How much would you pay for an annual pass for Universal Studios H'llwd in 2016?

June 28, 2015, 6:15 PM

My family and I are new passholders at Universal Studios Hollywood since November. We went the $92 Buy a Day, Get the Year Free route.

We've been looking forward to seeing the new Harry Potter area and attractions which will open in "spring 2016," but it was a rude shock when Universal stopped selling the annual passes this March. Any new pass bought since then will expire no later than March 2016, before the new Harry Potter area opens.

I think everyone is expecting a big jump in pricing for the yearly pass when Harry Potter opens next year. But for those who plan to visit several times in 2016, how much (what is the maximum amount) you would be willing to pay for an annual pass for Universal once Harry Potter opens? Would it have to be a no-blockout pass, good for one year from first use, for you to consider buying it?

Would you be willing to pay something comparable to a Disneyland annual pass (no blockout = $779)? What about $500?

Here's my calculus: we definitely want to go see Harry Potter next year. If the one-day price stays around $100, we'd probably be willing to pay that, but we'd rather get annual passes if the per visit price would come down to around $35 to $50. Of course, we may not want to go 20 times in a year, especially with how crowded the park will be after Harry Potter opens. Maybe four or five visits over one year would be good for us, so we wouldn't even need a no blockout pass, just one that would let us visit four or five times and not just on weekdays during the school year.

So for our family of four, I'd say no more than $200 for a pass that can have plenty of blackouts, as long as there are enough times that we can visit during the year. A no-blackout pass for significantly more than that? Not worth it, since we won't want to visit that often. We'll probably get our fill of the existing Universal attractions during this year, and taking a year or two off wouldn't be too much of a burden, but we'd like to see Harry Potter a few times.

If I had thought about it, I should have realized that the days of the $90 "buy a day, get the year free" deal were sure to end on the day the Harry Potter expansion was announced four or five years ago.

What about you? What's the maximum price you'd be willing to pay for an annual pass for Universal Studios Hollywood for 2016?

Replies (6)

June 28, 2015, 6:39 PM

A Universal Orlando annual pass without blackout dates is $300 for Florida residents. (With blackout dates is $215.) For reference, the SoCal Select AP at Disneyland, with its many blockout dates, is $299.

Since those passes are for two parks, I would think that a no-blockout, resident AP for the single-park USH should come in below $299. I'm going to guess $199 for SoCal residents and $249 for out-of-market visitors for a non-blockout USH pass next year, and a SoCal Select style-pass (good only on school days), will go for $99 -- or maybe around $129 if they throw in some weekends in late August, early September, and early November.

Just my guess here -- not based on any tips from USH employees.

June 28, 2015, 9:03 PM

Not that this means a whole lot, but I've read that during the spring Universal was surveying guests about new pricing structures that involved significant price hikes for tickets, passes, and vacation packages.

I think starting next spring, the single-day pricing for Universal will probably not greatly exceed Disneyland's one-day one-park tickets, and more likely will match Disney's single-day price. But the pricing for passes doesn't necessarily have to match Universal Orlando's. For one thing, the size of the park is a lot smaller than Disneyland or other local parks, both in number of attractions and the physical space for visitors to walk around.

I'm speculating that Universal wants to significantly reduce the number of passholders, at least through the summer of 2016, until the throng of visitors coming for Harry Potter dies down. They might not even offer year-long passes again until school is back in session. In the meantime, I am guessing they will try to make as much money as possible with single-day visitors who want to see Harry Potter because the park infrastructure will have enough trouble handling the Potter crowds (see last week's parking closures when Fast and the Furious opened to the public).

By not having a minimum number of passholders who had already bought passes good past March 2016, Universal can reduce the amount of overcrowding in the park and try to maintain goodwill with their visitors.

June 29, 2015, 2:23 PM

As USH is now, I only consider it to be worth about $40 per visit as it's about a 2/3 of a day park. Since I feel a pass should be justified if you visit three times, I'd currently only pay $120 for a USH pass. Once Harry Potter opens the park will be a full day park, so the value increases. Assuming the increase is proportional, I'd then be willing to pay about $180 for a pass.

Here's what I speculate is going to happen: Pass sales will be suspended once Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens. Instead, USH will sell one day tickets for ~$100 (they can't really go higher than this without losing out on tourists) and a ticket that allows two or three visits over a three-month period for $150-175, with black-out dates during the busiest periods (holiday and summer weekends). Around August, this ticket will be replaced by the standard pass at the same price and with the current black-out calendar and a no black-out pass will be offered for $200-225. This strategy would hopefully allow everyone to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter without having an extreme number of visitors, as USH probably can't handle more than 25,000 visitors per day.

June 30, 2015, 5:00 PM

Because right now its $92, I'll assume that it will be somewhere near $100 and $120. I don't think it will be $199 like Robert said. I'd be shocked if the price of an annual pass doubled because of a new land and two new rides. I think that the highest price it could possibly be is $149.99

June 30, 2015, 5:05 PM

But what would I pay? I'd probably do $160, maybe a little higher, but nothing above $200

Edited: June 30, 2015, 10:05 PM

The old no-blockout annual pass was $159 before Universal stopped selling it earlier this year, so the post-Potter no-blockout AP will be substantially more than $150 -- thus my guess of $199 for residents.

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