Though summer 2016 has been a little bit soft for Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure in terms of attendance, Universal Orlando Resort has some big things planned for the future. From the opening not only of the new Volcano Bay water park but also Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2017 to Fast & Furious: Supercharged in 2018, there's a lot coming to the resort in the next few years, and that's not even looking ahead to the future parks and hotels we know in the pipeline for the resort in the coming years.
However, before you go planning a whole bunch of trips to Universal Orlando Resort in the near future, there are some changes coming that you should know about first. And unsurprisingly, it looks like many guests are going to start paying more to visit the resort in the very near future. But first, let's talk about a big leak that reveals some interesting new information about Universal's annual pass program
1. Universal Orlando Resort expands the annual passholder tier system with new budget option and increased benefits
Though Walt Disney World introduced a robust tiered annual pass system last year, and is considering making more changes to its own annual pass program this year, Universal Orlando Resort has actually had a tiered system in place for its annual passes for several years. This three-tiered system includes a standard pass in the middle with no block-out dates, a higher end pass that comes with extra discounts and benefits, and a lower tier pass that blocks guests out of holidays and the busy summer season.
However, it has been confirmed recently (via a leaked blog post, as reported on by the Orlando Sentinel) that Universal Orlando Resort will be debuting a fourth tier of annual pass in the very near future that will have even more blockout dates than the current Power Pass and be billed as a "seasonal" pass, similar to Walt Disney World's Silver annual pass tier. This seasonal pass will replace the Power Pass as the least-expensive option, and in addition to only allowing admission during off-peak times, will also not include parking, merchandise discounts, or dining discounts.
In addition to the new seasonal pass, the now-removed blog post detailed changes that are coming to the other tiers of Universal Orlando Resort annual passes as well. The formerly bottom-tier Power Passes will actually be getting a bit of an upgrade as summer blockout dates have been removed (leaving only holiday blockouts) and parking now only costs $10 (which is half price).
As for the remaining two pass types, Preferred and Premier, these passes are staying largely the same, with free parking, discounts and no blockout dates. However, the lone upgrade that these passholders are getting is early admission to the theme parks, a perk usually reserved for on-site hotel guests. Preferred passholders will only be able to enter the park early on select dates while Premier passholders can enter early 365 days a year.
While the expansion of the pass system might initially seem like a good thing (especially for budget-conscious park-goers who may be eyeing the seasonal pass), the news here isn't all good as these changes to are all going to be accompanied by Universal Orlando Resort's most unfortunate annual fall tradition...