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Old 6 Dec 17, 02:30 PM  
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chickeninabun
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Universal without Express Passes

Is it worth going to Universal without Express Passes?

We are going mid August next year, so I expect it will be busy. How long are the queues for the popular rides, both with and without Express Passes?
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Old 6 Dec 17, 03:05 PM  
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chmurf
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mid august (after the 15th) the crowds will thin down a bit

the first 2, and the last 2 hours are those you'll manage the most.
Outside of those times, you'll probably see lines of 30 to 60 minutes at most rides on average (some with more wait times, some with less) but it will not be as mad as a mad day at Disney's


remember that getting one night at RPR (cheapest of deluxes) will get you Express Passes (unlimited) for both check in (even if you check in at 7am) and check out day. So, most of the time it will be cheaper to get a room there than paying for express passes.

you ask if it's worth it, it also depends how long you intend on going.
If you're thinking about visiting just for one day, both park, without express, even mid august, then you will see large crowds and waits, and I would suggest the Express Passes are more than worth it.

I wouldn't go for just one day without express, but, well, I'm a passholder at UNI so my judgement might be a bit biaised as I'm at liberty to visit "differently" from someone who would just have 1 day in their plans

Remember that a Universal ticket is a lot of money. You will need 2 days to fully enjoy both parks, even with express at that time of year.

your question : is it worth it without express ?
if you have
1 day : no
2 days : yes but I would get express through booking a deluxe room and take advantage of the Early admission
3 days or more : definitely yes
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Old 6 Dec 17, 03:40 PM  
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DFussy
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Hi. I'm not sure I can give you an answer, but this was our experience:

Thurs 3rd Aug. we were at ioa for opening at 9am, had park to park, so used the Hogwarts express to finish at us. Did all the big rides at ioa apart from Kong, and dragons challenge and hp ride at US, then left the park 2pm. Queues were shockingly good, we did hulk twice in a row at start of day. The hp ride at us broke down whilst we were there for about 15/30mins so that was our longest wait, all in nearly 1 hr.

Sun 13th aug. checked into rpr and went into ioa for early entry at 8 (unlim express passes inc). we did all big rides bar kong, at ioa and a fair amount of us inc shows till about 3pm when weather prevented us doing the rip ride, and we went back to our hotel for a break. Returned to parks approx. 6pm having dinner at city walk on way in, did rip ride, hulk, dr doom in the dark (dragons out of order that evening), took in a few more shows. Left at closing.

Mon 14th aug. went to volcano bay for early entry - I think it was 7.30, and had a good 1 1/2 hrs there, taking in most of the big rides - deffo worth getting there early as queues were building up in the last 1/2 hr. Checked out of rpr for 11 and spent till about 5pm in parks. It was getting really busy that day, long queues. Kong broke down when in the queue so never got to do it.

None of these days was least recommended on busy day guide, but on our days with the xpress pass we noticed that a lot of queues were nodding the hour in normal q. express isn't straight on, but is a lot shorter.

Staying the night gave us chance for a quick break in the day for a swim, to stay on and ride in the dark, and the early entry was really worth it at VB - which had only opened end May, so we felt it was worth the 1 nights cost, and the express pass was a bonus.
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Old 6 Dec 17, 04:12 PM  
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novocastrian
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august this year we had express pass at HRH for the 3rd week in august and obviously did all the big ones wihtout much Qing, it was easily 30+ mins for pretty much everything stand by

we return the last week in August and did pretty much the same (except kong) without express pass this time in the same amount of time

i also used single rider line for numerous rides on hulk, rip & duelling dragons, literally walk on each time
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Old 6 Dec 17, 06:21 PM  
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chickeninabun
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Thanks everyone. It doesn't sound as busy as I imagined but less queuing is always best, no matter how British we are!

I'm looking into booking the hotel for a night to get the Express Passes for two days, even if we don't step foot in the room (although like the idea of a little swimming break mid-day to cool off). It seems silly to just pay for them at $70 each per day!
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Old 6 Dec 17, 06:33 PM  
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chmurf
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Originally Posted by chickeninabun View Post
. It seems silly to just pay for them at $70 each per day!
well ... $70 per day is the lowest price for both parks for single express (Universal Express Pass)
this type of express pass gives you one *express* visit per ride, per day. So if you want to ride something 2 times in a row, you can do one express, and one standby
and for august it will probably be around $80 or $90

what the deluxe hotels (Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, and Portofino) get you is the unlimited express pass (universal express unlimited), and this pass gives you unlimited visits to rides.
if you were to buy those, they start at $90 and will most likely be around $110 or $120 for your dates (that's per day, per person)

note that Aventura, Cabana Bay, and Sapphire Falls DO NOT get you the express passes.


one last thing, even if you don't set foot in the room you'll need to check in, because your room key is your express pass
you can check in as early as 6:00 / 6:30am
parking costs $22 per night at hotels. It is per night, so park at the hotel, and not at citywalk ($20 per day) that would be more expensive

Last edited by chmurf; 6 Dec 17 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 6 Dec 17, 06:36 PM  
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The RPR was lovely. Standard room really nice, beds mega comfy, and silent aircon. We all slept really well that night. We took only what we needed for the 2 days and left it with concierge on both days when not in our room.

They also let you use the facilities till around 11pm on check out day, and have showers with everything you need to freshen up on your way out. We attempted to swim before leaving the resort, but the weather decided otherwise.

There is a slight saving on parking if you are driving as they charge per day stay, so one days parking did 2 days in the park.

We paid about 235 thru ba, all taxes inc just parking on top, and we really thought it was worth the money for all the advantages it gave us.

We ended up going to universal less than we originally intended, because we were able to do so much in the 3 days and my daughter really needed a few more lie in and waterpark days.
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Old 7 Dec 17, 08:10 AM  
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electo
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yes/no

been there done both

if the park is quiet then yes do it without the pass
if the park is bizzy the get a pass

last time i was there i just got it for studios and not for IofA

also its the cost and will you get your moneys worth
when i go in march i will get a two park pass and do both parks
i must be mad

the plan is do studios first full day there (no pass)
then in a weeks time ish on a sat do IofA with pass and after do studios again with the pass
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Old 7 Dec 17, 08:36 AM  
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Even in November when the parks were practically deserted, we loved staying onsite. We did 2 nights in the middle of our SSR stay. Got a taxi 6am, were checked in and at the park for 7.45am early opening. By 11am we were dropping so nipped over on the boat (10 min) to Portofino Bay and had a snooze. Then sat outside Sal's Pizza eating pizza, watching the boats bob on the lagoon and listening to the music. So peaceful, hard to believe we were so near the parks!

PBH is ravishingly beautiful and I may just have left a little of my heart there.
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Old 7 Dec 17, 11:45 AM  
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Originally Posted by chickeninabun View Post
Is it worth going to Universal without Express Passes?

We are going mid August next year, so I expect it will be busy. How long are the queues for the popular rides, both with and without Express Passes?
In our 8 trips, we've only ever had Express Passes once. And even then, although they were very useful, they weren't entirely necessary. The only reason we had them was because we wanted to ensure we could do everything in 2 days - plus we felt like treating ourselves.

We visited Florida in the last two weeks of August 3 years ago. The queues were fairly short - 15 minutes for Forbidden Journey (for example). The only rides that had long queues were Escape from Gringotts and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (both had waits of around 50 minutes).

So, if you plan to visit the Universal parks on more than 2 days and you visit Universal towards the end of your holiday (and thus towards the end of August) you'll be fine. Express Passes are very nice to have but you don't need them to enjoy the Universal parks unless you are trying to fit everything into 1 day or 2 shorter days.
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