The Express Pass is Universal’s front-of-the-line access to its two theme parks in Orlando. Unlike Disney’s FastPass, which comes free with admission, you’ll have to pay (in some fashion) for Express Pass. While only you can calculate whether this perk is worth it to you, we’ll help you understand some of the do’s and dont’s of Universal Express Pass.
Your Royal Pacific Resort stay comes with Express Pass
DO Run the Numbers
In slow season, you might decide to save the money for souvenirs and skip Express Pass altogether. But always do the math: could you redistribute the money and see the parks in two days instead of three with Universal Express Pass? If you travel during busier times, you’ll want to consider which version of Express Pass makes sense. “Express Unlimited” allows you to ride as many times as you choose with front-of-the-line access; “Express Pass” gives you one turn on each attraction with the pass. If you’re seriously considering the unlimited version, be sure to calculate the value of staying at one of Universal’s onsite hotels, where the unlimited version of Express Pass is included in your stay.
DO Get a Lanyard
You’ll be pulling out your Express Pass for scanning at most Universal attractions. Fishing in purses and pockets gets tiresome and risks losing these “golden tickets.” Plus, many of the more intense rides ask you to stow bags in lockers. Wearing your pass around your neck gives instant access, and you can tuck it inside your shirt during the ride. Buy one ahead of your trip, or purchase one of Universal’s themed lanyards.
Express Pass? That’s for Muggles
DON’T Think “Front of the Line” Means “No Line”
The Express Pass will whisk you past the majority of a standby queue, but it won’t get you on immediately. Everyone still goes through any preshow videos or safety spiels, and sometimes the Express Pass line will have hundreds of eager parkgoers in front of you. The Express Pass route also means you’ll skip some of the themed lines and explanations that set up the ride. Allow plenty of time for any experience.
Other than usual caveats of arriving early and prioritizing headliners, you won’t need to do Disney-level planning at Universal. Take your time circling a park, stopping at what interests you. With Express Pass, you should be able to cover one park per day without racing frantically from ride to ride. Don’t burn out using the pass as an excuse to overdo it.
This looks like such a sweet little house … with 50 switchbacks
DO use the Express Pass Line Whenever it is Available
Unless you want to check out the themed queue (recommended on some rides at least once), get in the Express Pass line. That standby line might look short from the outside or on the wait times board, but theme parks hide their lines artfully, and wait-time estimates can fluctuate wildly. Express Pass lines have priority, and often the lion’s share of rider capacity goes to that side of the holding pen. If you only have the single-use Express Pass, redeem it during a busy midday time and use Single Rider Lines for a repeat ride.
I’ve been to Universal Orlando twice, once during an off-peak time and again during spring break. Even during the slow season, I felt like the extra money I paid for Express Pass (by staying onsite) was well worth the time it saved in line and hassle. These do’s and dont’s of Universal Express Pass can help you make the most of this perk, if you’re able to budget a little extra for it.
What instructions would you add to our list of do’s and dont’s of Universal Express Pass? Share in the comments.
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7 thoughts on “Learn Do’s and Dont’s of Universal Express Pass”
FYI: During my visit to the resort last month (December 2017), you could use Express Pass at both the Gringotts and Hogwarts rides in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I used mine and it was a big time-saver.
Thanks for letting us know!
We are going next year from April 1st till 15th. I’m planning on buying the 14 day tickets from attraction for all parks. I’m concerned about the express tickets to Universal. Should I buy them in advance or on the day. I’ve read that they only sell a limited number each day and may run out. Also I’ve read to avoid the weekends. Would you agree?
Sandra, the first park of April will be pretty busy because is it Easter/spring break season. I’d think about buying the Express Pass in advance for your first day or two at Universal and then see how much you need it after that. Of course if you have up to 14 days you might not need it at all if you plan a more leisurely pace! Or do the math to see if staying one night at a resort like Royal Pacific (which gets you 2 days of Express Pass) would be cheaper than buying the 2 days of Express Pass.
I just returned from a 5 day visit to Universal Studios Orlando, June 2018. My 11 year old grandson and I took full advantage of the Express Pass. It was great to zip through the long lines, past all the “muggles” in line for the Harry Potter rides. We whole heartedly recommend the Express Pass. And that lanyard is a great way to keep track of tickets and passes.
So we are staying at Royal Pacific the beginning of Aug. 2019. We get free Unlimited Express Passes. We have 5 people in our family-me, hubs, daughter-14, son-12, & son-9. I “heard” our key will be our Express Pass…does anyone know if that is true? Do each of us in our family get a ticket and an express pass so we each need a lanyard? Kids don’t know we are going so I was thinking for Easter doing Harry Potter themed baskets with an acceptance letter into Hogwarts, a Universal/Harry Potter lanyard, candy etc. Just not sure we each need our own lanyard??? I also got us the snack/quick service meal each day. Is there a seperate ticket for each one of us for that? Thanks in advance for any help….we have never been.
So, if I remember correctly, yes, your room key will be your Express Pass. You will also get separate tickets for your meal vouchers. (I believe it’s for each meal/snack for each person…but I’ve never gotten the meal plan myself, so I’m not 100% certain on the specifics of that.) Because of all that, I would strongly suggest getting lanyards, even for the kiddos. Now, you don’t have to purchase lanyards…you can just keep taking your room keys out of your pocket for each attraction, but I think the lanyard is super helpful. I bought one on my last trip, just for that reason.
Hope this all helps and that you have a great time visiting Universal for the very first time. (Unsolicited tip – if you’re looking for a fun treat and it’s open, consider stopping at Honk Honkers in Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure. They offer ginormous cotton candy that they make when you order it. You even get to choose the flavor!)