Universal Orlando VIP Experience – Review

Hogwarts, Universal Orlando

When I was researching the Universal Orlando VIP Experience I struggled to find information on what it actually consisted of. This is my post to try and help others decide on whether it’s right for you! In short, I loved it!

I had a few questions beforehand and I couldn’t find answers: how much does the Universal VIP Experience cost? Was the VIP Experience worth it? How does it compare to a ‘normal’ park ticket?

Although this post was originally written in 2017, I’ve updated it with new 2022 thoughts.

My trip to Universal Orlando was in October 2016 and it was my first trip to a theme park where I was actually trying everything. I’d been to PortAventura World in Spain a couple of times but I’d always stuck to the ‘smaller’ rides…

We opted for the Universal VIP Experience because being first on any ride across both parks, free valet parking, free food and behind the scenes tour made it a worthwhile purchase. We were also concerned that we wouldn’t be able to do everything in both parks in one day. This package let us do this comfortably! Another perk of the VIP Experience is that you don’t have to queue for any of the Harry Potter rides. Even the Express passes don’t work on all of these. The waiting times were really high so we saved a lot of time.

In 2022, the prices begin at $239 per person plus tax (it was from $189 plus tax in 2017). Our tickets were $349 plus tax when we visited in October. You do have to remember that you have to buy a park ticket too which added on another $164 plus taxes per person (was $155 in 2017). It’s one of those ‘we’ll do it once’ kind of things! There’s a price comparison further down so have a look for more information.

Before the Universal VIP Experience

We arrived at the Universal Studios Florida park first to test out my stomach on some of the bigger rollercoasters. The VIP Experience started at 10am but you get Express Unlimited tickets for the whole day. So we decided to go at 9am and get an hour of rides and really make the most of our Express passes. Within this hour we managed to go on five rides: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, the new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, Transformers: The Ride-3D, Men in Black Alien Attack and The Simpsons Ride. My stomach held up. Just!

Although… As I hadn’t been on a rollercoaster before I misunderstood the instructions on how to tighten my seat on the Ripe Ride Rockit rollercoaster. This rollercoaster goes straight up so you’re at a 90 degree angle (picture in the gallery below! Arghh!) before a big drop. My girlfriend will dispute this but I was falling out of the seat! I chose ‘I Will Survive’ as the song to listen to, very appropriate!

Start of the VIP Experience

At around 9.50am we headed towards the room we were told to go to for our breakfast. They provided cereal and the usual continental breakfast. They also provided free bottles of water so you can stock up for your venture round the parks. We were then split in to groups of around 6 people depending on our preference for certain rides. Our guide was this introduced to us, he would be taking us round for the day.

The guide has a rough list of rides that he wants to take us on but this can be tailored for the group so if we wanted more rollercoasters then he’d move the rides and fit them to suit us. Armed with our VIP lanyards, we were off!

VIP Experience Pass, Universal Orlando

VIP Pass!

Universal Studios Florida

Unfortunately the first two rides we went to were the Rip Ride Rockit and the Despicable Me ride so we were going on them again but you literally get in the side door so no queuing and straight on which is fantastic! This time on the Rip Ride Rockit I realised my seating mistake from earlier where I almost fell out – I was fine and secure this time…

Our VIP Experience came with lunch included so you could get a main meal, side and a drink at any of the restaurants on site too. Half way through the tour you get the opportunity to go off on your own to find some lunch and then meet back to enjoy some more rides.

We were taken on a total of EIGHT rides in the morning! Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers, ET Adventure, The Simpsons Ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and then travel on the Hogwarts Express to the second park, Universal’s Island of Adventure. When the group skips the queue then the guide chooses the best seats for the group before everyone gets on so if you want the front seats then you can just ask for them.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

One of the good things about the tour was that you could vary the rides based on what the group likes. The guide said we probably wouldn’t be able to make it to Jurassic Park River Adventure because the group decided to go on to another ride. However, my girlfriend really wanted to go on this one so asked if we could try and fit it in. The guide was great and moved things around, hurried people along and we were able to fit the Jurassic Park ride in. This was really cool and we appreciated this a lot.

Your VIP Experience includes a drink and a small snack so you can trade in your voucher for a Butterbeer or water depending on your preferences. In the second park, our guide took us on to a total of four rides: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man, Dragon Challenge, Jurassic Park River Adventure and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This was before the big one…

Our guide definitely saved the best for last. The Incredible Hulk Coaster. As I mentioned, this was the first visit that I’d actually gone on to rollercoasters. I was quite worried about this one, not going to lie! The website states that you’ll be launched upward of 150 feet and reach a top speed of 67 mph… Another guy in our group backed out and I was very close. The guide talked me through it and said it would be fine so on I went! It was the best ride I’d been at all day. It was amazing!

There wasn’t a better way to end the day! We gave our guide a tip and thanked him for the experience. The experience finished at around 6pm and then you could still use your Express pass until the parks finished if you wanted to.

Hulk Rollercoaster, Universal Orlando

Hulk Rollercoaster, THE best ride within the parks!

Cool Additional Things

Our guide was there to answer any questions we had about the rides, the park, Florida, anything! He was also able to give us some cool little stories about the different rides. For example, if Universal ever rebrand a ride in to something new then they’ll leave little mementos and throwbacks to the ride that it used to be within the new ride. He would also provide a ‘scary’ rating based on the ride we were going on so people could decide whether they wanted to go on to it or not. I went on everything but it was good for others who didn’t fancy certain rides.

We were also taken for a sneak peak at the sets for the Halloween Horror Nights events which included a replica of the Exorcist house and sets from American Horror Story. We were also taken round the Universal offices which included lots of information on what has been filmed in the studios there. Our guide also told us some information on unannounced news. We found out that a deal had just been agreed for Nintendo Land which would be coming to Universal at some point. This has since been announced so that was pretty cool! Can’t wait to try Mario Kart out at Universal! (2022 Update: Nintendo Land in Orlando is still not open)

You should remember that you get a 10% discount with your VIP Experience pass in the Universal shops too.

Price Comparison

VIP Experience
VIP Experience Ticket: $349 + $22.69 tax = $371.69
2 Park Ticket: $155 + $10.08 tax = $165.08
TOTAL: $536.77

’Normal’ Visit
2 Park Ticket: $155 + $10.08 tax = $165.08
Express Pass: $89 + $5.79 tax = $94.79
Valet Parking: $40
Breakfast plus Water: $20
Lunch: $40
Snack and Drink: $20
10% Discount: $5
TOTAL: $384.87

There is also an opportunity to go on a Private VIP Experience which is just for your party. You have to call up to get a price but I think it was around $2,500 for each group. A group can have between two and five people so the price per person will obviously go down the more you convince to come along. This is subject to change and based on my memory so a call to Universal would probably be my recommendation if you’re interested in this. The good things within this is that you can customise the itinerary completely and you get lunch and dinner in a restaurant amongst other things.

Gringott's Dragon, Universal Orlando

Gringott’s Dragon Turning the Heat Up

Complete Ride List

Using Express Pass Before VIP Experience (5)
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
Transformers: The Ride-3D
Men in Black Alien Attack
The Simpsons Ride

VIP Experience (13)
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
Revenge of the Mummy
Transformers: The Ride-3D
ET Adventure
The Simpsons Ride
Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
Hogwarts Express
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man
Jurassic Park River Adventure
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Dragon Challenge
The Incredible Hulk Coaster


The whole day was amazing! Now it is a lot of money but weighed up against a ‘normal day’ we took the decision that it was for us and the benefits you got made the small difference in money worth it for us. You get to see the best of both parks in one day and provided with loads of cool information you wouldn’t get through a basic visit.

I hope you now have the information you need from this Universal Studios VIP review. The costs have gone up since 2017, but that’s to be expected. I still recommend it completely. We’ll be looking to do it again once Nintendo Land opens in Orlando.

If you decide to go for it, let me know what you thought of your day.

Universal Orlando

Amazing Universal Orlando Skyline


Universal Orlando VIP Experience - Review

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  1. Skyring
    October 30, 2017 / 1:36 am

    You almost fell out????? You could have ended the day right there. Don’t they check?

    Not a big fan of roller coasters. They try to tell me I’ll be fine. “Look. it’s got a 99.9% safety rating,” they tell me. But no. I want to sit in a shady place with a cool drink and wait for the chap who hasn’t done up his belt properly.

    Seriously, sounds like you had a fabulous experience. a lot of money, as you say, but if you felt satisfied at the end, hey, that’s value, right?

    • David
      November 6, 2017 / 2:28 pm

      If I had that would’ve really put a downer on my visit!

      Haha there were some people with us that were quite happy to chill at the side. I was getting pushed by my girlfriend and the guide so I couldn’t let them down! Great day and I’ll be looking to do similar at other parks I visit

  2. concreteandkitsch
    October 30, 2017 / 4:35 am

    I’ve never been to Orlando, or visited any of the Disney parks, but think if you’re going to do it once in your life, better to take the VIP route! I’ll be sure to let people know of your post if they tell me about potential plans to go there.

  3. October 30, 2017 / 4:48 am

    Great tips! When I will visit Florida someday, both Disney and Universal will be on my list. Sounds so much fun and this was a very thorough guide! Thanks for sharing!

  4. October 30, 2017 / 10:59 am

    We been to universal in LA and i can imagine what a wonderful thing it would be to go again in Florida. Planning to visit there next year. Hope we get to go.

  5. mscgerber
    October 31, 2017 / 6:17 pm

    Thanks for the insights. I visited the Six Flags Magic Mountain in California last year and made similar experiences: The VIP / fast passes offer a great value in my opinion.

    • David
      November 6, 2017 / 2:30 pm

      Before I went I was a hesitant on spending so much money on it but it really is great value for money not to mention the time saving too. It would’ve taken us more than one trip to get on 18 rides

  6. November 1, 2017 / 8:28 am

    Wow that VIP pass sure does sound great! Free food, behind the scenes tour and express passes got me sold! 😉 Expensive – true, but I think it’s worth the extra cash! 😉 Sometime it’s OK to splurge 😉 The Hulk Rollercoaster looks really scary.. I don’t know if I can try it, though. LOL.

    • David
      November 6, 2017 / 2:28 pm

      Haha I was exactly the same about the Hulk before I went on but it’s amazing! You should definitely try it!

  7. Yogita
    November 2, 2017 / 2:00 am

    Love the details information in this blog, I am planning a trip some time next year to Florida, would check it out

  8. November 5, 2017 / 4:58 am

    Thanks for detailing out the experience and also including the details of rides and everything else. Often we feel VIP experiences are so much more costly, and we get into this dilemma that whether we should go for them and they will really do justice to our experience at that cost. That is where a balanced review like yours comes so handy

  9. November 5, 2017 / 4:47 pm

    I never had fantasy towards theme parks but your experience sounds total fun! Though the tickets are way too high but doing in VIP way will add on extra fun. Thank God for u being safe as it could have been major mishap! Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. November 5, 2017 / 6:13 pm

    Really great comparison of prices at the bottom … i can see that the VIP experience definitely seems worth the extra little cost. Nice to know how personalized and accommodating the guides are

    • David
      November 6, 2017 / 2:31 pm

      They really were excellent, the guy we had would try to do as much as he could to help and was always on hand to answer my (annoying) questions!