Theme Park Insider

Universal Studios Hollywood changes its annual pass line-up... again

October 3, 2016, 2:18 PM · Stop me if you've heard this before, but Universal Studios Hollywood introduced a new annual pass tier today.

Forget about pin trading at Disney. The hot new theme park collectible is USH annual passes — there's a different one for everyone! A Twitter follower said it best:

Today's new pass is the "California Neighbor Pass," which replaces the 2016 Seasonal Pass. The price is the same — $119 — but the new pass is good for more dates, with only 31 black-out dates between now and its effective expiration on June 30, 2017.

Oh, and Universal is defining "California Neighbor" pretty broadly. If you live anywhere on the same planet as California, you are eligible to buy this pass. You do not need to be a resident of California, a neighboring state, or a neighboring country.

The California Neighbor Pass joins the $289 Gold Annual Pass and the $589 Platinum Annual Pass as Universal Studios Hollywood's three APs currently for sale. But I've lost count of the number of other annual pass options that USH has offered since it revived its AP program last fall and that remain valid for use in the parks.

For example, I bought the long-gone "California Resident Plus Pass" for $199 back then, which had more black-out dates than the new $119 California Neighbor Pass. USH passholders need to go to a designated website to see the current list of black-outs for their pass, as the park has changed those dates on most passes since they were sold. Not that most passholders could read the list of black-out dates printed on their paper pass tickets, anyway, as the print on those passes tends to fade into obscurity within a dozen or so trips to the park.

I just got my latest reprinted pass yesterday. (Gotta give Universal props for that, though, it took just a couple of minutes to process at the Universal tower. Easy. But still... can we have the plastic pass you gave Universal Orlando passholders, too?) On my old pass, my URL for black-out dates was "www.universalstudioshollywood.com/passmember/2016L" but I noticed today that the URL printed on my ticket for my black-outs now is "www.universalstudioshollywood.com/passmember/2016K," which is the same black-out calendar for the newer Gold Annual Pass.

So the lesson here is... even if Universal said you were blacked out on a specific date when you bought your AP, you might not be blacked-out on that date now. Sign up for USH's passholder email updates and when in doubt, call 1-800-UNIVERSAL for the definitive answer.

Universal's been tweaking its AP program as it tries to balance the load of guests in the park following the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter earlier this year. While the park hasn't experienced an unbearable load of new visitors that it feared when it slashed the AP program, attendance does appear to be up significantly since the same time last year. The more generous AP options clearly are intended to keep attendance growing.

Replies (3)

October 3, 2016 at 5:47 PM · With the return of the Southern California Annual Pass just in time, I passed on Universal. Maybe in another year.
October 4, 2016 at 9:09 AM · Blackouts are a great way of knowing when NOT to go due to crowds.
October 4, 2016 at 10:46 AM · It sounds like a bargain to me.

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