The Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Pass offers guests the opportunity to skip the queue on rides, shows and attractions across the park. The Universal Express Pass is a fantastic perk at a time when crowds are high, in part due to the recent opening of Super Nintendo World land! Having purchased Express Pass tickets on two of our most recent visits we wanted to share our take on whether the Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Pass is worth the cost, including its pros and cons and how to buy your ticket before you visit.
Is Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Pass Worth the Cost?
Here’s everything you need to know about the Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Pass!
1 | What is the Universal Express Pass at Universal Studios Hollywood?
The Universal Express Pass is a multi-attraction pass that provides visitors with a number of fantastic benefits that supercharge your day at Universal Studios Hollywood, including:
- One-time Express Access to 10 of the 11 rides at Universal Studios Hollywood
- One-time Express Access to the Studio Tour
- One-time Express Access to the seated show, Water World
- One-time per day access to Super Nintendo World (with no reservation required) This is a big perk as the virtual queue for regular ticket holders books up super early each day – check prices now!
Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Pass tip: The Universal Express pass was formerly called the Front of the Line ticket at Universal Studios Hollywood
2 | How much does Universal Express Pass Cost?
If you purchase a ticket including the Universal Express Pass at the outset: prices cost around $199 to $299 at the moment, depending on the day. While it is a lot of money for a day ticket, the time savings in the park are significant and, in our opinion, well worth it.
Regular tickets (without an express pass) run from $109 to $149.
Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Pass tip: We recommend purchasing your Universal Express Pass before you visit Universal Studios Hollywood and registering it on the Universal Studios app before you visit the park
Depending on availability, a limited number of Universal Express Pass upgrades are available on the day. The prices seem to vary from around $70 to $150 and they sell out quickly on busy days – if you do decide to upgrade then make sure to try and grab one as soon as you enter the park – check prices now!
3 | How does the Universal Express Pass Work?
Most of the rides in Universal Hollywood have an Express Pass sign at the entrance and, after scanning your Express Pass, you can follow the line from there. If you can’t see where to enter there are always multiple staff members at the entrance who can point you in the right direction.
We were able to use our Universal Express Passes in two ways:
- by registering our Universal Express Passes the Universal Studios Hollywood App. The passes were then attached to our tickets and we each had an individual QR code in the App which we scanned at the express entrance to each ride. Most visitors will use this QR code as it’s a lot more convenient.
- we were provided with a paper version of our Universal Express Pass when we scanned our tickets on entering the park. The paper tickets can then be scanned at each ride.
4 | Do I still have to wait in line with a Universal Express Pass?
We visited Universal Studios on busy days and the Universal Express Pass pretty much eliminated all waits for us. The awesome thing about the Universal Express Pass is that you skip most, if not all, of the line on many of the rides.
We visited on two hectic days (including one over President’s Day Weekend) and rides like Revenge of the Mummy, Jurrasic World, Harry Potter and Flight of the Hippogriff were almost walk-on with the Universal Express Pass (versus a 60+ minute regular queue).
We also walked right onto a Studio Tour tram at a time when there was a 45-minute queue and had no wait for Water World, the seated action show.
However, there is still a bit of wait for the motion stimulation style rides like the Simpsons and the Minions as you merge with the regular queue prior to the pre-shows – it still took us at least half an hour to make it to the actual ride itself although this is still a significant time saving on the 90-minute regular queue.
The biggest omission from the Universal Express Pass is Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge which, as yet, has no express access options at time of writing. We went straight over to Super Nintendo Land after rope drop and waited less than 30 minutes but the queue then stretched over 2 hours almost instantly when we were finished.
Meet and Greets are not included in the Universal Express Pass but the queues are relatively short.
5 | What rides/attractions are included in the Universal Express Pass?
10 of the park’s 11 rides are included in the Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Pass. The pass also includes express access to the Studio Tour and Water World, the long-running live-action show.
There is a dedicated Express Pass line available on nearly all the rides and for both the Studio Tram Tour and the live show, Water World. With access to the express lane, the time from entry to riding most of these was less than 10 minutes.
The rides included in the Universal Express Pass are:
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Jurassic World
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
- The Simpsons
- Flight of the Hippogriff
- The Secret Life of Pets
- Silly Swirly
- DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda
6 | Are any rides excluded from the Universal Express Pass?
At present the only exclusion is Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge – this is part of Universal Studio Hollywood’s newest land, Super Nintendo World, and is currently the only ride in the land.
Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Pass tip: queues for Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge can easily stretch for over 2 hours. As yet, there is no option to skip the queue or pay for fast entry to Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge so we recommend making this your first stop after rope drop.
7 | Is Super Nintendo World Included in the Universal Express Pass?
Non-reserved access to Super Nintendo World, a new addition to Universal Studios Hollywood, is included as part of the Universal Express Pass. With the Universal Express Pass, you can enter Super Nintendo World at a time of your choosing so there is no need to worry about securing a virtual reservation. This is a huge perk as the virtual reservations book up very early each day. The Universal Express pass ensures you can access Super Nintendo World when you visit.
The recently opened Super Nintendo World operates on a virtual reservation basis as and when crowd numbers require. At time of writing this tends to be almost every day as demand is very high.
Guests can make a virtual reservation after arriving at Universal Studios Hollywood and enter the land at their allocated time. Given its star billing as Universal Hollywood’s newest attraction, the Super Nintendo World virtual queue comes into play frequently and slots fill up quickly.
Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Pass tip: we visited on a Wednesdy in February 2023 and virtual reservations were required for Super Nintendo World. All the slots filled up relatively early in the day so we were happy to have our guaranteed entry at any time which came with our Universal Express Pass.
8 | Do children need to purchase a Universal Express Pass?
Yes, all guests aged 3 and over require a ticket for Universal Studios Hollywood and, as such, require an Universal Express Pass. Younger kids are unlikely to meet the height requirements for every ride so won’t be able to utilize the pass to its full potential.
Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Pass tip: we purchased an Universal Express Pass for our 3 and 5 year old. Our 3 year old missed out on Harry Potter, Revenge of the Mummy and Jurrasic World while our 5 year old rode everything except Harry Potter and Revenge of the Mummy. We used their Universal Express Passes for an extra ride as these are among our favourites in the park!
9 | Is the Universal Express Pass Worth the Cost?
Now to the big question, is the Universal Express Pass Worth the Cost?
For most visitors, it absolutely is. We saved hours not having to wait in the regular line and we were comfortably able to ride the rides, check out the attractions and eat wherever we wanted all within one day. – check prices now!
When we recommend purchasing the Universal Express Pass
- If you only have one day to visit Universal Studio Hollywoods
- If you really want to visit Super Nintendo World. The Express Pass guarantees entry to this. Virtual reservations for regular ticket holders are booked out very early each day so this is a big benefit if you want to visit Super Nintendo World
- Weekend days and holidays (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
- Busy weekdays (it does seem like the park is consistently busy right now with increased demand due to the opening of Super Nintendo World)
Wait and see if the Universal Express Pass is worth it:
- If you are visiting on an off-peak weekday (some weekdays in late April and early May might be quieter). It can be difficult to predict when the park will be quiet as crowds are high year-round at the time of writing.
10 | The Unlimited Express Pass
Universal Studios Hollywood also offers an Unlimited Express Pass which includes unlimited express access to everything listed – so you can ride each ride as many times as you like.
You can upgrade to an unlimited express pass for an additional $50 per ticket. This means you can ride each of the included rides as many times as you wish on the day. This option might suit some visitors, however you’ll need to weigh up the extra cost vs how much you’ll use it in a given day.