Ticket/express pass questions


DIS Veteran
Nov 5, 2008
My youngest (17 yo) was watching the ads for universal studios on TV and expressed interest. He’s a great kid who does pretty much whatever we ask and rarely asks for anything so DH and I decided to take him to UO for the last five days of April vacation 2020. In Mass that translates to the last weekend of April. We are booked at Loews Sapphire which includes early entry. We are all UO newbies. DH and I went one time in 1993 and it rained torrents so the parks were empty and because it was raining so hard we didn’t stay long. (We still have the ponchos we bought that day. They’ve held up well.) lm sure in 26 years lots has changed.

I way over plan for my trips and have done some digging but have a lot of questions about tickets/express pass. Trying to figure out the best tickets to buy (and when to buy them).

We booked for 4 nights and will have three full days and two half days. The undercover tourist crowd calendar has one day at a crowd level of 7 and the rest 6. Will we need all three full days at the two main parks or will we also have time for a day at the water park. Will it even be warm enough for the water park? I guess I am asking would you recommend 2, 3, 4 or 5 day tickets. If you recommend only two or two and a half days and skip the water park then I will also get tickets for sea world or maybe rent a car for the day and run to Kennedy Space center. I have AAA and their UO tickets are cheaper than anywhere else. If I buy their tickets now will they still be good in April? Or will universal or one of the other resellers have a sale at the holidays that will make their tickets a better buy? Given the predicted crowds do you recommend express pass? Would I need it for all the days or just the day rated 7. If you do recommend express pass can I add it to the AAA tickets? And how do I do that?

Also, universal is quoting express pass at 589 for 5 days for right now but won’t price them out for April. I’m also trying to figure out if this price would hold for then or if I’d be better off upgrading to Hard Rock for the trip. I did the math and if we upgrade to Hard rock I will save $300 at the current rate but would only do this if you think I would need express pass for the all the days and if I can use their express pass with the AAA tickets.

Some notes about my DS which may influence recommended tickets. He is highly intelligent and hates to be bored. He will patiently wait in line but hates repeating an activity. As a result we will end up doing each ride only once, visit each area only once unless we go back for a specific purpose such as dinner reservations because we want this vacation to be about what he wants.

I may not be capturing the full picture of all there is to see and do so please please offer any tips you think appropriate.


DIS Veteran
Mar 5, 2007
If you’re staying at an onsite deluxe resort, you can get your tickets anywhere. The EP is on your room key, not your ticket.

And onsite-included EP is good from checking to when parks close on check out, in case you didn’t know that. Early entrance is also included.

I can’t really help with the other questions. We are BIG re-riders. We are BIG go and wander and enjoy and breathe it all in day after day people. We stay onsite deluxe no matter what the crowd calendars say; if it saves me 5 minutes per ride, that’s 5 minutes times a bunch of rides, and I’m happy with it. And I haven’t felt the urge to ever visit a water park, or to go to Canaveral. So obviously others will help with that.

It’s super nice of you guys to do this for your son. But please don’t forget that you guys get to have fun, too. :teeth:


DIS Veteran
Feb 16, 2010
Sapphire Falls is an amazing beautiful resort and you’ll love it! If you don’t like to do anything more than once and don’t mind lines, I wouldn’t worry about having EP. I’d suggest going to VB as well as the parks in your case. That’s your three full days. You should definitely enjoy the beautiful resort on your check in day, the pool, the restaurants and lounge. That leaves you check out day. If you missed any of the rides at the parks hit them then. Also, don’t forget City Walk. Maybe you can do Blue Man Group there one of the nights? I hope you all have a great time!


DIS Veteran
Jul 22, 2017
You will also be able to utilize single rider lines, which are really helpful on many rides.


DIS Veteran
Sep 5, 2007
get the park to park tickets whatever you do. riding the Hogwarts express( in each direction) is a must do. plus tbh, on days where everyone seems to crowd one park, its nice to be able to just hop on over to the other. we aren't big on water parks, and April could be iffy as far as water temp versus air temp. Sea World is an okay park, but it's mostly shows and very few rides plus of course all the critters. there is an attached water park as well, but not sure what the hours would be in April. SF does NOT come with Express pass included so you may have to budget for that based on projected crowd level. for us, it's always worth having so we book RPH usually( tried Portofino once and it was kinda gloomy decor wise)

we rarely do anything more than once either. that being said, it is possible to do each park fully, riding everything at least once, in a day.. usually less. we just left a week ago and were done for the day by early afternoon which gave us plenty of time to enjoy the pool at RPH.


DIS Veteran
Apr 21, 2002
There's not going to be that much difference between a 6 and a 7 crowd calendar wise... probably going to be fairly busy. If you don't want to wait in lines, then Express Pass is probably a good idea...usually most affordable to stay at Deluxe hotel to get them.

I would wait to buy tickets and see if a promotion is offered... if they offer the Buy 2 get 3 free offer again that sounds like it would suit your needs.. think that promo also could be bought with the Express Pass option with the same buy 2 get 3 free. But there's no guarantee anything like that will be offered.

If none of the above work out, you can wait until there to determine if want Express Pass and just buy on days you want.

If your 2 half days are travel days, have to factor in delays if flying...know we lost our first half day due to flight cancellation and reschedule.

If your not big on the re-rides, then you could do the 2 main parks in 2 days especially if have Express Pass...then if want to do Volcano Bay or Sea World 3rd day.....if do Sea World could even transfer to a cheaper hotel (Sea World partner hotels offer free one time use Quick Que, their version of Express Pass...but they never checked off our uses so they were effectively unlimited). Then have the half days for whatever.

Only thing would worry about at the moment is getting the hotel you want so can keep an eye on rate drops to get better deals. As said, would wait on tickets for offers and that they are frequently nonrefundable or have to pay a fee, in case vacation plans fall through.


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