I am looking at rebooking our one week stay in July using AP’s for two of us. Have Disney AP’s that have never been used because of the pandemic. Will start them in October of this year we hope. Now I have been reading about Universal AP’s and our travel agent seems to think it saves more all around instead of booking without one. What are the advantages of buying Universal AP’s. and what discounts are available? Food, merchandise, and resort. Supposedly there are a number of them available with some including two parks and others three. Some have Volcano Bay after 4pm while others for quite a bit more money include all three parks with no restrictions. Are they worth it? We are not big water park fans and we do have the resort pools. Discounts on food and merchandise would be nice. AP people please tell me what you think of the AP’s… thanks
We have had UOR APs for a few years now despite living in Washington State. The biggest perk for me is the 40% (or more) off hotels that is available pretty much all the time. For example, in late July we are booked at Portofino Bay (which is usually the most expensive resort there) for $279 plus tax a night. Rack rate right now is $514 a night plus tax without an AP. That’s a discount of 45%. All pass levels get the hotel discount, and several of the passes cost about the same as a multi day ticket. You do need to look at the block out calendar to see which passes are blocked when. We always visit Volcano Bay, so it works for us to have it on the AP. The pools are great at the resorts though, so unless you like thrill ride style water rides, a 2 park pass that does not include Volcano Bay may suit your needs.
Food discounts are 15% off at UOR owned restaurants and carts. 10%-20% at resort restaurants.
This is a great link to see the differences. If you scroll down it tells you all the discounts based on type of AP.
I’ll add that Universal often has 15 month deals for annual passes, and you don’t need to have an annual pass when you book a hotel at the APH rate. You can wait to see if they will have the special before buying the pass. You can also buy a ticket from a 3rd party reseller for some savings and upgrade that to your annual pass.
If you don’t have any plans to return to universal in the next year, only one person needs to hold the annual pass to get the APH rate at the hotel.
To go a bit further, I’m gonna add this link to show price break downs of the APs
Sadly, Universal website isn’t exactly “user friendly” and even basic info can be buried in multiple links…
Get the pass! Sounds like you’d only want the 2-park pass.
The breakeven point to get a pass is 4 days. As in a 4-day ticket is about the same price as a seasonal pass. The seasonal passes have blackout dates, so I’d guess your minimum is the next one up. But. since you will be there a week, even one of the more expensive passes will be at least breakeven.
Also,. all the passes come with the same hotel discounts. They just want one person to have an annual pass of any variety.
Same for the discounts and parking, only one person needs to have the pass at that level.
In you decision making, start with the cheapest pass that doesn’t have your days blacked out. Then look at what the next pass up will get you, and then the one after that. The second cheapest pass comes with half price parking. Not sure on the discounts. The preferred pass comes with free parking, 10%? discounts at places and early entry at all but the busiest days. The premier pass adds on free valet parking (or is it just preferred parking?), 15%? discount and express pass after 4pm.
For us, we were driving, so one person getting preferred was the minimum for the free parking. The upgrade from seasonal to preferred for one pass was the same as 4 days of parking. Then we got preferred for everyone because we wanted to early entry and we rented a 2/2 condo offsite for $70/night. So staying offsite more than paid for the upgrade to the passes. I decided against the Premier Pass because I don’t like Valet Parking, when we arrived for early entry regular parking is better than preferred, and we didn’t stay that late every day so 4pm express passes wasn’t interesting.
You will be going in a busier time, so 4 pm express passes might be worthwhile to you. Unless you will be staying in a premier hotel onsite and then you’ll get EP’s for all day. Staying onsite anyplace gets early entry.
Note on the food/merch discounts. I hadn’t included them in my calculations. We were doing the QS dining plans, which doesn’t get the discount) and we don’t buy much merch. But, we bought a HP robe for me ($140?) and a wand for DD ($55). Also, for mobile ordering which is being pushed now, you can’t use the dining plan when mobile ordering, but you CAN use your pass discount. So, it came in more handy than I would have thought.
For me, the hotel discount. We have to go at busier times and so I like to stay at the resorts with Express Pass included (given there are four of us, so it’s less expensive than buying separately). The AP discount is absolutely fantastic! This link takes you to the AP prices by date. Any pass type gets you the same discount. https://res.windsurfercrs.com/ibe/default.aspx?hgID=641&langID=1&checkin=1/22/2018&nights=1&rooms=1&adults=2&children=0&promo=aph&iata=&group=&hotels=&ada=
Depending on which AP you get, the discounts can add up at other places. This link shows the discount by type (may be same link as dark mite added). https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/tickets-packages/annual-passes/uoap-types
It does take a bit to review for discounts and blockout dates. The Season Pass also blocks out US for festivals and concerts, and sometimes you can’t tell what days those are from their site. I had to do some digging/searching on other sites to see what those dates were in prior years and estimate. I think that concert/festival blockout type is only for seasonal, but the site will tell you.
The cost breakdown is likely that it’s cheaper to buy a pass (depending on which one), than day tickets, depending on how many days you are there. The water park / 3 park pass costs about $100 more, so skip it and do the 2 park one of you don’t like them. As far as the express pass after 4 option, depends on where you are staying. Royal pacific, Portofino bay, and Hard rock have unlimited express passes for all guests on the reservation, starting the day you check in and including the day you check out. So if you are staying at one of those, the after 4pm EP on that AP isn’t a big benefit.
I’ve written several articles on UOAPs and will be writing a “how much could you actually save” article soon.
Here’s one on the hotel discounts alone.
Other discounts include food, beverages, merchandise, and other tickets.
Information here and elsewhere swayed me to purchase an AP for upcoming trip and feeling good about it based on hotel discounts alone. I think I read to get discounts on additional tickets with AP, must purchase on-site. Is there a problem with waiting to buy park tickets until we arrive? We will be staying on site at Portofino Bay (thanks to AP discount!).
We love our APs for the hotel discount! I think the general consensus is that the AP discount on additional tickets isn’t that great and folks are still buying elsewhere (Undercover Tourist etc.) Others may chime in on this though!
A few things to consider regarding purchasing tickets at the gate: 1) online deals through universal or 3rd party sites are often better than the AP discount (15% at most) on multiple-day tickets at the gate. 2) Under current reduced-capacity conditions, they’ve sold out of date-based tickets during the busy spring break time. If traveling during similar busy time, same-day ticket availability could become an issue. I’m sure there are ways around this, but something to consider. 3) Waiting in line for tickets is annoying.