Theme Park Insider

Universal Orlando Raises Ticket Prices; Matches Magic Kingdom

February 10, 2016, 3:49 PM · Universal Orlando Resort today raised its prices for admission tickets, increasing the price of a one-day, one-park ticket to the $105 charged by Disney for the Magic Kingdom. That's the highest price in America for a one-day ticket to a single major theme park.

Admission prices rose for other ticket combinations, as well. A one-day, Park-to-Park ticket — which includes admission to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on the same day — is up $8, from $147 to $155. A Park-to-Park ticket is required to ride the popular Hogwarts Express train that travels between the two Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands at the resort. The original Potter-themed land, Hogsmeade, is in Islands of Adventure, while Diagon Alley, the newer land which opened in 2014, is in Universal Studios Florida.

Here are the new prices for multi-day tickets:

The latest increase follows an increase in annual pass prices last fall and a daily-ticket price increase nearly a year ago, in February 2015.

Typically, Universal Orlando has raised its prices after a Walt Disney World price increase, but it appears that Universal is getting ahead of the pitch this time. But if you're on the fence about buying some Disney World tickets, now would be the time to move. We'd bet that the chances of an imminent WDW price increase just went up substantially.

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Replies (77)

February 10, 2016 at 3:59 PM · Wow, $50 bucks to ride a train. Yikes.
February 10, 2016 at 4:01 PM · Do ticket prices (not Annual Pass prices) at Universal Studios in California usually match the ticket prices in Florida?

In other words, should we expect a rise in daily ticket prices here in California in the immediate future? Given the opening date of Harry Potter in April, a hike in ticket prices would not be a surprise.

February 10, 2016 at 4:06 PM · And that's why I have an Annual Pass even though I live 950 miles away.
February 10, 2016 at 4:34 PM · USO is making a bold move... The hype around WWOHP can only last for so long. And for the same price, I'm sure that 99% of people would rather visit the Magic Kingdom opposed to USO. Don't get me wrong, USO and IOA are wonderful parks, but nowhere near the level of quality that WDW is on. And I'm not the only who thinks this, just look at MK's attendance vs USO's attendance. MK brings in over double the amount of people that USO does. I wouldn't be surprised if attendance at USO plateaus in the next few years.
February 10, 2016 at 5:28 PM · You are Obsessed with Disney if you don't see how Universal is raising the bar in Orlando. Yes. Disney is the leader and most likely always will be. However, saying "The hype around WWOP can only last for so long." is SO short sighted. The internet exploded today with the announcement that "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" will be released as a book the day after it premiers on stage in London. I believe that much like the classic Disney movies which were re-released every seven years (back before current technology changed that model) generations to come will fall in love with the boy who lived. Yes the Magic Kingdom's attendance is massive, but that park is also massive in size and was built to accommodate much larger crowds than anything at UO. You say USO (sic - USF) and IOA are no where near the quality of WDW. Curious, have you been to either of the Universal Parks since the opening of WWOHP? You may be surprised.
February 10, 2016 at 6:21 PM · @Disneyobsession
What Rob McCullough said
February 10, 2016 at 6:45 PM · Paying $50 to ride a train is relative. Complaining about it is pointless. We get it by don't agree with it.
February 10, 2016 at 7:16 PM · This is a terrible move on their part. I don't care if they are having a meet amd greet with Jesus Christ himself, they don't offer enough to charge over a hundred bucks. I'll pay to ride king Kong when it opens. After that I'd rather spend the near thousand dollars a day it would cost for my family to enter universal at Disney and stay at the Grand Floridian. I love Universal, this news makes me quite sad honestly.
February 10, 2016 at 7:49 PM · So for a family of 4 that train ride is now $200, plus an unknown wait in line. No thank you!
February 10, 2016 at 9:13 PM · Relative to what, Kevin? Booking a fare on the Amtrak from KC to Saint Louis? Oh wait, it's only $30 for that train! And it wasn't a complaint, it was a statement of bemused incredulity.
February 10, 2016 at 7:57 PM · Universal appear to be investing in attractions. Disney are doing nothing, and have done nothing for years - so i find it hard for them to justify a price increase, especially when at Hollywood Studios they have been steadily gutting the park for the best part of two years now.
February 10, 2016 at 8:26 PM · $50 for a single ride is insane, and that is essentially what it is. Park hopping really does no cost the company at all to provide as a service, and it offers the benefit of the company of helping smooth the crowds between the two parks. Considering you are paying half the price of a day admission for a single ride, I think it is a complete rip-off, no matter which company is charging it and how immersive that ride is.
February 10, 2016 at 8:37 PM · How much is that wishes dessert party again?
February 10, 2016 at 9:26 PM · I'll pay it, I think Universals rides have been the most epic of the parks lately. I love Disney, always will. Universal just has this feeling of grandness in scale lately. Skull Island is just starting to look so massive in the photos. It gives me the feeling of staring at the brochures of new rides as a kid, not really knowing what's going to happen, but you're sure it's gonna be great. I'm excited to see how Avatar land turns out too, I'm hoping Disney knocks it out of the park. Maybe I'm in the minority on my enthusiasm for King Kong, not sure, but he is awesome in size and Im really hoping they make us feel quite small in his company. Kongfrontation did
February 10, 2016 at 9:32 PM · I've said it before and I think it still stands: As someone who has never visited the Florida parks, they could get as expensive as they want and I would still pay that price...once. However, if I don't feel that the parks justify the price, I am not very likely to return until major investment has been made at all parks. Perhaps it's because I live in Southern California and visit Disneyland regularly (and USH whenever they add a new attraction), but from my perspective a lot of the Florida parks (across all chains, not just Disney or Universal) appear to have little revisit value once you've seen them, especially at the prices they change. I don't know...I guess I'll have to wait until I get a chance to make a Florida trip to find out.

Also, as for the Hogwarts Express, I do think it is unfair to say it costs $50 because you're getting a lot more for that extra fee, but I also think it is unfair to say it isn't an upcharge since not all tickets include access to that attraction. I guess you can call it a variable upcharge, or if you want to get technical and divide everything up it would be a $2-4 upcharge that is only available as part of a package deal. I wish Universal had gone with the original plan for the ride (you could ride it with a one park ticket, but without a 2 park ticket you couldn't leave the station at the other end and had to get right back in line for a return trip).

Lastly, @Spaceman, USH tickets are usually priced about 5% below DLR tickets. However, the park has announced that they will not be increasing ticket prices for Harry Potter and will instead be offering discounts for those who pre-purchase date specific tickets. This is probably the better option for USH as their gate price is already about twice what the park is really worth (when compared to DLR).

February 11, 2016 at 2:43 AM · I think ticket prices are not only about demand and paying for new attractions; they are also about prestige. By matching the ticket price of the Magic Kingdom, Universal says "hey, our parks are just as good as Disney's top product."

And I'm sure that Universal knows exactly what guests are willing to pay for their product. A lot of market research goes into these ticket prices and people will pay incredible prices for decades to come in order to relive their "Harry Potter childhood."

February 11, 2016 at 3:46 AM · At 59 and living in the UK I feel my time at these parks are done. Don't get me wrong, I have had many happy trips to both Disney and Universal with and without the kids. However, $250 is now a little too much for a days entertainment with Q's that go round the block several times... Last year my wife and I went to Holiday World, free parking, free soft drinks, free sunscreen. True they didn't have star wars, harry potter, the mouse etc etc etc... However, we had a fabulous time in a friendly well run park. I guess all we'll be doing now when we visit, if we go at all, will be the smaller parks like Holiday World, Dollywood and Silver Dollar City. Disney, Universal... you were great but now you're just too expensive when you add parking, food, drink... It was fun, now it's done.
February 11, 2016 at 5:05 AM · How much Disney World charge to park hop? $50 and you get to ride a bus, boat or monorail.
February 11, 2016 at 5:09 AM · How much does Disney World charge to park hop? $50 to ride a bus, boat or monorail. I'd rather pay Universal's train that is at least an attraction.
February 11, 2016 at 6:46 AM · Correction, Jim, guests do not have to park hop to utilize Disney's transportation services. Additionally, this discussion is about Universal's price gouging, there is no need to bring Disney into the conversation - their time will come.
February 11, 2016 at 6:49 AM · Clicks article to read comments and see if Rao makes a remark about the train. Takes a shot of rum and goes about day...
February 11, 2016 at 6:53 AM · The $50 is not just for the train but also allows the visitor to cherry pick attractions to create a virtual ultimate park. Imagine a park with Hulk(coming back soon), Spiderman, water rides of Toon Lagoon, Kong (soon)Jurassic River Adventure, Hippogriff, Dragon Challenge, FJ, Hogsmeade Express, Mummy, Transformers, MIB, Simpsons, Gringots, Rip Rockit, Despicable Me, Horror Make Up Show, ET and if you have time Seuss Landing and Camp Jurrasic.
February 11, 2016 at 6:55 AM · @James Rao and yes their is an upcharge to add park hopper to Disney's one day tickets.
February 11, 2016 at 7:23 AM · Robert, that's a great spin, but I am not buying it. Perhaps a job as the "PR Jedi" for Universal is in your future? And yes, Disney charges to park hop, but visitors do not have to park hop to use their transportation. Also this article is not about Disney so I am not sure why folks keep bringing them up - they will get blasted soon enough when they raise their prices.

Kris, perhaps some early morning alcohol is all any of us needs to make sense of a $50 upcharge to ride a train?

February 11, 2016 at 7:24 AM · The Base ticket vs the Park to Park (or Parkhopper) ticket has been a added value for a few decades now. Hogwarts Express kinda changed the game since it is literally an added attraction as part of the benefit of purchasing the park to park option.

So lets talk about the ticket prices for the article. Most people buy multiple days and most people travel with others. If the average consumer has to buy 2 or 4 tickets... then they are starting at the $500 or $1000 minimum. That is a barrier to entry and I think this is the real story. I think we should pay attention to the average price tag the everyman is now considering when he/she wants to take the family to one of the "Best Destinations on earth". And that could be Disney or Universal.

February 11, 2016 at 8:00 AM · James $50 is for Park to Park. Oh Whatever.. Disney Fan boys strikes again....hahahhaha...

Universal has an Option for - Buy two parks get the 3rd day free from now until May 31st.

I have never seem Disney offer anything like that. It would be nice if they did have some kind of offer..

February 11, 2016 at 8:33 AM · Disney's Park Hopper add-on is $64 after their price increase. $64 for 4 parks. So Universal's $50 is cheaper and it covers the ride and two parks.

Comparatively, Disney's 4 days with park hopper costs $392.99.

Universal's Two-day Park-to-Park $219.99. A bit more than half.

Disney has yet to announce their new price increases for the year so I expect Disney to up their game.

These exorbitant prices makes it a easy decision to pick either Disney or Universal/Other theme parks. You can't do both. Just too expensive for a family.

February 11, 2016 at 8:45 AM · I don't know why we keep playing the comparison game, but okay, here goes: whether I park hop or not I have to pay $50 to ride the train at Universal. Disney has no such requirements on their transportation services.
February 11, 2016 at 8:46 AM · Just a quick comment that it looks like the prices listed above are the online, in advance prices. The gate looks to be about $20 more per ticket.

Now that UO has jumped, we are waiting to see what Disney does, rumor has it that they will be jumping in early March.

February 11, 2016 at 9:21 AM · Yes, Universal would force you to buy the Park to Park pass to go on that one ride. And Universal would force you to buy the Front of the Line pass to skip the lines. Disney doesn't require you to buy Park Hoppers to go on any ride or to use Fastpass+. So this means Disney is cheaper? Only relatively cheaper since you're paying for parks that you might not want to visit like DHS until Star Wars Land opens. Going to DHS or Animal Kingdom with a lack of attractions without a Park Hopper is a waste of a day pass.
February 11, 2016 at 9:22 AM · What's with the 50 dollars for a train ride comments? I've been paying the upcharge for park to park tickets way before that train came along and will continue to do so, same as many other people. The train is just an added perk. You can't ride it unless you have a park to park ticket, true, but you also can't go to the other park without one either. Same as any other themepark. I don't get what the big deal is. They are all ridiculously expensive one way or another any way you slice it.
February 11, 2016 at 9:26 AM · As long as they keep expanding and provide wonderful experiences, I have no problem with nominal yearly price increases. And if you're going for a full vacation, be it Disney or Universal, single day tickets are really inconsequential. The majority buy multiple day packages or AP's. The cost of those is usually drastically different in price, especially the more days you attend. On my previous Universal AP, and I'm a tourist and not a local, I ended up getting 35 days of attendance for $199.98, or less than $6 a day. Most people don't go that much, but it does show that you can get good value by going more than a few days. I remember reading on OU that only apx. 10% of Universal tickets sold are single day purchases. So these high single day prices don't really affect many people at Universal or probably WDW also. .
February 11, 2016 at 9:39 AM · Anon, I did not bring Disney into the conversation. I simply responded to a couple of false / misleading statements about their transportation system. My initial comments were focused solely on Universal and their practice of forcing people who don't normally park hop to spend $50 to ride a train.

Rob, I agree with you, the single day prices are somewhat irrelevant since most folks buy multi day tickets.

February 11, 2016 at 9:32 AM · I think the increase is irrelevant as long as people will and do pay the price to enter the parks. Personally, I don't by the park to park pass to ride the Harry Potter train. We do it so we can go on the rides that are within both of the parks. The train ride is nice once or twice but because the scenery/ride doesn't change I'm okay with missing it when the lines are long.
February 11, 2016 at 9:49 AM · James, it doesn't matter if you didn't bring it up. The conversation naturally brings up several issues. You said "$50 bucks to ride a train". Sure, but it is more than just that. It is a Park to Park pass too.
February 11, 2016 at 9:53 AM · I have to pay admission to ride Disneyland's transportation monorail.
February 11, 2016 at 10:00 AM · Anon Mouse totally agree with you. It's great if you want to visit both parks in order to go on all the rides. One great thing about Universal is the parks are next door to each other so you don't have to take any special transportation and can just walk between the parks taking advantage of any long or short wait times between the park rides.
February 11, 2016 at 10:02 AM · Jim, the monorail is included with your single park pass. You do not pay an upcharge to ride it.
February 11, 2016 at 10:23 AM · guys are not very smart. Even Disney offers a park hopper ticket WITHOUT an E ticket attraction to transport you to the other park. Think of it as a bonus. Oh and also you are not paying 50$ to ride a single attraction...there is a whole other theme park you can enjoy for that 50 dollars! I get it if you don't like paying for a park hopper to ride the hogwarts express but the argument being made is invalid. You are essentially saying you prefer thr Hogwart attraction not have been built and to pay 50 dollars to walk across to the other park...illogical.
February 11, 2016 at 10:31 AM · it's like a hornet's nest in here!
February 11, 2016 at 10:47 AM · James the monorail does not give you access to a Park, just a ride to a park....
No different than a people mover or Bus ride...

Are you able to use the monorail ticket to gain access to a Park?
Your comparison is a bit "off".

February 11, 2016 at 11:59 AM · I didn't make the comparison, I just keep responding to erroneous info.

Question: at Universal Orlando if I just want to ride the Harry Potter train, even one time, I have to pay an extra $50, correct?

(Does that $50 upcharge include tax?)

And Daniel, you misunderstand me. My point is Universal should have provided a round trip option for non-park hoppers. Eventually they will, after all USH may one day get the train too....

February 11, 2016 at 11:57 AM · You said or typed - 50 for a train ride..
Folks were simply showing you the 50 is for park to park, lets just call it semantics.

But you can sneak into the queue and pay nothing for said train ride...

Therefore yes $50 for upgrade which includes the Hogwarts express... London to Diagon Alley and a long trip, $50 is worth it... Magical train travels 200 miles in 5 minutes....

February 11, 2016 at 1:15 PM · Can you really sneak into the queue??? Dude, send me a PM with the details! I'm in!

But other than the sneaking in option, you can't ride HE without paying the $50, right? So for a family of five that has never park hopped we need to pay that $250 extra. Perhaps the solution is to go ahead and park hop but stay one less day to offset the upcharge....

February 11, 2016 at 12:54 PM · This thread shows what's wrong with this website. Like the title of the article says, a 1-day ticket to Universal now costs the same as MK.

But when Universal raises ticket prices, everyone starts coming up with bullcrap excuses to defend them. Where's all the complaints about Universal not being available for the Middle Class anymore? Where's the complaints about them only appealing to the rich? That's the bullcrap that Disney got. I don't care what you say. The fact that Universal now costs the same as MK means that they no longer have an excuse.

February 11, 2016 at 1:44 PM · Are people really complaining about an 8 dollar increase in the park to park? dont think of it as 50 dollars to ride the train. you are paying 150 for two parks where as disney you would have to spend 200 for two parks. if you cant afford an 8 dollar increase, then you shouldnt be going to orlando for a vacation.

Edit: Sorry I had to update my post, I'm reading the whole conversation and I really think you are misinformed about the hogwarts express james. You are paying an extra 50 for the park. Its not like you are going to buy a 1 park pass for 105 walk in then they say hey its 50 to ride the train. then when you arrive at universal or IOa whichever you started from, they kick you out. I'm just a little confused whether or not people actually know that the hogwarts express connects the two parks or not.

February 11, 2016 at 1:42 PM · It would be pretty tough to slip a party of 5 through the check in area. They scan your ticket just like at the entrance. Maybe one person could skip through if it was real busy & the attendant got distracted or confused though.
February 11, 2016 at 1:43 PM · The train is free with the second-park admission. You're paying $50 to get the second park's 20+ attractions and getting the train thrown in for free. (Evidence: If the train is down and not running, people continue to pay the $50 for the other attractions--and yes, there have been a few times when the train has not been running due to technical issues).

Saying "It's $50 for the train" is identical to saying "I bought a ticket to Disney's California Adventure and they charged me $40 to upgrade to a park-hopper to ride the Disneyland train even though it was right there." The statement is either purposely trolling or someone has such a basic misunderstanding of the situation that it's futile to discuss it further.

February 11, 2016 at 2:01 PM · Rob, I need you and Brian to create a diversion while me and the rest of the Rao clan make a run for it! I'll give you $25 a head which will cut my costs in half! Now how you and Brian create that diversion is up to you, but I hear shouting, "Look, Hermione!" might work. Whatever you do, don't yell, "Free Wands!" because no one will believe you.

And colandoj, I am neither confused or misinformed (at least, not this time). My family does not park hop. We never have. It is an unnecessary expense at Disney & Universal parks because there is plenty to hold our attention in one park for one day. So the park hopper option does NOTHING for us except give us access to a train. Therefore, it is a $50 upcharge per person, $250 total. I happen to believe that $250 is expensive just to ride a train.

February 11, 2016 at 2:39 PM · I feel like you are missing the point with universal then. the parks are literally right next to eachother, unlike Disney where you have to take a monorail or drive. the train is an attraction, it isnt just a train over. realisitically you arent even going that far, but since its an attraction they move the train slower and you watch a harry potter theme video that makes it seem like you are traveling a long distance.

is 250 just for one person? if then, Im not sure where you are buying tickets.

February 11, 2016 at 3:58 PM · Aargh. Communication is dead. Or there are lots of Universal PR people spinning their tall tales today!

I know exactly where the parks are... Been to USO several times even before they were popular parks. Been to Disneyland and DCA, too. However, I DO NOT park hop. Don't need to. Don't want to. Should not HAVE TO! But at USO if I don't want to park hop, don't want to pay the extra, can I still ride the train? No. No. No. So for someone who does not park hop, I have to pay $50 * 5 people (my family) = $250 just to ride the freaking train.

And anon poster, your comparison using DCA and DL's train is just silly. If I want to ride the DL train then I go to DL and ride it at no extra cost. On the other hand, regardless of the USO park for which I enter with my single park ticket, I can't ride their train unless I pay a $50 upcharge. Oh and then I can park hop too - something I neither wanted to or needed to do in the first place. Yippee.

February 11, 2016 at 4:00 PM · That $250 is a lot.
February 11, 2016 at 4:09 PM · Yes, Anon, it is. Thank you for feeling my pain.

And now, the horse has been beaten to death once again. We'll revisit the conversation a year from now unless USO institutes a round trip option.

Have a good evening, TPI friends!

February 11, 2016 at 5:19 PM · I look forward to the day when we no longer argue the semantics about pricing strategies at Disney's and Universal's parks.

Perhaps we should ask Senator Sanders where he stands on the issue. :)

February 11, 2016 at 5:47 PM · ^Like any politician, he will just raise taxes so the government, in all its generosity, can subsidize the $50 reducing the cost to $1 per guest. Sadly, with the massive increase in taxes, we'll only have $0.50 to spend.

February 11, 2016 at 6:19 PM · I find it amusing that every year's price increase brings a huge rehash of the Hogwarts Express issue. Like I said previously, it's a variable upcharge that is only available as part of a package. If you purchase this package and only use it to ride Hogwarts Express, you're paying $50 for the ride itself (which, while I haven't ridden it myself, hardly seems worth it). If you choose to instead explore both parks on the same day, you're paying for a lot more than just the ride, so it becomes a $2-5 upcharge depending on what else you do (with everything else also being a $2-5 upcharge). I can't think of another good theme park example, but I can think of something similar at a few connected ski areas: You can buy a ticket for one area or the other, or you can pay more to ski both areas and access the lift/trail that connects them.

Whether or not Hogwarts Express should be an upcharge is an entirely different issue. I understand the rationale for limiting it initially as the capacity is low, but given that it's been a couple years it would be nice if the park started offering some sort of round trip option. Perhaps guests who purchase 2 or 3 day, one park per day ticket could be given a special one-time use round trip ticket for the Hogwarts Express and board a special compartment that only loads at one station. It probably will never happen, but it would be a good solution for families on a budget.

February 11, 2016 at 6:42 PM · The HE has been a financial bonanza for Universal. Hardly anyone purchases single park tickets anymore (single day or multiple day plans), according to various insiders. This was genius on their part to get people to visit both parks and spend more, especially the Disney day trippers. I would seriously doubt they will change that policy.
February 11, 2016 at 6:50 PM · James...why don't you park hop? A one day park hopper is less expensive than a 2 day 1 park per day ticket. Now when I visit Universal I visit 1 day and park hop. There are not that many great attractions and too many 3D rides. If anything requiring a park hopper to ride HE will lower guest spending. At least it did in my case.
February 11, 2016 at 7:24 PM · When I travel to Universal they almost always have early closures, like 7 or 8 pm. Hardly enough time to do all the things I want to do at the pace I want to do it. I usually get three or four day single park tickets, stay at one of the three express pass hotels, and take my time. But you're right, in the future a two day one night hopper package might be the best option. Then I can use the other day to visit SeaWorld and ride Mako, Manta, and Kraken.

I am not planning on retuning to Orlando until May of 2017, so I have some time to decide....

February 11, 2016 at 9:27 PM · As with WDW, the price per day drops dramatically when you buy a multi-day ticket. And with everything that the resort has to offer, you'll be hard pressed to do it all in one day anyway. I did it one time (because it was a short trip and I only had one day allocated for Universal) but that was before Potter, and I shelled out for a FOTL pass (and that wasn't cheap).

I agree that the Hogwarts Express, as good a ride as it may be, is not worth shelling out an extra $50. We always get park hoppers at Disney, but at Universal, it's really not necessary, because there are so few nighttime events. We were disappointed last time that we couldn't ride HE because we couldn't justify the cost.

February 12, 2016 at 1:45 PM · I'll add this: if you're not made of money and want to get the best value on your Orlando vacation, the best deal is a multi-day, one park per day ticket. And if you're staying multiple days, why on earth would you want a park to park ticket? Unless, of course, you don't mind shelling out an extra $50 for the Hogwarts Express.

Speaking of value, at Disney the cost for the park hopper option is spread out over many more days, since most people need at least seven days to do all four of the theme parks (not to mention water parks, etc.). And we always use park hopper to go to the water park in the afternoon when it's too hot, or to go to the nighttime events that we previously missed (e.g., Fantasmic was already full when we got there the previous night).

February 12, 2016 at 6:31 AM · @James Rao: What part of "park hopper" don't you understand!?!? Do you even get the point that it's more than a train ride for $50? It's a whole nother.... Just kidding! Lol ;-P I haven't posted in some time but I had to come out of hibernation after I read the comments for you! I haven't laughed and cried so hard in quite some time! I felt like it was the scene from Finding Nemo where Squirt is telling Marlin how to exit the East Australian Current, "It's like he's trying to speak to me I know it". I had to keep looking back at your posts and make sure it wasn't in Latin or Japanese or some other language and maybe my iPhone translated them for me but nobody else! Haha

I knew exactly what you were trying to say from your first post to your last. I usually get the 14 day unlimited ticket at UOR which includes park hopper so I don't have to worry, but otherwise I don't usually do the park hopper options either. At Disney it takes too long to go from one park to the next (whether you drive or ride a bus, boat, or monorail) and I feel I'm wasting part of the day. Obviously some parks have more to do than others so I might have to get a little creative but I just can't justify the extra unnecessary cost. I won't be back to Disney until 2017 or 2018 at which point I'll probably skip DHS and just do an extra day at MK and still go straight one park per day passes.

James the good news for you is that you will only have to break down one day or trip and get the park to park to try the HE because after you do it several times it isn't a "must do". And the good news for me is that I won't have to have a good cry/laugh for another 5+ years! :-)

February 12, 2016 at 6:30 AM ·
February 12, 2016 at 2:26 PM · You're not the only one crying over this thread, brother, I assure you!

I really don't care about the train that much because it appears to be a ride by fans for fans and I am really not much of a Harry Potter fan at all (*gasp*!!). So I am still leaning towards my usual trip of four day single park passes - two days at each park when I go in 2017. Is it overkill? Yeah, probably, but the real strength of Universal Orlando isn't its rides or its technology, it is the fact that you can tour the parks virtually stress and crowd free (if you stay at one on the three express pass hotels and travel in the offseason). It is a great place to go to get a Disney style experience without the Disney style stress and crowds. And I am okay with skipping a train if I can vacation the way I want and the way that keeps the whole family happy.

But, I will leave my mark... So if you walk up to the entrance queue for the Hogwarts Express and you smell some funk... Well, the Rao Family is not above crop dusting when we have been scorned!

February 12, 2016 at 8:25 AM · I will agree with you regarding being at universal. most the time I dont care to ride the rides. I just enjoy the atmosphere there.
February 12, 2016 at 8:30 AM · So we all agree park to park is $50 more. Rao and crew see it as a barrier to an attraction (basically). Those who disagree with Rao and crew think of the park hopper benefits first and the attraction as an added benefit.

Rao is right, you cannot get onto the train without paying that money.

The dissenters (i see those pitchforks in the torch lights! Put em down!) are also right, there are other benefits to the parkhopper.

To me, this is 2 sides of the same coin and both perspectives are valid.

50 Points to Rao for leading a position in this debate and providing consistent responses. Also courage under fire.


February 12, 2016 at 9:05 AM · Hey James - while at Universal Consider CowFish restaurant in CityWalk area. We went there last May and enjoyed it...

Ya know with the $50 bucks you are saving you can now afford it.. hahahahaha...

February 12, 2016 at 8:32 PM · Thanks Anon Poster, I can indeed be consistently bullheaded all day long!! ;)

@Brian Correction, it is a $250 savings for the five of us!!! I can almost afford food for my whole clan!

February 12, 2016 at 3:15 PM · Honestly Universal Orlando is a 3 day resort (including Wet N Wild). Everytime I visit UO (every 3-4 years), I usually spend 3 days there and I find that I'm able to do everything at the resort in this timespan. So I can't see why anyone would need more than a 3 day ticket unless you want to do everything twice. The resort is modest in size.
February 12, 2016 at 3:16 PM · Considering how Universal has really stepped it up in recent years, I can swallow the price increase (not that I'm happy about it). Universal is where it's happening right now, and part of me can't blame them for taking advantage of that.

To be fair, and I'm surprised only one person has mentioned it so far, park hopping at Universal means you are actually ON another attraction within minutes. Park hopping at Disney means at least an hour -- and even then you've just arrived at the next park. There's still a long walk to board an attraction.

I would recommend a first time visitor save the money by not park hopping at Universal and spend the whole day at one park -- especially when the total savings equal $200. But missing the train is a bummer. Just walking through the train stations and soaking in the detail is one of my favorite things.

February 12, 2016 at 8:28 PM · @Disneyobsession Sometimes you just want to slow down and smell the dino droppings.
February 12, 2016 at 8:36 PM · James Rao - if you want to diss Universal, I would expect that you to call the park by its proper name - USF.
February 13, 2016 at 5:06 AM · Well, you certainly told me, anon poster!!! However, I would prefer you take the time to actually point out anywhere in my statements where I "dissed" Universal as a whole. A little constructive criticism never hurts, but your comment is so vague I honestly don't know what to do with it.

In my defense, protesting a bad, money gouging policy is not a sign of contempt or disrespect, it is a proclamation that I care about Universal Studios Orlando/Florida and want them to do better by their fans. One can still love a theme park resort and be critical of its policies at the same time, right? (You should be nodding your head right now, anon poster).

Perhaps you should look at my posts again? You know, they make a little more sense if you actually read them.

February 13, 2016 at 8:51 AM · Yes, James, you have the right concept of touring. Leisure and relaxation are the major assets at Universal. We too, slow up there to smell the roses. No need to do combat duty and spend 12 hours running through a park from attraction line to attraction line. Use hotel express, go to the parks for 6 or 7 leisurely take your time hours since there are no lines to wait in. And spend rest of the time enjoying all of the amenities at the hotel resorts & excellent large themed pools, Citi Walk, walking the beautiful landscaped path ways, riding the water taxis, and just relaxing in the shade or sun.
February 13, 2016 at 2:43 PM · James, it's definitely a money gouger. Why did they change their original plans for the HE? Obviously, it was to "encourage" people to pay the extra upcharge to gain access to the other new ride opening with Diagon Alley. After all, what's another fifty bucks when you've spent thousands for your Orlando vacation? So why not blow a couple hundred bucks to put your entire family on one ride?

I'll say it again, no one needs a park to park ticket for Universal. Unless you're only doing a day or two there and want to cherry pick the best rides. But then you'll pay a lot more on a per-day basis.

As for the whole "stay at one of their hotels and you get the FOTL pass" deal, that's all very well, but their hotels are expensive. We stayed at a perfectly acceptable hotel, just a mile from the resort, for $40/night (got a discount through Expedia), and it had a complementary shuttle to Universal. The Express pass would have helped us in a few long lines, but, for most attractions, we pretty much breezed in anyway.
The longest waits were when rides broke down, and the Express Pass can't help you with that.

February 13, 2016 at 4:00 PM · I think it is just a question of demand... people is traveling a lot because of the cheap gas prices. I actually work for an online booking service and the hotel prices have gone up as well because of the demand, it is not "price gouging". Take tonight for example: try to find a hotel in any major city in the US with a king bed (Valentine's day)... it is REALLY difficult if not impossible... The parks have been really crowded lately so it is only logical that the prices will increase. Am I happy about it? Heck NO! but I know I am saving around $75 on gas every time I go to Orlando from South Florida so it's not that bad (and of course, we have annual passes that we pay monthly anyway).
February 13, 2016 at 4:06 PM · Now, I do agree with James on the train issue... I think it is ridiculous. We have annual passes so we can ride it but we never liked park hoping, we don't need to do it and it is a waste of time. You still have to wait for the train and even though it is AMAZINGLY similar to the one in the movies and the movie inside is cute, I haven't found the point yet... That is something I think Universal is using to rip people off... (they are owned by Comcast after all)...

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