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When to Hop on Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass

by Leap on January 9, 2020 661 Los Angeles

A note from Leap: Universal Studios Hollywood closed temporarily in March to control the spread of COVID-19. Hop over to our What to Expect When the California Theme Parks Reopen post, which we will continue to update with the latest news and dates.

Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Ticket - Pinterest What could be better than a day mingling with Minions in the morning, experiencing behind-the-scenes movie magic in the afternoon, followed by the wonders of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the evening? The only thing we can think of would be to do all of that without waiting! With the Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass (formerly known as the Universal Studios Hollywood Front of Line Pass), you can breeze through all of your favorites with priority access. Having this gem is just one part of a fun day here!

The Frog Family jumped at the opportunity to use the Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass last summer, and it toadally made our day. Even though these tickets cost more than regular admission, the benefits are well worth it. The park limits the number of Universal Studios Hollywood Express passes sold each day, so the awesome perks are always maintained. This post will explain all of the Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass benefits!

It's important to note that a Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass is a full ticket that includes admission to Universal Studios Hollywood, plus one-time access to each ride, show and attraction, which is different than the add-on passes sold in the Orlando parks. You present the paper ticket (about the size of a credit card that you receive upon park entry) to be scanned at each ride. There is also an add-on option at Universal Studios Hollywood — more on that further below.

When to Hop on Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass - Pass

Do You Need Universal Studios Hollywood Express Passes?

We get lots of people asking if they really need Universal Studios Hollywood Express passes to enjoy their day at the park. And the answer really depends on when you are going. You don't usually need Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass on weekdays and even some weekends in the off-season, but you'll sure thank your lucky stars for having it on peak summer days and school holidays. Even though the lines are shorter in the off-season, the park hours are shorter, too, so shaving off wait times with Universal Express can still come in handy if you want to squeeze it all in during less crowded times. (Need help deciding when to visit? Check out this post on the best and worst times to go to Universal Studios Hollywood.)

Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express — Peak Vs. Non-Peak?

Universal Studios Hollywood sells a peakmid-peak, and non-peak version of the Universal Express Pass. What we like about this is that you can buy the non-peak (lower cost) or mid-peak (middle priced) option during some of the busy times of the year. For example, the non-peak Universal Express is valid all of February, March, October and November (when the holiday celebrations are underway). Plus, the non-peak Express Pass is also good most of January, half of April, most of May, most of September and the first half of December (before the holidays). Non-peak might happen to fall during your spring break! We like using Express Pass even during non-peak times because the theme park may have shorter hours. It's a lot easier to fit everything in before the park closes at 6:00 p.m. with Express passes.

The non-peak Express Pass can be used on the following dates:

2020: July 1-31, Aug. 1-31, Sept. 1-30, Oct. 1-31, Nov. 1-30 and Dec. 1-18.

2021: Jan. 2-31, Feb. 1-28, March 1-18, April 19-30, May 1-30, Sept. 7-30, Oct. 1-31, Nov. 1-30 and

Dec. 1-10.

2022: Jan. 6-31, Feb. 1-28 and March1-31.

The mid-peak Express Pass is required on the following dates:

2021: March 19-31, April 1-18, May 31, June 1-18, Aug. 18-31, Sept. 1-6 and Dec. 11-17.

If you are not yet certain when you are going, you'll want to opt for the peak ticket — it is valid any time!

The peak Express Pass, also known as the anytime ticket, is required on the following dates:

2020: Dec. 19-31.

2021: Jan. 1, June 10-30, July 1-31, Aug. 1-17 and Dec. 18-31.

2022: Jan. 1-5.

Hop back for future dates!

When to Hop on Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass - Hogsmeade Entrance

Even though Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass costs more than a normal ticket, the benefits can toadally make the expense well worth it. (Psst ... We sell these prized tickets at a discount!) Using the Universal Express Pass is just one of the ways to maximize your time at Universal Studios Hollywood. On peak days in the afternoon, the lines can reach up to two hours long for big draws such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. But if you have a Universal Express Pass, you literally walk — or in our case, hop — right onto rides without even having to wait. That is what sets Universal Express passes apart from say, Disney’s FASTPASS, which reduces your wait time, but does not send you straight to the front of the line.

Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express Tips

Enhance your show experience.

When to Hop on Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass - Animal Actors

The Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass gets you one-time priority access to each show. It gets you priority seating. It may include some special meet-and-greets or up close and personal experiences following shows after the rest of the audience exits. Lily and Tad really enjoyed meeting some of the animals after the Animal Actors Stage show. (That includes a famous owl from the Harry Potter movies!)

Consider buying Universal Express strategically.

While it's always great to spend time together as a family, your whole family might not need to purchase Universal Studios Hollywood Express tickets. If your family is only interested in rides, but you have some younger children who won't meet the height requirements (or might be too frightened for the big rides), you probably don't need to purchase Express for them. Or, if you are prone to motion sickness like Flora, you might buy just your older kids an Express Pass and opt out of the pass and thrill rides for yourself. With the much shorter waits thanks to the Universal Studios Hollywood Express passes, the family will be reunited in no time!

One of the season pass options includes Express access. The Platinum Season Pass comes with one-time per day Express access to each ride, attraction and seated show.

Use Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express only during long wait times.

When to Hop on Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass - Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

The Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass can only be used one time per ride. If you know your froglets want to ride Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem twice, choose your ticket wisely. We rode Minion Mayhem early in the day when the wait was under 15 minutes without scanning our passes. Then, Mommy Frog and Lily rode again later by utilizing Universal Express when the wait was over an hour.

Plan ahead.

When to Hop on Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass - Flight of the Hippogriff

Universal Studios Hollywood limits the amount of Express passes sold each day, so if you are concerned about crowds, buy in advance (plus, you'll save money since we sell them at a discount). It’s a gamble, but if you wait until you are in the park to decide the lines are not for you, it could be too late. The good part of limiting pass sales is that it means you truly go to the front of the line. Plus, you'll get a better value experience when you use the pass.

Save money by visiting at "off-peak" times. The pass can help make your day much more enjoyable if you are visiting during a peak time. But if you purchase the Universal Studios Hollywood Express non-peak ticket, you can save money. Some other affordable time-saving tips include the following:

  • Arriving at park opening.
  • Staying until park closing.
  • Utilizing Child Switch.
  • Using Single Rider for rides such as The Mummy, Transformers, Juarassic World — The Ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff.
  • Using the Virtual Line (via the free Universal Studios Hollywood app) for Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash (opening March 27, 2020).

Upgrade in the park.

If you are really not sure if a Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass is for you, or you already have your ticket or an annual pass without Express access, you can take a chance on upgrading in the park. Express tickets can sell out on crowded days. On a summer day, we noticed that it was up to $130 to upgrade to a Universal Express ticket for one-time use for each ride. No matter how you bought your park ticket, you can purchase an upgrade in the park. The cost to upgrade is the same for everyone.

The price may vary — even throughout the day! If you are finding higher waits in the afternoon, on some days Universal may drop the price after 3:30 p.m. So definitely check back if you want to upgrade in the afternoon. You can't count on it being available, but it's worth looking into. You can purchase and upgrade in the Upper Lot at the Box Office or at a kiosk at the bottom of the escalator in the Lower Lot.

The Lower Lot kiosk may have a much shorter line.

Upgrade to Unlimited Universal Express.

If one-time access is simply not enough, there is an Unlimited Universal Express option. Unlimited Universal Express is available in the park. You can upgrade a Universal Express ticket, a regular park ticket or a season pass (subject to availability). If you already have a Universal Express ticket, the cost to upgrade to Unlimited Universal Express is $30-40. Peak days will be pricier than non-peak days, and they will sell out much faster on peak days. If you have a regular park ticket, it can cost about $110-$170 to upgrade to Unlimited Universal Express. Prices can vary, depending on the day. We recommend purchasing discount Universal Express tickets in advance (through Undercover Tourist, of course!) to lock in express access, and then if you decide you want even more access, you can inquire about Unlimited Universal Express early in the day inside the park.

Consider bringing a lanyard.

When to Hop on Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass - Universal Express Ticket

The old Front of Line tickets were given to guests as a lanyard worn around the neck. The current Universal Express tickets are paper tickets about the dimensions of a credit card. You have to pull it out each time you need to have it scanned for rides or shows. It can be cumbersome to always pull it out of pockets and backpacks. If you have a lanyard with a clear pocket, bring it along for quick, almost hands-free scanning. Universal Studios sells souvenir lanyards in the park if you don’t have one.

Buy Universal Express for Horror Nights or special events.

Buy Universal Express for special events such as Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Horror Nights draws scary huge crowds. Some of the most popular attractions can have waits that last two to four hours! We have been there without the pass, and it is frustrating. We have also been there with the pass and were able to hop through every maze and ride. The pass was well worth it! It's really the only way to do Halloween Horror Nights.

These Universal Express passes are limited, and they will sell out early. If you plan to attend Horror Nights, make sure to buy early and be sure to get a Universal Express Pass for each member in your party. And remember to bring a lanyard to simplify your night. Otherwise  you need to pull the Universal Express ticket out in the dark for scanning at each maze. The only way to get Unlimited Universal Express at Halloween Horror Nights is to purchase the R.I.P. Tour.

The Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass is a great way to help you manage your day. The Express Pass will allow you to experience everything in the park at least once. With the time savings that comes with the pass, you can hit your favorite attractions a second time. It also allows you to relax and enjoy more of the sights, take photos, see shows, meet characters, enjoy your meals, calmly sip Butterbeer, shop for treats and explore Universal CityWalk. Buying the Universal Studios Hollywood Express Pass buys peace of mind. That way, you know you can get it all in, and that equals a good family value.

Did you know the Frog Family offers discount tickets to Southern California attractions? You'll find discounts on Universal Studios Hollywood tickets, as well as more tickets for Universal and other Los Angeles and San Diego attractions.

Related: The Best Times to Visit Universal Studios Hollywood

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
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301–315 of 315 comments
Apr 9, 2016 at 5:53 p.m. Neha Says...

Hi, 6 of us are going on May 28 to May 30 (Long weekend). Should we take FRONT OF LINE passes? Because I assume both regular & front of line will have long queues so is there really an advantage for paying premium? The prices have been jacked up to 239$ for the long weekend!

Reply
Apr 25, 2016 at 12:23 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Neha,

If you can afford it, the Front of Line passes make sense during this time. If you can't do that, we highly recommend you arrive at least an hour in advance of opening (oftentimes the parks open even earlier than official opening during busy times), and hit the priority rides first. With the opening of the Wizarding World, this area will be crazy. We recommend either using the single-rider line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey or riding this one first thing.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Apr 8, 2016 at 3:53 a.m. Brad Kendzora Says...

Can you add front of the line to an annual pass?

Reply
Apr 25, 2016 at 11:25 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Brad,

There are a limited number of Front of Line passes available to pass holders. Early in the day, you can purchase them in the park. The fee can vary depending on how much of a peak time it is.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Apr 7, 2016 at 6:14 p.m. Brian Says...

Hello! Thanks for the tips! I'm visiting on Monday, May 9th and wondering if my wife and I should get FOL passes. Just worried about crowds with Harry Potter opening.

Reply
Apr 7, 2016 at 1:20 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Brian,

This is considered non-peak time, so I don't think you need the passes.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Apr 7, 2016 at 2:32 a.m. Lynn Says...

I don't see where I can purchase front of line passes for USH on your site...just general admission or VIP. Am I looking at it wrong?

Reply
Apr 7, 2016 at 1:15 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Lynn,

We are not currently offering these tickets, but hope to again soon.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Apr 3, 2016 at 8:06 p.m. Yvette Says...

We are coming down to California for SDCC. Thought to make the most of this one time trip and go to Disney and Warner Brother. Any recommendations for places to stay. Are they close enough to stay at one place and attend both? Also are there opportunities to meet/see stars more during certain days of the week. Lastly, is there a train or bus service that may take us from San Diego to These places?

Reply
Apr 25, 2016 at 11:36 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Yvette,

Disneyland and Warner Bros are about 60 to 90 minutes apart depending on rush hour traffic. You could definitely stay by one and visit the other one day unless you think you want to spend several days in each area. If you want to spend a few days in LA and a few days at Disneyland, you might want to split up the trip by staying in two places.(There is not a great place to stay in the middle of both.) Then you might want to spend a few days in LA and a few near Disney. But if you were just visiting each for one day, you can stay in one place.

Television shows and movies are usually filmed Monday through Friday, so your chances of seeing a live set are better during the week. You might see the sets from afar, but it is not likely that you will be meeting stars. You never know though. If you get lucky you might catch a glimpse. Warner Bros has a great Harry Potter and film museum on the property. Keep in mind that it is not an amusement park like Universal Studios.

Disneyland is about 90 minutes from San Diego by car. There is a train that can take you from San Diego to a transportation center in Anaheim, where you can catch a bus to Disneyland. If you have a large family, it may be cheaper to drive to Disneyland and park for $18. The train can also take you up to Los Angeles, but then you would have to find transportation to Warner Bros. perhaps Uber or a cab? Unfortunately there is not an easy or affordable public transportation system in California. The area is dependent on automobiles.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Apr 1, 2016 at 10:25 a.m. Danielle Says...

Hi

I know it hasn't officially opened yet, but would we be better with a VIP or a front of line pass during the first week of December? We mainly want to do the Harry Potter part and Simpsons and Minions.

Thanks

Reply
Apr 25, 2016 at 11:31 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Danielle,

The VIP is much more money and involves food and more behind the scenes tour of the Backlot. It also allows you to skip lines, but if you mostly care about Minions, Simpsons and Harry Potter, then the Front of Line pass will save you a lot of money over VIP. If you are traveling during the week, then a regular ticket may be fine. If you are visiting on a weekend, then the Front of Line Pass is worth it. Also, it is possible that Grinchmas may be going on too! Be sure to check out our post from the first weekend in December of last year.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 31, 2016 at 4:41 a.m. Lauren Says...

Hi,

I am going to Universal Hollywood on April 9th for the Harry Potter Opening!! I can not be more excited. I have actually never been to Universal, so I don't know much about the park. I know it will be packed so I was wondering if you have any tips? Also I was wondering if you think the front of the line pass will be worth the $239 prices tag? And do you know if that pass will include the Harry Potter rides? Thank you for all the tips so far!! Hopefully I will hear from you!

Reply
Apr 7, 2016 at 2:28 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Lauren,

So sorry for the delay, but your comment ended up in our spam filter. Please let us know how it was. Did you get the FOL pass? I think it would be worth it, especially for the next few days, and it does include Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ...

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 30, 2016 at 7:29 p.m. Steve Says...

Going to universal in July, considering vip vs front of line pass, what do you think? Also, is the pass good for harry potter attractions? Thanks for your help.

Reply
Mar 30, 2016 at 3:53 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Steve,

I think it's a good idea if you can afford it. It will include Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 22, 2016 at 5:46 p.m. Tina Nicole Morales Says...

Hi,

I'm planning a trip there in late May on a Tuesday or Wednesday, would you recommend a FOL pass? And can you really only use the FOL pass once on certain rides? If so which ones?

Thanks,

Tina

Reply
Mar 30, 2016 at 4:08 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tina,

I don't think you would need, need it in May, but you might want it ;) It includes one-time access to all rides, shows and attractions.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 21, 2016 at 10:01 p.m. Anne Says...

Hello there! We will be at Universal in October, during the Halloween nights. Is the front of the line pass only for a the special Halloween rides and mazes, or is it also for every attraction in the park?

Reply
Mar 30, 2016 at 10:27 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Anne,

The Horror Nights Front of Line Pass is good for one time use on every maze, ride and the Terror Tram. We highly recommend the Front of Line for Horror Nights, because lines can average over 100 minutes each for the mazes. With the Front of Line you will walk right in and will easily be able to do every maze and attraction in the park.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 21, 2016 at 9:04 a.m. Thos Says...

Hi,

We are in LA from the 8th of may until the 12th.

We are free to choose our day to go at universal studio.

There is something that i don't understand on this website : https://www.undercovertourist.com/orlando/crowd-calendar/may-2016/#calendar

There are colors for crowd ok but there are two colors, one for the day and one for the park, which one should i pay more attention ?

For example the 10th of may is yellow (4/10) but Universal Studios Florida® is green

And finally to conclude, do we need front of line pass for this period (10th or 11th refering to the website)?

Thanks in advance !

Reply
Mar 28, 2016 at 10:03 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there,

This is a great time to visit. The more important number is the overall day level and helps to decide when to visit. Once you've decided on dates (as you have), then you can dial in the best days to visit each parks. You definitely don't need Express Passes for this day. (Universal Studios Florida offers Express Passes rather than the Front of Line pass at Universal Studios Hollywood).

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 19, 2016 at 3:47 p.m. Brian Says...

We are going Saturday, March 26. Do you recommend a Front Line Pass?

Reply
Mar 30, 2016 at 10:45 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Brian,

Sorry for the delay. How was it and what did you end up doing?

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 18, 2016 at 12:14 a.m. Jen Says...

Do we carry our paper tickets with us throughout the parK? Should we get a lanyard or something?

thx!

Reply
Mar 30, 2016 at 10:26 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jen,

The Front of Line Pass is a lanyard. So convenient! They will give it to you when you enter the park and you can wear it all day.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jun 9, 2016 at 1:54 a.m. GG Says...

I called your office today and she said we would need to scan our tickets at every line for front of the line at universal studios Hollywood. Is this correct?

Reply
Jul 18, 2016 at 10:11 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there,

The Front of Line pass is a lanyard you wear around your neck. They will give it to you when you enter the park gate. They will scan it at each ride, because it is good for one-time use at each ride or attraction.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Mar 12, 2016 at 6:23 a.m. Dee Says...

We are going on a Monday in early April, 2016. Would you recommend front of line pass? Is it generally a busy period?

Thanks

Reply
Mar 16, 2016 at 3:11 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Dee,

I don't think you will need it if it's April:

https://www.undercovertourist.com/orlando/crowd-calendar/april-2016/#calendar

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jan 14, 2017 at 1:36 p.m. Nancy Says...

The New York ride opens at that time (early April). Do you think that will have a big impact on the crowds?

Reply
Jan 16, 2017 at 7:02 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Nancy,

Whenever a new attraction opens, it's very common for it to have long lines during first few months of operation. It's hard to say if overall crowds will be impacted. Locals may visit just to check out the new attraction!

Keep Hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 1, 2016 at 3:49 a.m. Loren Says...

How about in November like the 17th

Reply
Oct 11, 2016 at 11:51 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Loren,

We don't think you'll need it at this time.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jan 10, 2016 at 5:01 p.m. Eddie Williams Says...

Hello, When will the April Front Line Pass be available for April 2016 ? Thank You

Reply
Jan 19, 2016 at 10:17 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Eddie,

They are up! You can see all Universal Studios Hollywood ticket options here:

https://www.undercovertourist.com/los-angeles/

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Oct 13, 2016 at 8:24 p.m. pedro arana Says...

me and my family will be going November 4th should I get front of the line passes? also my daughter is 5 can she go in most of the rides ?

Reply
Oct 21, 2016 at 10:13 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there,

You should not need the pass at this time. As for your daughter, it really depends on her height, but she should be able to go on many of them.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
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