We recently returned from a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando. And after sharing that we had access to Universal Express Unlimited on Instagram, we had a lot of questions about its value. So, is the Universal Express Pass worth it?
Universal Express Pass
First of all, let’s talk about what this pass actually is. Universal Studios offers a few different kinds of express passes. Essentially, the Express Pass lets you cut the line at a number of participating rides. If you’re familiar with Walt Disney World’s previous FastPass system or their new Genie+, it’s the same concept. Basically, you just don’t have to wait as long as everyone else for rides and attractions.
Universal Studios offers the Express Pass, Express Unlimited, and an Express Pass just for Volcano Bay. Universal Express Pass allows you to jump the line one time per participating ride. So if you want to do all of the rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that allow Express Pass, you can skip the line once for each of them. With Express Unlimited, you can skip the lines as many times as you want. It’s unlimited.
You can also choose from one or two parks, and Volcano Bay has its own if you’re only visiting the water park for the day.
How much is Universal Express Pass?
Universal Express Pass is priced much like other tiered tickets these days. The pass has a starting rate and then that rate changes depending on the day that you purchase it for. You can find the exact pricing on Universal’s Express Pass page.
The price will depend on the season and how busy the Parks are expected to be, and will also depend on the actual day of the week. They tend to be slightly more expensive on the weekends and slightly cheaper during the week. For Universal Express prices start at $69.99, for Universal Express Unlimited $89.99 and for Volcano Bay $19.99. More realistically though, you should plan to closer to $100 per pass for Express and over $100 per Express Unlimited Pass. And add a bit more to that if you want to experience two parks. Low season is a pretty rare thing for Orlando theme Parks these days, so the “starting price” that you see on the Universal Studios website is rarely what you’ll actually pay.
How do I get Universal Express Pass?
There are a few ways to get Universal Express Pass. You can just buy it when you buy your tickets, and this can be done online, in the app, or even at or inside the Parks. If you are a Premier Annual Passholder at Universal Studios, you automatically get free Universal Express Pass access after 4 pm with your pass.
And if you’re staying at a Universal Premier Hotel, then Express Pass Unlimited is included in your hotel stay. This can actually be a pretty great deal. It includes each member of your party for all days you are staying at the hotel. When you check in at the resort, you’ll get room keys for each person and that will act as your Express Pass Unlimited.
Is Universal Express Pass Worth it?
So, is it worth it? Like most of our recommendations, it depends! Value is such a hard thing to gauge because it means something different to everyone. But here are our thoughts on it.
When is Universal Express Worth it?
If you are already planning to stay at a Universal Premier Hotel, then it is absolutely worth it. We got a great deal on Loew’s Portofino Bay by being Passholders anyway, so having the Express Pass Unlimited was a huge perk. Even if you’re just traveling with a few people, it adds up pretty quickly. Or if you’re already planning on getting the Express Pass, but planning to stay at a less expensive hotel, you could potentially even upgrade to the Premier hotel and save money.
We also think it can be worth it if you’re short on time. We’ve talked about doing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in one day, and while having the Express Pass isn’t really necessary, it can be helpful. And if you’re trying to fit even more than that in one day, an Express Pass can really help you save a lot of time. It’s also great if maybe this is your one and only trip to Universal and you really want to see and do everything before you leave. And if you happen to be traveling during the busier times of the year, like summer, spring break, and during the holidays when crowds and wait times will be higher, then Express Pass could be super helpful.
When is Universal Express Pass not worth it?
There are times though when we think it’s not worth the splurge. If you have multiple days planned and don’t mind waiting in line, you could probably save your money and put it to better use. It also could really break the bank if you’re traveling on a budget; or if you are traveling with a large party that would each require their own pass. And if you’re traveling during a lower crowd season, it’s most likely not necessary. It really depends on when you’re traveling. Again, weekends will have more crowds naturally; so if you’re traveling during a slower part of the year, choosing to go during the week can save you a lot of time and money. Everyone’s schedule is different. But if you’re able to plan around the crowds, you may not even need Express Pass for most rides. It’s definitely not a budget-friendly option, and we always recommend visiting during slower times if you can manage.
Is Express Pass good on all rides?
No, it is not. Universal Express Pass is only for select rides. You can find the full ride list here. We recommend checking which rides are included before buying because some of the more popular rides that it would be beneficial to have it for are not included. Knowing which rides it includes can also help you decide if it’s right for you and help you strategize your trip.
Hopefully, this post has helped you decide if Universal Express Pass is right for you. There are definitely times that it will be and times that it won’t! Have you used Express Pass before? Did you think it was worth it?
Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .