I must admit, when it comes to Universal annual passes, they’re not only affordable, they offer plenty of additional ways to get your money’s worth. And with all of tiers, which one saves you the most money with freebies and discounts? Here are 11 hefty perks of a Universal Orlando annual pass.
I’be been a Universal Orlando annual passholder (UOAP) for several years now and not once have I ever been disappointed with it even though I live in Ohio near Pittsburgh, PA. To compare prices, it only takes a few days in the park to completely cover the cost of an annual pass versus purchasing park tickets.
Just to quickly bring you up to speed with how Universal passes work, there are four tiers:
The higher the tier, the more perks. For instance, Seasonal passes have more blackout dates than Power passes, but Preferred and Premier passes have no blockout dates. I’ll add to that – Universal Orlando annual pass price does increase with each tier.
I’ll mainly be talking about Universal Premier Pass benefits as I know them well and highly recommend the splurge if you’re going to be a passholder.
If you were wondering if there’s a best time to buy universal orlando annual pass, my answer is not really. Sometimes they do offer extra months on the pass for free, but if you’re planning on using it straight away, I wouldn’t wait. Additionally, if you’ve already purchased Universal Orlando tickets, you can always upgrade to an annual pass as long as there’s at least one day left on your ticket.
Before we dig in, if you want the scoop on how to save some serious cash in the parks, here are the best freebies at Universal Orlando Resort.
For both the Power and Premier passes, both have dining discounts at most restaurants in the parks and Citywalk.
Preferred Pass – 10% discount of food
Premier Pass – 15% discount on food.
And if you use the Universal Orlando app to make a mobile order, all you need to do is scan your pass and the correct discount will be given to you.
Another great perk with Universal annual passes, especially if you love to shop in the parks, is the merchandise discount.
For Premier passholders, we get a 15% discount off most merch including Wizarding World of Harry Potter items. For my family, the savings racks up pretty quickly.
For Preferred passes, it’s a 10% discount off Universal merchandise for most items.
Also, passholders get plenty of exclusive merchandise to purchase as well. My picks are the Halloween Horror Nights passholder shirts.
Early Park Admission
As a family, we love hitting rope drop, aka, when the park opens for the day. It’s then that we accomplish the most as the crowds tend to be thinner than the afternoon. For some annual passholders regardless of if you’re staying at an official hotel, early park admission is offered.
Premier passes – One hour early entry to one of Universal Orlando’s theme parks each day. No blockout dates.
Preferred Passes – Again, one hour early entry to one of the parks but with blockout dates. Looking at the official blockout dates calendar, you’ll find excluded dates around big holidays and school breaks.
I love this perk! All you need to do is show your annual pass at the entry gate, have it scanned, and off you go.
Premier – Both free self parking and valet parking when available. Additionally, lately there has been a special parking area for higher tier passholders that is closer to the bag check area as well.
Preferred – Free self parking
Power – 50% off parking
Wondering if a Walt Disney World annual pass is right for you? Here’s the scoop on the perks of being a Disney annual passholder.
Free Express Pass After 4pm
If you’ve stayed at a Premier category Universal Orlando hotel, you probably know all about the complimentary express passes that essentially take you straight to the front of the line.
For Premier passholders, that perk exists every day after 4pm. You don’t need a special ticket – just scan your pass at each express lane entrance and go. This perk is good for one ride on each approved attraction per day except for:
Islands of Adventure:
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Pteranodon Flyers
- Jurassic World Velocicoaster
Universal Studios Florida:
I really dig snacking on Universal exclusive snacks. But that goes a step further as there are UOAP snacks that are always cool to try. So, think special doughnuts in Voodoo Doughnut and fun foods during the festivals.
I know that traveling can take a toll – here’s how to not get sick at Universal – and what to do if you do.
Free Halloween Horror Nights Ticket
Another reason for choosing the Premier pass is the fact that I get one free Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) tickets each season. With the ticket there is a catch, though: it’s mainly for weekday visits when crowd levels are low.
Having written that, I’d much rather attend HHN when crowd levels are lower so, I’m fine with the stipulation.
Universal Orlando Annual Pass Hotel Discount
This is another great perk that I fully take advantage of. For all four annual pass tiers, some pretty deep discounts on hotel rooms can be found. Of course, this depends on the time of year you visit and how long you stay.
As a general rule, passholders receive up to 30% off room rates at the Premier and Preferred hotels or up to 25% off room rates at the Prime Value and Value hotels.
At Universal Studios Florida, passholders have a lounge to use at their leisure. Inside are seats, drinks for purchase, and charging areas. Located at Studio Styles on Hollywood Boulevard (across the “street” from Bourne Stuntacular), it’s a nice place to cool off and relax.
It’s here we can ask questions about our passes, make payments, renew or upgrade passes, and purchase discounted tickets.
Ride & Attraction Previews
One of my favorite perks of a Universal annual pass is the ability to check out new rides before they even open to the public. If you’re signed up to receive passholder emails, when a new ride or attraction is getting ready to open, keep an eye out for preview invites.
Just last year before Velocicoaster opened, my family was able to ride it well in advance of the official opening.
Want the scoop on the must-do rides? Here are the 20 best rides at Universal Orlando.
Mardi Gras Float Participants
During the Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Studios Florida, annual passholders have the opportunity to ride on one of the decorated parade floats and throw beads to park guests.
Again, you’ll need to check your email for sign up information, and may sign up to four additional passholders to participate with you.
Universal Premier Pass Bring a Friend for Free?
I know this used to be a big perk, and folks still wonder about it, but at this time Universal annual pass folks don’t have this perk. A couple of years ago a friend pass was granted to each passholder but that’s since been discontinued.
Fingers crossed it will come back, though.