While we await information for Rock the Universe 2024, please enjoy details from 2023’s event!
Universal bills its annual Rock the Universe event, which is held after-hours at Universal Studios Florida, as Florida’s biggest Christian music festival. Whether that’s technically true or not, you’ll be more than ready to “rock, ride, and rejoice” when the celebration comes back for its 25th year in January 2023 – more than just being a collection of the biggest names in the Christian rock scene, Rock the Universe also encapsulates a few other experiences across its weekend-long event. This year, the event will take place on January 27 through 29, 2023.
If you’re still not used to seeing those event dates in the beginning of the year, don’t worry – you’re not alone. After 20 years of throwing the annual shindig in early September, just before Halloween Horror Nights, Universal moved Rock the Universe to late January/early February in 2019, the time frame that was previously occupied by A Celebration of Harry Potter. Since that wizarding event has been canceled (at least, for the time being), it created a new window for the faith-based party to be held in, just a week before Mardi Gras kicks off.
As Universal itself put it in 2019: “Now in winter. Cooler than ever.”
Rock the Universe 2023 – overview and explanation
Rock the Universe was initiated by Universal in 1998 as a way to directly compete with Walt Disney World Resort’s own Christian rockfest, Night of Joy, which had begun 16 years previously; up until 2018, when Disney suddenly pulled the plug on its celebration, the two companies tended to schedule their rival events during the same exact weekend (and to also swap the same musical acts back and forth, as well).
To tip the scale in its own favor, however, Universal has added several sweeteners to the pot over the decades, building out a more robust experience than what Disney typically offered. In addition to the main action at the Universal Music Plaza, there has historically been a secondary stage, autograph sessions, a live DJ, candle-lighting ceremony, and a Sunday morning prayer service.
Finally, if you arrive as the head of a youth group, special lounges have been set up for you to take a break from all the rocking, riding, and supervising.
Rock the Universe 2023 – tickets
The biggest thing to know about Rock the Universe is that it’s a hard-ticketed event, meaning that daytime admission won’t get you access to all the concerts and other associated experiences at nighttime. The second most important item to know is that Universal offers up several different ticket variations, ranging from night-only passes to weekend-long vacation packages.
A basic Rock the Universe ticket will allow you entry to the event, which starts up at 4:00 pm but doesn’t get fully swinging until 6:00 pm, when Universal Studios Florida closes to day guests. This ticket comes in one- or two-night varieties; the former costs $79.99 and allows you to chose which night you’d like to attend, while the latter is $119.99. (Yes, if you’re an annual passholder, you get a special discount.)
The Rock Your Weekend ticket couples admission to the music fest at night with entry to Universal Orlando Resort’s various parks during the day. With this ticket, guests can enjoy the parks during the day and Rock the Universe at night.
Here’s what ticket prices look like in 2023:
- 1-Night Rock The Universe After 4pm Event Ticket – $79.99
- 2-Night Rock The Universe After 4pm Event Ticket – $119.99
- Rock the Universe 2-Park One Park Per Day Rock Your Weekend Ticket – $135.99
- Rock the Universe 2-Park Park-to-Park Rock Your Weekend Ticket – $180.99
- Rock the Universe 3-Park One Park Per Day Rock Your Weekend Ticket – $135.99
- Rock the Universe 3-Park Park -to-Park Rick Your Weekend Ticket – $180.99
Are you going as part of a youth group? As long as you have a gathering of at least 10, you’re eligible for group pricing and benefits. Let’s tackle that last item: not only will the event’s youth-leader lounges (which come replete with complimentary snacks and/or refreshments) be available to you, but you’ll also get an extra ticket for free for every 10 that you purchase (please note that they all have to be the same type).
Express Passes do what they always do – allow you to skip the main line to get on a particular ride faster. Much as with Halloween Horror Nights, Express must be specially purchased for Rock the Universe; the normal, daytime version of the tickets won’t work at all. A Rock the Universe Express After 4pm – One Time Per Ride (which costs $24.99) can only be used once per participating attraction, while Rock the Universe Express After 4pm – Unlimited Times Per Ride ($34.99) can be used as many times as you’d like. (For a full accounting of what Express Passes are and how they work, please see our complete guide.)
Rock the Universe 2023 – concerts
Here’s the lineup for 2023:
Friday, January 27
- Tauren Wells
- Bethel Music
- Rend Collective
- Evan Craft
- Kathy Nichole
Saturday, January 28
- Zach Williams
- Matthew West
- Dante Bowe
- Anne Wilson
- We Are Messengers
Rock the Universe 2023 – additional experiences
First up is the Coca-Cola FanZone, located in the New York section of the park. Beyond offering a chance for fans to connect with – and get autographs from – their favorite musicians at night, there’s a smaller, secondary stage set up for DJ Promote and a whole other round of performers.
Historically on Saturday night, at the Music Plaza stage, there’s the candle lighting ceremony, a type of mini-service that includes a special appearance by one of the headlining bands, and Sunday morning sees a non-denominational Worship Service (admission is covered with your Rock the Universe ticket).