Universal Orlando Express Pass Guide- How to Skip the Lines!

Universal Orlando is located near Walt Disney World and includes two theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. This large theme park also has its own water park (Volcano Bay), a shopping district called City Walk, and a list of Universal Orlando Hotels. Universal Orlando Express Pass is a paid service that allows you to skip the line for rides at Universal. This is Universal's version of FastPass/Genie+ as it's often referred to at Walt Disney World.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Universal Orlando Express Pass including average prices, whether is it worth the cost, what attractions are included, and how to ride Hagrid's Motorbike Adventure and Velciocoaster.

Universal Orlando Express Pass PriceUniversal Express Pass Orlando

Universal Orlando Express Pass is a paid ticket you add to your regular Universal Orlando ticket. Express Pass gives you access to the shorter Express Pass line which means skipping the much longer standby queue. Express Pass is offered for many attractions at all Universal theme parks: Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Florida, and their waterpark Volcano Bay.

There are two types of Universal Express Pass. Universal Express Pass allows guests to skip the line once per attraction. You can also upgrade to the version called Universal Express Unlimited Pass which gives you access to the Express Line an unlimited amount of times.

You also have the option of purchasing it for just one theme park or for both. You'll notice in the pricing below that Islands of Adventure starts at a higher price point. This is largely because this Universal Orlando theme park has the newest and most popular attractions: the Jurassic Park-themed rollercoaster Velciocoaster and Hagrid's Motorbike Adventure.

Universal Orlando Discount TicketsUniversal Orlando

For the lowest prices on Universal Orlando tickets, book via Get Away Today. Their ticket prices are always the lowest publicly available discounts for the two parks. Buy discount Universal Orlando Tickets NOW >

You’ll want to consider the Park-To-Park tickets because they are the only way you are able to experience the Hogwarts Express. Also, with a Park-To-Park ticket, you’ll be able to avoid starting the day in the park with the biggest crowd prediction and then switch over to experience more across both parks.

If you are a member of an organization that may qualify for discount tickets or are interested in the Annual Pass option, you should read our guide to discount Universal Studios Orlando ticket options.

2-Park Universal Express Pass

  • Skip the regular lines at most popular rides and attractions once per ride. Separate theme park admission required.
  • Starts at $104.99 per person.

2-Park Universal Express Unlimited Pass

  • Skip the regular lines at most popular rides and attractions as many times as you want. Separate theme park admission required.
  • Starts at $134.99 per person.

Universal Express Pass: Universal's Islands of Adventure

  • Skip the regular lines at most popular rides and attractions once per ride. Separate theme park admission required.
  • Starts at $94.99 per person.

Universal Express Unlimited Pass: Universal's Islands of Adventure

  • Skip the regular lines at most popular rides and attractions as many times as you want. Separate theme park admission required.
  • Starts at $124.99 per person.

Universal Express Pass: Universal Studios Florida

  • Skip the regular lines at most popular rides and attractions once per ride. Separate theme park admission required.
  • Starts at $89.99 per person.

Universal Express Unlimited Pass: Universal Studios Florida

  • Skip the regular lines at most popular rides and attractions as many times as you want. Separate theme park admission required.
  • Starts at $119.99 per person.

Volcano Bay discount tickets

Universal Express Pass: Universal's Volcano Bay

  • Skip the Virtual Lines at SELECT participating rides and attractions at Universal's Volcano Bay one time per ride. Separate theme park admission required.
  • Starts at $19.99 per person.

Universal Express PLUS Pass: Universal's Volcano Bay

  • Skip the Virtual Lines at ALL participating rides and attractions at Universal's Volcano Bay one time per ride. Separate theme park admission required.
  • Starts at $49.99 per person.

The prices above are the base minimum price and they will go up in price depending on the day you visit. The busier time of the year, the higher the cost of Express Pass. Express Pass will also start to go up in price close to your travel date which also impacts what you might pay if you don't purchase in advance. To get the best price for Express Pass, paying in advance is the best option.

Express Passes are sold as standalone tickets and are only good for one day only. Each member of your party will need their own Express Pass ticket, including kids ages 3 and older.

Express Pass is also date specific so you will need to pick a date to use it on when you purchase your pass. You can change the date if you need to after you purchase if you call Universal but the price may change depending on what day you're switching to.

Can I Get Discounted Universal Express Pass?

If there are still remaining Express Pass tickets left at the end of the day, you also have the option of purchasing Express Pass for a discounted cost. Usually, you can get Express Pass for half of what the cost was for the day but the catch is you won't be able to use this option until around 3-4PM.

Another good way to get discounted Universal Express Pass at Universal Orlando is to stay at specific hotels that include Express Pass.

Unlimited Express Pass Univeral Orlando Hotels

If you stay at one of Universal Orlando's three premier hotels then you will receive complimentary unlimited Express Pass access for each day of your visit at the theme parks. This also includes your check-in and check-out dates. When staying at one of these hotels your room key acts as your ticket to use Express Pass.

There are three hotels that include Express Pass at Universal Orlando:

  • Portofino Bay Hotel
  • Hard Rock Hotel
  • Royal Pacific Resort

These are the only Universal Orlando hotels that offer Express Pass. The other Universal Orlando resorts do not offer Express Pass which is also why they are much more affordable than the top premier hotels.

Universal Express Pass vs. Genie+ Disney WorldUniversal Orlando Hulk

Genie+ is the paid option to skip the long lines at Walt Disney World. Previously called FastPass+, this gives guests access to the faster Lightning Lane line instead of the standby queue for attractions at the theme parks. Genie+ at Walt Disney World starts at $20 per day. The program at Walt Disney World works much differently than Express Pass as you are required to book return times for attractions and are limited to how many return times you can hold at one time.

Genie+ is far less expensive than Universal Express Pass but many would argue that Express Pass is actually more efficient. Guests do not need to worry about return times for rides and can simply experience them as they like. The lines for Express Pass at Universal Orlando are also often walk-ons and are much shorter than what you can see over at Walt Disney World for Genie+ access. Many times you will still wait up to 20 minutes in the Lighting Lane at Walt Disney World while with Express Pass you often walk right to the ride with a minimal wait. Universal's higher price point naturally keeps the number of people buying it lower and so the Express Line remains much more efficient.

There are pros/cons to both approaches in this situation. Universal Orlando Express Pass being much more expensive keeps the lines short as fewer people purchase it. But it also makes the experience out of reach for many families that cannot afford the cost.

On the bright side with the Express Pass lane being shorter, that means the regular line for attractions moves swiftly and efficiently as there are fewer pauses to let Express Pass holders to the front.

What Universal Orlando Rides Can I Use Express Pass For?

Express Pass is available for two theme parks at Universal Orlando: Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. It is also available at the waterpark Volcano Bay.

Islands of Adventure Express Pass Rides

  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • Caro-Seuss-el
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
  • Hogwarts Express (Park-to-Park admission ticket required)
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • Storm Force Accelatron

Universal Studios Florida Express Pass RidesUniversal Orlando Express Pass

  • The Bourne Stuntacular
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
  • E.T. Adventure
  • Fast & Furious – Supercharged
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Hogwarts Express (Park-to-Park admission ticket required)
  • Illumination's Villain-Con Minion Blast
  • Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl
  • MEN IN BLACK™ Alien Attack
  • Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • The Simpsons Ride

Jurassic Park roller coaster

Volcano Bay Express Pass Rides

  • Honu of Honu ika Moana
  • ika Moana of Honu ika Moana
  • Krakatau Aqua Coaster
  • Maku of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides
  • Puihi of Maku Puihi Round Raft Rides
  • Punga Racers
  • Taniwha Tubes

Additional Rides Available with Express PLUS:

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

What Rides Are Not Included with Express Pass?Universal Express Pass

There are a few rides/experiences that are not included with Universal Orlando Express Pass:

  • Jurassic Park
    • Pteranodon Flyers (Islands of Adventure)
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
    • Ollivanders Wand Shop (both parks)
    • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (Islands of Adventure)
  • Shows
    • Horror Make-Up Show (Universal Studios Florida – Hollywood)

Most notable from this list is easily the most popular ride at Universal Orlando: Hagrid's Motorbike Adventure. This is usually disappointing news for guests wanting to purchase Universal Orlando Express Pass.

Why Isn't Hagrid's Motorbike Adventure Included in Express Pass?

The most likely reason is that this attraction is still so popular that it creates long, long lines. If it were added to Express Pass then this might overwhelm the Express Pass for these rides and make it less efficient thus damaging Universal's call to fame with no wait Express lines.

Velocicoaster was just recently added to Express Pass so there is a hope we might see the same for Hagrid's in the future but so far, there has been no official update on the future of Hagrid's offering Express Pass.

Virtual Line Universal OrlandoUniversal Orlando

Virtual Line is an option that Universal Orlando has utilized for new attractions to help manage crowds. We have also seen a similar system over at Universal Studios Hollywood for their popular new rides and recently the new Super Nintendo Land.

You can only make a reservation using the Virtual Line with the Universal Orlando app and you need to be on the property to select a time.

Reservations are limited and based on space availability. They typically run out quickly.

To select a reservation using Virtual Line:

  • In the app, select “Virtual Line reservation”
  • Tap on the “Virtual Line Venues” tab and see the list of attractions/lands
  • Click on the attraction you want and tap “Virtual Line Pass- Reserve”
  • Select how many are in your travel party and the return time
  • Tap “Reserve Virtual Line Pass” to complete the reservation

The app will send you a notification when it's time to experience your attraction/land.

The two attractions that may sometimes use Virtual Line are Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Pteranodon Flyers.

How Does Express Pass Work?

Using Universal Express Pass is quite easy to figure out at Universal Orlando. There are no reservations to make or return times to keep track of. You will simply just experience attractions in whatever order want. It is very easy and does not require a lot of planning.

You can either register your Express Pass in the Universal Orlando app and then you will be provided with a QR code on the app that you can scan in the park. If you don't want to use the app, you will also be provided with a paper version of the Universal Express Pass which can be physically scanned at each ride.

The entry to the Express Pass line is clearly marked at most of the entrances to the rides at Universal Orlando. Simply scan your pass and enter the Express Pass line!

Do I Skip the Line with Express Pass?Universal Express Pass

Absolutely, that is the entire point of purchasing the Universal Orlando Express Pass. There are two separate lines for attractions: the regular standby line and the Express Pass line. Universal strategically prices Express Pass and limits the number of passes it sells in a day to keep the Express Pass line extremely minimal.

During our last visit to Universal Orlando, we had Express Pass for both theme parks and not once did we wait more than 10 minutes per ride even though we were visiting on a busy day. The Express Pass line is extremely efficient and easy to use.

The one ride that consistently has longer waits, even in the Express Pass line, is Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. The ride has a small capacity so it just generally loads and unloads longer than other rides. Otherwise, the line moves quickly for all the attractions with Express Pass.

Is Express Pass Worth It?Universal Orlando Express Pass

As with any costly theme park experience, this question is pretty subjective. It's no secret that Express Pass is extremely costly. Even at its lowest rate of $90 per person (for one park) that would still be $360 for a family of four.

If you're purchasing Express Pass during a peak time of year when the cost can skyrocket to $200 per person then you will be looking at a cost of $800 for a family of four. And peak times of the year are when you will see the wait times the longest for attractions making the concept of Express Pass much more appealing.

If money is no object then the answer is always, yes Express Pass is worth it! But if you hesitating on spending the money on Express Pass then you may want to consider if it is worth it. Here are a few reasons why Express Pass is worth it for many groups.

No Wait Times

Express Pass will allow you to walk on to nearly all the attractions at Universal Orlando and you often never wait longer than 15 minutes. You can easily ride every single ride in the theme park and still have time to enjoy experiences, dining, and meeting characters.

Easy to Use

Express Pass is also incredibly easy to use at Universal Orlando. You do not need to book return times or plan your rides into your day. You simply just scan your Express Pass when you want to ride and go right in the line. The only thing to keep track of is if you purchase the one-time per attraction pass then you will need to remember which rides you have done and which ones you can still do. It's so easy which is a huge plus when we compare it to more complicated systems like Genie+ at Walt Disney World.

See Everything at Universal

Express Pass is also ideal if you plan on only spending one day at each park or one day at both parks at Universal Orlando. It will simply NOT be possible to see everything in one day without Express Pass. Even with Express Pass, you may not experience every attraction but you will at least get to do your favorites. Time is money and you will save a considerable amount of time using Express Pass.

So for many guests at Universal Orlando, purchasing Express Pass is a worthy investment and allows you to get the most out of your day.

Universal Orlando Unique Ride QueuesHogwarts Forbidden Journey

One downside of using Express Pass is you may miss out on unique ride queues. In many cases, the Express Pass line will skip most of the regular queue which may include worthwhile photo ops. But for many, bypassing the normal wait time is worth missing some of the immersion.

The queues that are most noteworthy at Universal Orlando include:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (Universal Studios Florida)
  • Men in Black Alien Attack (Universal Studios Florida)
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Islands of Adventure)
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Islands of Adventure)
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall (Islands of Adventure)
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong (Islands of Adventure)

Out of all the queues on this list, the two Harry Potter attractions easily top the list for the coolest photo ops and scenes. If you can enjoy these attractions with a low wait time, it may be worth it to go through the regular queue before using your Express Pass.

Single Rider Line Universal OrlandoUniversal Orlando Express Pass

Another way to beat the lines at Universal Orlando is to take advantage of the Single Rider lines. Single Rider acts as a way to let ride vehicles load guests more efficiently. If there are any empty spots after a group is seated, employees then take someone from the Single Rider line to fill that space. You will not be seated with your party if you use Single Rider (unless by luck!) but you will often wait at least half the posted wait time, if not less.

Single Line Rides at Universal Studios:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • Men in Black: Alien Attack
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Transformers: The Ride 3-D
  • Fast & Furious – Supercharged

Single Line Rides at Islands of Adventure:

  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster
  • Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • Dr. Doom’s Fearfall
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong

Sometimes Universal will close the Single Rider option for Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure if the line gets too long. Unfortunately, using Single Rider for Hagrid's isn't the most efficient way to ride and sometimes the Single Rider line can be just as long as the regular queue.

As for VelociCoaster, the Single Rider line can be more of an advantage. Utilizing Single Rider for this popular new ride can be a good way to cut down on your wait time as opposed to the standard queue.

Universal Express Pass ChristmasUniversal Christmas Parade

Should you use Universal Orlando Express Pass at Christmas? The holiday season can be one of the busiest times at the theme parks so this is a great time to purchase Express Pass.

But keep in mind since the holiday season is considered a peak time of year, the price for Express Pass will be high as Universal raises prices during busier times of the year. This is also a great time to consider staying in one of the Universal Orlando premiere hotels so you get the benefit of Express Pass at a lower rate as it's included in your stay.

Universal Express Pass Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Orlando does offer Express Pass for Halloween Horror Nights. The Express Pass for Halloween Horror Nights will get you Express Line access to all the haunted houses offered during the event.

This is the only way to see all the haunted houses in one night, as most of the wait times average around 60-90 minutes, then purchasing Express Pass for Halloween Horror Nights is essential.

The cost of the Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass is around $80 per ticket. Remember this is an additional cost in addition to your event ticket.

Universal Orlando VIP ExperienceUniversal Orlando Express Pass

The Universal Orlando VIP Experience is another option for skipping the lines at the Universal theme parks. There are two different VIP experience options: a group guided tour or a private VIP experience.

VIP Experience Guided Tour

You will be personally escorted by a Universal Orlando expert on a guided tour through either Universal Studios Florida or Universal's Islands of Adventure, or both with a 2-park experience. Separate theme park admission is required, the cost of the tour is separate.

The 2-park non-private experiences receive complimentary breakfast and lunch. Guests on a 1-Day, 1-Park tour do not receive a meal.

Purchase a 1-Day, 2-Park Experience for a seven hour tour with priority entrance into a minimum of ten rides and attractions, or purchase a 1-Day, 1-Park Experience for a five hour tour with priority entrance into a minimum of eight major rides and attractions at the park of your choice.

The VIP Experience guided tour also includes:

  • Priority access to all rides and attractions including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D and all of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions
  • Exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences in the parks
  • Complimentary valet parking (one vehicle, based on availability)
  • Reserved seating at shows (excludes live performances during Mardi Gras and Mannheim Steamroller during the holidays)
  • Complimentary continental breakfast and lunch. Dinner included in Private VIP Experiences only
  • Universal Express Unlimited ride access at participating rides and attractions throughout the rest of the day (during normal park operating hours)
  • Exclusive VIP Experiences lanyard and credential
  • Discounts at select Universal Orlando owned and operated merchandise locations in the theme parks and CityWalk

The VIP Experience starts at $189 per person.

Universal Express Guide

Private VIP Experience

The private VIP experience is built around exclusive VIP treatment. You build your own itinerary and plan your day how you want it with a tour guide's full attention.

The Universal Orlando Private VIP Experience also includes:

  • Your own tour guide's undivided attention
  • full-service dinner at one of Universal Orlando's restaurants
  • My Universal Photos 3-Day Photo Package

Private tours available at Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure:

  • 1-Day, 1-Park Tour (Not available during peak times)
  • 1-Day, 2-Park Tour
  • 2-Day, 2-Park Tour

Separate theme park admission is required for all VIP Experiences. To book a Private VIP Tour or for more details, call (866) 346-9350, 9 am–7 pm, seven days a week.

Private VIP Experiences can get costly but it is a popular choice among some guests that prefer this exclusive treatment!

Overall, Universal Express Pass is a great way to save time on your day at the Universal Orlando theme park.

Looking to Plan a Vacation to Orlando?

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About Lindsay Brookshier

Lindsay is a college English instructor and has years of writing experience through various nonprofits, charities, newspapers, and online magazines. As the content director of Mickey Visit, she oversees article content and leads our fantastic team of writers to meet guest vacation needs. You can still find her writing weekly content to help make your Disney Parks trip fantastic here on Mickey Visit and Disney Dose- you can also view her recently featured posts on Disney Parks travel on Visit Anaheim, Nerd Wallet and SFGate. Lindsay comes from a dedicated Disney family and enjoys taking her son to the Disney parks as often as possible.

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