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Do you need a Universal Express ticket at Universal Studios Hollywood?

December 7, 2017, 10:33 AM · Universal Studios Hollywood has replaced its "Gate A" Front of Line ticket with Universal Express. The benefits are the same — the change really just brings the ticket's branding in line with the terminology used at Universal's other theme parks for its line-skipping pass. But no matter what Universal calls this pass, the question that fans ask about it remains the same...

Should you buy it?

Before I answer that question, I need to ask you one more: What are you trying to get from buying a Universal Express pass? Obviously, you want to minimize if not reduce your wait time for the park's rides and shows. But to what end?

If you are thinking about Universal Express at Universal Studios Hollywood because you want to be able to get on all the park's attractions in a single day, I would recommend that you skip Universal Express ($179 - $269, varies by date) and buy just the regular one-day ticket ($105 - $116) to the park. Universal Studios Hollywood is perhaps the easiest of the world's top theme parks to finish in one day. Let's look at the line-up, in descending order of attraction uniqueness and quality:

That's just 13 attractions — and just five attractions (the starred* ones) that you won't find in similar, if not superior, form at Universal Orlando, if you've visited those parks before. If you arrive early and take advantage of the one hour of early admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that Universal offers to anyone who buys a ticket on its website, you should be able to finish at least all the top attractions, if not everything on the list, on even the busiest days in the park. Spending the extra money on Universal Express simply isn't necessary to get a full day's experience at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Okay, buy let's say that you're not just looking to hit up everything in one day, you're looking for a premium experience instead of just another day queuing with the hoi polloi. In that case, I also would recommend skipping the Universal Express ticket and upgrading to the VIP Experience (from $329) instead. That ticket not only gets you a tour guide with front-of-line access, it also gets you a VIP version of the park's Studio Tour, one that allows you to get out on the backlot and discover more of the park's iconic movie and TV studio. Universal also throws in a buffet breakfast and lunch in VIP lounges with some nifty film and TV memorabilia on display.

So is there any case in which Universal Express at Universal Studios Hollywood is worth buying? Yes, if you don't just need to finish the park in one day, but need to finish it in a very limited amount of time. There's way more to do in the Los Angeles area than anyone could finish in a single vacation, so you might want to double up on some experiences to fit in as much as you can on a trip to the area. If that's your case, and you need to wrap up USH by mid-afternoon — or can't get there until later in the day — Universal Express might be a good deal for you.

But even then, with a tight schedule, you should be able to do the five USH-unique attractions in less than four hours on almost any day, if you time the shows right.

Universal Studios Hollywood fans, what is your go-to ticket when you visit the park?

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Replies (6)

December 7, 2017 at 10:35 AM · "Psssst - Robert...wrong Harry Potter ride, Dude.
December 7, 2017 at 10:39 AM · Fixed.
December 7, 2017 at 10:53 AM · Ok, last May I was able to ride The Studio Tour, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (twice), Transformers The Ride, Jurassic Park: The Ride, The Simpsons Ride, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Revenge of the Mummy, check The Walking Dead Attraction and the Ollivanders show (longest waiting time - 45 minutes) in less than 6 hours total. We also had enough time for a quiet lunch at the Three Broomsticks! I bought the tickets online and arrived as soon as the Wizarding World opened. It was one of the best experiences I've had in a theme park - ever! If you don't have a full day and don't want to check Waterworld and other shows (like Animal Actors), you really don't need the Express ticket. USH rocks!
December 7, 2017 at 11:25 AM · I always wanted priority boarding for the Studios Tour. The switchbacks are a horror. The only other attractions worth express boarding are Transformers and Wizarding World.
December 7, 2017 at 12:09 PM · I would also add that if you're by yourself, you should never buy Universal Express because you can use the single rider line to bypass waits on some of the best attractions in the park (Forbidden Journey, Transformers, Mummy, and Jurassic Park).
December 9, 2017 at 2:03 AM · In my opinion USH is too small of a park for something like Express to be worth it. Even on a busy day you can easily do all of the attractions.

Plus we all know when parks offer something like express on shows its just to try to make it look like you are getting more for your money, whereas the reality is you can go into the show without express and sit right next to the people that have it.

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