Why a Universal Orlando Annual Pass Should be Your Next Big Purchase!

Well, with theme parks reopening and life returning to *somewhat* normal in June of 2020, it’s time to talk about one of our favorite topics: Annual Passes!

Annual Passes are a crowd favorite among many theme park aficionados. Mostly because they often pay for themselves within a few visits.

And luckily, this is no different for Universal Theme Parks and Resorts in Orlando, FL. 

Today we’re going to talk you through Universal Orlando Passholder perks, tips, and tricks so you can decide if an annual pass purchase is the right move for you! 

(Spoiler alert: It probably is!)

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO. Thank you!

The Universal Orlando Park Passholder Basics

Things to do at Universal Orlando with couple splashing in the water at Volcano Bay.

Annual Pass Price Tiers

As you may have already suspected, there is more than one Universal Orlando Annual Pass type.  Choosing which one is right for you depends on what perks you are interested in and how much you’re willing to pay.

And the good news is, we’ve already done all the research for you! 

Keep reading below for our easy-to-understand annual pass breakdown by price and perks, starting with the most inexpensive two park pass and going to the most comprehensive.  

P.S. If you buy your pass between now and September 30, 2020, you’ll get 3 extra months on your annual pass for free! 

That’s right, for no upcharge your 12 month Universal Orlando Annual Pass will become 15 months of theme park fun!

Universal Orlando Annual Pass Price for Two Parks
Screenshot of Universal Orlando Annual Passholder Options

The “Seasonal Pass”

Price: $305 ($270 for Florida Residents)

What’s Included Besides Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure Park Admission:

  • 10% off multi-park passes
  • Discounts on Blue Man Group Tickets and Universal Orlando Hotels
  • Access to the Universal Passholder Lounge daily 

The Fine Print:

  • No Self-Parking Discounts
  • No Flex Pay (payment plan) Option
  • No Special Event Admission
  • Blockout Dates Apply: December 19, 2020 – December 31, 2020

The “Power Pass”

Price: $355 ($320 for Florida Residents)

What’s Included Besides Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure Park Admission: 

  • 15% off multi-park passes
  • Discounts on Blue Man Group Tickets and Universal Orlando Hotels
  • 50% off Self-Parking
  • Access to the Universal Passholder Lounge daily 
  • Select Special Event Admission i.e. Mardi Gras

The Fine Print: 

  • Blockout Dates Apply: December 19, 2020 – December 31, 2020
Bourne Stuntacular Entrance at Universal Studios Florida

The “Preferred Pass”

Price: $395 ($360 for Florida Residents)

What’s Included Besides Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure Park Admission:  

  • 15% off multi-park passes
  • Discounts on Blue Man Group Tickets and Universal Orlando Hotels 
  • Discounts on select food and drink in-park
  • One hour early park admission to Universal Studios or Universal Island of Adventure (check with Universal Orlando for specific operating hours of each park, which change on a daily basis due to certain events and offerings)
  • Free self-parking and discounted prime parking
  • Access to the Universal Passholder Lounge daily 
  • Select Special Event Admission i.e. Mardi Gras

The Fine Print: N/A

The “Premier Pass”

Price: $560 ($510 for Florida Residents)

What’s Included Besides Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure Park Admission: 

  • 15% off multi-park passes
  • Discounts on Blue Man Group Tickets and Universal Orlando Hotels
  • Discounts on select food and drink in-park
  • One hour early park admission
  • Free prime and self-parking
  • Access to the Universal Passholder Lounge daily 
  • Select Special Event Admission i.e. Mardi Gras
  • Free valet parking on select dates
  • One Halloween Horror Nights admission (valued at $85 per person)
  • One Universal Express pass after 4pm (express line for reduced wait time, valued at approximately $50)

The Fine Print: N/A

Read how to find your perfect vacation home rental in Orlando by Clicking HERE!

2 Park Pass Vs 3 Park Pass 

As you can see for yourself at UniversalOrlando.com, in addition to choosing what tier pass you would like, you’ll also need to decide between a 2 Park or 3 Park pass. 

Transformers the Ride Universal Studios Grand Opening Day with Bumblebee

A 3 Park Pass allows for unlimited entry to Universal’s Volcano Bay water park (opened in May 2017)  in addition to their traditional Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure Theme Parks.  

To help you decide between a two and three park pass, keep in mind that Universal Volcano Bay is about a 12 minute ride from Universal’s other two theme parks, which makes it slightly less convenient if you’re hoping to park hop between the three parks.  

How to Get to Volcanco Bay from Universal?

To get to Volcano Bay, you have to park at Universal Studios and take Universal’s complimentary shuttle. 

A bit more of a hassle than the walk or Hogwarts Express train ride guests use to hop between Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios parks, but not too much so.

Things to do at Universal Orlando Couples splash in the water at Volcano Bay
Photo: Universal Orlando

So, before deciding on the type of pass you choose to buy, know your intentions.  Do you enjoy water parks or are regular theme parks more your thing?  

It’s about a $100 difference between a two or three park pass; but to be honest, just two trips to Volcano Bay will make the 3 Park Pass worthwhile, since a one day adult ticket to the water park currently stands at $80.  

The good news is though, if you’re still unsure, go with a two park pass for now. At any point you can pay the difference and upgrade your two park pass to a three!

Read: 5 Incredible Universal Orlando Packing List Tips (Ultimate Guide & Checklist)

3 Easy Tips for Taking Full Advantage of Your Universal Orlando Passholder Perks

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s go through a few tips to help your decision.

Universal Studios Hollywood Rip Rock It red roller coaster during Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Studios Hollywood Rip Rock It

1 – Know When to Go

If you choose the “Seasonal” or “Power Pass,” which are the two most inexpensive tiers of Universal Orlando’s Annual Passes, blackout dates will apply.

This means that in 2020, your Seasonal or Power Pass will not be able to grant you access into the parks during high season: December 19-31.

For more details concerning this and other Universal Orlando Passholder perks and parameters, visit Universal and click “View Details” under each pass type that you’re considering.

2 – FlexPay Payment Plan

A little anxious about dropping a few hundred dollars in one fell swoop?  Don’t worry, Universal Orlando has thought about that and has the perfect solution!

Christmas at Universal Harry Potter Christmas Snowman in front of castle

You are more than welcome to spread out your Universal Orlando Passholder payments over the course of a year to make this worthwhile purchase more financially appealing.

Especially because there are no extra interest payments or credit checks to worry about.

The only drawbacks to FlexPay? First, it isn’t available on the “Seasonal Pass” option.

And second, it does automatically renew, so just stay on top of it if you don’t plan to keep your Universal Orlando Annual Pass for more than 12 months.

3 – Special Florida Resident Prices

As you can see from our pricing breakdown above, discounted Florida resident pricing does apply to Universal Orlando’s Annual Passes! 

Islands of Adventure Tips Bluto Barge River Rapids Ride with Hulk Roller Coasters in the Background

So, if you want to take full advantage of this savings, make sure you’re prepared to do so.

In order to prove your Florida residency, make sure to have the proper paperwork with you such as:

  • Florida State Driver’s License
  • Voter Registration Card
  • State Issued ID
  • Florida Based Military ID
  • College ID

All of these are appropriate forms of Florida residency proof.

Or, if none of the above are in your wallet, don’t fret.  You can also bring personal mail from your Florida state address with a matching photo ID.  

This correspondence should be from a federal or state institution, and needs to be no more than 60 days old. Utility bills, auto insurance policies, and homeowner’s insurance are also applicable.  

Frequently Asked Questions About Universal Orlando Annual Passes

HULK Roller Coaster Universal Islands of Adventure

Do Universal Passholders get discounts on tickets?

Yes!  Universal Orlando Passholders of every tier get discounts on multi-park passes.  

So, what does this mean for you? 

If a friend or family member is just coming to visit for a day or two, you can purchase them a multi-day park pass at a discounted rate upon showing your Universal Orlando annual pass.

When is the best time to buy my Universal Orlando Annual Pass?

To be honest, right now is the best time to buy your Universal Orlando Annual Pass if you plan on visiting within the next 15 months.

That’s because from now until September 30, 2020, Universal Orlando is upgrading 12 month annual passes to 15 months, for free!

Seuss Landing | Islands of Adventure #universalorlando #themepark
Seuss Landing | Islands of Adventure

However, if you don’t have a trip planned within the next 15 months, don’t fret! 

Universal Orlando Annual Passes are always valid for at least 12 months, so simply buy as close to your trip as possible.

That way, you still have almost an entire year to use the pass again before it expires!

Additionally, keep in mind that Universal Orlando can update the terms and prices of the passes on January 1 of every year.

Therefore, if you’re concerned about a price spike or perk change and plan to go soon, buy ASAP. That way you know exactly what you’re getting and how much you’re getting it for.

Islands of Adventure touring plan itinerary

Do Universal Annual Passholders get discounts on hotels?

Yes!  Arguably one of the biggest Universal Orlando passholder perks, besides unlimited park entry, is discounts on Universal hotel rates.

Publicity Dockside Inn and Suites First Look. Universal Orlando Resort Hotels
Dockside Inn and Suites Photo Copyright: Universal Orlando

These offers are always changing, so be sure to check them out here  periodically to see what hotel deals are waiting for you.

But, in general, Universal Orlando passholders can expect up to 30% off on Premier or Preferred Hotels and up to 25% off of Prime Value Hotels.

Read: Universal Orlando Resort On-Site Hotels (Everything You Need to Know)

What is the Universal Passholder Lounge?

The Universal Orlando Annual Pass Lounge, also known as UOAP Lounge, is an exclusive, convenient place for passholders to rest, recharge, and shop during their park visit.

Universal Orlando Annual Passholder Lounge Entrance

You can find it on Hollywood Boulevard in Universal Studios.

Typically open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., this air conditioned lounge offers an ice-cold Coca-Cola cooler, phone charging stations, and exclusive passholder merchandise for purchase!

Universal Orlando Annual Passholder Lounge at Universal Studios Florida

Additionally, at the Universal Passholder Lounge, you can pick up your free button each month to show off your passholder pride!

Can someone else use my Universal Orlando Annual Pass?

Unfortunately your Universal Orlando Annual Pass is for you and you alone.  Upon purchase, you will be asked to provide your full name and fingerprints.  

Universal Orlando on a budget. #universalstudios #universalorlando #themeparks
Sponge Bob Parade Universal Studios

Each time you scan your annual pass card for park entry, your identity will be verified through fingerprint match.

If this proves to be problematic, you will then have to present a photo ID that matches the name on your annual pass and your face.

I’m visiting Universal Orlando right now and just decided I want an Annual Pass…am I too late?

If you’re currently visiting Universal Orlando Parks and have a park ticket that is still valid i.e. a multi-day pass, there is still time to upgrade that pass into an annual pass!

Christmas at Universal Grinchmas Seuss Landing Islands of Adventure Seuss Landing

Before exiting the park on your final day, visit Guest Services,The Box Office, or the Ticket Counter to ask about upgrading to an annual pass by simply paying the difference.

Can I use my Universal Orlando Annual Pass in California?

Unfortunately the Universal Orlando Annual Pass is called just that for a reason…it’s only applicable in Florida. And while that might not be what you wanted to hear, we do have some good news!

Another competing magical theme park, which also has locations in California and Florida, if you catch our drift, does offer an annual pass that allows for both California and Florida park entry.

Universal Studios Hollywood California with Transformers The Ride Ride
Universal Studios Hollywood California Transformers: The Ride 3-D

However, that pass costs $1,000 or more, depending on the tier you pick.  

Our point?  Why not pay a fraction of the price and know that you’ll get your money’s worth either way. 

Because, if you decide to visit Universal California, you can buy a separate ticket package as appropriate and likely pay less in the long run.

Overall, is the Universal Annual Pass worth it?

Finally, the big question you’ve all been waiting for! Is the Universal Annual Pass worth it? 

Overall, we definitely would love to say yes, but the answer certainly varies from person to person.

CityWalk Universal Orlando Margaritaville Delicious golden cocktail with lime.
CityWalk Universal Orlando Margaritaville

To help you out, let’s do some simple math!

A two day, two park pass, which would allow you to go between Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure for two full days, costs $295 for non-Florida residents or $227 for Florida residents.  

On the other hand, the lowest tier of Annual Pass, the “Seasonal Pass,” costs $305 for non-Florida residents or $270 for Florida residents and allows you to enter and hop between the parks as many times as you would like throughout the year (excluding black out dates).

So, what does that mean? Even if you’re not a Florida state resident, a Seasonal Pass pays for itself in less than three park days! 

Not to mention all of the other Universal Orlando passholder perks such as hotel discounts and the Universal Passholder Lounge.

And what about the higher tier annual passes? They quickly pay for themselves if you plan on driving to Universal Orlando and self-parking.  

On the Seasonal Pass, parking costs $20 each visit, and with the Power Pass, parking comes to $10 a pop. 

Islands of Adventure Tips with Seuss Landing Characters at a Race

But, compare that with the completely free parking enjoyed by Preferred and Premier Passholders and see how quickly the savings add up!

Ready to start planning your next Universal Orlando vacation? Listen to the latest podcast episode on Apple or on your non-Apple device now!

Final Thoughts…

So, the bottom line? If you hope to visit Universal Studios in Orlando, FL for three days or more, an annual pass is definitely the way to go! 

If you plan on getting dropped off and not park your car, the Seasonal Pass will quickly pay for itself! 

Or, if you hope to drive and park each visit, then spring for the Preferred or Premier Pass so that parking will pay for itself.

Halloween Horror Nights 2009
Halloween Horror Nights

After that, it’s really just up to you what other perks you prefer. Is a free Halloween Horror Nights calling your name? 

Or are you dying to visit during the high holiday season in late December? Then it might be time to save all your pennies and go Premier.

Whatever you choose to do, we’re sure you’ll enjoy your time at Universal Orlando. 

Universal Orlando Annual Pass Perks and Tips
Save Photo for Later on Pinterest!

And to make the most of your passholder experience, periodically check back here to get the latest Universal Orlando passholder perks!

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

About the Author

Gina Arfi Disney Writer at ThemeParkHipster

Gina is a former Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line Cast Member who enjoys reliving the magic by writing helpful tips and tricks for future guests! 

Check out more about her Disney adventures and writing endeavors at www.ginaarfi.net.

UP NEXT: 19 Amazing Ways to Do Universal Orlando on a Budget

(Original Article Date: August 11, 2016/Updated July 13, 2020)

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