Helen and I were recently waiting for transport back to our hotel from one of the theme parks when I was asked what my favourite park here in Orlando, Florida was. It’s a tough question but I answered with – Universal Studios.
They were parents of a three-year-old and a six-year-old, so I followed up with why I thought the park was suited to teenagers upwards but it got me thinking about why I enjoy visiting the Universal Studios park so much, and our latest experience at the park with a Universal Studios Express Pass.
What Is The Universal Studios Express Pass?
Before we can look at whether or not the Universal Studios Express Pass worth it? We first have to understand what it is and how it can be obtained. The Universal Studios Express Pass allows you to skip the regular lines at the vast majority of your favourite rides across the three Universal Studios Theme Park.
Once you’ve purchased your theme park ticket and your additional Universal Studios Express Pass then simply present your express pass to the staff to simply bypass the regular lines. The express ride access is a separate line with a shorter wait time at each valid attraction.
How Much Does The Express Pass Cost?
The pricing of a Universal Express Pass varies depending on whether you already have your Universal Studios tickets, are a resident of the state of Florida or are visiting more than one Universal Studios park in the space of one day.
However, the 2018 pricing starts at $79 + tax. To find your exact quote visit the Universal Studios website. Please remember, you’ll need a pass to access the park as this pass will only be available to get to the front of the queue for the specific rides.
If you’re a Florida resident click here for further pricing information.
Hotels With Complimentary Universal Studios Express Pass
However, if you’re looking to stay on-site at one of the fantastic Universal Studios resort hotels then you can receive complimentary Express Passes.
The hotels currently available in this promotion include;
Loews Royal Pacific Resort
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
Hard Rock Hotel
One night at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is available for around $350 inc tax (rates vary depending on the room and the time of year) with the room occupying up to five people and offering express passes for the check-in and check-out date it can work out to be of a great saving to stay on-site at one of these hotels should you be considering purchasing an express pass.
Of course, access to the complimentary express passes is just one of the many benefits you’ll have of staying on-site at a Universal resort hotel.
Eligible Rides For The Universal Studios Express Pass
There are 18 participating rides for the Universal Studios Express pass inside each of the Universal parks (Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure) as well as 10 rides within the new Universal Studios waterpark, Volcano Bay. The full list of rides can be found on the Universal Studios website here.
Each of the rides in any one of the three parks provides you with a different experience. For that reason here’s an overview of our experience using the Universal Studios Express Pass on the following rides;
It’s my third time visiting the Universal Studios park, and yet my first experience on the Despicable Me ride which often features rather long wait times. With a wait of almost 60 minutes, we were able to quickly glide towards the front of the queue and access the ride within just 10 minutes. Had this not been a ‘show’ ride then I believe our access to the ride would have been even better.
We were left slightly disappointed by the lack of priority of our disabled access whilst also having access to a Universal Studios Express Pass during our trip on the Hogwarts Express. The lack of access to seating around the elevator made this particularly difficult for my parents.
My all-time favourite ride at any of the three Universal Studios parks, and if anything the ride I was looking forward to using the Universal Express pass on the most. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint. After the security check-point, the line was empty with just three people in front of us prior to reaching the stairs. At the stairs at the bottom of the ride, we were left to merge with the rest of the visitors – cutting around 40 minutes off our wait time.
Men In Black
An awesome little ride at Universal Studios is Men in Black. The ride can have a wide variety of wait times depending on the time of year, and the time of day you visit. In fact, on our last visit, we waited just 10 minutes on standby. However, on our visit with express passes the wait was 40 minutes, something that we were able to bypass dramatically. In fact, the majority of the wait time on this ride for those with express passes is spent walking from the entrance to the start of the ride.
Another one of my personal favourite rides is The Mummy and much like Men in Black the stand-by wait time can really vary. However, due to the sheer of a number of times I’ve been on this ride, it’s not one we’d have gone on had the standby time been more than 15 minutes. Luckily, in our case, we had the Universal Express pass and once again made our way right to the very front. In fact, this was one of the rides that in my opinion had the most impact when it comes to the distance to the front we were able to get to with our passes!
King Kong is the newest of all the rides we went on while at Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure. Because of this, the standby queue was over to an hour. This also ended up being the ride we waited for the longest. Despite access to the Universal Express passes with the total wait time being around 25 minutes.
Regardless, the Universal Express pass still saved us around one hour of waiting for this single ride alone!
Finally, Jurrasic Park. Much like the Mummy, I feel like the real value of the express pass was made clear here. We got straight to the front and made our way straight onto the ride within a matter of minutes (maybe even seconds!)
Is The Universal Studios Express Pass Worth It?
Reasons For The Universal Express Pass
- Less chance of getting bored, waiting around in a queue.
- Fewer wait times means you get to experience more. Whether that be more rides, multiple goes on the same ride or fantastic shows.
- Go on rides you otherwise wouldn’t. This is my fourth trip to Universal Studios, yet it was my first time on
Reasons Against The Universal Express Pass
- You could spend the money from the Universal Express Pass on other things in the park. Things such as dining experiences, the blue man group show or merchandise.
- You’ll miss some of the ‘waiting’ experiences. Some rides have different interactive features, videos etc. to keep you entertained while waiting. These are a great part of the experience here at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
So, in conclusion, is the Universal Studios Express Pass Worth It? Honestly, yes. Although personally, I’d opt to stay on-site at one of the selected resort hotels. This, of course, gains you complimentary access to the Universal Studios Express Pass. Not to mention some other fantastic on-site guest benefits!