Universal Orlando significantly raises 2011 annual pass prices, adds Wizarding World of Harry Potter blackout dates

in Islands of Adventure, Theme Parks, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios Florida

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Regular visitors of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter should be prepared to pay a premium for a chance to hang with the wizards in 2011 as Universal Orlando has significantly raised prices for two of its popular annual pass ticket choices.

Orlando locals and frequent attendees to Universal’s parks can expect to pay $20 – $60 more per annual pass in the new year. The Power Pass, which does not include parking and features blackout dates, was $139.99 for Florida residents in 2010 and has risen by $20 to $159.99 in 2011. Also added are several additional blackout weeks during the busy summer season only at the Islands of Adventure theme park. More specifically, these additional blackout dates, which prevent Power passholders from entering the park, are in place to limit attendance in the exceptionally busy Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which was overwhelmed with crowds in 2010, throughout its first summer of being open.

The price of the Premier pass, which includes parking and features no blackout dates, has risen $60, from $289.99 for Florida residents to $349.99. This drastic price increase is no doubt an attempt for Universal to capitalize on the sudden popularity of its parks now that the Wizarding World has increased attendance around the resort, with Islands of Adventure receiving more visitors in 2010 than it has in many years of recent history.

Universal Orlando’s Preferred pass remains unchanged in price.

As of today, renewal prices for the Premier and Power passes have not changed, remaining at $149.99 and $114.99 respectively. However, they could change at any moment. Passholders may renew up to 30 days prior to their pass expiration dates, so if your pass expires within the next month, it might be a smart move to renew early and beat any potential price increases.

For these price increases, no additional benefits have been added to either pass. In fact, with the Power pass’s increased number of blackout dates, passholders will actually receive less for more money spent.

A similar Walt Disney World Florida resident annual pass good for entrance into all of Disney’s Orlando theme parks with parking included costs $403.64, now just $53.65 more than Universal’s pass. But Disney’s pass includes admission to four theme parks to Universal’s two. A new Florida resident annual pass for Disney’s parks averages to $100.91 per park whereas Universal’s averages to $175 per park.

It’s a bold move for Universal to potentially price out their most loyal fans, but with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter reaching capacity nearly every day during the busiest seasons, it’s not entirely unexpected. Only time will tell if the wizards and witches have the staying power to continue to draw crowds of locals even at these increased prices.

13 Comments

  1. Rob

    Blackout dates for an entire land of a theme park? Quite a bold move by Universal. I went through the Wizarding World last year. It was a great thing to do while I was there, but hardly anything I would plan a vacation around. I’ve planned a Disney trip for May and will not be spending any time at Universal. I’m assuming the hype will ware off by the end of this year.

    1. Ricky Brigante

      The new blackout dates are for all of Islands of Adventure, not only the Wizarding World. But the Wizarding World’s popularity is certainly the reason why the new blackout dates exist, so they might as well be looked at as Potter blackout dates.

    2. English as a 2nd Language

      ” the hype will ware off by the end of this year.”

      I think you mean “wear” as in run out. And no…the hype has not and will not wear out. With the release of the 8th and final Harry Potter film, demand will only grow.

      Sorry, Disney Fanboy.

  2. John

    They may be taking a big risk long term

  3. Crow

    Once the novelty of Potter dies off this move to raise the prices so much will backfire. Universal has put too much emphasis on just one ride as if it has turned everything around. That could be true if Universal had another new major attraction lined up to open by 2012, but they don’t. They will foolishly think this one new attraction that largely appeals to Potter geeks cannot carry the attendance boost more than a year to a year and a half tops. Good luck Universal. You blew the opening of IOA and that momentum it created for the Orlando property and now you will blow yet again the momentum that Potter has created mainly just for IOA. Potter has caused IOA to cannibalize the studio park next door, which long term is not a good thing.

  4. jay

    I’m new to all this…but what do they mean by blackout weeks as I’m going there in july?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Blackout dates are days on which certain passholders cannot enter the park. In this case, Universal has added additional summer 2011 blackout dates for Islands of Adventure that prevent those with the Power Pass from visiting that park. All other passes are still valid for entry during those dates.

  5. Wild Ol' Dan

    Howdy Pards,

    Perhaps the thing that Universal seems to understand least is that the longterm success of their endeavors depends for the most part not on new customers but on returning customers. If people get the feeling that they are being taken…being shortchanged… overcharged… disrespected, etc… they are simply not likely to return.

    Customer relations has not, historically, been Universal’s strong point anyway…and the image they are clearly sending with mean spirited price increases and pass holder blackout dates is doing nothing to improve their image with Harry Potter fans.

    You can almost hear the carnival barker yelling “Step right this way…give me your money…keep moving…it’s all live and it’s all on the inside!”

    Not every Harry Potter fan has a vault full of gold at Gringotts… the truth is that most do not. So…after the initial visit…after buying their $30 wand and a $10 chocolate frog or box of Bernie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans…there is really little reason to go again especially if the Forbidden Journey ride is truly forbidden due to the size of the seats. But some dedicated fans truly love the details found in every corner of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts…they love being there…so they buy an Annual Pass. And it is these dedicated fans that Universal is slapping in the face with “blackout dates”…and increased prices.

    The whole idea of an Annual Pass is to get people to come back to the park again and again. Just exactly how does keeping the most dedicated fans of all out of the park help Universal’s bottom line not to mention public relations?

    Greed has never been a pretty thing, has it? A fair price for a bottle of Pumpkin Juice is probably about a dollar…a fair amusement park price for that same bottle is probably about two dollars, maybe two and one half dollars. What is Universal charging? Last I heard this price has gone up to over SIX DOLLARS for one 16 once bottle! How long will it be before folks simply stop coming to a place so interested in profits instead of their “guests”. Oh…sorry, that’s a Disney term isn’t it? Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail. Wild Ol’ Dan

  6. Wild Ol' Dan

    Howdy Pards,

    As I watched DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 last night for about the 23rd or 24th time, as I listened to the book DEATHLY HALLOWS on CD yesterday, I continued to plan my May trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I look forward to lunch at the Three Broomsticks, I look forward to exploring the shops and stores, I look forward to actually getting in Ollivander’s Wand Shop and watching the Frog Chior and those Beauxbaton girls…I look forward to walking the halls of Hogwarts once again, of listening to Dumbledore in his office, of watching Harry, Ron, and Hermione appear, magically, from under the invisibility cloak and of Ron accidently making it snow again…Oh…I
    look forward to all of this…to all the wonderful details to be found in
    that corner of Islands of Adventure that has been set aside for Harry Potter fans…

    And, yes, I plan to buy an annual pass…the preferred annual pass that will cost me $229 plus tax…because, when you factor in parking costs of $15 a day that you have to pay with a multi-day pass, it is far cheaper than a 7 day pass. Then I plan on savoring all the magic at my own pace…knowing that every day that I go to the park my per day cost gets cheaper and cheaper. And I have found a motel in Kissimmee that has a pool, refrigerator, microwave, WI-FI, the works, for a far more reasonable price than the resort hotels…at far less than half their price!

    Bottom line, where there is a will…there is a way I guess. Rabid Harry Potter fans know they are obsessed… There is little that can be done about it…given the chance to visit Hogsmeade or walk the halls of Hogwarts they will find a way…

    It is only the normal people of the world, those with common sense perhaps, that will understand that Universal is overcharging, shortchanging, and otherwise treating their customers wrong. The rest of us will be in line once again at the Butterbeer wagon…

    Ah…life is like that I guess. Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail. Wild Ol’ Dan

  7. Ron

    We decided not to renew our passes this year specifically because of the addition of the IOA summer blackout dates. I have the Preferred Pass for the free parking and 10% discount, but we only bought the Power Pass for my wife (didn’t need two parking passes). Funny thing – when we bought the passes in July 2010, there were no IOA summer blackout dates. What a crappy bait-n-switch, eh?

    They even sent out a survey to passholders, I think it was at the end of last year, where they were doing a price sensitivity analysis. My general comments to the survey was that I could handle a reasonable price increase, but I was against any summer blackout dates. Our seven nieces and nephews visit at different points over the summer, and we primarily have the passes to get us into the park during their visits. The summer blackout dates are a non-starter.

    We’re making one more visit this month, then we’re not going back to Universal, nor will we be taking any of our family there when they come to visit. I really enjoy the park (and I will miss the Butterbeer), but I cannot support their decision to abuse their passholders. Even after all of the Harry Potter hoopla has subsided, I doubt we’ll be back, and I know we won’t ever purchase a Universal annual pass again.

    1. Bub bye!

      Good! The lines will be that much shorter for those of us who don’t mind spending the money for a quality product. When you price the passes too low, you get the Six Flags/Wal Mart crowd.

      So good riddance to cheap skates!

  8. Ok so i have a annual pass for both island of adventure and universal orlando it cost $229 can i get a discount on the second annual pass i buy???
    If someone dose know email me at wdani07_24@me.com

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