Staying on property - Express Pass
We are planning a trip to central Florida this summer. My plan is to drive down, get a hotel, spend two days at US/IoA, then move on to St. Augustine for the rest of our trip. There are six of us: 2 adults, 3 kids, and 1 infant. I'm really torn about accommodations, though. If we stay at a Universal resort, do we all get an express pass? Is it worth purchasing for kids' rides? Or since the EP doesn't even work with the main HP rides (where we plan to spend most of our time), should we not bother and stay at an off-site hotel? We aren't a $3-400/night per room kind of family, but I've never done US/IoA in the middle of June, and don't want to spend both days standing in line. Is the EP worth the cost?
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We did one day at Universal this past November. We were advised that we may want to skip the express pass because as you say...the Harry Potter rides aren't included and that is where we planned to be most of the time. We were also advised to stay onsite at Universal so we could get into the parks earlier. Unfortunately we couldn't do that because we were staying st Disney at POR. You might consider staying onsite at Universal for that reason.
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Not all of the on-site Universal resorts offer Express pass as part of the resort rate. If you stay in one the resorts that offer this service, all members of your party would receive the express pass.
Linda aka: Faline
INTERCOT Staff: Vacation Planning,Trip Reports and Disney Camping
Personally, I think you might want to consider staying at one of the UO resorts that offers Express Pass. Although you can't use it at most of the Harry Potter stuff (with the exception of the Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff), you might be surprised at how much you enjoy having easy access to all the rest of the attractions. You can utilize early entry to ride on the Harry Potter stuff and then the Express Pass the rest of the day for everything else.
Another thing to consider is staying one night at the Express Pass resort, that way you can still use the Express Pass for two days (the day of arrival and checking out). St. Augustine is not that far from UO; you could easily spend a full morning and afternoon at the parks and then head over to the coast.
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Just my two cents, because I hate paying for things that I'm already paying to see: Paying for Express Pass is a waste of money.
Although it can possibly be justified on an extremely busy day (I've unfortunately been to a few, where every single standby except Shrek is over an hour, bigger rides three hours or so), but the price is also as much as the park tickets themselves on such days. Also, you'll end up spending time waiting in line anyways because so many people also bought the Express Pass, so you're basically paying an outrageous amount of money to wait 20-30 minutes instead of over an hour on those extremely busy days. To be honest, on those days it's best to just not go at all. Of course you probably won't know it's like that until that day, but I wouldn't do more damage to your wallet by throwing even more money at Universal. If it's like that, I say relax and wait in those extremely long lines. It's not worth throwing $70 plus for each person to have an Express Pass on top of the park ticket (IMO).
The best way to pay for Universal Express is to stay at their hotels, as others have noted. It's only for a part of the day (after 4pm, I believe), but it's completely worth it if it's busier. You can hit up the parks in the morning (which you'll probably get early access to) with a few standby waits, chill at the hotel until 4pm, then hit up the parks again. If you do this though, avoid Minion Mayhem at 4pm, everyone seems to go there all at once and you'll spend time waiting when you really shouldn't have to.
On most days though, if you are there for a full day, you should be able to do pretty much every major attraction in a single day without Express Pass. I've done this many times, so I speak from experience and usually go on a few rides twice.
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I don't believe this is correct. If you stay at one of the three on-site hotels that offer express pass, the pass is good for the entire day of your arrival, stay, and date of departure. In the past, we drive to Orlando in one day and sleep off site (cheaper), arrive the morning we are checking in before early park hours for guests begin, and check in to the hotel. Even though you can't check in until afternoon (typically) they allow you to check in for the purpose of receiving your express pass.
Originally Posted by CJR
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If you stay at the hotels which give you express pass, they function just as regular express passes and are good the full day.
I agree with this plan 100% - but keep in mind you'll need a 2-day park pass instead of just one. But a perfect stay for us (especially with kids) would be to stay onsite (let's say Hard Rock, for example). Check in early the first day - if the room's not ready, they'll keep your bags and you can still get your Express Pass tickets. Go to the park. Then take a break in the afternoon and enjoy the pool at the HR. Go back to the park in the evening. Stay overnight, and hit the parks again the next morning with Express Pass. With EP, you'll have no trouble getting through the attractions you want to do in those 2 days. Then it's off to your next destination!
Originally Posted by MNNHFLTX
I was going to say I just booked Hard Rock Hotel for the 1st time ever and it said it included unlimited express pass for our stay, including check in & check out day
Originally Posted by John
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