Is The Universal Studios Express Pass Worth It?

When people say time is money, they're thinking of the real world. If time is, indeed, money on the day-to-day level, then time is at a premium when visiting a theme park. In essence, if you looked at the hourly cost of spending time in the unreal world of an amusement park, then dang, it's expensive. That said, you're in an atmosphere full of potential. There are roller coasters and make-believe and food and ... lines?

So while the hourly cost at a theme park may be warranted, it's also a defeating prospect to pay that hourly cost for standing in line. If you're visiting Universal Studios, you can cut the pay-to-play cost significantly by purchasing a Universal Express Pass. Yes, it costs more money on the onset, but again, if time's money and theme parks charge a premium, it's a bargain to spend up for the add-on. You can spend your time and money riding rides versus standing in line.

Consider a Universal hotel package

As you can probably guess, the Universal Express Pass allows you to stand in a shorter, pass-holder line versus waiting in the conventional line, and the disparity between these two lines can be pretty stark. While some theme parks give out express passes willy-nilly, creating long lines in both about-face adventures, Universal actually limits the number of Express Passes they sell daily, so the shorter express lines will actually always be shorter.

We should note that Express Passes are available in two forms. Much like Universal's Park-to-Park ticket versus a one-and-done ticket, there's an Express Unlimited Pass and an Express Pass for only that specific park. You can purchase an Express Pass as an add-on to a specific park ticket, or if you buy a Universal Park-to-Park ticket, purchasing an Unlimited Express Pass would be the way to go. Also, if you stay at a premium Universal hotel, many of these stays actually include an Express Unlimited Pass for everyone registered to the room.

Skip the line but not the experience

The Express Pass will allow you to shorten the ride for almost everything but not everything. Currently, the outliers are the incredibly popular Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and Pteranodon Flyers rides, which don't allow line-skipping. And while, in most cases, skipping the line is a win, there are some exceptions. For instance, Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey is the roller coaster inside Hogwarts Castle. And half of the whole experience actually takes place while in line. So, if you have an Express Pass and skip the line for the ride, you'd miss the atmospheric immersion and storytelling of the experience.

That said, The Forbidden Journey is a rare example. Other lines are merely lines, and if you're only at the park for a few days, then the Express Pass is a bang for its buck. The prices for Express Passes vary, typically following the dynamic prices of the park tickets, but if time's money, then spend it well by skipping the line.