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Universal Studios: The Ultimate Theme Park Adventure

Buy Universal Tickets

There are four Universal parks up and running currently to buy Universal tickets for. The original is Universal Studios Hollywood. There is also the Universal Studios Florida resort, plus Islands of Adventure (which is probably the flagship of the company) and a pair of resorts in Asia (Japan and Singapore). These properties are set to be joined by a fifth resort that will open in Beijing, China later in 2021.

The parks are a spectacle to behold and are a must for fans of movies or theme parks with their dazzling array of rides and attractions. Here is a look at how to make the most out of a Universal adventure.

Should You Get a Day Pass or Season Pass?

Tickets at Universal Orlando start at $109 (plus tax) for a one park. This is a one-day price and will get you between two main parks.

To maximize the fun – given the size of both parks – you really need at least a two-day hopper pass (though three is preferred). For three days at two parks the total ticket cost is going to be in the range of $300 to $350.

An annual pass, which may be worth it if you are a frequent visitor, includes park-to-park admission 365 days a year, with costs a staggering $700 per person after tax. Other options include a $450-pass with select blackout dates.

Universal is far from cheap, and the sheer number of ticketing options can be completely overwhelming, so make sure to do research into how many rides you want to go on, the average wait time for those rides and the added value of skip-the-line upgrades before committing to your purchase.

What Do the Upgrades Include?

There are plenty of promotional upgrades for visitors of the Universal resorts.
One of the major ones at the Orlando location is the ability to skip the regular line one time per participating ride, allowing you to walk straight to a ride and skip a line that can easily be an hour or more in length.

This add-on starts at $80 for one time per ride for one park and goes up to $120 per person for both parks multiple times. Remember that this is in addition to the regular ticket cost.

Other upgrades worth checking out include staying in a Universal hotel, as this will get you early park access, which can be invaluable in maximizing your experience.

Group Rates

Group rates at Universal properties start for groups of 20 or more entering the park. They are available for half-day, full-day and multi-day tickets and the best way to investigate their prices and perks is to contact the parks directly for their group ticketing coordinator.

Online or In Person

The options here are interesting because many hotels and ticket shops in Orlando will be able to customize your plan for you and get you everything you need – albeit, often adding on things you might not – to make your vacation at the parks a great one.

If you are comfortable with your own research and know what you want, then buying online is probably best, but there is a chance a local ticket dealer or hotel will be able to hook you up with a discount or two that you would miss online.

We suggest getting into the area and investigating the options there before deciding to buy Universal tickets online or in person.

Extra Costs

Parking is certainly one extra factor to consider. Prime parking is $50 per vehicle and gets you closer to the park. Regular parking is in the $25-range, but it is worth noting that after 6:00 p.m. parking is free (except on select nights). That means that those with a season pass or other rate that does not require an all-day visit can save plenty of money by timing their arrival to the park well.

Food is another big cost, and you can either pay as you go or pre-purchase a dining plan. This starts at $26 for adults that covers one quick-serve meal and a snack, to $65 for an adult for a sit-down meal plan.

Reselling and Refunds

Reselling Universal tickets is difficult because of how personalized the ticket plans tend to be and the sheer number of competitors in the market with the number of businesses set up to sell hopper passes.

Putting an ad on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace might get you lucky, but the odds are that any selling you do will be below the value of the ticket. Contacting the park about an exchange might be the best option here.

Universal is one of the top theme park brands for a reason. The expense is high – taking a family of four for multiple days is going to cost comfortably over $1,000 – but it is one of those places where once in a lifetime absolutely has meaning, and the memories created will be cherished forever.