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Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass – cost, discount, how to use


Universal Studios Hollywood gets almost 10 million visitors annually, and during peak days, more than 35,000 visitors walk through its gates. 

Because of this crowd, it is common to see long queues at the rides, attractions, and seated shows.

Waiting times at Universal Hollywood’s rides can quickly exceed an hour during weekends, public holidays, and school breaks. 

There are only two ways to avoid these lines – buy a VIP Ticket, which costs around US$400 per person, or opt for the cheaper Express Pass, priced around US$220.

Besides quick entry into the theme park, Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass gives visitors one-time quick access to each ride, attraction, and show. 

If you prefer to skip the queues multiple times for each ride and attraction, you can upgrade any of your tickets for the Unlimited Express Pass at the venue.

This article covers everything you must know before buying Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass.

What is Universal Studios Express Pass

The Universal Express Pass grants you special access, significantly reducing your wait times at various attractions.

This pass entitles you to enter through the Express Pass lines, which are separate and usually much shorter than the standard lines.

You’ll join the line close to the front (or at the front) and can expect a considerable decrease in waiting, with the exact time saved varying throughout the year.

There are two types of passes – the Universal Express Pass, which gives you one-time access to the rides, and the Universal Express Unlimited Pass, which provides access to the rides as many times as you want.

Fun fact: The Universal Express Pass was formerly called the Front of the Line ticket at Universal Studios Hollywood.

What is included in the Universal Express Pass

The Express Ticket at Universal Studios Hollywood is a multi-attraction pass that provides visitors with amazing time-saving benefits. It gets you –

  • One-time Express access to 11 of the 12 rides at the theme park
  • One-time Express access to the Universal Studio Tour
  • One-time Express access to Water World, a seated show
  • One-time per day access to Super Nintendo World

Rides included in the Express Pass

Image: usatoday.com

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
  • Flight of the Hippogriff
  • The Secret Life of Pets
  • The Simpsons
  • Silly Swirly
  • DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda
  • Fast and Furious

Note: The Express Pass grants access for rides only; it doesn’t cover restaurant queues or parking fees.

Universal Studios Hollywood has two sections, the Upper lot and the Lower lot, connected by a series of escalators called the Starway. The upper lot is the largest and comprises the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Simpsons-inspired Springfield U.S.A., the World-Famous Studio Tour, and live shows. The lower lot is home to Revenge of The Mummy Ride, TRANSFORMERS Ride, Jurassic World, and several eateries and shops.

Ride NOT included in the Express Pass

The Ollivanders wand-pairing demonstration at the Wizarding World is not included in the Express Pass.

Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge at the newly inaugurated Super Nintendo World, is also not covered by the Universal Studios Express Pass.

However, your Express Pass will come in handy while accessing the Super Nintendo World, which uses a virtual reservation system to manage entry during crowded days.

You also have the option of purchasing an Early Access Ticket to Super Nintendo World, which begins an hour before the park opens. An Early Access ticket costs $20-30 per person.

Since it is a new and exciting attraction, there is a lot of demand, and the virtual reservation system gets activated daily.

If you hold the Universal Express Pass, you get Non-reserved access to Super Nintendo World – that is, you don’t need to secure a virtual reservation. The Pass helps you get into the attraction whenever you want.

Virtual Reservation System can be used through the Universal Studios Hollywood app (Android, iOS), available for smartphone download. Guests can book times for rides using this system. Once you pick a time slot for an attraction, you’re free to explore the park instead of waiting in long lines. When it’s your turn, you simply head to the designated Virtual Line entrance for a much shorter wait to enjoy the ride. 

How Express Pass works at the rides

Universal Hollywood Express Entrance

The Express Pass is also called the Universal Express Pass or Universal Express Ticket.

It is an upgrade of the General Admission Ticket, the cheapest and most popular way to enter Universal Studios.

The Express Pass includes the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour, the 60-minute tram tour around the backlots.

When you purchase an Express Ticket, it gets emailed to you. 

On the day of your visit, you can show the e-pass on your smartphone and walk into the theme park.

Every time you go on a ride, you can skip the long ride queue and walk through the special entrance for Express Pass holders.

You will scan your Express Pass and get on the ride without waiting.

Universal Studios Express Pass eliminates your waiting time, making it a great way to save time and see more of the Park.

Recommended Reading: Universal Studios Hollywood discount tickets

How to use Express Pass at the shows

The Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass gets you one-time priority access to WaterWorld.

Visitors with Express Passes are allowed into the venue before everyone else.

The Pass also gets you priority seating, but you must be in the Express queue at least 10 minutes before the audience enters the theatre.

After ushering you to the premium seats, the Universal Studios staff lets the regular ticket holders inside.

Also, remember that you will only be able to skip the line for each attraction one time with the Express Pass.

So if you want to ride again for a second time you will have to wait in the regular line.

Note: Till early 2023, Express Pass was accepted at the Animal Actors show as well. Besides getting you premium access, the Pass also got you exclusive meet-and-greets with the animals. However, on 8 January 2023, Universal Studios permanently closed the Animal Actors show and replaced it with a Fast and Furious-themed rollercoaster ride.

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Cost of Universal Express Pass

If you visit during the peak seasons, the Universal Express Pass prices will be significantly higher than during the lean season.

Universal Hollywood Express Pass costs between US$209 and US$309, based on the day and season.

When you purchase the Express Pass at the gate, you pay an extra US$10 per person.

A little pro tip: Consider waiting in the regular queue if the line is short. This will help you save your Express Pass for later use. You can use this pass for the same ride when it is packed.

Express Pass for kids

All visitors aged three years and older must have a ticket to enter Universal Studios Hollywood and consequently need a Universal Express Pass to skip the long queues and enter the Express line.

However, younger children may only meet the height requirements for some rides and, therefore, may be unable to take full advantage of the pass.

That’s why we suggest you check out the ride height requirements before buying the Express ticket for your child.

Universal Express Pass

Even though you can buy the Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass at the theme park, it is wiser to get it online. When you get them in advance, you pay less and start reaping the benefits immediately.

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Is the Express Pass worth it?

Although Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass is priced higher than regular admission, the value and time savings it offers are substantial.

Ensure you secure your Express Pass by purchasing online ahead of time, as they are available in limited quantities daily and sell out fast.

The Express Pass is a game-changer, bypassing the queues at all rides, shows, and attractions.

It will help you save 60 to 90 minutes, even during off-peak times. On busier days, this can go up to as much as three hours, making it an invaluable asset for those looking to make the most of their visit.

For those not restricted by a tight budget and who value their time, the Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass is an investment in maximizing your fun and efficiency.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enhance your park experience – go for the Express Pass and enjoy a day filled with more rides, shows, and attractions.

Visual Story: 13 must-know tips before visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

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When should you buy Express Pass

Many tourists and locals wonder if they should buy the Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass while visiting the iconic Los Angeles theme park.

The answer largely depends on the timing of your visit.

Universal Studios experiences its highest visitor volumes during peak summer months, weekends, school holidays, and special occasions.

The park is especially bustling from May to mid-August, around Thanksgiving, Christmas through to the second week of the New Year, as well as during Spring break and Easter.

On these crowded days, an Express Pass becomes an invaluable asset, allowing you to bypass the long lines and enjoy more of what the park offers in less time.

However, if you plan to visit on a weekday outside of these peak periods, you might find the park less crowded, and won’t need the Express Pass.

It’s important to consider that Express Passes are limited in quantity and often sell out quickly, especially during busy times.

Want to save money? Read up on everything about Universal Studios Hollywood discount tickets

Don’t leave the purchase to the last moment

Waiting until you arrive at the park to gauge the crowd and then deciding to purchase an Express Pass might leave you disappointed, as they may already be sold out.

To avoid this risk, purchasing your Express Pass online before your visit is wiser, ensuring you’re prepared no matter the crowd level.

In essence, the Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass is a valuable time-saver during busy park days, and early purchase is recommended to guarantee your streamlined experience.

Recommended Reading
Popular rides at Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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How many Universal Express Passes to buy?

Universal Express Pass line

You may not need to buy an Express Pass for everyone in your group. 

If you have a family member who doesn’t meet the minimum height requirements for the rides or is scared, the Express Ticket will be useless for them. 

You can buy the General Admission Ticket for them, instead. 

Since your Express Pass will get you on the ride without any waiting time, you will quickly reunite with the family members who decided to stay back in the Child Switch Room.

The Child Switch room at Universal Studios Hollywood is an area where adults can wait with children who are too young or unable to ride a specific attraction. This feature allows adults to take turns riding while ensuring the child is safely supervised without waiting in line again.

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FAQS on Express Pass

This section lists some of the tourists’ most common questions about this skip-the-line pass.

Does the Universal Express pass include admission to the theme park?

Yes, a Universal Express Ticket includes general admission to the park and the Express Pass, which allows you to skip the regular queues for rides and shows.

Is it possible to purchase a Universal Express Pass on-site at the park?

Yes, visitors have the option to purchase Universal Express passes directly at the park. They are available at the counters both at the front gates and inside the theme park. However, it’s crucial to consider buying them ahead of time. These passes are in high demand and have a limited supply, especially on busy days when they tend to sell out quickly.

Why is the Universal Express Pass so expensive?

The Universal Express Pass is costly because it allows you to skip the regular lines and save precious time. This exclusivity is maintained through its pricing strategy – if the passes were more affordable, an overwhelming number of visitors might purchase them, leading to longer queues even for Express Pass holders. The high cost ensures a faster, more efficient experience for those willing to invest in this added convenience.

How long are the lines with Universal Express Pass?

With an Express Pass, more often than not, you will skip the ride’s queue and be the next person to board the ride. Scan the Express Pass and join the Express queue, where the wait times are comparatively less than the General Admission queues. 

Does Universal Express Pass sell out?

During the peak summer months, school vacations, long weekends, etc., Universal Studio Hollywood’s Express Passes are in high demand and sell out early in the day. That’s why you should buy your Express Passes in advance if you are visiting during a busy season.

What is the difference between Universal Express Pass and Unlimited Pass?

You can apply the Universal Studios Hollywood Express pass to rides or shows only once. In contrast, a Universal Express Unlimited pass gets you unlimited access to all the rides and shows.

Does Universal Studios Hollywood have a Fast Pass?

Universal Express Pass and the Universal Express Unlimited Pass are Universal Studio Hollywood’s equivalent of Fast Pass. They help you skip the long lines at the rides and attractions and save time.

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Unlimited Universal Express Pass

Universal Studios Hollywood provides an Unlimited Express Pass option, granting unlimited express entry to all included attractions.

With the Unlimited Pass, you can enjoy each ride multiple times, and each time, skip the line and get to the front of the queue.

Buying the Unlimited Universal Express upgrade is a good idea if you plan to visit with children who may want to go up on the rides many times.

Unlimited Universal Express is available for purchase at the theme park, and it works as an upgrade with all kinds of tickets – the General Admission Ticket, the Express Ticket, and the Season Pass.

Upgrading your General Admission Ticket to Unlimited Universal Express will cost you US$100 – US$170. 

If you already have a Universal Express ticket, upgrading to Unlimited Universal Express costs only US$ 35 – US$ 45 per person.

Universal Hollywood ticket prices can vary depending on the day and the crowd.

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Universal Studios Hollywood VIP ticket

Image: agoda.com

Opt for the Universal Studios Hollywood VIP tour if cost is not an issue and you want something better than the Express Pass.

On a VIP Tour, you get unlimited priority access to all rides, attractions, shows, a continental breakfast, a gourmet lunch in the VIP dining room, and valet parking. 

The VIP tour tickets also get you a closer look behind the scenes and exclusive access to the Universal Studios Backlot. 

These tickets cost US$379 for all visitors aged five years and above at the gates.

When you buy them online in advance, these tickets are available at a much-lowered price, between US$300 and US$500, helping you save a significant amount per person. 

When you buy a VIP Ticket, a guide is with you throughout the day, facilitating your experience at the park.

Hardcore theme-park fans visit both Universal and Disneyland. Find out how to go from Universal Hollywood to Disneyland Park and vice versa.


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