This article is your complete guide to the front-of-line pass at Universal Studios 2023! We are going to cover everything in this post from paid options that guarantee your front-of-the-line access with the Universal Express Pass and the Universal VIP Experience for an even more royal treatment at both Universal Orlando and Universal Hollywood. Both of these options allow guests to essentially skip the lines for rides and get the best seating for shows during their visit to the parks. We are going to break down both front of the line pass options to help you decide which is best for your next vacation. We will also go over free alternatives to help you skip the lines at universal as much as possible WITHOUT these trusty paid options.
We hope you find this post helpful! Our goal at The Park Prodigy has always been to help you save time and money on your next Universal Orlando vacation! If you are planning a trip to Universal Orlando be sure to check out the latest deals on Universal Orlando vacation packages and our discounted Universal Orlando tickets which include EARLY PARK ADMISSION to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
So if you’re ready to learn all about the front of the line passes at Universal Studios read on!
SPECIAL NOTE: If you’re looking for the best time to visit Universal Orlando check out our Universal Crowd calendar!
Do you want to avoid waiting in line in the hot Orlando sun? Are the Universal Orlando wait times a little too long? Then you need to learn about your options for front of the line pass at Universal Studios which are the Universal Express Pass and the Universal Orlando VIP Pass. Universal Orlando is becoming increasingly more and more popular as the years go on and more state of the art attractions are being added to the parks. Universal Orlando is doing it all and all for great value as well. Universal Studios skip the line passes are pricey but both systems make it so that you are not wasting your precious park time waiting in lines. There are two options that guests can choose from when it comes to ways to skip the line at Universal.
Express pass at Universal are guest’s one way ticket to skip the regular stand-by line and use a special entrance to bypass any long waits. The Express Passes at Universal Orlando can be used at almost any attraction at Universal Orlando Resort with the exception of a few. As of 2023, the rides not accepting the Express Universal are:
Universal VIP Tours provides guests with a Universal expert who leads them through the most popular shows and rides, plus they will receive special benefits before and after, such as free meals and a Universal express pass ticket. Universal Orlando VIP tour provides guests with front of the line access to both of the main Universal Orlando parks which are Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. After the tour, guests are given free Universal Express Passes to enjoy the rest of their day in the parks.
The difference between the two in terms of skip the line access is that the Universal VIP pass DOES include skip the line access for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Jurassic World VelociCoaster which are the most popular rides in Orlando 2023. It’s important to point this out as although both of these rides are included with early park admission, they are not included with the Universal Orlando express pass ticket. So if you’re a family who prefers to sleep in on your vacation the VIP experience at Universal Orlando could be a great fit for you.
With the Universal Orlando express ticket, guests can walk up to any attraction they would like, scan their ticket and get in the express line. Universal Studios Orlando wait times can get long especially during busier times of the year in the parks. The express line allows you to spend less time standing on line and more time on rides and enjoying the park. If you want to know how to avoid lines at Universal Studios Orlando then keep reading!
Let’s say you visit on a weekend and most Universal Thrill Rides are over an hour wait. With the Universal Express Pass, you are only going to be waiting a fraction of that, like 10-12 minutes, on participating attractions. Universal Orlando wait times with Express Pass are significantly less, usually only about 5-10 minutes with average crowd levels.
There are a few different types of Express Passes at Universal Studios to choose from depending on what you’re looking to do.
It is important to note that Express Pass does not automatically allow you to skip every line at Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure. Universal Orlando Express Passes will always guarantee a shorter wait during peak times when normal stand-by is exponentially long.
Related Article: Is the Universal Express Pass Worth It?
With a VIP Experience guided tour, you’ll be led by a Universal Orlando expert through the most popular rides and attractions at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, plus enjoy a variety of special benefits before, during and after your tour. This 5 hour tour includes
There are 2 types of VIP tours that guests can choose from: non-private and private. Guests who select the Universal Orlando non-private VIP experience can purchase up to six guests who will be paired with other guests for the day and make up a group of twelve. The biggest difference between the non-private VIP tour and the private is that the Universal Orlando tour guide will select the attractions everyone will ride for the day. Now of course they will take a group poll to see what everyone is most interested in. So we highly suggest to speak with the other members of your non-private VIP tour before it begins to get a feel for what everyone would like to ride for the day. We have found that if you are a group full of Universal Orlando roller coaster fans and you are teamed up with a family with smaller children who are excited about Harry Potter it might be able to change groups for a better experience for everyone.
What else more does the private VIP tour include 2023?
Related Post: Which Universal Orlando Hotels Include Express Pass?
Universal Studios Hollywood is half the size of Orlando but that does not make this park any less crowded. The reason that we love Universal skip the line pass is because it allows the day to go at a slower pace and be more enjoyable than running from ride to ride and standing in lines. We think it is worth it to look skip the line Universal Studios options when planning your trip to Universal Studios Hollywood. Similar to Orlando, there are two ways guests can skip those long waits at Universal. These two options are the
The Universal Hollywood Express pass comes with a cost but it saves guests time in the parks which makes the price tag worth it. It allows guests to enter a separate line and cuts down the wait time for each ride by at least half. The Hollywood Express Pass can be used at participating rides and gives guests priority seating at shows such as WaterWorks.
Universal VIP Tours will provide guests with a back stage tour of the famous Universal Hollywood backlot, free parking, an unlimited Universal Hollywood express pass with priority seating for select shows, light snacks and refreshments in the morning, and a gourmet meal for lunch. Universal Hollywood offers non-private and private VIP tour options. More on this below.
Unlike the skip the line options in Orlando, Universal Hollywood only offers one version of the express pass Universal Hollywood’s Express Pass. The Hollywood skip the line pass only allows guests to ride each attraction ONCE. We recommend guests to use the express pass on rides with longer wait times. For example, if Secret Life of Pets Off the Leash is only a 5 minute standby wait, save the express pass for later in the day when it reaches 45+ minutes and hop on it now without using your express pass!
Universal Hollywood limits the number of Express Universal passes sold per day which is good news if you have one purchased because it means the express lines will not be long. If everyone bought a skip the line ticket, no one would be actually skipping the line. This also means that the Universal Express can be sold out on busy days of the year so if you are planning on visiting during these busy times like Spring Break and Christmas, keep this in mind.
ALL rides in Universal Hollywood are included in the express pass including popular attractions like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the Studio Tour. This allows for guests to have a very good chance of experiencing all that Universal Hollywood has to offer in just one day.
Related Post: Top 10 Restaurants at Universal Hollywood
Get the celebrity treatment right in the heart of it all with the VIP Experience at Universal Hollywood. With the Universal VIP tours, you get to skip the line for each attraction, get a guided tour of the park and the backlots and more. The Universal non-private VIP Tour in Hollywood is a limited capacity experience with up to eighteen guests per VIP tour and includes:
The only difference between the non-private and private VIP tour is that the private VIP tour will only be for members of your group, and you will not be paired with any of groups that day. The Universal VIP tours are approximately 6 hours long.
Related Post: Guide to Super Nintendo World Hollywood
Now that we have learned about our options, we are going to break down which Universal Studios line skip pass is right for your group. Theme park vacations can be expensive, so we want to help you save time and money when visiting Universal. Like many other decisions we make when planning a vacation, a big deciding factor comes down to the price. let’s take a look at the pricing for each skip the line option.
The basic Universal Express Pass allows guests to enter the Express Lane one time per participating attraction. Each member of the party must have their own Express Pass ticket purchased on top of their theme park ticket for it to be valid.
The Universal Express Pass Unlimited is the tier higher of Express Passes which allows guests visiting Universal to ride participating rides an unlimited amount of times. One of the perks of staying at a Universal Orlando Premier Hotel is that the Universal Express Unlimited is included for all guests registered to the room for the length of the stay!
The Universal Orlando Resort Premier Hotels are Loews Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Hotel.
The Universal Orlando non-private VIP tour for 2 parks over 1 day starts at $189.00 per person plus sales tax.
The private VIP tour Universal Orlando costs $3,099 for the two park – one day private VIP experience for up to five guests, and additional guests will start at $375 per person each. The private VIP tours at Universal Orlando can accommodate up to ten guests. It’s also important to note that these are the starting costs and the final price can fluctuate based on the time of year that you are visiting.
On non-peak days Universal Hollywood Express Pass costs on average, $189 per person. On busier days, it is priced upwards at $259. When you purchase the Express Pass at the gate, you pay $10 extra per person.
Universal Studios Hollywood VIP tours start at $379 per person and each group can accommodate up to eighteen people
Related Post: Comparing Harry Potter World Hollywood vs. Orlando
The Universal Florida Express Pass is the cheaper option of the two. During busy times of the year at Universal, the express pass can come with a very steep price tag. We have seen the express pass cost reach $200 per day per person at Universal Orlando. We think that the best way to get the express pass for free technically is staying at a Universal Orlando premier resort. Now these premier resorts are more costly but if you are traveling with a larger group, it may be worth it cost-wise to go with staying at the resort rather than buying express for each person especially when the express prices are high.
From a budgeting stand point families will also be surprised to learn that the non-private VIP tours can make sense when you add up all of the extra benefits. We believe the fact that an unlimited Universal express pass is included with your Universal VIP ticket is huge as it will allow you to get onto so many more rides within your day. We also find that the Universal express pass is typically 60-70% of the cost of the non-private VIP tour anyway. So once you add the free valet parking and meals to your budget it might not be that much more to upgrade to the Universal VIP tour.
However, the VIP Universal Orlando Tour does NOT include park admission. So on top of the tour fees, you also have to buy a park-to-park ticket (if you choose the 2 park tour) for each member of the group. With the Universal Express, you can purchase a combo Universal Express Ticket that includes the express ticket and your park ticket.
The Universal Express is limited to simply you being able to skip the line for participating rides and attractions. Now the biggest feature that is missing with the Express Pass is that the two most popular rides in all of Universal are not included in the Universal Florida Express Pass. We hear this often that people are not going to buy the pass simply because it will not cut down the waits for the rides that have the longest lines.
On the other hand, with VIP Universal Orlando, guests can fully skip the line for VelociCoaster and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. The VIP experience allows guests to skip the line for every attraction at Universal. With the VIP experience, you are literally brought right to the very front of the line and you even can choose what row you want (we recommend front row on Hagrid’s!). With the express pass, you may wait 30 minutes on the express line if its a very long wait. If you want a true skip the line pass, that’s the Universal Studios Florida VIP tour.
Universal Orlando VIP not only allows access to the very front of the line but also includes other features like behind-the-scenes experiences such as walking in the office located in the Men in Black queue and also includes breakfast and lunch! You do not get this special treatment with the express pass. if you are trying to get the most out of your day the VIP at Universal Studios Orlando is worth it. This is especially true if you are already thinking about upgrading to include the Universal express pass ticket. The reason being is specifically for Universal Orlando the three rides that are not included with the express pass are included with the VIP tour. This can give families a ton of flexibility as they won’t have to make sure that they arrive for early park admission which can be as early as 7:00 AM to take advantage of little wait times on the most popular attractions.
Similar to Orlando, selecting which skip the line option is better for you in Hollywood depends on what you and your family are looking for. The major difference with Hollywood is to consider that the Universal Hollywood VIP tour does include your park ticket. This is really a great value especially when VIP tour tickets are priced at $379 per person. This means you are spending about $250 more than a normal 1-day general admission ticket to Universal Hollywood (priced at $130). For $250 more, it may be worth it to give you more flexibility, save you time and have an epic Universal visit.
The Universal Hollywood Express Pass costs on average, $189 per person. The good news is that this Express Pass isn’t too much more than a regular general admission ticket ($80 difference) to get that skip the line access and allow you more time in the parks.
The biggest downfall of the Universal Hollywood express pass is that you can only use it once per ride. Universal Hollywood has 12 rides, 1 studio tour and 1 show. With the express pass, you can get on every attraction all in 1 day if that is the main objective of your Universal trip.
(Update: Universal announced the closure of Animal Actors and Special Effects Show to make way for new experiences).
One of the best features of the Universal VIP tours that makes the experience extra special is the exclusive back lot access. You can tour the movie industry’s busiest sets in a special trolley where you can disembark to explore some of our famous outdoor sets. It is like the studio tour but you get to get out of the trolly, walk around and explore these sets up close. Overall, we feel that the Universal behind the scenes tours that are included with the VIP experience are great for special trips, special events and if you just simply want to treat yourselves to the most epic vacation. Maybe you have never been to Universal or don’t get to visit often, the VIP tour is a memorable experience that no one will regret.
Related Post: Guide to Universal Orlando Height Requirements
Every family is different when it comes to visiting Universal and that’s why the Universal Express pass or the VIP Experience is worth it to some families and might not be to others. But how do you figure that out for your family? We always recommend using The Park Prodigy Universal Orlando park plan tool. Here guests can simply let the tool know exactly which day they will be visiting and which rides everyone in their group is most excited about going on. From there the tool will create a park plan with estimated wait times based on historical data. The tool will also tell you if you have enough time to go on all of your rides or not. So very simply if you see that there is not enough time within a specific day to go on all of your must-do attractions it might be beneficial to upgrade to the Universal Studios Orlando skip the line options – the Universal Express and VIP Experience Universal.
You do not NEED Universal Studios skip the line pass but they are helpful if you are looking to make the most out of your time and get on as many rides as you can. Let’s take a look at some free ways you can skip the line at Universal. You also are going to want to consider the time of year you are visiting. By using a tool like the crowd calendar, it can help you determine if you will be visiting when the crowds will be higher such as during school breaks or the holidays. The time of year you visit really changes the answer to the question, how long are the waits at Universal Studios so it is important to keep this in mind.
Universal Orlando has fifteen single rider lines between the two main theme parks of Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. The main purpose of the single rider line is to allow individual guests to take advantage of a shorter line and be seated with other families of odd numbers on rides. It’s important to note that the Universal single rider line may not always be operating for every single ride especially during the slower times of year.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Universal Orlando single rider lines are free while the express pass is an additional charge. With that being said the Universal Orlando single rider line does not guarantee that your wait time would be shorter then the regular stand by queue. So if you absolutely want to ensure that you avoid any lines at Universal Orlando we do believe it express pass is the best option. However if you are okay with rolling the dice we do still believe that the Universal Orlando single rider line will save you time. A good tip to remember is that single rider lines for rides that have 2 per row seating typically do not move as fast as rides that have more than 2 like The Incredible Hulk and Skull Island Reign of Kong.
Related Post: Guide to Universal Water Rides
The following ways to “skip the line” will not put you in a position like you would be if you had the Universal Express Unlimited Pass or VIP at Universal Studios Orlando. However, if you do not decide not to pay for the add-ons, we have a few ways you can skip the lines.
If you are visiting Universal, you can buy a Universal Express Pass that allows you to skip the regular line. Eligible attractions have a general admission line and an Express Pass line. Another option is to purchase a Universal VIP Experience that will take you to the front of the line for all attractions as well as be led by a Universal Orlando expert through the most popular rides and attractions at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. With the VIP tour, you will enjoy a variety of special benefits before, during and after your tour.
Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando both have front of the line pass options called Universal Express and the Universal VIP Experience. With both options, guests can skip the regular line for an additional fee. The Universal VIP Experience allows guests to skip right to the very front of the line for each attraction while the Express Pass is a separate express line that will cut the wait time by at least half.
At Universal Studios Hollywood the Front of Line pass (now called Universal Express) allows guests one-time express access to each ride or attraction. You can’t use your express pass to skip the line for the same ride twice. The Front of the Line pass cuts the standby wait by at least half so if a wait is 60 minutes, you will be waiting 30 or less.
You can buy Express Passes in person at Universal but there is no guarantee that they will not be sold out. The Express Pass allows guests to enter an Express line for participating attractions to decrease time spent waiting in line.
Our Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar is the best tool to help you get the most out of your time in the parks. We breakdown the park crowds, park hours of operation, ticket prices by day, and average temperature.
If you’re ready to plan your trip to Universal Studios, be sure to check out Universal Orlando Tickets! Not only will you save money vs buying direct, but all of our Universal Orlando tickets come with some amazing benefits which can help save you up to three hours in the parks!
And to stay up to date on everything going on inside the theme parks be sure to check out our partners at Themeparktoday.com!