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Universal Studios Hollywood Raises One-Day Ticket Prices

March 21, 2016, 9:05 PM · Universal Studios Hollywood has raised its one-day ticket price by $20... to $115.

The park continues to offer its variable discounting system for advance online purchases, where the price of a one-day ticket varies by the date you intend visit. But with the recent price increase the cheapest available advance-purchase ticket now costs $95 — the same as an undiscounted same-day or front-gate ticket cost before the increase.

Advance purchase tickets now vary between $95-105, with all weekends going forward and all weekdays between June 3 and August 15 costing $105. For reference, a one-day ticket at either Universal Orlando theme park costs $105.

Disney recently implemented its own variable pricing system for one-day theme park tickets, but those prices remain the same whether you buy your ticket online or at the front-gate. Disney's top "Peak" day prices are $124 a day for the Magic Kingdom, $119 for Disneyland and California Adventure, and $114 for Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

"Value" day prices for the Disneyland parks are $95 - the same as Universal Studios Hollywood's new lowest advance-purchase price. "Regular" tickets to the Disneyland parks are $105, matching the highest advance-purchase price at USH.

Universal Studios Hollywood last week introduced a new Platinum Annual Pass for $589, which includes no blackout dates, free parking before 5pm, a 15% discount on food and merchandise, priority boarding on the Studio Tour and a free Halloween Horror Nights ticket. Disneyland's top annual pass — the newly created Signature Plus — costs $1,049 and also included no blockout dates, free parking at any time, a 15% discount on food and 20% on merchandise, plus unlimited PhotoPass downloads. Note that the Disneyland pass covers its two theme parks while USH's covers just the one.

Universal's aggressive price increases surely reflects not just a desire to keep up with Disney but also its anticipation of a continued increase in the park's popularity, following the addition of several new attractions — including Fast & Furious - Supercharged, Springfield USA, and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem — leading up to next month's official opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Update: Context...

Replies (10)

March 21, 2016 at 11:59 PM · Wow. That's quite a hike. I guess they anticipate the introduction of WWOHP will bring in the crowds no matter the price (and they're probably right) but I can't say the value is nearly as good as DLR.
March 22, 2016 at 1:11 PM · For the destination parks (Disney/Universal Orlando), no one buys a one day pass, so generally I say "who cares?" However, from the perspective of a Midwesterner traveling west mainly to visit the Disney parks, USH is still a one day stopover and $115 seems pretty steep for what you're getting. So, to a traveler to SoCal like me, it is probably better to add a cheaper visit to Knotts or Six Flags instead of USH, and save the extra cash for a visit to the vastly superior Universal parks in Orlando on a subsequent vacation.
March 22, 2016 at 6:20 AM · The hikes definitely mean a lot to those merely visiting the SoCal region. There's not enough to do to warrant an entire week's worth of admissions at one property (like WDW and UO), so theme park fans would most likely split their time between the different parks.

However, there has been fracturing between the multi-park tickets that make it impossible to get a one-size fits all pass. The SoCal City Pass used to provide admission to DL/DCA, Sea World, USH, Legoland, and an optional San Diego Zoo add-on. However, that pass has dropped USH from its offering. There is a SoCal Theme Park Pass, but that one leaves out DL/DCA. So, if you want to do both DL/DCA and USH, you're now stuck buying one of those park's single or multi-day admission passes at published rates. It makes what used to be a $250-350 single ticket now cost nearly $500 depending on how many days you want to spend at each park.

I totally agree with James that USH is a pretty terrible value at $115 per day (even at $95 it's not very good). The only unique attraction now at USH is the studio tram, which in some ways will be duplicated by new attractions at UO (Skull Island, Fast and Furious, and Jimmy Fallon Experience). If you really need a movie-making experience, you're probably better off going to one of the other studios (WB, Sony, or Paramount) and take their tours instead.

It seems to me these price hikes are targeted at locals to encourage them to purchase season passes, which Universal admitted were lagging in sales earlier this season in advance of the WWoHP opening.

March 22, 2016 at 7:03 AM · @James - for the major parks no one buys a one day pass? In Southern California one-day tickets exceed multi-day ticket sales at both major parks- Universal and Disney. You need to look at the demographics of the market before you make generalized statements. Attendance at Southern California theme parks is comprised primarily of locals.

Universal Studios Hollywood, even with Harry Potter, is not even close to a multi-day park. $115 for a single day admission, no thanks. No thanks to $95 either.

March 22, 2016 at 7:27 AM · Universal is jumping the gun with the pricing. Harry Potter Land hasn't opened yet. There is no telling how the public will react. The new pricing makes it difficult to win new customers if they can't afford to go. Disney always gradually increased their prices after new attractions were established in the public's mind. Universal Studios Hollywood was an afterthought in terms of visiting regularly. It was a once in a few years type of attraction. They need a lot more attractions to get me to go regularly. USH used to have a lot less blockout dates for the season passes. The cheapest SoCal season pass is unusable if you don't live within 30 minutes away.
March 22, 2016 at 8:20 AM · We'll probably be going to California in 2017, and I can't justify the one-day expense for a trip over to USH given that my daughters are still pretty young. I'm thinking that Knotts could be more likely for a day trip than USH. It's too bad, as I would really like to see USH.
March 22, 2016 at 9:57 AM · Personally, I hope that Universal Hollywood succeeds big, so it will lessen the crowds at Disney. But I think that Universal needs a great night time parade or spectacular like Paint the Night or Fantasmic, because I think that a lot of what draws the locals are the night time shows, this year especially Paint the Night. But maybe Universal has to deal with noise issues with the neighbors?
March 22, 2016 at 10:58 AM · This is why I generally tell people visiting California to skip USH if they have visited USO. While Disneyland is the most expensive theme park in California, USH is by far the most overpriced, and pretty much all the attractions at USH exist (or perhaps existed) in some form at USO. While I haven't been with Harry Potter yet, pre-Potter I would say the park was about a $40 park. It's now going for nearly triple that.

I do think USH has the right strategy at this time, however. At the moment, their sole priority is to prevent overwhelming crowds once Harry Potter opens next month. I just question whether it may work too well and compromise the attendance boost the land will give the park. I was thinking USH would see a ~20% attendance increase this year, but if they don't start offering significant discounts after the initial rush wears off a single digit increase is possible, which would be a major disappointment for the opening of an entire new land.

March 22, 2016 at 1:12 PM · @70.114.216.71 I clarified my comment changing "major" to "destination". For non-locals, I do not consider Universal Hollywood to be a "destination park".
March 28, 2016 at 8:38 AM · I think this is to much I am struggling to fine money to go have a fun day today but it looks like I'm not because you guys decide for it to go up wow what a disappointment I actually wanted to go today it's really really sad for me to fine this out! ??????

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