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, kids under 3 are free, but 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 “3 Park Unlimited” ticket is good for 14 consecutive days of park-to-park admission at both USF and IOA, plus Wet 'n Wild. 3 Park Unlimited tickets are sold by a number of third-party vendors, but not directly by Universal itself at this time. 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.
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 third party discounter. Flex Tickets are a good deal only if you visit all of the parks covered.
Buying Admission to Universal Orlando
One of our big gripes about Universal is that there are never enough ticket windows open in the morning to accommodate the crowds. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you buy your admission in advance. Passes are available direct from Universal at universalorlando.com, or by phone at # 800-711-0080; at the concierge desks or attractions box offices of many Orlando-area hotels; and through Guest Services at the DoubleTree Universal hotel (# 407-351-1000), at the intersection of Major Boulevard and Kirkman Road.
Many hotels and some ticket brokers that sell Universal admissions don’t issue actual passes. Instead, the purchaser gets a voucher that can be redeemed for a pass at the theme park. Fortunately, the voucher-redemption window is separate from the park’s ticket-sales operation. In addition, tickets bought online can be printed at home and contain a bar code that can be read at the turnstiles.
Saving Money on Admission to Universal Orlando
Universal's admission discounts change too rapidly to comprehensively cover here. The best online clearing-house for keeping up with the latest available offers is MouseSavers.com's Universal Orlando discounts and deals page.
Ticket Savings Direct from 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 multi-day tickets online, one-day admissions cost exactly the same as at the gate; nevertheless, they’re probably worth ordering online for the convenience.
Multi-day tickets purchased online direct from Universal also include a coupon booklet with “up to $150 in savings” on food, merchandise, and hotel services. Universal also offers a “Best Price Guarantee”: if you buy park tickets through Universal's website, then find them cheaper online within 7 days, Universal Orlando will give you a gift card (good at restaurants and shops around the resort) refunding the price difference. The price guarantee is only on regular admission tickets (not Express or special event) available to the general public from US-based websites, and excludes timeshare promotions, group rates, or other special discounts. To claim your refund, call 877-589-4783 or send an email via www.visitorsatisfaction.com/contactus/.
Florida residents (and sometimes Georgia) can take advantage of an ever-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 multi-day 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.
Ticket Savings from Third Party Vendors
The lowest possible prices on electronically delivered Universal tickets we're aware of are through Orlando Ticket Connection, which undercuts Universal's online prices on park-to-park tickets by $5 to $10. We'd love to hear from readers who have had experiences (good or bad) with OrlandoTicketConnection. Parksavers sells Universal tickets for a few dollars more than Orlando Ticket Connection, but be aware that their buyers receive a printable voucher that must be redeemed at the park with a photo ID, instead of going straight to the turnstiles.
Dreams Unlimited Travel 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 or Undercover Tourist. Official Ticket Center advertises all their prices inclusive of tax and USPS Certified shipping, and has the lowest bottom-line cost on physical Universal Orlando tickets that we've found, usually within pennies of Orlando Ticket Connection's e-delivery price.
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 Florida 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 cost extra, 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.
Click here for current Universal Orlando Power Pass blockout dates.
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).
- Additional discounts at CityWalk and the resort hotels.
Click here for current Universal Orlando Preferred Pass discounts.
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, valid select Sunday-Thursday nights only.
- 8 free bottles of Nestlé bottled water per year. ($22 value)
- Free admission to CityWalk clubs, and free admission for one guest on Sunday-Thursday nights (excludes concerts and special events).
- Free access to Mandara Spa facilities and complimentary room upgrades when staying onsite.
Click here for current Universal Orlando Premier Pass discounts.
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 value. 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.
Universal Orlando Ticket Prices
|Ticket||Universal Orlando Website(inc 6.5% tax)||UndercoverTourist.com(inc tax+shipping; add $6-$16 per order for Express)||TheOfficialTicketCenter.com(inc tax+shipping; add $10 per order for Priority Mail)|
|1-Day Adult Single Park||108.63||108.63||113.63|
|1-Day Child Single Park||103.31||103.31||108.31|
|2-Day Adult Single Park||159.74||159.73||159.00|
|2-Day Child Single Park||149.09||149.09||148.00|
|3-Day Adult Single Park||170.39||177.77||170.00|
|3-Day Child Single Park||159.74||167.31||160.00|
|4-Day Adult Single Park||181.04||178.07||176.00|
|4-Day Child Single Park||170.39||168.27||164.00|
|1-Day Adult Park-to-Park||156.56||151.64||151.50|
|1-Day Child Park-to-Park||151.23||144.54||145.00|
|2-Day Adult Park-to-Park||207.67||197.21||194.00|
|2-Day Child Park-to-Park||197.02||187.22||183.00|
|3-Day Adult Park-to-Park||218.32||208.39||205.00|
|3-Day Child Park-to-Park||207.67||198.43||194.00|
|4-Day Adult Park-to-Park||228.97||223.45||218.00|
|4-Day Child Park-to-Park||218.32||210.57||206.00|
Last updated by Seth Kubersky on May 13, 2015