Universal Resorts Orlando package / tickets

April 11, 2017, 2:55 AM

Hello fellows,

As I'm planning to visit both Universal resorts I have a couple questions for you knowledgeable folks, if you may:

- As I plan to book an onsite hotel, but a ticket separately from a 3rd party dealer, can I still benefit from the Universal Express? or should I book a package including hotel + admission ticket?

- From what time can I redeem the voucher from 3rd party dealer? does it allow to fully benefit from the early admission?

Thanks for your advice!

Replies (6)

Edited: April 11, 2017, 7:05 AM

Booking tickets through Universal is not necessary to get UE. However, remember that in order to get free Universal Express, you have to stay at either Hard Rock, Portofino Bay, or Royal Pacific. UE is not offered to guests at Cabana Bay or Sapphire Falls (those resorts do get early entry though). For both UE and early entry, you show your room key to gain access. Also, don't forget that you get UE on the day you check in AND the day you check out, so if you stay just 1 night, you get 2 days of UE.

Not sure what you're asking about redeeming the voucher. What type of voucher do you have? Most paper vouchers (from time shares and other marketing sources) have to be exchanged in person at the customer service windows near the park gates (hotel concierge may also be able to process, but not sure about that). It really depends on what you have and what it says. Some time share vouchers have lots of rules that limit how they can be traded in. If you have the voucher in hand right now, make sure you read all of the rules and fine print. Also, don't forget that if you want to ride the Hogwart's Express, you MUST have a park to park ticket - many promotional vouchers are single day single park tickets. They will let you upgrade your ticket in the park (even at the entrances to the ride), but it comes at a cost.

As Robert has said numerous times on his trip planning columns, you should be extremely skeptical of purchasing discounted tickets from disreputable dealers. There's nothing worse than trying to save a few bucks only to get to the gate and find out the tickets are worthless. Unless you're getting tickets from an authorized re-seller (warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam's Club, AAA, military/government installations, undercover tourist, and legitimate time shares), I would not get park tickets from anywhere other than the park itself (preferably on their website). It's just not worth the hassle and the limited savings (typically less than 10%) trying to get tickets from 3rd party sources and hoping they're legit.

April 11, 2017, 9:28 AM

Thanks for the comprehensive answer.

If UE is tied to the room key that's fine. I've noted the class of hotel required to get the pass. I guess that it is included everyday you stay, not only checkin and checkout dates? (I plan a 3-day 3-park, park2park ticket)

Regarding redeeming, I haven't booked yet but it is stated that exchanging the voucher for a ticket at a counter is required, and I wasn't sure if this can be down during early admission, before normal hours.
In regards to authorized dealers, I'm with you and prefer saving me some hassle rather than 10 bucks. I've looked at "parksavers.com" but it's not mentioned by you nor Robert so... I'm not sure..

April 11, 2017, 10:30 AM

The UE included with your hotel room includes your check-in and check-out day. So, if you check in on Monday for 2 nights, you can have UE for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, assuming you have 3 days of admission.

parksavers.com looks pretty legit, and I seem to have heard of them before. Make sure you're selecting the ticket that you want, since they're currently running a sale that's only good for admission through May 31, 2017. The vouchers appear to require you to take them to the guest services window near one of the park gates. Those windows are typically open before the gates open each day, but I don't know how early and if they would be open before early admission starts. I would think at a minimum they would be open at least 8 AM when early admission starts. Note that if you're set on taking advantage of early admission on your first day, you have to check in at your hotel first. If you also have to redeem your voucher on the first day, you should plan on arriving at the resort no later than 6:30 AM to check in to your hotel, get your key, and walk over to one of the parks to redeem your voucher before the gates open for early entry (assuming they're open before early admission starts). I'm not sure what the rest of your trip is looking like, but that's a pretty early day, especially if you're out late the night before or are traveling to Orlando from somewhere else.

April 11, 2017, 12:13 PM

fyi--I purchased tickets last year from Undercover Tourist, and they were paper (email printouts). We didn't have to redeem them. They were scanned like regular tickets, and they were even scanned as is to ride the Hogwarts Express. We had to show id then, not at a park entrance.

April 12, 2017, 1:16 AM

I'll be arriving the evening befpre from abroad, so I would already have checked in, and the jetlag will help get up early :) I plan on moving to the gates 30' before early admission starts.

I hope to benefit from the next day at volcano bay in or der to chill (a bit) :)

Maybe undercover tourist is the safest bet...

Again thanks for the wealth of tips

April 16, 2017, 9:39 AM

If you're a AAA member, call them and see what they can do for you. They got us a great 3 day/2 night package the last time we went to UE. That was a few years ago, but I'll bet they can still arrange good deals. For example, their rep kept an eye on the prices at the resort hotel we stayed at (Royal Pacific) and ultimately got us a price so low the desk clerk commented on it when we checked in.

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