Horror Nights ticket is date restricted. However, tickets typically cost between $112 and $154. As such if you’re wanting to visit Universal Studios Hollywood for Halloween Horror Nights then you’ve roughly got $130 back there.

Meanwhile, a complimentary Universal Express Pass after 3pm is harder to put a monetary value on since it’s Universal Express Passes are only sold as a full-day ticket update and cost between $90 and $120.

The same goes for the additional 40 days extra in which you’re able to visit the park when compared to the Gold Annual Pass.

Subsequently, I feel that the only time in which the Platinum Annual Pass is worth it is if you know you’re going to visit Universal Studios Hollywood for Halloween Horror Nights and also plan to visit the theme park roughly ten or more times over the course of the year.

Personally, I don’t feel as though the 40 extra days in which you’re able to access the park make the difference and instead, it’s being able to skip the line with the Universal Express Pass that’s really going to provide the value.

However, that value is only going to be determined by how much you visit the theme park. If you’re only visiting three or four times a year, then I don’t think that value is there. However, if you’re looking to visit the theme park a dozen or so times throughout the year then the time potentially saved with the Universal Express Pass is likely worth that extra $170 (the $300 difference between the Gold Annual Pass and the Silver Annual Pass).

Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Pass Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions that myself and others have had when it comes to purchasing, using and renewing a Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass.

Universal Hollywood Travel Planning Guide

šŸŽŸļø Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Hollywood?

If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Hollywood tickets.

Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.

Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Hollywood theme park tickets from AttractionTix.

I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.

šŸ„ Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Hollywood?

If you’re travelling to Universal Hollywood for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.

However, if a trip to Universal Hollywood isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.

šŸš˜ Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Hollywood?

You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Hollywood, as the theme park has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points.

However, if a trip to Universal Hollywood only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental for all of my trips to Los Angeles.

šŸØ Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Hollywood?

When visiting Universal Hollywood, I recommend staying at Loews Hollywood. From this hotel, you can take an Uber or Lyft to Universal Hollywood in under 15 minutes.

When it comes to booking any hotels in Los Angeles, I use either Booking.com or Hotels.com. However, for large families and groups, VRBO is my number one choice.

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3 Comments

  1. Susan Boltuch says:

    Thank you for all of the info and comparisons of annual passes! I can now easily make my purchasing decision and I am no longer confused!

  2. Ok so this is what Iā€™m trying to figure out. If I buy a yearly pass how much does it cost to do a 1 day express pass upgrade??

    1. Cora Harrison says:

      Depends on the day but it’s usually circa $50 šŸ™‚