Under the new system, the front-gate price for a one-day ticket to Universal Studios Hollywood will remain constant. But the discounts the park makes available for buying your ticket online will vary by the date you select for your visit. Of course, this means that you will have to lock in the date of your visit when you buy your ticket online, instead of simply buying and printing a ticket for use on any future date.
Universal made the change official today, after apparently testing the system for some website visitors last month. In today's announcement, Universal also revealed that visitors who buy their tickets online under the new "EZ Rez" system will get early entry to the park starting April 7, the day that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens officially.
Given the convenience of buying online, the ability to skip an unnecessary wait at the front gate ticket booths, a discount for buying online, and the ability to get into the Wizarding World before everyone else with early entry crowds it, using EZ Rez to buy your ticket online to Universal Studios Hollywood is as close to a requirement as anything can be for a theme park visitor.
Savings for advance online purchases range from $5 to $20 off the $95 front-gate price, according to our examination of dates now available on the USH website. Universal provides a monthly calendar of available dates and prices when you click to buy tickets on its site, which should also give you a strong indication what crowd levels will be like at the park on any given day. (Cheaper ticket = smaller expected crowd.) Tickets currently are available through the end of September.
With Universal tying advance ticket sales to specific dates, it is now possible for the park to "sell out" certain dates well in advance. How that plays out remains to be seen and depends upon the level at which Universal would cut off sales for a specific date.
Update: If you do not wish to commit to a specific date for your visit, you can buy an undiscounted ticket (same as the gate price) that is not tied to a particular date. Therefore, Universal's new online ticket system ought to be considered more of a dynamic discounting scheme than a dynamic pricing one.
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The real question is, if I purchase tickets online right now for May 1, 2016, and for some reason not able to attend on that day, do I completely lose the value of that admission? Is there a "change fee" that can be paid to visit on a different day, or if I'm too sick to venture out of my hotel on my reserved day am I S.O.L?
There are two things I would like to see, however, in order to avoid mass complaints:
1. The number of advance tickets is only a portion of the total available for that day (probably 1/2-2/3). If it was impossible to go to the park and purchase a ticket day-of, it could be a PR nightmare for USH after so many people were turned away.
2. If you decide you can't use your ticket on the scheduled day BEFORE that date arrives, you can upgrade to the $95 Anytime ticket by paying the difference. Although most people would probably be certain they can go before purchasing a date-specific ticket, it would be good to have a "just in case" option and fewer people trying to get refunds.
I'm becoming increasingly curious how everything is going to play out over the coming months. My guess is that USH is preparing for the worst case scenario and then will scale back restrictions later instead of adding restrictions as needed. Only time will tell whether this was the right approach.
The park doesn't offer two or three day tickets. This forces you to get an annual pass if you want to visit a few days. The ticket options are really bad.
The other thing that worries me is that essentially the only way to get an admission discount is by reserving your day. You don't get any other discount for simply reserving online (like for USF/IOA), and I'm guessing there won't be any other discounts available (perhaps the discount through the City Pass will still exist...I do know that other City Passes can force you to lock in dates for certain attractions at the time of purchase). So if there's no reason to purchase a ticket in advance if you can't or are unwilling to lock in your date in advance, the lines at the park ticket windows are going to be insane.
It's clear USH is trying to avoid the debacle that occurred when WWoHP opened in Florida, but I think they're going a bit too far in trying to control people's visits. They've already restricted APs to the point that very few are buying (they tweaked the structure in the hopes of selling more), and now with this new policy, I wonder if they further depress what would have been a 6-month money machine once WWoHP opens.
@Russell and @AJ you're stating assumptions as if they are fact. Universal has not stated that tickets offered through their website are limited.
Also, the moaning about a lack of discount is kind of ridiculous. Disney offers very few discounts on their gate and it appears that Universal is trying to move away from discounting. They're basically saying the experience we offer is worth the posted one-day price. So you haven't lost any flexibility to come and go as you please and weather is rarely an issue in Southern California. However, if you're driven by discounts, then you'll have to commit to a specific date in advance.
I respect a theme park that doesn't have to resort to discounting to get people through their front gate. Six Flags is still stuck in the discount marketing hell. It's a nasty addiction that's hard to break.
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So far they failed with the annual pass changes. This too is totally unnecessary.
It's funny. All of this nonsense is oddly similar to the stuff Disney was doing prior to the opening of California Adventure.