Outside the E.T. Adventure Ride at Universal Studios Orlando, with the regular and Universal Express Pass entrances

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Do you hate waiting in long lines at theme parks?

Luckily, if you’re visiting the theme parks at the Universal Orlando resort, you have a solution. And that solution is the Universal Express Pass.

We’re going to explain how it works, what rides are included, and if it really does save you time in lines. And we’ll also let you know how to get an Express Pass Universal discount, to save you money on your next Orlando vacation!

What is the Universal Express Pass?

The Universal Express Pass allows you to skip the regular line for attractions at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Instead, you enter through the Express Pass entrance. And you’ll get to enjoy shorter wait times than if you entered through the regular line.

With the Universal Express Pass, you don’t need to reserve a specific time for the ride (like you do with the Disney Genie Plus service over at Walt Disney World). Instead, you can just show up whenever you want during regular park hours to ride!

In the case of shows, you can get priority seating 15 minutes before the show starts.

The price for the Express Pass varies depending on the date of your trip. You can buy it beforehand or on the same day. However, if you wait to buy it the day of your trip, there is a chance that it will be sold out. That’s why we recommend buying it in advance, using the discount that we’ll tell you about a little later.

But first, let’s look at the two different types of Universal Express Passes that you can purchase.

Universal Express Pass

With this pass, you get to use the shorter Express Pass line one time per ride. If you, say, want to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts more than once that day, you can only use your Express Pass for one of those times. The other times, you’ll need to wait in the regular line.

Universal Express Unlimited

This pass is similar to the Universal Express Pass, except you can re-ride attractions as many times as you want. If you like to ride your favorite rides multiple times a day, this is the pass you’ll want to get.

You can also get the Universal Express Unlimited pass included with your hotel stay at the following hotels at the Universal Orlando Resort:

When you get it by staying at one of those hotels, you can use it every day of your stay, including check in and check out days. In this case, your hotel key will be your pass.

What rides are included in the Universal Express Pass?

You can use the Express Pass at the following 14 rides at Universal Studios:

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

And you can use the Express Pass for the following 13 attractions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • Caro-Seuss-el
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure
  • Doctor Doom’s Fearfall
  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
  • The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!
  • Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • Hogwarts Express (Park-to-Park admission ticket required)
  • Storm Force Accelatron
  • Poseidon’s Fury

Please note that a few rides are excluded. Specifically, at Islands of Adventure, the rides Jurassic World VelociCoaster, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, and Pteranodon Flyers are not included in the Express Pass program at this time. At Universal Studios Florida, the children’s waterslide at Fievel’s Playland does not have an Express Pass line, either.

Does the Universal Express Pass really save you time?

If you’ve wondered if the Universal Express Pass saves you time – the answer is a definite yes!

For example, the last time I had wanted to ride E.T. Adventure without Express Pass, the line was extremely long that day.

So long, in fact, that we eventually gave up, got out of line, and left without ever riding it.

On our most recent trip, though, we had the Universal Express Unlimited pass.

The first time we showed up at the E.T. ride, the wait time posted was 20 minutes (for the regular line). However, we were on the ride in 4 minutes!

Later that day, we wanted to ride again, which we could do because we had the Unlimited pass.

At that point, the posted wait time was 15 minutes. But thanks to using the Express Pass line, we only had to wait 5 minutes.

Just right there with those two experiences, we saved more than 25 minutes. And obviously, the more attractions you ride, and the longer the wait times for the regular line, then the more time you’re going to save.

Express Pass Universal Studios Discount

So I’m sure at this point you’re wondering about the Express Pass Universal discount we mentioned earlier!

You can click here to buy a discounted Express Pass for Universal Studios Florida. You can choose between the regular Express Pass or the Unlimited Pass. Also, you can choose to buy a pass just for one park or for both parks in the same day (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure). You’ll be able to save up to $12 per pass!

Please note that while this will get you on the rides faster, the Express Pass does not count as park admission. You’ll need to purchase separate park tickets. If you haven’t already bought tickets, you can do that here and save up to $75 per ticket.

Additional Universal Planning Tips

Lanyards for the Express Pass

We recommend keeping your Express Pass, as well as your ticket, inside a clear pouch that hangs on a lanyard. This makes it easy for you to access your Express Pass, which you’ll have to show every time you get in an Express Pass line. And the faster you can get to your Express Pass, the shorter your overall wait time will be!

You can buy pouches and lanyards in many of the Universal Studios gift stores. However, they are sold separately, and it will end up costing you about $14-$18 per person. If you’re looking to save money, another option is ordering some for the whole family beforehand. For example, consider something like this 12 pack of lanyards with clear pouches. You can even order them in assorted colors, to make them easier to tell apart.

12 Pack - Bright Neon Lanyards with Clear Resealable Vertical Further Reading

If you’d like to learn more about the Universal Orlando resort in general, in order to help you plan a trip there, we recommend this book. It’s a great resource for vacation planning. It was also helpful in the preparation of this blog entry.