Ultimate Guide on When and How to Use the Universal Express Pass

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Universal Express

All photos credit Universal

If you are someone who loves thrills, detailed theme parks, and prefers a VIP experience to waiting in long lines, Universal Orlando Resort has the perfect solution for you! Universal is home to the Universal Express Pass, which, for an added cost, allows Guests can skip the line of Universal’s most popular attractions. Can you imagine bypassing The Incredible Hulk coaster’s two-hour wait? With the Express Pass, you can do exactly that!

Universal Unveils The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Update
Credit: Inside Universal via Twitter

We have broken down everything you need to know about Universal’s Express Pass from pricing, what it includes, if it is worth it for you to get it, and how you can get complimentary Express Passes on your next Universal Orlando Resort visit.

What is the Universal Express pass?

First things first, we need to discover exactly what the Universal Express Pass is, and take a look at all the basic information that Guests need to know before making any decisions about purchasing this pass.

universal
Credit: Universal

What is the purpose of the Universal Express pass?

The reason any Guest should want to buy the Universal Express Pass would be to skip the lines. The Universal Express Pass allows Guests to skip through the queue of many popular attractions that typically experience high wait times. Its purpose is quite simple in the fact that it is a time saver. So, if you are a Disney World fan who tries to optimize FastPass+ to skip as many lines as possible, this pass lets you do just that with none of the work.

How much does a Universal Express pass cost?

Yep, you read that right! The Universal Express Pass is highly convenient, but it is not free. There are ways you can get an Express Pass included in your Universal purchases, but we will discuss those down below. For now, let’s take a look at what it would cost to enjoy a wait-free day at Universal Orlando Resort.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Credit: Universal
  • Universal Express for $69.99 per person on top of regular theme park admission
  • Universal Express Unlimited for $89.99 per person on top of regular theme park admission
  • Volcano Bay Express for $19.99 per person on top of regular water park admission
Universal Express and Universal Express Unlimited can be used at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, however, if Guests also plan to visit Volcano Bay on the same day, a separate Express Pass would need to be purchased.

What is the difference between the Universal Express pass and the Universal Express Unlimited pass?

You may be wondering — what is the difference between Universal Express and Universal Unlimited? Well, it is a very small difference, but one that can change your theme park day. If you are someone who likes to re-ride big coasters or attractions the difference between these passes can make a big difference to you. The Universal Express Pass allows you to use the express line for each participating ride one time only. The Universal Unlimited Pass, however, will allow you to use the Express Line for applicable attractions any time you would like!
Universal Orlando Cinematic Celebration
Credit: Universal

Perks of the Universal Express pass

Now that we got the basics covered — let’s take a look at the perks of the pass! Since you will be paying extra for the Universal Express Pass, it is important to know what benefits it will bring you!

Hulk Coaster
Credit: Universal

How can the Universal Express pass save you time?

When Guests visit Universal Orlando Resort, time is money. There is so much to do from Universal Studios Florida, to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, to Volcano Bay, and then what if you want to grab dinner at CityWalk? The list of options that Guests can take part in is quite long, and if you are waiting in lines all day, that all goes out the window.
The Universal Express Pass allows Guests to bypass those long lines to ensure that they are getting the most out of your day and visit to Universal Orlando Resort. Plus, on a hot Orlando day, the last thing anyone wants to do is feel sweaty while waiting in line. The Universal Express Pass will walk you right through those air-conditioned rooms to the attraction so that you are not standing in the Florida heat for hours.
Pteranodon Flyers
Credit: Universal

How do you decide if the Universal Express pass is right for you?

If you are someone who does not like waiting in lines, Universal Orlando’s Express Pass is for you. Although it may cost a little extra if you want to ensure you can make it to all the attractions while at Universal an Express Pass will eliminate the stress that waiting in lines will take.
Universal Orlando Resort
Credit: Universal
An Express Pass is also a great option for parents. If you have little ones who are impatient, waiting in a hot Florida sun line may not be the best move. If you have the Express Pass, you would not need to worry about entertaining any kids during that time because you would be speeding down the Express Pass line.
If your goal, however, is to just hop on a couple of rides and roam around the park, the Express Pass is likely not for you. You can make use of low wait time attractions, single rider lines, virtual queues, and if something were to ever go wrong on an attraction or during your Universal day, there is always the chance that you can always score a complimentary Express Pass.

When should you use a Universal Express pass?

Really, I would use my Universal Express Pass on any attraction that would accept it. Unless an attraction is a walk-on, getting in an express line will save you the boring aspects of waiting in line for what could be hours at a time. That being said, the Universal Express Pass line will take Guests through a different section of the attraction queue in some cases, which will make them miss certain details and aspects that could enhance the overall ride experience.
universal orlando
Credit: blog.universalorlando.com
For example, at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Islands of Adventure, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is an attraction that has a magnificent queue, because it allows Guests to enter the films and walk through Hogwarts. If that ride was at a low wait time, I would recommend waiting in the regular line so that you can get the full experience of the attraction — especially if it is ever the first time a Guest is riding it!
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Credit: Universal
If you also only have a short amount of time to spend in the park or want to cram in as many rides as possible, using the Express Pass is a necessary option. It will dramatically cut down wait times, allowing you to do, see, and experience more throughout the park.
If you are trying to decide if the Express Pass is worth it for you when you visit, a good way to tell is to check out how busy the park is. By looking at wait times on the Universal app, Guests can get a rough estimate of what the lines will look like for the rest of the day. From there you can decide if the money is worth skipping the wait.
the amazing adventures of spider-man
Credit: Universal
Another way to tell if an Express Pass is needed is to take a look at what Universal attractions have single rider lines. If any attraction has a single rider line, that line will often speed through, but it means that you will be placed with a random party, and your group will be broken up. That being said, if you do not mind splitting up, you will get a similar express experience.

So you can plan, the single rider lines at Universal Studios Florida are Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, Revenge of the Mummy, and TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3-D.

The single rider lines at Universal’s Islands of Adventure are The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Doctor Doom’s Fearfall, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Incredible Hulk Coaster

Wizarding World
Credit: Universal Studios

That being said, these single rider lines are not always open, so be sure to ask a Team Member before committing to the plan to ensure you avoid disappointment. Another time that Express Pass is not as needed is when there is a virtual queue. Attractions such as Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon and Fast & Furious Supercharged do not make Guests wait in line and allows them to be free to roam around or do other things while they wait for their return time on their timed-entry ticket. Unless you want to instantly ride the attraction, virtual queues are a great way to plan a lunch break in your busy park day!

Attractions and rides included in the Universal Express pass

Is your favorite ride included in the Universal Express Pass option? Take a look below for complete lists at each park.

incredible hulk
Credit: Inside Universal

What rides at Universal Studios accept the Universal Express pass?

Because Universal Studios Florida has fewer attractions than its neighbor theme park, Islands of Adventure, the lines can tend to fill up faster. This is because Guests have fewer attraction options, and will therefore be piling in creating longer lines due to the inability to disperse themselves. Therefore, having the Universal Express Pass is key to ensuring you are not waiting in lines all day long! Below, you can find a full list of Universal Studios attractions that your Universal Orlando Express Pass will include.

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Hogwarts Express (Park-to-Park admission ticket required)
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D
  • 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
  • Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster
Universal Orlando Sanitation
Credit: Universal

What rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure accept the Universal Express pass?

If you are super excited to visit Universal’s Islands of Adventure, but then you log into the Universal Orlando app to see skyrocketing wait times for some of the theme parks’ major attractions, the Universal Express Pass will be your saving grace. Islands of Adventure has many more attractions than Universal Studios Florida, so timing is everything when Guests visit this park. Being able to move through attraction queues with ease will only allow you to ride everything you want to before the park closes. Below, you can find a full list of Island of Adventure attractions that your Universal Orlando Express Pass will include.
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Hogwarts™ Express (Park-to-Park admission ticket 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
  • The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
  • Poseidon’s Fury
Universal Annual Pass
Credit: Universal Orlando Blog

The only rides that do not have Express access in either park are Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (however, there is often a virtual queue for this attraction) and Pteranodon Flyers at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

What rides at Universal’s Volcano Bay accept the Universal Express pass?

Universal’s Volcano Bay can often boast long lines as well! Of course, you have your Tapu Tapu which can allow you to virtually wait in line for the water slides, but if the wait is a few hours, you better get cozy by the wave pool because you will be waiting around for quite some time. Luckily, the Universal Express pass is usable on many of the Volcano Bay attractions at Universal! Below, you can find a full list of all the water attractions that your Universal Orlando Express Pass will include.
  • 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
  • Taniwha Tubes
Credit: Universal

Also, there are additional rides available with Express PLUS:

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

Please be advised, however, that the Universal Express Pass for Volcano Bay is its own purchase outside of the Express Pass for Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.

volcano bay
Credit: Universal

How can you use your Universal Express pass at Halloween Horror Nights?

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights take place in the fall months leading up to Halloween at Universal Studios Florida and is Universal Orlando’s most popular ticketed event. Horror fans everywhere crave to be spooked in Universal’s epic haunted houses, from Beetlejuice to Universal Monsters, to Ghostbusters, and more — there is something spooky for all Guests. The only thing that isn’t so great about Horror Nights is the crowds.
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Credit: Universal Monsters Universe
If you have been to Halloween Horror Nights, you likely know that the lines for the houses can easily grow to be over two hours long, which is not the way any Horror Nights fan wants to spend their night of haunts. Having to wait in lines all night can really dull the spooky experience, so the option to purchase a Universal Express Pass for the event is an easy decision. You can pass all of the long lines and fill your night with scares. Snap the Universal Express Pass on your lanyard and get ready to zip through all of the lines on your next visit to Halloween Horror Nights.

How to get a Universal Express pass

If you are as convinced as we are, let’s take a look at how we can secure a Universal Express Pass

Where can you purchase a Universal Express pass?

Guests can purchase a Universal Express pass in a few different ways. The first would be online on the Universal Orlando website. Purchasing an Express Pass online will save you time when you arrive at Universal Orlando, and it will ensure you have everything you need before you even arrive on Universal property. If your goal is to skip the line all day, you may as well skip the ticket line too!
Universal Orlando Sanitation
Credit: Inside the Magic
The next option is to purchase it at the park. Some Guests may prefer to have a Team Member help them out when it comes to purchasing their admission ticket and Express Pass. This is an easy process but could add to your park day wait time as there are often lines at Guest Services.
The following two options are not necessarily where but more so how you can purchase the Express Pass as an added bonus to your purchase. If you are staying at one of Universal’s premier resort hotels, Universal Express Unlimited is free for every day of your visit. These resorts include Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
portofino bay orlando
Credit: Universal Orlando
Since we are discussing Universal resorts, it should be made clear that Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Aventura Resort, and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites & Dockside Inn and Suites do not offer complimentary Express Passes, but you do get early park admission.
The last way to snag Express Passes is to purchase the Premier Annual Pass at Universal which comes with an Express Pass benefit. Guests with this specific Universal Annual Pass can use Universal Express Pass after 4:00 pm at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure (one time per participating attraction). This allows participating Guests the opportunity to permanently have an Express Pass without having to pay for it over and over again. Even if you are not an Orlando local, if you plan on visiting Universal often in a 12 month period, Universal’s Annual Passes are affordable (in the $500.00 range, or lower) and can help you save time on attractions!
Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Credit: Universal Orlando

How many people can use the Universal Express pass?

One Universal Express Pass must be purchased per ticketed Guests in order to use it effectively. This means that within a party, each member would need their own Express Pass in order to use the perk, and one party cannot purchase one and use it collectively. Because Express Passes are checked each time a Guest enters the line, it is imperative that all parties involved have an Express Pass so that they can enter the line together. If not, the party will be split up and will ride at different times.
Universal Orlando
Credit: Universal Orlando
It should be noted that Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan (home to the first Super Nintendo World) both also have Express Passes at their theme parks which, for an added cost, will also allow Guests to skip the line for a shortened wait time. So if your goal is to get through those lines at Universal as quickly as possible to squeeze as much out of your park day as possible, using the Universal Express Pass is likely your best bet to have an awesome day!
Will you be purchasing an Express Pass on your next visit to Universal Orlando? Do you already use an Express Pass when you visit? 
If you want to visit Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay, or CityWalk — you need a Universal Orlando Resort Vacation! From Halloween Horror Nights to Mardi Gras there is always something fun to do at Universal Florida. A trip to Central Florida mixed with some Universal Studios Florida will definitely get you in the theme park spirit. From Fievel’s Playland to Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster to the soon to open VelociCoaster which will leave Guests feeling like a flying dinosaur, Universal has something for everyone. Click here to get started today. 

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