We haven’t visited Universal since pre-covid and we’re planning for a 1-day 1-park visit at IOA for dec. 28th (Monday). We’re not staying at any of the UOR hotels. I did not get the express option and wondering if I should have done that. Any thoughts on crowd levels? With opening at 8am, what time does parking open? Thanks!
Parking in October was about an hour before, maybe a little early. They’ll corral you on the moving walkways until they open security at about an hour before so parking may have opened a little earlier.
Not sure about now but it felt really crowded Columbus Day weekend and the following Saturday. Very long lines starting around 11am (2 hours+ for everything from Shrek up). My teen kiddos were going to have a late afternoon alone while hubby and I got a dinner together to celebrate the anniversary of our first date and I had to buy them last minute express passes and all that was available was the Universal park itself from 4pm and it was more expensive than the the full day online would have been. So my suggestion is if it’s in the budget it’s worth it. Or leave at lunch time and come back in the evening and be prepared for long lines.
I should add parking opened an hour before early entry so if early entry is at 7am then 6am
Yes. It will be busy - even now during COVID. Be aware that since you are not a on-site guest that the park can reach capacity and you can be turned away - even with a ticket. (This is the downside to no reservations.) I’d recommend you get there as early as your can. You can always buy the Universal Express Pass (UXP) at most gift shops while there. You do not have to buy it in advance. (I actually recommend this to most ppl)
The day we were there by lunchtime all that was left was the 4pm and later Universal Studios park only Express Pass and it was more expensive I think…so if you’re gonna wait till day don’t wait till the park gets crowded or they may be gone.
Good advice! I was meaning that if you get to the front gate & it already looks insane before park open - go into a gift shop ASAP to get one. (IMHO - with this being Christmas vacation week, I’d go ahead & buy it.)
I’m expecting every day during the holidays to close for capacity. It’ll be crowded, tour in the morning and right before closing.
Thank you! Very helpful. Also, is the early admission (if you stay at one of the hotels) only for Universal Studios? IOA doesn’t have early admission right?
It depends on the day…but when it’s crowded they often do both parks. I’ll go look at the calendar and see what it is right now…but it can change last minute.
Yup, they both have early entry:
FYI depending on how many people are in your party and what express passes you are buying this is what Dec 27-28 costs at Loews Royal Pacific (the cheapest hotel) which means if if you’re not spending the night you could park there early, get your express passes and head the park and might be cheaper than the cost of all the express passes.:
*And if you do this you get the early entry too!
For comparison…here’s how much four Islands of Adventure only Unlimited Express Passes cost (and ouch they are expensive this day! they are expecting a full park!)
I was totally oblivious of how much the express pass cost! OMG I thought it was in the range of $60/ticket lol. There’s no way we can afford that! Unreal Thanks for the help! It has opened my eyes (and grounded me for realistic expectations).
on a non peak day I believe a regular express pass for one park (one ride per attraction) starts from $59/person. But this is a peak day…Here you can see the cost for the single ride per attraction express pass for dec. (this is why if you were staying in a hotel of any type even a cheaper one that was $100-$150/night plus the cost of express pass it makes way more sense to stay at a deluxe hotel and is much cheaper plus you get nicer digs, walking distance, boats and your express passes are good for both days around your night and are unlimited park to park passes. and early entry).
Make a good touring plan! And get there an hour early since hotel guests/AP holders will already be in the parks.
I wonder why that’s the most expensive day?
The good news is Express is a nice luxury to have vs FastPastt at Disney which can feel like a requirement. Show up with a good touring plan roughly 90 minutes prior to official park open, take a mid-day break, and then return to close out the park.
Since a lot of people buy date based tickets I wonder if they know the predicted crowd levels and set the express pass price based on a certain level of date based ticket sales + history stats like touring plans does. I once went to Disney around New Years (never again!) and New Years Eve was definitely the most crowded day I was there. I got bruises on my calves and ankles from being run into multiple times by strollers but the wheelchair was the most painful hit. It was wall to wall people so I do find it interesting that the 28th and 29th are more expensive than New Years Eve but maybe Universal has different crowd patterns than Disney?