Universal offers tickets good for 1 to 4 days of admission to its theme parks. The basic ticket is called Single Park Admission and includes entry to one theme park per day. If you buy a basic two-day ticket, you can visit Islands of Adventure on one day and Universal Studios Florida on the next. You may not use a basic two-day ticket to visit both parks in one day, but you can leave and return to the same park on the same day, in case you want to head back to your hotel for a nap.
If you want to visit both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on the same day, purchase the Park-to-Park Admission, which allows you to move freely between both parks on the same day. It takes about 12-15 minutes to walk from one park to the next, or you can take the 4 minute Hogwarts Express trip between the Wizarding Worlds. Be aware that you must have Park-to-Park admission to ride the Hogwarts Express train between IOA and USF; single-park tickets may be upgraded at Guest Services or at the train stations.
The chart below shows what every combination of ticket costs, both from Universal and from ticket wholesalers.
A one-day, one-park Base Ticket is on par with those at the Disney parks; multiday single-park Base Tickets, however, are significantly less expensive at Universal. Park-hopping (or “Park-to-Park,” in Universal parlance) passes can be much more expensive at Disney, where, for example, a four-day Park Hopper ticket costs a little over 50% more than what you’d pay at Universal.
As at Disney, passes expire 14 days after the first use. Also as at Disney, child tickets for ages 3-9 are only a few dollars discounted from the adult prices, despite the large number of rides with height requirements at Universal. Prices listed below are what you’d pay online and include tax.
The five-park, 14-day Orlando Flex Ticket allows unlimited entry to Universal Studios Florida (USF), Universal’s Islands of Adventure (IOA), SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Wet ’n Wild and costs $307 for adults and $291 for children ages 3-9, tax included. The six-park, 14-day Orlando Flex Ticket Plus, providing unlimited entry to USF, IOA, SeaWorld, Aquatica, Wet ’n Wild, and Busch Gardens, costs $349 for adults and $330 for children. Buy the tickets online at the websites of the participating parks, or get them at a discount at officialticketcenter.com. Flex Tickets are a good deal only if you visit all of the parks covered.
Officialticketcenter.com also sells a “3 park Unlimited” ticket good for 14 consecutive days of park-to-park admission at both USF and IOA, plus Wet 'n Wild. Only a few dollars more than the 4-day park-to-park ticket, this ticket is poorly publicized but a great value if you like water slides and aren't buying an annual pass for your extended stay.
Saving Money on Admission to Universal Orlando
Unlike Disney, Universal offers discounts when you purchase passes online at UniversalOrlando.com, including $20-per-pass discounts on multiday tickets plus other time-limited specials. Passes purchased online can be printed at home and used at the turnstiles without the need to exchange at a box office, or can be retrieved using the credit card they were purchased with from automated will-call kiosks outside each park. Passes purchased online (including annual passes) do not begin expiring until first activated at a park entrance. Although Universal discounts multiday tickets online, one-day admissions cost exactly the same as at the gate; nevertheless, they’re probably worth ordering online for the convenience.
Florida (and sometimes Georgia) residents can take advantage of an every-changing array of price breaks, often tied to a fast food chain or soft drink promotion; these specials require valid photo ID proving residency to redeem, so don't try using one if you aren't eligible.
Current annual passholders get a modest 10%-15% price break when buying additional multiday tickets at the gate, but may do better with the standard online discount.
Universal Orlando also frequently offers online-only specials that are usually superior to any other available discount. For example, from late 2014 through June 7, 2015, Universal's website is selling 3-day tickets for the 2-day price; these tickets must be used by June 20, 2015, and blackout days apply, but it's still a substantial savings.
The lowest possible prices on electronically delivered Universal tickets we're aware of are through Parksavers (parksavers.com), which undercuts Universal's online prices on park-to-park tickets by $5 to $10. Be aware that buyers receive a printable voucher that must be redeemed at the park with a photo ID.
Dreams Unlimited Travel (dreamsunlimited.com) charges the same for Universal tickets as the official website, but does offer exclusive 1 and 2-day park-to-park passes bundled with discounted round trip transportation from Disney area hotels via Mears. Their tickets are purchased directly through Universal's secure website, and can be printed at home or retrieved from will-call kiosks.
Universal charges $14 for domestic FedEx shipping of tickets ($19 for international delivery). If you want physical tickets mailed to you for the cheapest price and can order at least two weeks before your trip, consider using an online ticket wholesaler, such as The Official Ticket Center (officialticketcenter.com) or Undercover Tourist (undercovertourist.com). Official Ticket Center advertises all their prices inclusive of tax and USPS Certified shipping, and has the lowest bottom-line cost on Universal Orlando tickets that we've found, usually beating Parksavers by $1 to $5.
Universal Orlando Annual Passes
Universal Orlando's annual passes are some of the best deals in town, not only for locals, but anyone visiting the resort more than four days out of the year. The entry-level annual pass costs only $20 more than a 4-day park-to-park ticket (and is cheaper than it for Florida residents), and Universal's most expensive annual pass is just over half the price of Walt Disney World's premium pass. Of course, Disney has several more theme parks included in their annual passes, but Universal throws in some great perks (depending on pass level) to compensate.
All Universal Orlando annual passes include park-to-park admission to both Universal Studios Flordia and Islands of Adventure, including all special events that do not require a separate ticket, including Mardi Gras, Grinchmas, and Macy's Holiday Parade, as well as discounts on those that do, like Halloween Horror Nights and Rock the Universe. All annual passholders also receive up to 30% room rates at on-site hotels, and a number of other discounts as detailed below.
Here are the three types of annual passes offered by Universal Orlando:
- Valid for one year, but with several weeks of blockout dates, including Christmas Week and Spring Break at both parks, and mid-June through mid-August at USF only.
- No free parking.
- No food or merchandise discounts.
Preferred Annual Pass
- Valid 365 days with no blockouts.
- Free standard self-parking, and discounted preferred self-parking and valet.
- 10% off most restaurants and merchandise (alcohol usually excluded).
Premier Annual Pass
- Valid 365 days with no blockouts.
- Free preferred self-parking and valet, and discounted “red carpet” valet.
- 15% off most restaurants and 20% off merchandise (alcohol usually excluded).
- Free Universal Express after 4 p.m. every day (one time per participating attraction).
- One free Halloween Horror Nights ticket, vaild select Sunday-Thursday nights only.
- 8 free bottles of Nestlé bottled water per year.
- Free admission to CityWalk clubs, and free admission for one guest on Sunday-Thursday nights (excludes concerts and special events).
- Free access to hotel fitness centers and complimentary room upgrades when staying onsite.
In addition, all annual passholders get a quarterly newsletter with announcements of special limited-time perks, such as early park admission on weekdays during the off season. And if you can't handle the cost of a pass in one big bite, Universal's FlexPay service will (after a substantial downpayment) split the remaining bill into interest-free payments as low as $15 per month.
So, should you buy a Universal Orlando annual pass, and if so, which one? If you are making only one trip to Universal within the year, are staying off-site, and plan to spend four days or fewer in the parks, then you should stick with standard tickets. If however you plan to spend five or more days at Universal's parks, anticipate returning to Universal within the year, or want to stay at an on-site hotel for more than one night, it is well worth your while to run the numbers on an annual pass.
As for which one to buy, first double check the current Power Pass blockout dates on Universal's website to ensure they don't conflict with your trip. Even if you're in the clear, at least one member of your party will want to pick up at least a Preferred Annual Pass for its discounts, especially if you are driving to the resort; 5 days of self-parking at $17 per day adds up to $85, more than the difference in price between the Power Pass and Preferred. (Note that free parking only applies after your first visit; you must activate your annual pass at a park gate first before receiving free parking.)
If – and only if – you take advantage of all its amenities, the Premier Annual Pass is an amazing vale. At a $12 per month up-charge from the Preferred pass, Seth gets more than his money's worth in free valet parking alone, and the free Express after 4 p.m. is especially useful when the parks are open late. (Even though it's officially only valid only once per attraction per day, we've rarely been denied a re-ride, and can usually bring a companion along.) The free Halloween Horror Nights pass isn't valid Fridays or Saturdays, and can't be upgraded, which limits its value, but once redeemed it can be transferred to another person.
|Ticket||Universal Orlando Website(inc 6.5% tax)||UndercoverTourist.com(inc tax+shipping)||TheOfficialTicketCenter.com(inc tax; add $10 per order forPriority Mail)|
|1-Day Adult Single Park||102.24||106.95||107.24|
|1-Day Child Single Park||95.85||100.58||100.85|
|2-Day Adult Single Park||144.83||146.49||144.00|
|2-Day Child Single Park||134.18||135.52||134.00|
|3-Day Adult Single Park||155.48||153.19||152.00|
|3-Day Child Single Park||143.76||142.21||141.00|
|4-Day Adult Single Park||166.13||163.40||162.00|
|4-Day Child Single Park||153.35||151.44||149.00|
|1-Day Adult Park-to-Park||144.84||140.29||138.00|
|1-Day Child Park-to-Park||138.45||132.32||130.50|
|2-Day Adult Park-to-Park||187.43||177.99||176.00|
|2-Day Child Park-to-Park||176.78||167.99||166.00|
|3-Day Adult Park-to-Park||198.08||189.07||188.00|
|3-Day Child Park-to-Park||186.36||178.07||176.00|
|4-Day Adult Park-to-Park||208.73||203.71||194.00|
|4-Day Child Park-to-Park||195.95||189.00||184.00|
Last updated on December 3, 2014