Universal raises its ticket prices: What you need to know (and how to save a lot of money right now!)

Universal raises its ticket prices: What you need to know (and how to save a lot of money right now!)

Universal raises its ticket prices: What you need to know (and how to save a lot of money right now!)

0

Your vacation to Universal Orlando Resort – particularly if you’re visiting the Wizarding World(s) of Harry Potter! – just got a little more expensive yesterday.

 

Putting it in context – the who, what, where, when, & why

For the last two years, Universal has been the company to initiate the annual round of ticket price increases, usually around Memorial Day. This time, however, Disney struck first, quietly upping its prices last weekend. The industry has been holding its breath to see whether Universal would follow suit sooner rather than later, and word leaked out last night – as Orlando Informer was first to report – that the other shoe had, in fact, dropped.

What makes this year’s hikes so much more controversial than at any year before is – well, a whole host of factors, really. First and foremost, there’s the timing of the move; this is the first time in nearly a decade that the theme park operators opted to up their prices so early in the year (which results in the unfortunate side effect of them having raised prices twice in the past 12-month period).

Then there’s the reason why: although Disney patently refuses to comment on the rationale behind the early move, analysts believe it’s a preemptive play for Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, which, of course, opens this summer. There’s due to be a great deal of spillover business from Universal Orlando to Walt Disney World in the huge deluge of guests that will descend on Central Florida, and by raising prices now, some four months early, it actually allows for Disney to increase them again come opening time. (The same is true for Universal, by the way, making this the first occurrence in a considerably long time that all the parks may see multiple increases in one calendar year.)

But most interestingly of all is the fact that Disney did this in what is essentially a sneak move: without announcing it beforehand (which is strongly atypical for the company), and doing so late on a Saturday evening, when all the press was at a media event being held at Universal Studios Florida for its annual Mardi Gras celebration. It may come across as incredibly underhanded, but it also allows for the greatest possible delay in reporting the news.

 

The new prices – and the high cost of visiting the boy wizard

Enough with the backstory already – what’s the damage?

A one-day, one-park ticket – what Universal formally calls a Base ticket – will now cost you $96 (before taxes) at the gate, up from last year’s price of $92. (Just to compare with Disney’s new pricing: a similar ticket to Magic Kingdom costs $99, while its other three parks – Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom – come in at $94. This is also a four-buck increase, across the board).

Here’s a rundown of all the Base ticket prices at the gate (please note these are all for adults and before tax):

  • One day: $96.00 (2014); $92.00 (2013)
  • Two days: $155.99 (2014); $145.99 (2013)
  • Three days: $165.99 (2014); $160.99 (2013)
  • Four days: $175.99 (2014); $170.99 (2013)

That’s an increase of $10.00 or less – significant, but not too painful.

It’s with the Park-to-Park option that things get quite drastic: a one-day, multi-park ticket at the gate comes in at $136.00 (before taxes), an eight dollar hike from last year’s price, but a two-day, multi-park ticket at the gate is now a whopping $195.99 – up almost 30 dollars from 2013. That’s an unbelievable 17% increase, and it’s all because of that pesky Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.

With the Hogwarts Express requiring that guests have a Park-to-Park ticket in order to leave Diagon Alley for Hogsmeade (or vice versa), it’s a no-brainer for the Universal bean-counters to target this side of the ticketing column. And with the “multi-sensory,” randomized train ride set to be one of the hottest and, potentially, most unique attractions in the history of the theme park industry, it’s also a no-brainer that the company can essentially name its price.

Here’s the full breakdown of the Park-to-Park ticket prices at the gate (again, for adults and excluding tax):

  • One day: $136.00 (2014); $128.00 (2013)
  • Two days: $195.99 (2014); $166.99 (2013)
  • Three days: $205.99 (2014); $179.99 (2013)
  • Four days: $215.99 (2014); $187.99 (2013)

At approximately $30 apiece, these prices are triple the increase of their single-park counterparts.

 

Our secret to you: Here’s how to save a boatload of cash – for now

Universal may have already put all of 2014’s new pricing into effect at the park gates, but, for now, it’s failed to do so on its website and with its third-party ticket distributors. This means, if you act soon, you can still buy that covetous two-day Park-to-Park ticket for about $150.00 – saving you $50 off the current gate price for the same ticket.

Our preferred ticket distributor is UndercoverTourist.com (scroll down to the Universal section).

Otherwise, you can view and buy tickets on UniversalOrlando.com, too.

Tip: Universal Orlando’s annual passes are, for the moment, an extreme value, as well. In fact, the price of a Power Pass (the basic AP, with a few blockout dates) is actually less than the new three-day Park-to-Park ticket price at the gates. Learn more.

 

If I buy tickets now, how long are they good for?

Let’s go ahead and answer this question right here for ya! General admission tickets to Universal Orlando never expire until the first day any portion of the ticket is first used. Once that happens, any remaining days on the ticket are good for 14 days.

In plain English, this means you can buy tickets now for your vacation later this year, next year, or the year after, and none of the days will expire until you first use the ticket at the turnstiles. Then, if you have a multi-day ticket, any remaining days need to be used within 14 days.

Very important: what I just described is for general admission tickets. If you purchase any sort of promotional ticket, like the current “buy two days, get the third day free” offer, expiration dates may apply. Just be sure to read the details before completing any purchase.

 

Whichever way you’re leaning, you better hurry fast – God only knows when the one hand of Universal will talk to the other and rectify the situation. And remember… this may be only the first price hike for 2014. Expect to potentially see another one around the typical time frame of Memorial Day – and, if so, expect to see a one-day Base ticket tip the scales at $100 (or more).

Happy hunting.

 

Editor’s note: saving at Universal Orlando goes far beyond just what you pay for admission. When you’re finished with this article, we invite you to visit us in the OI Universal Center, where you can meticulously plan your Universal vacation entirely for free!

 

[sws_author_bio user=”msunyata@yahoo.com” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by Marc” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]

Marc N. Kleinhenz Marc N. Kleinhenz’s first dream in life was to be an astronaut. His second was an Imagineer. While neither completely worked out, he now works exclusively for Orlando Informer as a writer, editor, and podcast co-host. He’s also written for 32 other sites (including Screen Rant, IGN, The Escapist, and California Informer [OI's sister site]), has had his fiction featured in several publications, and has even taught English in Japan. Imagineering school won’t be too far behind.

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Lesley Anderson
Guest
Lesley Anderson

Thanks, now bought our tickets

Darren Bown
Guest
Darren Bown

Bought the tickets for our trip in October 2014 in June 2013 🙂

Kim Roth Andrikanich
Guest
Kim Roth Andrikanich

Glad I bought my tickets earlier this week:)

Karen Thistleton
Guest
Karen Thistleton

We need 4day park to park tickets for November, might look at APs if they are cheaper and still park to park

Jude Harley
Guest
Jude Harley

Can you not try a way to get UK tickets? We get 14 day unlimited Park to park access for about $185

Jayne Raywell
Guest
Jayne Raywell

Always the same first Disney hike up the price and Universal follow! I will have to reconsider going to all the parks in one trip.

Rachel Mulieri
Guest
Rachel Mulieri

Bought my tickets for Jan 2015 from Undercover tourist in Sept 2013..

guest
Guest
guest

Could this have anything to do with the rumored delays in the new WWoHP expansion construction?

OrlandoInformer
Guest
OrlandoInformer

@guest  What is the “this” you’re referring? Do you just mean the ticket price increase? If so, I actually would think they’d delay a price increase if construction was really delayed. Seems to me, if anything, a February price increase would indicate that construction is on schedule.

TheMackMachine
Guest
TheMackMachine

Do you know how much it costs to upgrade a 1-day base ticket to a 1 day multi-park pass?

OrlandoInformer
Guest
OrlandoInformer

TheMackMachine  The upgrade price is the difference between what you paid for the ticket you’re upgrading and the current *gate* price of the ticket you’re upgrading to – so an exact answer depends on (1) when you bought your original ticket and (2) the gate pricing as of the day you upgrade.

Jttwinly
Guest
Jttwinly

Hello, do you think the annual pass prices will go up as well? Thanks

OrlandoInformer
Guest
OrlandoInformer

Jttwinly  Yes, likely sooner than later.

HelenB
Guest
HelenB

Thanks for this timely and very informative post! I bought 3 day park-to-park tickets from an online agent for $165, including tax, just a month ago (January 29, to be precise). Now you’re telling me that these tickets have gone up $41 to $205, and that’s before taxes! Yowsa!’

I just looked and the online agent still had 3 day park-to-park passes for $165 (including tax) so I bought another set, to use on our next trip in 2-3 years. With price increases this steep, it’s worth it!

Kim Coddington Hill
Guest
Kim Coddington Hill

The power pass (entry level annual pass) has blockout dates. I think it’s a clue as to when Diagon Alley may open on the Universal Studios side that the whole month of July is blocked out at Universal Studios only. I would guess late June at the earliest based on published blockout dates.

Dollarpusen
Guest
Dollarpusen

What about annual passes? Do they have an expiry date? I have an AP now and will still use this when I go in October. Can I buy a new AP now at great vaule and wait maybe three years before I start using it? I also thought of another “problem”. The least expensive AP has blackout dates. On those dates the tickets are not really park-to-park. What about the Harry Potter train for these people if they visit the parks on a day when one of the parks is blacked out? I assume that they wont be able to… Read more »

OrlandoInformer
Guest
OrlandoInformer

Dollarpusen I do think you could buy a full-priced, non-promotional AP right now and not use it for three years – then, when you first use it, you’d have a year of access. However, I don’t know if that would cause any hiccups for Universal’s system. They expect some delay between when an AP is bought and when it is first used, but not three years. I would highly recommend, if you are considering that option, to call and ask about it (and make sure your order is noted if that’s your plan).  Your assumption about the Hogwarts Express is… Read more »

Tonya Searles
Guest
Tonya Searles

Annual passes are an amazing value! If you want to visit park to park for at least 4 days, they are worth it even if you only make it that one trip in the whole year!

danyelle1
Guest
danyelle1

Thank you so much for this timely information. Our family of 20 (!) has been planning a trip for this December for several months now, and we were concerned the prices would go up before we bought our tickets. I had no idea they would jump quite so much though! We bought our tickets today from Undercover Tourist and saved over $400 off the new gate prices. Orlando Informer comes through for us again!