The Universal Express Pass can be a great way to skip the line on the vast majority of rides inside Universal Studios Florida & Universal’s Islands of Adventure. However, given that a Universal Express Pass often costs in excess of $200 per person plus tax it may not be worthwhile for everyone.
The Universal Express Pass is worth it for those only visiting the Universal Studios Resort for a day or two since the pass is able to reduce the standby wait time for the vast majority of rides inside the park by 85%.
This means that on eligible rides with a standby wait time of 60 minutes, Express Pass holders will wait just 10 minutes on average.
However, while the Universal Express Pass may be more affordable during the off-season it may not be required at all since standby wait times for even the most popular rides will be significantly less than those during the peak summer months.
Regardless of when you’re looking to purchase an Express Pass we’ve often found that for those travelling as a couple, family or group the most affordable way to obtain a Universal Express Pass is to stay at an on-site premier hotel.
How Does The Universal Studios Orlando Express Pass Work?
The Universal Express Pass is a separate ticket add-on that can be used in addition to your regular theme park admission.
All eligible rides inside the park will then have a separate Express Pass entrance that Express Pass holders are to go to.
Staff members will then request to see both your park admission and Express Pass to confirm that you are the correct, eligible person to join the queue.
The Express Pass line on the vast majority of eligible rides is separate from the standby line and takes you straight to the front of the queue with only other Express Pass holders in line with you.
The ratio of Express Pass holders and standby guests going on each ride will depend on the length of each queue at that time so the exact time you wait is subject to change.
However, in most cases, I’ve found I save on average 85% with an Express Pass when compared to queueing in the standby line.
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Printable Packing List
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What Rides Accept The Universal Studios Orlando Express Pass?
You can use your Universal Express Pass on all rides at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure except for;
- Fievel’s Playland
- Pteranodon Flyers
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Jurassic World VelociCoaster
How Much Does The Universal Studios Orlando Express Pass Cost?
The overall price structure of an Express Pass varies depending on how busy the park is and the demand for Express Passes during your visit.
During our most recent visit (June 2022) the price for a standard Universal Express Pass to be used in both parks at the resort was $287.54 plus tax, per person.
However, the cost of a Universal Express Pass will also depend on the pass you’re looking to purchase and where / when you want to use it.
For example, an Express Pass for just one park (Universal Studios Florida or Universal’s Islands of Adventure) is cheaper than both parks, although you’ll also need a park-to-park ticket to use the Express Pass in both parks.
Meanwhile, a standard Universal Express Pass which allows you to skip the line on each ride once is cheaper than a Universal Express Unlimited Pass, which allows you to skip the line on the same ride more than once in one day.
Finally, the cheapest (albeit not the best) way to purchase an Express Pass outright is to purchase it for one park after 4pm.
Who Is The Universal Express Pass For?
The Universal Express Pass is designed for those who want to cut down on their wait time in line and make the most of their day at Universal Studios. For thrill-seekers, the cost of a Universal Express Pass can be better value for money than many of the souvenirs you could buy inside the park.
However, I also recommend purchasing a Universal Express Pass if you’re visiting Universal Studios with children above 1.2m for just one or two days.
I suggest this since the children will be of a suitable height in which they’ll be eligible to go on the vast majority of the most popular rides with the highest wait times inside the parks.
However, I also suggest this since we recommend on average spending three days at both Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
As such just one or two days at the parks is likely going to result in you skipping some rides without an Express Pass – especially during peak season!
Who Is The Universal Express Pass Not For?
The Universal Express Pass is not for those who are travelling with small children, since they won’t be eligible for the majority of the rides that have a high standby wait time.
Similarly, if you’ve got three or more days at the Universal Studios Resort then you should be able to go on all the rides inside the park even with high standby wait times.
Given the cost of the Universal Express Pass, I don’t believe it’s suitable for those travelling on a budget – although there are workarounds, more on that in a moment!
Likewise, if you’re travelling as a family then the cost of four Express Passes could easily reach in excess of $1,000 per day before tax. As such I don’t recommend the Universal Express Pass for families – however, once again there are workarounds, more on that in a moment!
Universal Express Unlimited vs Universal Express Pass?
There are two types of Express Passes at Universal Studios; a Universal Express Unlimited Pass and a Universal Express Pass.
A Universal Express Pass allows you to use the pass to skip the standby queue once per ride.
Meanwhile, the Universal Express Unlimited allows you to use the pass to skip the standby queue an unlimited number of times per ride.
As such if you wanted to just ride Hollywood’s Rip Ride Rocket, over and over, and over again then you could do just that and enter the Express Pass line each and every time.
While you could do the same with a standard Universal Express Pass you’d only be eligible to enter the Express Pass line once.
Every other time you wanted to go on that ride during that day you’d have to enter the regular standby wait line.
For most people, the upgrade from a standard Universal Express Pass to a Universal Express Unlimited Pass isn’t worthwhile.
However, if you do have a favourite ride inside the parks that you think you might want to go on more than once during your visit then the additional $30 may be worthwhile.
Can You Share The Universal Studios Orlando Express Pass?
Sadly a Universal Express Pass is assigned to a single person and can not be shared between guests.
Express Passes are linked to a park ticket and you’ll be required to show both in order to enter the Express Pass line.
Universal Studios Orlando Hotels With Complimentary Express Pass
Earlier in the post, I mentioned that there’s a workaround when it comes to getting the Universal Express Pass at a slight discount or for better value for money. Well, this is it!
If you stay on-site at a Universal Premier hotel, then everyone in your room gets a complimentary Unlimited Express Pass for the duration of your stay.
This means, that if you’re a family of four staying at The Hard Rock Hotel (a premier hotel) for one night then you would get four Unlimited Express Passes on the day you check in and four Unlimited Express Passes on the day you check out.
The amount of money required for 8 Unlimited Express Passes (family of four, two days) covering two parks during my most recent visit (June 2022) was $2,555.92 before tax.
Yet the cost of one night at The Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios (just one of many premier hotels eligible for this promotion) for a family of four rarely surpasses $800 per night even during the peak season.
In fact, you can often get one of the most basic rooms in this hotel for as little as $600. This gets you a four-star hotel, footsteps from the entrance to the resort, and all the benefits that come with staying on-site at Universal Studios including early entry on top of those all-important Express Passes.
For this reason, we never recommend purchasing Express Passes outright and instead always recommend booking an eligible premier hotel at Universal Studios for complimentary Unlimited Express Passes instead.
Florida residents are eligible for a Florida resident discount on Universal Orlando hotels (and theme park tickets) which can make obtaining a Universal Express Pass by staying in a Universal Premier hotel even more affordable.
Do Universal Studios Orlando Express Passes Sell Out?
While it is uncommon Express Passes have been known to sell out in the past. As such if you want to guarantee an Express Pass for your visit it’s best to either book a stay at a premier on-site hotel or purchase your Express Pass in advance.
Universal Orlando Travel Planning Guide
🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Orlando?
If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Orlando 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 Orlando theme park tickets from AttractionTix. I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing Orlando theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.
🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Orlando?
If you’re travelling to Universal Orlando 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 Orlando isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.
🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Orlando?
You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Orlando, as the resort has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points. However, if Universal Orlando makes up the majority of your vacation, then you may want to stay on-site.
Staying onsite at the Universal Orlando Resort comes with several perks. Including complimentary transport from the hotel to the Universal Orlando theme parks. In some cases, you can even walk from your hotel straight to the theme park gates.
However, if a trip to Universal Orlando 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 Orlando.
🏨 Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Orlando?
If you’re spending the majority of your vacation at Universal Orlando, it’s a good idea to stay at a Universal Orlando hotel. Staying onsite at Universal Orlando comes with several perks, including;
- Early park admission
- Complimentary transport
- Complimentary Universal Express Passes (selected hotels only)
- Walking distance of the Universal theme parks (selected hotels only)
While staying onsite at Universal Orlando is great value for money, it can still be out of budget for many. Thankfully, there are several budget-friendly hotels close to Universal Orlando to choose from.
Meanwhile, if Universal Orlando only makes up part of your Orlando vacation, then you may want to stay elsewhere. Kissimmee, International Drive and Lake Buena Vista are all within a 40-minute drive of Universal Orlando.