Many theme parks offer a fast track ticket that allows guests to skip the regular lines at rides and attractions and thus save a tremendous amount of time. At Universal Orlando Resort, it's called the Universal Express Pass.
Disney World's FastPass+ vs. Universal Express Pass
Not all fast track passes are created equal. If you're familiar with Disney World's FastPass+, you should know that there are key differences between it and the Universal Express Pass.
- At both Disney World and Universal Orlando, the fast pass ticket can be used at a selection of the most popular rides and attractions. Note that the list of participating attractions at Universal Orlando does not include some of the parks' most popular attractions, including Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, or the Hogwarts Express.
- At Disney World, each guest automatically gets three FastPass+ tickets per day and then can get three more after those are used up. Each FastPass+ can be used on one ride or attraction. At Universal Orlando, the Universal Express Pass is an all-day pass. (Note, however, that there are two tiers of Universal Express Passes. See "Buy Universal Express Passes" below.) Also, with few exceptions, Universal’s Express Passes must be purchased.
- A Disney FastPass+ must be scheduled in advance, while the Universal Express Pass does not.
- There is no way to buy additional FastPass+ tickets at Disney World, and every guest gets the same number. At Universal Orlando, the only way to get a Universal Express Pass is to purchase it separately or to acquire it as a perk of being a guest at the on-site resort.
- Because so many guests have Universal Express Passes compared to the crowd-controlled Disney World FastPass+, the fast track lines at Universal Orlando tend to be noticeably longer than those at Disney World. Of course, they are still much shorter than the regular line. Don't expect to just walk straight on to the ride or attraction, but you can expect the wait to be less than 15 minutes.
3 Ways to Get a Universal Express Pass
Stay at a Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort has six beautiful resorts on property. All of them offer fabulous pools, tons of family and kids activities, and free shuttles to the theme parks. Three of them also offer free Universal Express Unlimited Passes. This perk is a godsend for weary families: You just show up at the ride, show your Universal Express Pass, and enter the fast track line, which will save you a lot of waiting time.
Staying at a Universal Orlando Resort is the easiest and most cost-effective way to get the Universal Express Pass. Many guests at Universal Orlando Resorts think that the access privileges are the best reason to stay at an on-site hotel because they add such tremendous value.
The on-site hotels at Universal Orlando Resort that offer Universal Express Passes are:
Buy Universal Express Passes
Visitors can purchase several types of Universal Express Passes. Prices are in addition to regular theme park admission. It's easiest to buy your passes online, though you can also buy these passes at the entrance gate.
The Universal Express Ultimate Pass allows unlimited access, meaning you can use the pass multiple times on the same attraction. A one-day 2-Park Universal Express Ultimate Pass begins at about $60. You can also buy a Universal Express Ultimate Pass for Islands of Adventure only, or for Universal Studios only, beginning at about $50.
The next level down is the Universal Express Pass, which you can use only one time on each ride. Prices start at about $40 for a one-day two-park Universal Express Pass and at about $35 for a one-park Universal Express Pass.
Splurge on a VIP Experience
Willing to shell out for a hassle-free experience? For a premium price, guests can opt for a VIP experience that may include a behind-the-scenes tour and a meal or other activities, in addition to a Universal Express Pass with access to participating rides.
More Universal Orlando Tips
– Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher