While Universal Orlando Resort has released plenty of information about its new Volcano Bay water park over the past several months, one detail that the resort has been quite cagey about has been exactly how much guests would have to pay to enter this park. Though Universal allowed guests to purchase three park, three day passes earlier this year that included Volcano Bay, if you were an annual passholder or just wanted a single day ticket to this park, you've been out of luck. That is, until now.
Earier this week Universal finally revealed how much a visit to Volcano Bay is going to cost guests who don’t want to buy a three-day, three park ticket. And to almost no one’s surprise, it’s going to be expensive.
Current annual passholders will need to purchase a one-time upgrade
If you already have a Universal Orlando Resort annual pass, I have some bad news for you: Volcano Bay admission is not included. However, current annual passholders can upgrade their current, two-park annual pass into a three-park pass for its four annual pass tiers, by paying the difference between your current pass price and the new three-park passes. The new price for the three-park annual passes are as follows:
- Premier: $688.99
- Preferred: $483.99
- Power: $443.99
- Seasonal: $383.99
With these new prices, the upgrade to a three-park pass costs $99 for all but the top-most tier, which guests will need to pay $149 extra for. If you need a refresher on the differences between the different tiers, you can read more here.
Interestingly, these upgrade fees are not prorated, which means that annual passholders will pay the same fee to upgrade their pass, no matter whether they have three months left on their pass, or 11 months, which might be a big deal for guests who want to upgrade their pass, but have an expiration date in the near future.
And aside from timing issues, there's something else current annual passholders may want to consider before dropping the cash on a new thee park annual pass for Universal Orlando Resort.
Almost all annual passes have blockouts for Volcano Bay
We’ve known for some time that the new Volcano Bay water park would have some seriously low capacity, in part because of its queue-less design. And with this in mind, it should come as little surprise that Universal is trying to keep large crowds to a minimum at this park with the expansion of blockout dates for annual passholders. Only the Premier pass has no blockout dates for Volcano Bay, which would explain why the upgrade cost is so much higher for this pass specifically. You can check out Universal's official blockout calendar here.
While it isn't perhaps a perfect comparison, we can't help but compare Universal Orlando Resort's new pricing scheme to its next door neighbor, Walt Disney World, which recently raised prices for its Platinum Plus pass, which, like Universal's Premier pass, includes admission to all theme parks and water parks with no blockout dates to $869.00 (or $769.00 for Florida residents). While that's still quite a lot more than the $688.99 cost for Universal's most expensive pass, it does at least include two extra theme parks and an additional water park.
Annual passes can only be upgraded in person
If, after taking a look at all the price changes and blockout dates listed above, you have decided that you would still like to pay to upgrade your annual pass to include Volcano Bay, you won’t be able to simply enter your credit card information online or make a phone call, as Universal is requiring guests to head to Islands of Adventure’s Group Sales window (which is being renamed as the Passholder Upgrade Center) to upgrade their tickets. Each guest must be physically present to upgrade their tickets, and adults will need sufficient ID as well. This new location will open on April 3 and will assist guests from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
You can still purchase a single-day ticket
Though annual passholders will have to pay a lot more to add Volcano Bay to their passes, Universal has announced that they will be offering a one-day, one park ticket option for this new park, which will cost $67 for adults and $62 for kids 9 and under. To compare with other nearby water parks, single day admissions to Disney's Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon cost a comparable $62 during the summer, which now includes park-hopping between the two water parks on the day of your visit. However, the cheapest option is by far SeaWorld's Aquatica, with single-day admissions to this park costing $59.99 at the gate ($49.99 if purchased online).
While Universal Orlando Resort fans may be having a little bit of sticker shock when looking at the adjusted annual pass prices, single day admission to this park is actually pretty reasonable, and about what we expected.
However, while Universal's prices may look a little inflated at first, this park could be trying to use these high prices to keep crowds under control during this park's opening weeks.
What do you think? Does the addition of Volcano Bay justified these increased costs for annual passholders? Or do you think Universal should be trying to keep more budget-minded consumers in mind when raising prices? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!