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Universal Orlando – Universal Express Plus

 

This program allows you to buy your way to the front of the line (see Notes and Comments, below) by purchasing a small card with a bar code that gives you one-time Express access to every ride or attraction with an Express queue. You can buy a pass for one park or both, and the cards will only work on a single day starting one hour after park opening. Unlike Disney's "FastPass" system, Universal Express Plus can be utilized whenever you choose; you don't have to pick up a ticket and return later at an assigned time.



This program allows you to buy your way to the front of the line (see Notes and Comments, below) by purchasing a small card with a bar code that gives you one-time Express access to every ride or attraction with an Express queue. You can buy a pass for one park or both, and the cards will only work on a single day starting one hour after park opening. Unlike Disney's "FastPass" system, Universal Express Plus can be utilized whenever you choose; you don't have to pick up a ticket and return later at an assigned time.

To find out how much you will pay for this privilege, go to the "Tickets" page on the UniversalOrlando.com web site and look for the "Express Plus Passes" link. Recently, passes have been selling in advance online for $20 for a one-park pass during slower periods, all the way up to $70 for a two-park version at peak periods like Christmas week. The online Express price calendar is also a great way to gauge how busy it will be during your visit. Prices may be higher when purchased in the parks, where they are only available for same-day use. There are very few days, it seems, on which the pass is not available; since those are usually slower days, that might not be a problem.

Quantities are limited (the exact number issued is a closely guarded
secret) and once they're gone for the day, they're gone. At each ride, your card will be "swiped" by an attendant using a hand-held device, ensuring only one ride per attraction.

Unlimited Universal Express for Resort Guests
Guests at the on-site resort hotels (see Chapter Five) get the best deal in the theme park industry. At no extra charge, they can use their room keys (which look like credit cards and are personalized with the guest's name) to gain immediate access to the Universal Express Plus queues. Simply show your key to the attendant at the express queue and you are in. Better yet, you can use this perk all day and ride each ride as many times as you wish.

At check in, you will be given a key for every member of your party, so everyone staying in the same room can take advantage of this perk at his or her own discretion. Even if your family tours the parks as a group, the official policy is to check every card, so make sure every member of your party has theirs. However, occasionally families are waved through after a single card is produced. Your key card will be examined carefully by an attendant. This is to make sure that your room key is still valid.
Your room key gives you Express access on the day you check in and all day the day you check out. So you can check in very early and, even though your room isn't ready, get a room key to use at the parks. When you check out, hang on to your room key and use it at the parks for the rest of the day.

VIP Unlimited Ticket
This new and insanely complex option combines a two-park ticket with the same unlimited Express Plus access resort guests receive. Like the two-park ticket options discussed earlier, these tickets come in one-, two-, three-, and four-day versions. But the cost of VIP Unlimited Express Pass tickets varies by date, depending on whether you are visiting on a Standard, Non-Peak, or Peak date; all tickets are date-specific. Essentially, these tickets add a hefty surcharge for limitless Express usage. For example, a non-peak, one-day VIP ticket costs $24 more than a standard one-day/two-park pass with Express Plus; during peak periods the premium is $20. As you add days, the per-day cost of that surcharge declines.

If you purchase your VIP tickets at the gate, that day's price will be posted. If you purchase online, which is preferable, a calendar will tell you which option is available on the day you want to visit.
If you're visiting during a busy season and you want to re-ride your favorites multiple times, this might be a good option, but depending on the size of your party a stay in a Universal hotel could be more cost-effective.

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Universal Orlando 2011

 

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