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Have you been to a theme park recently? Gone are the days of empty streets and walk-on rides. Instead, expect plenty of crowds, long waits and at least a little sweat.
This can be especially true at Universal Studios, whether you’re visiting in California or Florida. To help with the fatigue, Universal offers an Express Pass — which can help you skip the line and get on more rides.
But is the Universal Express Pass worth it? Let’s take a look.
How does the Universal Express Pass work?
In short, the Universal Express Pass is a ticket that’ll allow you to skip the regular line at participating rides and attractions.
Pass holders use specially designated lanes that can be much shorter than the standard line. This can be especially helpful if you’re visiting during a busy period, such as spring break or the summer holidays.
There are two types of Universal Express Passes. The first allows you to skip the line once per ride or attraction. The second is an Unlimited version that allows you to skip the line as many times as you’d like — even for the same ride.
The different pass types aren’t all available at each Universal park. You’ll want to research where you’re visiting to see which versions are available to you.
The cost varies based on several factors, including when you’re visiting and the demand. We’ll get into that below.
However, be aware that these passes are finite; only a limited amount are sold per day, and once they’re out, you’re out of luck.
» Learn more: How to purchase theme park tickets with points
How much is a Universal Express Pass?
So, how much are Universal Express Passes? As we mentioned, the cost of your pass will depend on several factors, including:
Whether you’re purchasing the Express or the Express Unlimited version.
When you’re visiting.
How many Express Passes remain.
Which park you’re visiting.
How many parks you’re visiting.
For example, prices for a one-day pass with limited rides at Universal Orlando start at $90 plus tax. They run up to $350 plus tax, which you can expect to see during especially busy times.
A Universal Express Unlimited Pass, meanwhile, is a bit more expensive. Visiting a single park during an off-peak period can cost as little as $100 plus tax, while opting for a multipark Unlimited Pass can run you $380 plus tax.
Universal Express Pass prices can be cheaper in California, but the park is much smaller.
Long story short: How much a Universal Express Pass will cost you is highly variable and can range from a base price of $90 to $380.
» Learn more: Theme parks cheaper than Disney
How to get a Universal Express Pass
There are two primary ways to get one of these passes, though which one you choose will depend on your situation.
Purchase a pass
The first, and most obvious, is to purchase the pass. The process for this will differ depending on which park you’re visiting.
In Florida, you can buy your park ticket separately, then add the Express Pass later.
In California, you’ll need to bundle the Express Pass with your admission ticket.
In both cases, you can choose to upgrade your ticket at the theme parks when you visit — as long as the passes are not sold out.
Stay at a Universal resort
Your other option for getting an Express Pass involves staying at a Universal Studios resort. While not available everywhere, it can be a viable option for those traveling to Universal Studios Orlando.
There are four types of resort options available for Universal guests, with varying price points: Value, Prime Value, Preferred and Premier.
As the names suggest, the Value hotels are the least expensive, while the Premier properties offer the most luxury.
Among the amenities provided by Premier resorts are Universal Express Unlimited Passes for you and the others in your room.
Standard rooms at these hotels can accommodate two adults and two children, and room rates can be as low as $325 per night.
This is a complimentary amenity no matter when you’re visiting, which means the total value you can get from your passes could exceed $1,500 per day.
Note also that you’ll receive Universal Express Unlimited Passes on the day you check in and the day you check out, which means a one-night stay will include two days of passes.
» Learn more: How to travel to Orlando on points and miles
Is the Universal Express Pass worth it?
No one really likes waiting in line, and the Universal Express Pass can help ease the pain. But it can also be pretty expensive, especially when the parks are busy.
To decide whether the Universal Studios Express Pass is worth it, you’ll want to consider several factors:
How busy will the parks be when you visit?
Is purchasing a pass within your budget?
Who are you traveling with? (Can your small children wait in line?)
Are you willing to stay at a Universal resort instead?
How many days are you visiting? Can you return for more rides on another day?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better idea whether the Express Pass will be worth it for you.
Say, for example, you’re visiting Universal Orlando for just two days during the Christmas holidays. You live in the Midwest, so it’s going to be a few years before you return. The park will be very busy, you have limited time, and you aren’t likely to come back anytime soon.
In this case, a Universal Express Pass may be able to help you make the most of your time during a very busy travel period.
Universal Express Passes, recapped
A Universal Express Pass can be a great way to skip the regular line, though the price you’ll pay will vary based on when you’re traveling and which parks you’re visiting.
There are ways to save on passes, such as staying at a Universal resort, but if you plan to buy a pass, you’ll want to do the math to see whether it makes sense for you.
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