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Understanding Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando

by Leap on July 15, 2019 45 Orlando

Understanding Early Park Admission for Universal OrlandoAs you frog friends know, we're big fans of staying on-site at the theme park resorts. Universal Orlando Resort is one of our very favorite resorts to stay on-site (and you can book directly from us!).

There are some terrific benefits, such as proximity to the parks, free transportation, free pool hopping at select hotels, delivery of your in-park souvenir purchases to your room and more.

All of the Universal Orlando Resort hotels offer Early Park Admission. It allows you to enter select parks up to an hour early during your stay. This benefit can be a huge help to get a hop on the crowds, especially during busy peak times! We wanted to walk you through all of the details of when and how to use this perk. That way, you can take advantage of it on your next trip!

Universal Orlando Hotels Offering Early Park Admission

Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando -  Loews Portofino Bay Room

It's worth noting that select Universal Orlando Resort hotels — Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal's Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort — offer free Universal Express Unlimited, another amazing benefit.

Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando - Loew's Sapphire Falls

Understanding Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando

Early Park Admission allows all Universal Orlando Resort hotel guests and other select groups one-hour early entry to either Universal's Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida (during extra busy times, it can be both parks) every day AND one-hour early entry to Universal's Volcano Bay water theme park every day. Valid theme park admission is required.

Early Park Admission - Gringotts Goblin

During Early Park Admission, select rides, attractions and areas are open one hour before the park opens to general admission. To make it easy for you, we note which park is hosting Early Park Admission, general park hours and Early Park Admission hours on our Orlando Crowd Calendar. It used to be that the one-hour Early Park Admission was limited to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter rides, but that is no longer the case. The rides that open early now vary.

Early Park Admission is available every day of your hotel stay, including days of check-in and check-out! Using EPA on your check-in day is a little bit trickier, so we don't recommend it UNLESS you are only spending one night at a Universal Orlando hotel and it's an extremely busy time. If you want to take advantage of EPA on your check-in day, note that you will need to check into your hotel first — which means very, very early in the morning. EPA usually begins at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m., so you would have to check in before that, then allow time to get from the hotel and to the park.

How to Use Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando

To make the most of your time, we recommend you arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of the start of Early Park Admission. You'll need your park tickets and your hotel room keys when you enter the park hosting Early Park Admission! A hotel key is needed for each family member or friend who is staying with you at the resort. The parks typically start allowing all guests in up to a half hour before the official opening time, so you definitely want to be in the park hosting EPA before then if you want to ride with the lowest waits.

When to Use Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando

Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando - Universal Volcano Bay Krakatau

As you know, the early frog gets the fly, so you'll likely need to sacrifice a little shut eye for Early Park Admission. Most vacationers don't want to do this, so use it to your advantage! You definitely should use Early Park Admission in these scenarios:

  • You've only got one day in the park (or parks). This is especially true if you've only got one day and you are park hopping!
  • You are visiting during an extremely busy time — the peak of summer and around holidays. Use our crowd calendar as your guide. If it's a level 8, 9 or 10, consider using it.
  • You're spending the day at Volcano Bay. Early Park Admission gets you first access to the rides, but it also gets you dibs on prime seating at the wave pool and other places around the park.
  • Any time you visit and want to get a hop on the crowds!

Early Park Admission - Gringotts Lobby

If you arrive early, you will be able to ride the two or three rides open for EPA and you can move onto the next most popular ride on your list. It may already be in operation in the 15 minutes before the park officially opens. Even if it's not, you can be one of the first in line!

For example, with EPA at Universal Studios Florida for Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, you should be able to easily ride both before all park guests arrive. If you start with Minion Mayhem and then move onto Gringotts, you will then be in the back of the park and in prime position to ride Fast & Furious — Supercharged, Transformers: The Ride — 3-D or Men In Black Alien Attack with little to no wait.

Are you ready to hop on Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando Resort? We toadally recommend it ... and staying on property isn't too bad, either! Book your Universal Orlando Resort hotel today to make the most of your next trip.

Related: The Ultimate Guide on When to Use Universal Express

Related: Why Stay at a Universal Orlando Resort

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
View Comments
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Oct 10, 2019 at 2:29 p.m. Mary Beth Says...

Do kids also have to have their own hotel key when staying in the same room with their parents, or can they just use their parents? Trying not to carry a LOT of keys around.

Reply
Oct 11, 2019 at 11:22 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Mary!

Each person staying in your room will have their own key with their name on it to show for EPA (kiddos included).

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Sep 12, 2019 at 9:40 a.m. Nandini Says...

Hi!

I’m going to be there from Oct 9-13th and saw somewhere that island of adventures (I.e. Hagrid’s ride) will not be open for EPA? Only universal studios?... is that for certain? It would certainly defeat the point for me, as I have express pass for the rest of the rides and was hoping to get that one in early.

Reply
Sep 13, 2019 at 1:26 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Nandini!

That's correct; Early Park Admission will only be for Universal Studios Florida, not Islands of Adventure, in October.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 7, 2019 at 7:59 p.m. Iris Cosendey Hees Says...

What about November 2019? Is it possible to use the EPA in Hagrid's rollercoaster? Why they change everything? And what about the other attractions in Island such as Forbidden Journey and hippogriff? It will be closed too?

Reply
Oct 9, 2019 at 4:17 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Iris!

November's Early Park Admission isn't listed just yet, but based on the pattern from the past few months, we'd expect that they will be taking place at Universal Studios Florida again (so no Forbidden Journey, Hippogriff or Hagrid's until normal park hours for Islands of Adventure).

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Aug 18, 2019 at 3:16 a.m. Kim Says...

Would you recommend Express Pass for the first week of October? Debating whether it's worth the more expensive hotel to have that included or just stand in regular lines. How do you know which rides will be open during early admission?

Reply
Aug 20, 2019 at 8:09 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Kim!

According to our Crowd Calendar, the crowds look to be pretty manageable the first week of October, with the exception being the weekend. We don't think it's necessary on the lower crowd days, but it might be nice to spring for it on the weekend. You can also upgrade in the park if you find that lines are longer than expected. You can find a list of the rides available during Early Park Admission here.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Aug 16, 2019 at 4:59 p.m. Laura Says...

Can you use your Universal Express Unlimited pass during the EPA hour. Also, is it better to go into Universal Studios during EPA and take the Hogwarts Express over to Islands of Adventure to ride Hagrid's Motorbike first thing in the morning, or is it better to go to the opening of Islands of Adventure and walk back to the Hagrid's ride?

Reply
Aug 21, 2019 at 10:19 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Laura!

The Hogwarts Express doesn’t run during EPA, so it’s probably better to go to Islands of Adventure first since the wait times for Hagrids grow pretty rapidly once the park opens!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Aug 15, 2019 at 5:22 p.m. Lindsay Says...

How do you know which rides are open during early admission?

Reply
Aug 20, 2019 at 7:57 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Lindsay!

The following rides are open during Early Park Admission at Universal Studios Florida™: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and Ollivanders

And at Universal’s Volcano Bay, you can find the following attractions open during Early Park Admission: Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides, Ohyah & Ohno Drop Slides, Honu Ika Moana, Krakatau Aqua Coaster and Ko’okiri Body Plunge

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jul 23, 2019 at 11:29 p.m. Rebecca Says...

My family of six, including myself will be visiting in August. We purchased our tickets online (four of us are annual passholders) and 2 are buying them when we arrive. We are staying at universal studios endless summer suites. My question is do I need to print out the confirmation info, since I don't have our official passes yet. We were going to do the EPA., If possible. Will the confirmation number be alright to use to enter the park an hour early with the hotel key? Do I need a hotel key for each person also?

Reply
Jul 24, 2019 at 4:07 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Rebecca,

You'll need the confirmation info and a valid ID in order to pick up your annual passes that you bought online at the ticket window or guest services of either theme park before you enter during EPA (or regular park hours). A hotel key is needed for each family member staying at the resort with you.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jun 17, 2019 at 11:24 a.m. Mike Says...

I might be blind but I can’t see on the calendar which park is offering EPA on a given day. Am I overlooking it?

Reply
Jun 21, 2019 at 9:45 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Mike,

You can find which parks are offering Early Park Admission here. For the rest of June and July 2019, it will be available at Universal Studios Florida and Volcano Bay.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jun 3, 2019 at 12:54 a.m. Yogesh J Says...

I have purchased the ticket with room at Aventura. My friend purchased ticket separately and gonna live with me. Would we be able to get early park admission, if I show my room key?

Reply
Jun 4, 2019 at 1:15 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Yogesh!

We'd suggest getting your friend a hotel room card, as well, from the front desk just to be safe. Your hotel room key is your access to Early Park Entry! Have a great time!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 30, 2019 at 12:07 p.m. Cheryl Says...

Visiting June 1st and I see no early admission for Universal Studios. Is that for people who have on site Hotel stays. We have early admission passes but US is the only one that shows no early admission. Thank you!!

Reply
Jun 3, 2019 at 4:53 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Cheryl!

Yes, early park admission is a perk for Universal hotel guests. Based on Universal's website, it looks like Volcano Bay and Universal Studios will be the parks with early admission in June (and Islands of Adventure will not offer this perk this month).

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 14, 2019 at 5:44 p.m. Jodie Says...

We are visiting September 2-8th and staying on-site. I don't see any early morning hours listed on the crowd calendar for Universal Studios, Island of Adventure or Volcano Bay. Are the early hours every day for on-site guests, or is it like Disney were only certain days will have early hours. I'm trying to plan my itinerary :)

Reply
May 15, 2019 at 10:48 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jodie!

The park you'll get Early Entry to will vary (and unfortunately, is also subject to change, so keep an eye out!). Universal posts these about a month in advance, but you can find that information here.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 6, 2019 at 5:23 p.m. Greg Says...

Is there a select gate for EPA entry or do you enter via the main gate?

Thanks!

--Greg

Reply
May 6, 2019 at 4:33 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Greg!

It's not a separate entrance per se, but there will be a sign directing hotel guests towards Early Entry so there's no confusion.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 6, 2019 at 4:04 p.m. Andrew Says...

Are the early park admission and express pass automatic just by staying at the Universal Orlando Resorts? Or do you also have to get the park tickets through the hotel (or some other specific place) as well? My work has a discounted ticket program, so I was hoping to get the tickets through that site.

Reply
May 6, 2019 at 12:34 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Andrew!

The hotel-specific benefits like Express Unlimited and Early Entry are tied to the hotel reservation (provided you are staying at Portofino Bay, Hard Rock or Royal Pacific).

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 3, 2019 at 12:02 p.m. Ruth Says...

Can I walk to either U.S park? Is it a long walk? OR do I need to take transportation?

Reply
May 6, 2019 at 5:31 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Ruth,

Yes! You can walk. They are right next door to each other. We hop between the two all the time on our visits.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Apr 30, 2019 at 12:26 p.m. Melissa Says...

Do the Universal resorts allow for “early check-in” for the sole purposes of early park admission and express pass usage?

Reply
Apr 30, 2019 at 8:17 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Melissa,

They sure do! They'll be happy to hold your luggage while you head to enjoy the parks on check-in day if your room isn't already available.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jun 8, 2019 at 9:40 a.m. Crista Says...

Will they hold your luggage if you go the park the day of check out?

Reply
Jun 10, 2019 at 8:41 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Crista,

They sure will!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Apr 17, 2019 at 5 p.m. Amanda Bates Says...

We plan on doing Universal and IOA in one day. Do we go on a Fri 1st or Sat 2nd November when it’ll be busier but we’ll get 2 extra hours in the parks due to opening times or Mon 4th or Tues 5th November when it’ll be quieter but we’ll get 2 hours less. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks.

Reply
Apr 13, 2019 at 2:19 p.m. Gino Ouellet Says...

Is Hagrid's motorbike adventure opening this summer will be open for EPA and what do you expect for waiting line on this new ride?

Reply
Apr 15, 2019 at 3:24 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Gino,

Universal hasn't yet revealed whether the new coaster will be included in Early Park Admission this summer. We expect wait times will be quite high for it!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 15, 2019 at 5:40 p.m. Jennifer Says...

Hi, Are there other hotels nearby that offer this early admission also?

Reply
Mar 15, 2019 at 12:49 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jennifer!

Early admission at this time is restricted to the official Universal Orlando Resorts.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Feb 28, 2019 at 3:57 a.m. Kiley Says...

What are the “select other groups” that have access to early entry. We thought we were getting early entry with our tickets but we can’t see any details anywhere.

Reply
Mar 4, 2019 at 12:37 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Kiley!

The groups who have access to early entry are generally those who are staying at the Universal-affiliated hotels, but they do offer some early access to Annual Passholders on select dates, as well as sometimes running promos through Universal that include this perk for select vacation packages.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Feb 24, 2019 at 4:48 p.m. Billy Waters Says...

Hi, great info - do you know by any chance if you have to book the hotel directly with Universal to get the early entry benefit?

Thanks!

Reply
Feb 25, 2019 at 8:14 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Billy!

We aren't sure about other providers, but if you book a Universal hotel through Undercover Tourist, the early entry benefits will be included :)

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 8, 2019 at 11:15 p.m. Erin Says...

Hi,

Is the avanti included?

Reply
Mar 9, 2019 at 7:07 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Erin,

No, it is not.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Feb 18, 2019 at 9:23 p.m. Tania Says...

Do you know what kind of food options are available in the park during early admission? In particular, I’m wondering if we can swing by Lard Lad’s for a giant pink donut on our way to Gringotts, or if we should leave the hotel with food.

Reply
Feb 21, 2019 at 3:44 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tania,

Typically not all restaurants and food locations are open during Early Park Admission. Some CityWalk locations are, so you could grab Starbucks on your way, for example.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
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