Universal Orlando Adopts Variable Pricing for Multi-Day Tickets

August 18, 2020, 2:12 AM · Universal Orlando today changed to a variable-pricing model for multi-tickets to its theme parks.

The switch actually drops prices for some dates, while raising them for others. Prices are based upon the first day of your visit, much like the multi-day pricing model rival Walt Disney World adopted a couple of years ago. Before today, ticket prices were fixed for multi-day theme park tickets at Universal Orlando, though prices varied by date for single-day tickets.

Universal has retained the same three-tier structure for single-day tickets. However, now fans will see multiple pricing tiers on multi-day tickets, as well. In general, there's less variance between dates the more days you buy. And the average price per day declines as you buy more days, as well.

And since these tickets are date-specific, they effectively serve as reservation dates for you, something that Universal had not implemented before now. If you want the flexibility to visit on any date, you would need to but tickets at the highest price tier.

Here are the new average daily price ranges for multi-day tickets at Universal Orlando, compared with the previous, flat-rate prices.

For one park per day tickets:

For Park-to-Park tickets (visit both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on the same day. Required to ride Hogwarts Express):

You can check prices and dates on Universal Orlando's website. Universal also continues to offer its buy-two-days, get-two-more-days-free deal, with one park per day tickets for $219 for the four days, and Park-to-Park tickets for $279 for the four days. All prices are before sales tax.

Universal Orlando also continues to offer its "buy one day and visit all days through Christmas Eve" offer for Florida residents, as well.

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Depending upon the dates you wish to visit, you might find lower prices through our travel partner's Universal Orlando tickets page, so please check that resource, as well.

Replies (28)

August 18, 2020 at 3:40 PM

To quote professor Oak... Universal, now is not the time to use that.

August 18, 2020 at 3:56 PM

While I understand the concept of demand pricing (theme parks, NFL games, etc), I am disappointed. Universal's huge advantage over Disney is the fact that a visit is not complicated-- the whole visit is simply easier to understand and actually do without analyzing and thinking of every facet. This kind of chips away at Universal's simplicity.

August 18, 2020 at 4:14 PM

Um ... "huge advantage"?

August 18, 2020 at 4:39 PM

Universal does have a huge advantage in simplicity, no planning, just show up and do what you want, especially when staying at hotel with express passes. It's why I actually stopped going to Disney and do Universal instead. That and FP+
That being said, this is NOT complicated. It is the same as peak pricing at the hotels.

August 18, 2020 at 5:58 PM

Agreed. Universal's major advantage is the lack of planning needed. It's so much closer to a trip to Disneyland (my preferred Disney destination). The stress free, no nonsense approach is great.

I also agree with Mr Torrance that the date based pricing does not complicate things as much as formeryogi suggests.

August 18, 2020 at 6:15 PM

Looks like they are yielding ticket prices to take advantage of peak demand. This could literally gain them tens of millions of dollars. The airlines and hotels have been doing this for many years.
Whenever the theme parks roll out the deals for Florida residents, you know it's been a bad year for them. Sea World was offering the buy a day and come back all year after the Blackfish debacle.

August 18, 2020 at 8:49 PM

“ Whenever the theme parks roll out the deals for Florida residents, you know it's been a bad year for them”

I’m a Florida resident myself. Theme parks roll out Florida Resident deals yearly, even in the best of times. They offer incentives for locals to visit during seasonal downtimes while also strengthening a built-in foundational consumer base. This year is an undeniably horrible year for theme parks, but the introduction of locals-only specials is nothing new, and not necessarily an arbiter of a theme park having a bad year.

August 19, 2020 at 1:46 AM

And where does this "huge"/"major" advantage manifest itself?

August 19, 2020 at 2:08 AM

"And where does this "huge"/"major" advantage manifest itself?"

In the planning process. I feel like that was pretty well laid out in the previous comments.

August 19, 2020 at 7:57 AM

I don't know how that qualifies as an advantage -- huge or otherwise. Different guests approach a park visit differently. I'm in the Orlando parks at least two dozen times a year. Maybe once or twice I book a restaurant. Typically we have an objective to see a specific show or attraction. But 99% of the time we show up and wander. And we ALWAYS have a great time.

Different guests have different objectives. That variable would undermine any assertion that in order to enjoy a park, the guests MUST plan every moment of their visit.

Substantial amounts of advanced planning is not a prerequisite to enjoying a park. If it were, and if guests regarded it as a hassle so substantial that it gives a competitor a "huge" advantage, it would be reflected in attendance or other yardsticks measuring a park's performance.

August 19, 2020 at 9:15 AM

This is disappointing, but appears to be the way of the world. Everything seems to be moving towards "dynamic" pricing in order to maximize profit. As more and more sales move online, it's easy for companies to monitor eyeballs that are used in algorithms to adjust pricing as interest in products ebb and flow.

@TH - I think the increase in pre-planning necessary at WDW is having an impact. Certainly you can still show up a stroll around the park, but if you want to experience more than a couple of the top attractions without spending hours in lines, planning ahead is essential. I don't think there are hordes of guests that are giving up going to WDW solely because of FP+ and the intense planning necessitated by the system, but the hundreds of planning websites, blogs, and message boards that have popped up in response to FP and FP+ and other intricacies of a WDW visit are pretty good evidence that many many guests find it a necessary evil to give their families the best vacation possible (or biggest bang for their increasing buck).

August 19, 2020 at 9:19 AM

I'm coming at this at an out of state visitor, flying in and spending a week in an onsite hotel. Obviously being local or short drive away will greatly alter your planning.

August 19, 2020 at 10:41 AM

RM: "I think the increase in pre-planning necessary at WDW is having an impact. Certainly you can still show up a stroll around the park, but if you want to experience more than a couple of the top attractions without spending hours in lines, planning ahead is essential.

Me: So, in other words "Different guests have different objectives. That variable would undermine any assertion that in order to enjoy a park, the guests MUST plan every moment of their visit."

Got it.

NEXT!

August 19, 2020 at 12:51 PM

"Different guests have different objectives. That variable would undermine any assertion that in order to enjoy a park, the guests MUST plan every moment of their visit."

True, but the fact that intense planning is needed to maximize a visit, and the fact that the level of planning is constantly increasing is turning a lot of long-time fans off, and frustrating them. The last time I checked, companies don't want to alienate their biggest fans by making it harder for them to use/buy their products. Some people are definitely satisfied visiting without planning, but those are typically APs and locals. Guests that are spending thousands (and tens of thousands) and generating the most revenue on their visits to WDW are seeing diminishing returns in their trips by the need to obsessively plan their vacations thus reducing the value.

August 19, 2020 at 12:03 PM

I'm a bit surprised of this change but I understand it. I'm sure they did the math on this and figured they could make more money overall.

I totally agree with previous comments that Universal in my opinion has an advantage over Disney due to the lack of planning needed. I've said it before and I'll say it again we haven't gone to Disney in over 10 years because of it nor do I feel the need too. This doesn't change my opinion since we fly to Orlando so we need to plan our dates regardless but I have a feeling it will cost more now!

August 19, 2020 at 4:15 PM

RM: "... the level of planning is constantly increasing is turning a lot of long-time fans off, and frustrating them."

Me: How many is "a lot", and beyond anecdotal whining from UO fanboy thread rats where is the solid data that shows it gives Universal a "huge" advantage?

August 19, 2020 at 7:47 PM

Just chiming in to say how nice it is to see a good old fashion Disney vs. Universal debate on this site again. It gives me hope that normal is just around the corner. :)

August 19, 2020 at 8:38 PM

$55 per day is a good deal. Too bad I won't be able to fly to the U.S. anytime soon. God knows when we can reopen the border.

August 20, 2020 at 9:25 AM

Universal does have the advantage over Disney for non-Florida residents when it comes to planning. Too bad they won't be able to visit Universal or Disney for a long while.

In the meantime though, Disney and Universal will definitely be counting on local residents to visit the parks because of how bad Florida has handled the pandemic. There won't be any international guests and very few from surrounding states, mostly from states that don't already have a quarantine restriction in place for people that have visited Florida. The locals really shot themselves in the foot with the behaviors they undertook the last five months.

But hey, Disney has a bunch of great attractions in the pipe that will bring guests in... unfortunately only guests that are Florida residents. We have a ways to go before we even begin to recover from this reboot.

August 20, 2020 at 9:32 AM

@TH - Obviously anything I can bring to the table is going to be anecdotal and/or empircal, because no one has has studied it (save for Disney, who probably have data on this, but may not have fully analyzed/processed it).

There have been more than a few "Universal fanboys" that have commented here on TPI that they are frustrated by the pre-planning nature of WDW that they have curtailed or eliminated visits because of it. The sentiments are echoed pretty much everywhere, including on DVC message boards (those that are financially bound to visit WDW on a regular basis), Disney fan blogs, and even the official Disney blog from popular contributors. The sentiment is definitely widespread, and not just among Universal fanboys.

August 20, 2020 at 3:26 PM

After many years of Disney with paper FP (having a blast) we experienced 2 years with FP+
We then decided to try Universal with Express Passes, My 3 kids first impression was "We are never going back to Disney again". Now after a few years they wanted to go back again, but one MNSSHP was all they needed to satisfy them and continue UO we did.
Everyone's consensus is that once they build ALL the new rides we can do one last trip, but it's not a priority. I will admit it's because they are now much older and if I still had youngling it may be different, but i'm very glad I do not. Maybe if I have grand-kids my preference will change again, reluctantly of'course.

August 20, 2020 at 5:59 PM

@RM: If "no one has studied it" than we should conclude there's no basis for asserting that it represents a "huge advantage".

August 20, 2020 at 8:00 PM

I agree, huge advantage.

August 21, 2020 at 9:10 AM

@Russell Meyer
100% agree with you ... !

August 21, 2020 at 9:51 AM

Dynamic pricing is not rocket science over fixed pricing. We must remember that the big differences actually are anchored in how it's implemented, in what kind of goals and mechanisms companies apply price differences.
Model A. Origin, the old airlines pricing system. Two factors came in to determine pricing: the period of the year, and the standard of the ticket. (like from prebooking with full annulation rights, until last minute no rights). The system was very clear AND predictable.
Model B. The later airline system. A third factor was added. All prices went up or down, depending on actual demand pressure or the lack thereof. Some degree of unpredictability was introduced.
Model C. The model adapted by hotel booking websites. (Several competing websites are selling rooms in mostly the same hotels). Luring customers in, by stressing them to buy FAST... as pricing can change while you're looking at the site. Artificial intelligence algoritms change pricing according to the behaviour of the customers online, not according to the reality at the side of the hotel. They do not shame away from "soft scamming" their customers with manipulated data (like, "12 other customers are looking at the same room as you now" / "only 2 rooms left".. etc << in most cases, those generated messages are fake...)

As long as theme parks adhere to the old Model A , everybody can feel happy, AND , not unimportant, one is able to plan a trip according to the understandable (fixed rules) price differences, instead of getting stressed before even the fun can start...

August 21, 2020 at 10:06 AM

@Herwig - Absolutely - Predictable demand-based pricing is fine where guests know that if they visit on a Saturday in December they will pay 10% more than visiting on a Tuesday in January. The pricing works off a static rate table that is predictable and does not change.

However, if you look at every company that has implemented a straight demand-based pricing scheme like this, they eventually move to a full-time/surge demand-based pricing where prices are constantly fluctuating based immediate demand and interest. In this scenario, you could be the only person in the world looking at a given product, but because you go back to the page multiple times, the AI will see your interest and start increasing the price every time you return to view it. Companies call this demand-based pricing, but it's really "interest-based" pricing. It's super annoying, and something that is infiltrating every corner of online purchases. While Universal and Disney have not indicated that they will do this, I wouldn't be surprised to see them eventually move to this technique just like every other company that sells products online.

August 21, 2020 at 11:05 AM

@RM
"Companies call this demand-based pricing, but it's really "interest-based" pricing."
Well, that's the Model C. And, as I explained, often even more scam-based pricing, then interest-based... :-) (Law cases in court already occurred in Europe) The main reason of their existence is that this system is used by third (selling) parties. It's not the real service providers themselves.
Demand based pricing is really Model B.
Cheers.


(Year after year, dynamic pricing is one of the main topics in IAAPA trade show seminars ! ... but I do not follow that seminar topic anymore, as every year they discuss more or less the same thing lol )

August 24, 2020 at 8:49 PM

Increase the price if you look it up multible times? How boring, so non nasty. Might even be the opposit, hesitating buyer, should be won over to buy now with a rebate....
So much funnier things can be done. To start with the crude, charge more from evryone using any Apple device. If Disney or Universal would do such nasty stuff, they would do it with hotel/package prices of course, one does not want to be too obvious with such things*. Sixt once explained load and proad that their new floating rental car algorightm could charge double from someone booking after he stayed longer in an upmarket shopping location. They also pointed out that this was a hypothetical and the alogrithm would do all of it "alone". Guess they had at least some legal concerns left. Granted, people shopping at Prada stores or iphone owners are not necessarily a group creating much pitty. A case could even be made that discrimination based on proxies for wealth/income is ethical as well as welfare enhancing regarding high fixed cost products. But only a fool would let corporations use such tools as they like. Much nastier things can be done aswell, starting with the simple things like a price surge when someone stands in the cold rain with no competing floating car arround...... I´ll leaving anything else to everyones immagination.


*One thing that is clearly illegal in the EU is price discrimination based on nationality or country of residence. The other stuff is often more murky. Disneyland Paris got into trouble when they allegdly charged hire rates for hotel bookings from the UK.

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