All Ages

Universal Orlando Express Pass vs. VIP Experience

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When we visited Universal Orlando Resort, we had the chance to embark on a VIP Experience, which might as well have been a VVIP Experience. We literally went from ride to ride and bypassed all lines! But isn’t that what a Universal Orlando Express Pass lets you do? Not exactly. And neither experience includes general admission — that’s extra. Here, we compare the Universal Orlando Express Pass vs. the VIP Experience to help you decide which one (if either) is best for your family.

Popeye and Bluto's 2 at Islands of Adventure in Orlando.2-Park Universal EXPRESS PASS
Cost: $64.99 and up
What It Includes: As a 2-Park Universal EXPRESS PASS holder, you’ll be able to visit participating rides — one time each — over the course of one day at Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. You won’t have to stand in line for rides as long as regular pass holders do, but you’ll still have to wait, since many people opt to purchase Express Passes.

1-Park Express Passes are also available and listed from $39.99 per person for Islands of Adventure and $59.99 for Universal Studios Florida, making the 2-Park Universal Express Pass the better option. Families also have the option to bundle admission with Express Passes.

2-Park Universal EXPRESS UNLIMITED PASS
Cost: $84.99 and up
What It Includes: If you think your kids will gravitate to one section of rides at either park, this may be the most valuable option. The 2-Park Universal EXPRESS UNLIMITED PASS enables guests to ride any participating ride they want, any number of times.

Related: 7 Insider Tips for Universal Orlando

1 DAY/TWO PARK UNIVERSAL ORLANDO EXPERIENCE
Cost: $199.99 per person and up
What It Includes: The 1 Day/Two Park Experience entitles you to seven hours with your own tour guide in Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. It also guarantees you won’t wait in any lines for rides, and will visit a minimum of eight attractions (though we can almost guarantee you’ll visit more), chosen by the tour guide. 1 Day/Two Park Experiences are available for a maximum of 12 people, and are offered in a group setting, so if your family of four, for example, has booked this tour, you’ll essentially explore the park with eight other people you don’t know. Similar 1 Day/1 Park Experiences are available from $189.99.

If you’d like a private tour of the parks, you’ll want to opt for a 1 Day/2 Park Exclusive Experience, which entitles a maximum of five people to see Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on their own terms — the tour guide won’t choose the rides; those decisions will be entirely up to your group. Of course, for a tour like this, you’ll pay even more.

All Universal Studios VIP tours allow families to visit behind-the-scenes locations that others can’t access; for example, you’ll have a chance to get up close with “aliens” in the “Men in Black” Immigration Room, which closely resembles the one featured in the film trilogy. Other perks include continental breakfast, lunch, reserved seating at shows, and complimentary valet parking.

Similar to Express Passes, Universal Studios VIP tours are also offered for individual parks (Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure), though they don’t offer as much value either. 2-Day/2-Park Exclusive Experiences are available, as well.

Related: 13 Secrets at Universal Orlando Resort

TIPS

  • For a Universal Studios Express Pass discount, stay at one of the theme parks’ official hotels, where Express Passes are included in nightly hotel rates! Resort hotels include the following: Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Resort, Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, and the brand new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.
  • If you opt for a 1 Day/Two Park Experience, realize that you might be paired with a group of different ages and interests. This could be a problem if you have toddlers who want to spend a majority of time in Seuss Landing, but are touring the parks with a group of college students who’ve set out to ride every roller coaster.
  • A notable difference between the 1 Day/Two Park Experience and the 1 Day/Two Park Exclusive Experience is the later provides less of a “tour” feel — you’ll just go from ride to ride, possibly hearing bits and pieces of information in between. In the 1 Day/Two Park Experience, your tour guide will often stop to give you information about each ride and other notable happenings in the park.
  • Both Express Pass and VIP Experience prices vary upon dates, with the highest rates listed during the week of Easter, June through August, and the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Day. Plan your trip — and budget — accordingly.

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