AVOID the Universal Orlando Wait Times with Express Pass: Is it worth it in 2022?

Well ThemeParkHipster… you asked, so now it’s my time to deliver: To Universal Orlando Express Pass, or not to Universal Express Pass?!

I KNOW it’s a big decision since there are SO many factors to consider when purchasing a Universal Orlando Express Pass; and I totally can’t wait to help you decide!

So – What is the Express Pass? How is it different from the Unlimited Express Pass? And most importantly, is the Universal Orlando Express Pass worth it in general?  

I can’t wait to get to all that – and more – below!

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit in Florida sun. Universal Orlando Express Pass.

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What is the Universal Orlando Express Pass?

Ok so first and foremost, what the heck is this pass? Well, similar to Disney’s Genie+ system, the Universal Orlando Express Pass is an add-on to your regular Universal Orlando admission ticket that gives you access to a separate, shorter line, on most rides.

Universal Orlando Resort Ticket. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.

Unlike Disney Genie+ however, the Universal Orlando Express Pass does not require you to reserve rides ahead of time. It must be purchased for the specific day of your visit.

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How Does the Express Pass Work at Universal Orlando?

To get your actual Universal Orlando Express Pass, which is a physical card with a barcode, you’ll first have to purchase one. You can do so online prior to your visit (which I recommend), or at one of the many in-park locations during your park day.

Universal Orlando Express Pass 2022 Prices. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.
Screenshot from Universal Orlando Resort Website

If you choose to purchase your Islands of Adventure and/or Universal Studios Express Pass online prior to your park visit, you’ll have the option to:

  • Choose whether you’d like to pick up your physical ticket at the park entry “Will Call” Kiosk
  • Or choose to pick it up at a specific Merchandise or Guest Services locations 
Entrance sign to Islands of Adventure. Universal Orlando Express Pass.

This is important because the physical barcode on the paper Express Pass is your key to shortened wait times.

How to Use Your Universal Studios Express Pass

  1. Go to the ride you want to use your Universal Express Pass at
  2. Have your Express Pass at the ready and be sure you’re entering the designated Universal Express Pass ride queue
  3. Allow the park attendant to scan your pass and voila – you’ve now cut your wait time in half… at least!

ORDER NOW to secure your Universal Studios theme park ticket! GET MY TICKETS.

What are the Universal Orlando Rides with Express Pass?

This is a great question because it’s important to know up front that NOT ALL RIDES have designated Universal Orlando Express Pass (although luckily, most do).

Velocicoaster ride Entrance. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.

At any rate, the following rides DO NOT have Express Pass at Universal:

Which means yeah, both Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure have over 12 rides each that DO ACCEPT Universal Express Pass.

Express Pass Rides and Attractions at Universal Studios Florida

Islands of Adventure Rides and Attractions for Express Pass

Universal Orlando Resort Jurassic Park Velocicoaster at Night in Islands of Adventure. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.
NEW VelociCoaster Ride at Islands of Adventure!

Volcano Bay Rides and Attractions for 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
  • Tonga of Taniwha Tubes
  • Raki of Taniwha Tubes
  • Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides (Available on Volcano Bay Express PLUS Pass)
  • Ko’okiri Body Plunge (Available on Volcano Bay Express PLUS Pass)
  • Ohyah of Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides (Available on Volcano Bay Express PLUS Pass)
  • Ohno of Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides (Available on Volcano Bay Express PLUS Pass)

Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!

How Do You Get an Express Pass for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure?

Just like when you’re purchasing your regular park admission ticket for Universal Studios and/or Islands of Adventure, you have a choice to make: single park ticket – or dual? 

Seuss Trolley Train Ride Universal Islands of Adventure. Universal Orlando Express Pass.

Meaning do you want your ticket to give you entry to both parks so you can park hop, or just one per day?

Universal Orlando Resort Volcano Bay Express Pass Cabanas. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.

You’ll (unfortunately) be faced with the same choice when it comes to purchasing a Universal Orlando Express Pass. But, considering that on average the price difference between a single and double park Express Pass is just $10, I’d recommend getting the double!

Hipster Power Tip: You can get a discount on your Universal Orlando Express Pass only on The Park Prodigy!

What’s the Difference Between a Regular Universal Express Pass and Universal Unlimited Express Pass?

It may sound confusing, but trust me when I say, the difference between a Regular Universal Express Pass and an Unlimited one is quite simple really!

Incredible Hulk Universal Islands of Adventure. Universal Orlando Express Pass.

With a regular Universal Orlando Express Pass, you can only use the Express Line once per day per attraction. However, with the Unlimited Universal Orlando Express Pass, you can Express Line every attraction – you guess it – an UNLIMITED amount of times!

So, what does this mean for you?

If you’re someone who has your “go-to rides” that you like to ride two, three, or four times in a row, the Unlimited Universal Orlando Express Pass is DEFINITELY the way to go!

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

How Much is a Universal Express Pass?

The pricing model of the Universal Orlando Express Pass is quite interesting actually.

Universal Orlando Resort Ticket next to Transformers the Ride 3D at Universal Studios Florida. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.

Because, the more people who purchase Express Passes for any given day, the higher the price gets i.e. busier park days = more expensive Express Pass prices!

Universal Orlando Resort Express Pass Prices by Calendar Date
Screenshot from Universal Orlando Resort

To give you a general idea of pass pricing though, here’s where each Express Pass category price starts at AKA: the earlier you buy your Express Pass, the closer to these starting prices it’ll actually be!

  • Single Park Regular Universal Express Pass: Starts at $80
  • Double Park Regular Universal Express Pass: Starts at $90
  • Single Park UNLIMITED Universal Express Pass: Starts at $110
  • Double Park UNLIMITED Universal Express Pass: Starts at $120

You can also purchase an Express Pass for Volcano Bay that allows you to skip the Virtual Lines for select attractions:

Volcano Bay Lazy River at Universal Orlando Resort. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.
  • Universal Express Pass: Universal’s Volcano Bay starting at $20 (Skip the Virtual Lines at SELECT participating rides and attractions)
  • The Universal Express PLUS Pass: Universal’s Volcano Bay starting at $40 (Skip the Virtual Lines at ALL participating rides and attractions)

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Are There Any Universal Express Pass Discounts?

Yes… and no. While Universal Orlando often runs promotions for discounted park tickets to FL residents, when it comes to Express Passes, getting a good deal works a bit differently…

As mentioned earlier, you can get discounted Universal Express Passes on The Park Prodigy’s Website.

Also, you can get an Express Pass FOR FREE!

Universal Orlando Resort Marvel Island at Islands of Adventure Spider Man Ride Entrance. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.

That’s right, Universal Orlando gives out FREE UNLIMITED Express Passes to ALL guests who stay in one of their premium resorts: Loews Hard Rock, Loews Portofino Bay, and Loews Royal Pacific. 

Loews Portofino Bay Resort Universal Orlando
Loews Portofino Bay

And while that may seem like a pricey bundle, it could save you A LOT of money if you’ve been considering staying at one of those resorts anyway and want the Unlimited Express Pass perk too!

Unfortunately, Annual Passholders DO NOT get discounts on the Universal Express Pass. However, keep reading for one perk they do get!

ORDER NOW to secure your Universal Studios theme park ticket! GET MY TICKETS.

Universal Annual Passholder Express Pass After 4 p.m.

Something exciting that you might not know but already have access to, is that with a Premier Annual Pass to Universal Orlando, you get access to Universal Orlando Express Pass everyday after 4 p.m.!

Universal Orlando Annual Passholder Lounge Entrance
Annual Passholder Lounge at Universal Studios Florida

I love that this is an included perk with the highest level annual pass – but just remember, it’ll only work one time per attraction at either park, after 4 p.m.

Should I Get a Universal Express Pass During Christmas?

The busier the parks, the more valuable your Universal Orlando Express Pass becomes.

And so, considering that during the Christmas season Universal Studios and Universal’s Island of Adventures can hit park capacity, I’d definitely say YES – a Universal Express Pass will definitely save you LOTS of time and headaches during this time of year.

Majestic Christmas Tree at Universal Studios Orlando Florida in Central Park. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.

AND – if you want to save money on your Universal Orlando Express Pass, use one of my tips above. Either:

  1. Purchase your Universal Orlando Express Pass NOW since the price will only increase as the Christmas season gets closer
  2. Stay at one of the premium resorts listed above for FREE UNLIMITED Express Passes for everyone in your party!
Islands of Adventure touring plan itinerary

Should I Get a Universal Express Pass for Halloween Horror Nights?

Before advising you on if you should get a Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass, I need to tell you one thing: Halloween Horror Nights Express Passes ARE DIFFERENT from regular or Unlimited Express Passes; AKA they’re only valid for Halloween Horror Nights.

Meaning make sure you’re buying the correct Express Pass before you check out.

Nevertheless, Halloween Horror Nights Express Passes are valid for one Halloween Horror Night only, and are also sold separately from normal Halloween Horror Nights admission.

The actual Halloween Horror Night Express Pass starts around $80 (in addition to the event ticket).

But the question still stands: should you get a Halloween Horror Night Express Pass??? 

I say YES!  Since Halloween Horror Nights is a MUCH anticipated, limited time event – you’ll literally save HOURS of wait times with one.

Halloween Horror Nights 2013
Halloween Horror Nights 2013 The Walking Dead Series

Considering that the average house wait time is 60 minutes to 90 minutes, perhaps the ONLY way you’ll get to see all haunted houses in one night is with a Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass.

Can You Do Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios without an Express Pass?

You 100% DO NOT NEED an Express Pass to enter and enjoy your time at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Especially if you’re going during a weekday (not during the holiday season) where crowds are moderate.

Dragon Atop Gringotts Bank Diagon Alley. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.

If, however, you HATE lines with a burning passion, or want to get on every single ride in one day, then a Universal Orlando Express Pass is definitely going to maximize your time and enjoyment level.

VIP Tour Experience vs. Universal Orlando Express Pass

At $189 per person, the VIP Tour Experience at Universal Orlando is A WHOLE LOT MORE than just an Unlimited Express Pass.

In addition to complimentary breakfast, lunch, and valet parking, guests who choose the VIP Tour Experience at Universal Orlando are personally guided to the front of 8+ ride lines and receive backstage tours of the Universal Orlando rides and parks.

Universal Studios VIP Experience. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.

The VIP experience itself lasts 7 hours, and for the rest of the day, VIP guests can enjoy their Unlimited Express Pass and discounts at select merchandise locations.

Basically, the VIP Experience is the GO-TO choice for any ThemeParkHipster who wants the royal treatment. But, if your goal is just to get on as many rides as possible, then Universal Orlando Express Pass is all you need!

Is the Express Pass Worth it at Universal Orlando?

Alright then… drum roll please… our final decision is…. Yes AND No!

Check the official Orlando Crowd Calendar before buying yours!

Why?

Well, if you see that your desired park day is in the green, then likely a Universal Orlando Express Pass won’t save you much time, since lines are minimal anyway. Better off saving your money and spending it elsewhere in the park.

Transformers the ride entrance. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.

However, if your desired park day is in the orange or red, then YES the Universal Orlando Express Pass will be a HUGE time saver!

And if you truly believe that time is money, then head on over to buy your Universal Express Pass right now! Because the price is only getting higher every moment you wait!

In Conclusion…

Alright ThemeParkHipster, I truly hope that this was the Universal Express Pass Comprehensive Guide that you’ve been waiting for!

Universal Studios Express Pass. Keep reading to learn about the Universal Express Pass Fast Passes.
Save Image for Later on Pinterest!

However, if I’ve left any questions unanswered for you about the pass please don’t hesitate to drop them below! Or, if you have your very own Express Pass experience that you’d like to share, please put those in the comments too!

We can’t wait to hear from you all, and as always, 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: SMACKDOWN! Universal Studios vs. Islands of Adventure: Which Should You Choose?

(Original Article Date: August 4, 2021/Updated July 21, 2022 by Editor)

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