Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the best attractions in Southern California, but like many theme parks, the costs can add up. Luckily, you’re about to learn how to buy Universal Studios Hollywood discount tickets from authorized sellers that you can take straight to the gate!

Which method of saving money you choose depends on if you’re only visiting this park, if your itinerary includes other Los Angeles attractions, or whether you belong to a particular group. The below methods for buying discounted tickets for Universal Studios are legitimate active deals so that you don’t have to scour the internet for coupons, special offers, and promo codes that likely won’t work.

Universal Studios Hollywood is open. Park visits are now open to California residents and out-of-state visitors. Both ticket types are on sale now.

I specialize in helping people save money on theme park tickets and may be compensated should you purchase through some links in this post.

Before You Buy: Universal Studios Hollywood Ticket Tips

If you already know what kind of admission to purchase, jump to the best ticket discounts.

I’ve gone over tips for visiting Universal Studios Hollywood in detail, but here are a few things to know before buying tickets.

This fun theme park is still a working movie studio and television studio that the public can get a glimpse of via The World-Famous Studio Tour (with King Kong 360 3-D created by Peter Jackson as the Studio Tour’s grand finale). Over the last 50 years, they added nine rides and seven shows based on Universal movie properties, including Harry Potter, Transformers, Minions, and Jurassic Park, among others.

My daughter holds her Harry Potter wand in Hogsmeade at Universal Studios Hollywood.
My daughter stands with her wand in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

California and Out-of-State Resident Requirements

California residents may visit the park. All out-of-state residents can also visit.

You agree to follow Universal’s policies, based on state and CDC guidelines, which you can find listed in their full health and safety guidelines. You agree to abide by these guidelines when purchasing Universal Studios Hollywood admission.

In line with the State of California’s guidelines, all unvaccinated guests ages 2 and older are encouraged to wear face coverings and adhere to proper distancing requirements. All guests are encouraged to wear face coverings when indoors.

Gate Ticket Prices and Availability

The cost of Universal Studios Hollywood tickets rises and falls based on season and demand. If traveling during peak season, it is wise to purchase tickets in advance to avoid surge pricing.

Ticket options and gate prices are as follows:

  • 1-Day General Admission ticket (in-state resident), valid for a particular day only, is currently $99-129/ticket.
  • 1-Day General Admission ticket (out-of-state resident), valid for a particular day only, is currently $109-129/ticket.
  • 2-Day General Admission ticket, valid for one day and then any second day within 7 days after that, is $149-169/ticket.
  • Universal Express ticket, which entitles the older to one-time priority access to each ride, attraction, and seated show, is currently $179-$279/ticket.
  • VIP Experience tickets, which include unlimited priority access to all rides, attractions, and shows, as well as an expert-guided tour, a continental breakfast, a gourmet lunch in the VIP dining room, and valet parking, start at $349/ticket.

Kids under the age of 3 are always free.

Park Reservations are required

Check the online calendar for park hours. The park opens at different times, depending on the time of the year and the day of the week. All guests need to make reservations before visiting Universal Studios.

Universal Studios Hollywood Parking Tips

Usually, the general parking fee is currently $28 per car, from the time the park opens each day until 5 p.m., and $10 from 5 p.m. to the time the park closes. You also have the option for Preferred Parking before 5 p.m. for $35 and after 5 p.m. for $20.

Tip: You can use the Universal Studios Hollywood app to set a parking reminder so that you don’t forget where your car is.

If staying at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City or Sheraton Universal Hotel, they offer shuttles to the park but are within easy walking distance.

Read Terms and Conditions

Read all terms and conditions before purchasing a Universal Studios Hollywood ticket. Right now, restrictions include the inability to refund or transfer tickets.


1. Cheapest Park Only + Combo Tickets

aRes Travel is a San Diego based, authorized ticket seller to major California attractions that I have worked with for years. They offer some of the cheapest ways to buy discount Universal Studios Hollywood tickets for the park only or in combination with other popular Southern California theme parks for deeper savings during normal times. They charge a $2 convenience fee per ticket, but you will still likely come out ahead.

You can go straight to the gate with a printed or mobile ticket. You will select an arrival date at the time of purchase.


2. Universal Studios Hollywood Vacation Packages

You can also bundle your cheap tickets with 142 different hotels from budget to luxury in a vacation package. There are a lot of benefits to choosing nearby hotels, including skipping (hopefully) notorious L.A. traffic.

Hollywood, Beverly Hills and other famous attractions are short distances away from Universal City as well.

My daughter points her Harry Potter want toward a display of chocolate frogs.
Interactive displays are a hit.

3. Discounted Southern California Resident Tickets and Passes

During normal times, UniversalStudiosHollywood.com offers an online-only California Neighbor Pass that is good for 175 days throughout the year, including 25 weekend days if you can visit during off-peak dates.

Promotions for one-day or two-day California resident tickets tend to come and go, but aRes Travel tickets are still cheaper on many days. You’ll notice that right now in-state residents pay about $10 less on non-peak days.


4. Go Los Angeles

The Go Los Angeles pass saves up to 55% off of admission to nearly 40 top Los Angeles and other Southern California attractions, tours, and theme parks, usually including Universal Studios Hollywood (temporarily not available), in three simple steps:

  1. Choose the pass option that best suits you (you can buy an All-Inclusive pass for a set number of days or an Explorer pass with a certain number of attractions).
  2. Buy your pass in advance.
  3. Get your pass on a mobile device or print it at home.
  4. Show the pass at any eligible attraction, and you’re in.

Make sure the attractions you’d like to visit are listed on the option you buy. Options vary by the pass. Be sure to take advantage of my exclusive discount.


5. California Explorer Pass

Temporarily not available. Those visiting more than one major California city on their vacation should take a look at the California Explorer Pass. You’ll have 60 days to enjoy 3, 4 or 5 major attractions that include:

  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • LEGOLAND California
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • Knott’s Soak City
  • Six Flags Magic Mountain
  • SeaWorld San Diego
  • Belmont Park
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • California’s Great America
  • Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Do not forget to use my promo code for an exclusive discount on these sightseeing passes.

Universal Studios Hollywood globe at the entrance shines early in the morning.
The globe spins in the early morning California sun.

6. Universal Studios Online

I was an advocate of buying directly through Universal Studios Hollywood. Since they eliminated early entry as a perk for guests who buy direct, it usually makes more sense to buy Universal Studios Hollywood discounted tickets elsewhere.

They sometimes offer special ticket promotions, but there aren’t any better than the Universal Studios tickets from aRes Travel. If you are interested in purchasing annual passes (more on this below), you’ll need to buy them at universalstudioshollywood.com.


7. Military Discounts

Year-round discount options are available to all active and retired U.S. military personnel. These military tickets for Universal Studios Hollywood need to be purchased in advance at participating MWR/ITT offices throughout the United States as they are not available at the gate.

The set of "Jaws" as seen on The World-Famous Studio Tour, included with cheap Universal Studios Hollywood tickets.
The set of “Jaws” seen from the tram.

See also: How to buy San Diego Zoo Safari Park discount tickets


8. Costco

Occasionally, Costco sells Universal Studios Hollywood discount tickets. The best thing to do is to search the website to see what is currently on offer. If you’re not a Costco member, you’ll pay a 5% surcharge.

You can also keep checking the theme park tickets section of your local store.


9. AAA Discount

AAA members can save on one-day general admission tickets and VIP tickets when purchased in advance online at AAA.com/Universal or at participating AAA offices. The discounts may vary depending on which AAA club you belong to.

AAA members should bring their cards to the park. No matter which club you belong to, members receive a 10% discount at select park and Universal CityWalk locations.


10. Group Discounts

Universal Studios Hollywood discount tickets are available for groups of 10 or more people by calling 1-800-959-9688.


11. College Student Discounts

Universal Studios Hollywood partners with a long list of colleges to provide cheap tickets for students. Find your college on the list and click through to the special ticket purchasing area where you can save on 1-Day, California Neighbor, and Universal Express tickets. You can even pre-purchase parking (albeit at retail price).


12. Annual Passes

UniversalStudiosHollywood.com also offers Annual Passes. They are priced as follows.

  • California Neighbor Pass: $149 (temporarily not available)
  • Silver Annual Pass: $189 (California residents only)
  • Gold Annual Pass: $249 (California residents only)
  • Platinum Annual Pass: $449

Annual passes may be an attractive option for Southern California residents who intend to visit the park multiple times per year.

The main difference between the Silver or Gold annual passes is the number of available days that you can visit the park throughout the year. The Silver Pass allows you to visit on over 275 days while the Gold Annual Pass allows you to visit on over 325 availability days.

They also include discounts on friends and family tickets and 10-15% discounts at participating CityWalk locations. Gold passes include free General Parking and other in-park food, beverage, and merchandise discounts.

Annual Pass Members also need to make reservations for theme park visits. Check Pass Member Black-Out dates which can include holidays and some weekend days.


FAQs About Universal Studios Hollywood Tickets and More

I’ve compiled a list of related questions that I continuously receive after years of selling these tickets.

My daughter stands in front of the Universal Studios Hollywood entrance during the holiday season.
The holidays are a fun time to visit.

What if I have a ticket for when the park was closed?

Unredeemed tickets intended for use when the park was closed between March 14, 2020 – April 15, 2021 are valid until December 16, 2021.

Do I need a reservation for Universal Studios Hollywood?

Yes, you will need to make a reservation if you are an Annual Pass Member or are holding tickets from before or when the theme park was closed.

New ticket purchases are date specific. The date you choose serves as your reservation.

Where is Universal Studios California located? 

The majority of the theme park is located in Universal City, California, while the rest of the park spreads into the city limits of Los Angeles. 

If you’re looking for hotels near Universal Studios, many of them are also located in adjacent Studio City or Hollywood.

How much are Universal Studios Hollywood tickets?

The cost of park admission depends on various factors, including when and where you purchase your tickets and what kind of pass and benefits you want. However, you can save money when you book discounted tickets in advance instead of purchasing your ticket at the front gate. Gate pricing currently breaks down as follows:

  • California Resident 1-Day: $99–$129
  • California Resident Universal Express: $169–$279
  • 1-Day General Admission: $109–$129
  • Universal Express: $179–$279
  • 2-Day General Admission: $149-$169
  • VIP Experience: From $349

How much is an annual pass to the amusement park?

The park offers several versions of annual passes, including the California Neighbor Pass, Silver Pass, Gold Pass, and Platinum Pass. Prices will vary depending on where and when you purchase the passes and what level you choose. 

What other Universal Studios Hollywood discounts are available?

Bring your AMEX card to the park! American Express is an official partner which means that you can use any American Express card to receive 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases of $10 or more. You’ll also receive 10% off photo packages over $25 and 10% off select merchandise purchases of $75 or more.

You can also receive access to the park’s American Express Lounge if you purchase VIP Experience or Universal Express tickets directly through universalstudioshollywood.com online using your American Express card.

I’ve been to the lounge and it’s a nice air-conditioned place with bottled water, non-alcoholic drinks, and places to charge your devices. Personally, I think the savings by purchasing these Universal Studios Hollywood tickets at a discount elsewhere outweigh the lounge convenience.

How much do Universal Studios Hollywood fast passes cost? 

A Universal Studios Hollywood fast pass is in the form of a Universal Express ticket upgrade. It gives you one-time express access to each ride, show, and attraction but does not include admission to the park (unless you buy a combo ticket that includes admission).

Or, you can choose a Universal Express Unlimited pass which allows unlimited express access. This means that you can ride and re-ride eligible attractions as many times as you like.

Unlike a Disneyland FastPass, you do not need to select a time before queuing. Universal Express is added to your ticket once and applies automatically to every eligible attraction so you can simply enter the express queue when ready.

The price depends on where you purchase it, the time of year, and what other tickets you are bundling with your purchase. 

How do I get the Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Experience?

The Universal Studios Hollywood VIP Experience is very easy to book. It grants you exclusive backstage access to The Lot, where you can enjoy a special trolley tour and can even disembark to walk around. You also receive access to VIP lounges and express line privileges to rides and attractions so that you can avoid crowds.

You’ll need to buy a VIP Experience ticket for every person in your group that is ages 5 and above (younger children may not attend). Reservations are required at least 48 hours in advance.

Can you experience the whole park in one day? 

It depends. There is a lot to see in the 415-acre park with its Upper Lot and Lower Lot (the latter is accessed by long escalators). Your ability to cover all highlights in one day may depend on the kind of pass you purchase, how early you arrive, and how crowded the park is during your visit.

If you purchase Universal Express with your ticket, you will get through the lines quicker. Most people can see the park in one day but a two-day ticket will allow you to tour more leisurely.

What about Universal Studios Hollywood Groupon deals?

Yes, Groupon sells Universal Studios Hollywood tickets but they are not usually priced lower than the discounted tickets that I offer through aRes Travel.

Is The World-Famous Studio Tour included?

Yes. Universal Studios Hollywood tickets include The World-Famous Studio Tour. You should definitely experience it.

The tour takes you around the backlot or basically Hollywood’s largest set, where you’ll go behind the scenes of your favorite Hollywood movies and TV shows. You’ll see the sets from classics, such as Jaws and Frankenstein. The tour also brings you through 3-D experiences, where you’ll ride along in the Fast & Furious—Supercharged grand finale and venture through King Kong’s jungle. 

How can you get free parking? 

Platinum Annual Pass and Gold Annual Pass holders receive free parking before 6 p.m. All other guests are usually required to pay for parking. However, right now, self-parking is free and valet parking is unavailable.

Normally, before 6 p.m., general parking costs $25, preferred parking is $40, front gate parking is $60, and valet parking is $25 for the first two hours. All parking rates are reduced if you arrive after 6 p.m. 

What are the best things to do at this Universal Studios?

The World-Famous Studio Tour is one of the top attractions in the park. Other popular attractions include The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can tour the famous Hogwarts castle and practice casting spells with your favorite Harry Potter characters.

You can also meet and greet favorite characters, play carnival games, watch performances, and enjoy the best Universal Studios rides. These include a ride through Hagrid’s pumpkin patch on the Flight of the Hippogriff™ and coming face to face with dinosaurs on Jurassic World—The Ride. Join your favorite TV family on The Simpson Ride™ or tour ancient Egypt on The Revenge of the Mummy—The Ride which is my favorite thrill ride. And, you can also engage with Optimus Prime during Transformers the Ride-3D and laugh with minions during Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.

Don’t forget about the shows either. The WaterWorld stunt and special effects show is the most popular.

Do I need separate Halloween Horror Nights tickets?

Yes. Halloween Horror Nights tickets are sold separately from regular admission. It’s an incredibly popular seasonal event where admission does sell out. You’ll experience monsters, mazes, and scary interactive experiences — at night in the park.

Is Harry Potter included with Universal Studios Hollywood tickets?

Yes. Tickets include entry to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter where you’ll be able to shop plenty of merchandise, ride Flight of the Hippogriff and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, buy a wand at Ollivanders, eat at The Leaky Cauldron, and much more.

Are Universal Studios Hollywood tickets refundable?

No, which is why it’s important to read the terms and conditions before purchasing tickets. We are living in extraordinary times so if you hold unused Universal Studios Hollywood tickets that are valid for a date when the park is closed, they will automatically be changed to one that is valid until December 16, 2021.

How do you buy Universal Studios Hollywood discount tickets?

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