Experimenting with Universal’s Express Pass
Despite many past visits to Universal Orlando, I’ve never tried using Universal Express. So recently, I wanted to see if I really could squeeze in more fun at the parks by skipping the regular lines, so I recruited my siblings and we made our way to Universal for the day to see for ourselves. We chose Park-to-Park tickets with Universal Express Unlimited for our little experiment.
So… were we able to maximize our fun? Absolutely! Here are my tips for getting the most out of Universal Express Pass.
Tip #1: Stay On-Site at a Deluxe Hotel The easiest way to experience the benefits of Express access is to stay on-site at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort. All guests receive FREE Universal Express Unlimited access, so not only do you get the convenience of staying just a stone’s throw from the park entrances, you also get to experience all the attractions faster than you would in the regular standby line.
While Express access doesn’t get you to the front of the line, it will whisk you away to a much shorter queue. When the regular line was 45 minutes for Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, we waited less than 10 minutes in the Express Pass line—so of course we rode twice!
Tip #2: Purchase a Bundle If you aren’t staying on-site, it’s still easy to choose ticket with Express access that fits your budget. If you know you’re going to want to ride The Incredible Hulk Coaster five times in a row, then the Universal Express Unlimited pass is a must because it lets you go again and again.
There’s also an Express Pass option that allows for just one visit to each attraction. Of course, you can ride again once you’ve used up your Express Pass, you’ll just use the regular line instead of the Express Pass line.
Tip #3: Use as You Please Your Express Pass allows you to ride whenever you like, so you don’t have to register or come back at a specific time to experience an attraction. Plan your day with as much structure as you like, or just wing it like we did.
All you have to do to use the Express Pass is show it to the team member in the designated line for scanning. Once that’s done, you’re on your way.
Tip #4: Get a Lanyard I (unwisely) just stuffed my pass in my pocket, and wouldn’t you know, I lost it somewhere in the queue for Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. Fortunately, replacing it was easy. I backtracked to Guest Services, and with a few clicks, I had a new pass in hand—which I quickly gave to my brother for safekeeping.
A lanyard would have been a convenient way to keep my Express Pass and park ticket safe, while keeping it handy for quick scanning.
Tip #5: Plan Ahead There are just a handful of attractions that don’t offer Express Pass. If a ride on your attraction wish list doesn’t offer Express access, plan ahead to visit them when lines are shorter.
Here are the rides that don’t offer Express access:
- Pteranodon Flyers — Jurassic Park
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Ollivanders and the Hogwarts Express — The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and the Hogwarts Express — The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley
If you’re staying on-site, you receive Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so head there first to avoid longer lines later in the day.
Tip #6: Try Attractions You Usually Skip Here’s one for you locals and annual passholders. I admit, I’ve been in a bit of a rut the past few visits to Universal. I tend to focus on the big roller coasters and my top attractions.
With our Express Passes, we were able to experience more than we ever have before—our favorites like Transformers: The Ride – 3D, Revenge of the Mummy and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, as well as some of the classics like E.T. Adventure, Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, Flight of the Hippogriff and Disaster! A Major Motion Picture Ride… Starring YOU.
After just one experience with Express Pass, I’m never visiting without one again. There was something so freeing about having more time to see and do everything at both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.