The Ultimate Guide to the Universal Express Pass: Is It Worth It?


Long lines are something no one enjoys, but they are essential to the theme park experience. Several amusement parks use Skip-the-Line systems to avoid long lines and let guests enjoy the park faster. Universal Orlando has a skip-the-line system called Universal Express Pass, which allows guests to bypass the regular line for an express lane. Universal Express Pass can be added to your park tickets during checkout or when you arrive.

With the Universal Express Pass, visitors to Universal Studios can forego the lengthy standby line in favor of an express line. There are several different Express Passes to choose from, each with advantages. Knowing how Express Pass operates can help you make the most of your park visits and decide whether or not the add-on is worthwhile. Express Passes enable visitors to maximize their park experience.

Pro Planning Tip: We recommend using Jessica Lieb with ET Family Travel to book your Universal vacation!

What is Universal Express Pass?

For an additional fee, visitors can minimize the time they spend waiting in line by purchasing the Express Pass. Visitors can use Universal Express Passes for most attractions at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure to bypass standby queues and enter a dedicated Express Pass line with shorter waits. For instance, the average wait time for Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket is 45 minutes long, whereas the Express Pass line is five to ten minutes long. With the Express Pass, you can spend less time waiting in long lines and ride more.

Types of Universal Express Passes and Prices

The cost of an Express Pass varies depending on the type of ticket you have, where you are staying, or if you have an Annual Pass. You must have a valid theme park ticket to use an Express Pass. All guests ages three and up must have a valid theme park ticket and individual Express Pass. Prices listed are per person, per day. You must buy an Express Pass for each day you intend to use it if you wish to use it for more than one day.

Express Pass

The Express Pass is the cheapest pass available. Guests can skip the standby line once for each attraction when they choose the Express Pass. Prices start at $89.99 per adult per day for one park or $99.99 per adult per day for two parks.

Express Pass Unlimited

Guests can avoid the standby line as often as they’d like with Express Pass Unlimited. Adult daily rates for one park start at $99.99, and for two parks, they are $129.99.

Express Pass Plus

A Volcano Bay Express Pass or Express PLUS Pass is the only valid pass in Volcano Bay. Guests can skip the line once per attraction. Adult daily rates start at $19.99. No multi-park option is available.

Pricing can vary from day to day. Expect higher prices during the busier seasons, like summer or Christmas break. Prices can surge to $379.99 per person per day on the busiest days. It is also possible for Express Passes to sell out, especially on busy days.

Free Unlimited Express Pass at Premier Hotels

Guests staying in Universal’s Premier Hotels receive free Unlimited Express Passes. Each guest staying in your room at one of Universal’s premier hotels—such as the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, or Loews Royal Pacific Resort—will receive a complimentary Universal Express Unlimited Pass for the duration of your stay. The Express Pass is available on arrival and departure day, so you may use the Express Unlimited Pass for two days with just one overnight stay. This offer is only available at the three Universal Premier Hotels listed above.

VIP Tour

Booking a VIP Tour will get you to the front of the line at every attraction with your tour guide. After your VIP tour ends, you will receive a Universal Express Unlimited pass for the remainder of the day.

How to Use Express Pass

The Express Pass line is a different, shorter line for rides at Universal than the standby line. If the attraction is a show, Express Pass holders get entry to the venue ahead of time and preferred seating. To use Express Pass on shows, you should arrive at the Express line entrance 10-15 minutes before the doors open. Once the performance has started, Express Pass seats are given to standby guests.

Using Express Pass is simple. After purchasing your Express Pass, you can enter the park immediately and join the Express line. You do not need to make reservations before getting in line. You must show the Team Member your Universal Express Pass at each attraction to be scanned. Be advised there may be two Express Pass scan locations throughout the queue.

Which Attractions Accept Express Pass

There are several attractions available to Express Pass holders, including:

Universal Studios

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott
  • Hogwarts Express (Park-to-Park admission required)
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • Fast & Furious – Supercharged
  • MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Race Through New York, Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • The Simpsons Ride
  • Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • E.T. Adventure
  • Trolls Trollercoaster

Islands of Adventure

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Hogwarts Express (Park-to-Park admission required)
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Storm Force Accelatron
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • Caro-Seuss-el
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
  • Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges
  • The Cat in the Hat

Volcano Bay

Express Pass

  • Krakatau Aqua Coaster
  • Punga Racers
  • Maku of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides
  • Puihi of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides
  • Honu of Honu ika Moana
  • ika Moana of Honu ika Moana
  • Raki of Taniwha Tubes
  • Tonga of Taniwha Tubes

Express PLUS Pass

All rides on the Volcano Bay Express Pass plus the following:

  • Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides
  • Ko’okiri Body Plunge
  • Ohyah of Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides
  • Ohno of Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides

Attractions That Do Not Accept Express Pass

These are attractions that do not accept Express Pass:

  • Ollivanders Wand Shop
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  • Pteranodon Flyers

Is Universal Express Pass worth it?

Getting an Express Pass can save you time in line and get you better seats for your favorite shows. However, prices for Express Passes can be exorbitant, especially on busy days. To know if purchasing an Express Pass is worth the price, you must first determine how much time you have in the parks and how patient you are waiting in lines. If you visit Universal Studios Florida during a busy time, the prices and crowds will be at their highest. Spending the extra money on a Universal Express Pass may be worth optimizing the park’s limited time. Others may extend their trip to avoid paying for Universal Express Passes.

If you are visiting during a busy season and have a limited number of days in the park, you can purchase the Express Pass. On the other hand, if you want to save money or have multiple days in the parks, you do not necessarily need an Express Pass. Often, you will find that extending your trip an extra day or two is cheaper than purchasing an Express Pass. You may also opt to stay in a Premier Hotel that offers free Unlimited Express Passes. Instead of buying the Express Passes, you could save a lot of money by booking a room at a higher rate.

The cost of a Universal Express Pass varies greatly depending on when you travel and which parks you visit. It is an easy-to-use system and is a terrific way to avoid standing in long lines. If you intend to purchase the Express Pass, calculate if it will be cost-effective for your trip. There is no need for the Express Pass, but it is an excellent addition if you choose to purchase one.

Plan a Trip to Universal Orlando

The easiest way to plan a Universal Orlando Resort vacation is with the help of Jessica Lieb, an ET Family Travel advisor. Working with a travel advisor doesn’t cost anything extra; knowing that your vacation is well-planned and in good hands is worth a fortune! Contact Jessica Lieb to start planning your next trip.


Similar Posts