Our Big Plans for Universal’s Passholder Days

Universal Orlando celebrates Annual Passholder Appreciation Days from August 16 through September 30, 2021. During this month and a half, there are tons of hotel discounts, free things, and benefits in the resorts, CityWalk, Islands of Adventure, and Universal Studios Florida. This post shares details, plus our big plans for the UOAP event.

Everyone loves freebies, so we’ll start with that. During Universal Orlando Passholder Passholder Appreciation Days, you can pick up a free magnet at the UOAP Lounge in Studios Styles at Universal Studios Florida from 11 am to 4 pm or in Toon Extra at Islands of Adventure from park open until park close.

Throughout Passholder Appreciation Days, Power and Seasonal Passholders receive Early Park Admission at Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure one hour prior to park opening on weekdays from August 16 through September 30, 2021. (Premier and Preferred Passholders continue to receive this as a standard benefit.) Additionally, 3-Park Universal Orlando Annual Passholders receive Early Park Admission at Volcano Bay water park one hour prior to park opening.

Next, there are a ton of special menu items exclusively for UOAPs during Passholder Appreciation Days throughout both parks, CityWalk, and at the hotels. Highlights include an AP Doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut, Peaches & Cream French Toast at Toothsome, Vegan Pizza Tots at Green Eggs & Ham Cafe, Malloney Stack at Finnegan’s Bar & Grill, and Passholder Burger at Endless Summer.

At a few of the hotels, there are even freebies Passholders receive with the purchase of a meal or entree. There are a ton of other snacks, drinks, and entrees available–Universal’s site has a full pdf menu and all of the details.

If you’d prefer Passholder exclusive merchandise, there’s that, too. Shirts, lanyard pouches, a pin, a windbreaker, and more. Get over to the AP Lounge in Universal Studios or Toon Extra at Islands of Adventure and shop the selection. Premier Passholders get 15% off and Preferred Passholders get 10% off with their standard discount.

In terms of other savings, Universal Annual Passholders get 30% off select Express Passes for use at Universal Studios Florida and/or Universal’s Islands of Adventure. These are available for purchase at Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure front gate ticket windows only. Or, you can book a deeply-discounted (select) hotel and get Express Pass included with your stay…

Finally, there are some exceptional resort discounts. For well over a year, we’ve been promising more Universal Orlando hotel reviews. Originally, our plan was to cross off a few more during Halloween Horror Nights last year when it would be advantageous. That didn’t happen for obvious reasons.

With a flurry of HHN announcements in recent weeks, we figured we’d do exactly that this year. After receiving Universal’s Passholder newsletter last week teasing some great rates, we priced out a couple of nights at Universal hotels coinciding with Passholder Appreciation Days and Halloween Horror Nights.

While searching, one thing led to another and yadda yadda yadda we booked nights at every Universal resort we haven’t stayed in the last 3 years. For reference, that’s all of them except Cabana Bay and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort — Surfside Inn & Suites.

That might seem excessive, but here’s why we did it–these are the rates we found while searching:

Perhaps we’ve just become overly accustomed to Walt Disney World resort pricing, but we were floored to find some of these rates. For reference, pictured above are the lowest AP price points for each resort; those specific prices seem to be available weeknights starting August 29 and running for the entirety of September. Weekends and dates before that are more expensive–weeknights also can be more expensive depending upon room availability and demand. (There are some random dates when Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, and Portofino Bay spike to double those amounts.)

However, those are the prices we paid for every hotel stay except Hard Rock Hotel (booked before August 29, so ~$20 more), Dockside Inn (upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite for $20 more), and probably Portofino Bay (will attempt to upgrade to a balcony upon arrival, which I think is like ~$30 to $40 extra).

It was a lot of money to spend for hotel stays that we didn’t strictly “need” as locals, but the total was still less than the cost of a couple of nights in the new rooms at the Polynesian and Contemporary. Plus, we’ve spent very little on traveling in the last year-plus, are getting pretty restless, and felt this would be beneficial research given the increasing number of reader comments about non-Disney hotels around Orlando.

The reason we’re mentioning this is not to boast about our bookings, but to give you a heads up about these great rates if you’re thinking of taking a trip to Florida this fall–either to take advantage of low crowds right now, or for the start of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. We’ve heard from many readers waiting to book until discounts are released, and while we still thinking they’re coming within the next couple weeks, Disney’s rates won’t beat these for comparable properties. Universal’s best rates are in September, but solid hotel discounts are available through the end of the year.

We also want to solicit some feedback. In response to our prior Universal hotel reviews and other content, we’ve received a lot of curveball questions–things I didn’t think to check out while there and thus couldn’t answer. I’m pretty good with anticipating these when it comes to Walt Disney World, but you all have some oddball inquiries when it comes to Universal. 😉

With all of these stays, we’ll get Early Park Admission; with three of them, we’ll receive unlimited Express Pass. We already plan on covering those and other on-site Universal hotel perks, plus anything that would be obvious for a hotel review–room quality, amenities, grounds, pools, transportation, location, and so forth. If you want to see coverage about anything specific beyond all of that, please let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to accommodate. (Within reason, of course.) What’s that? Several of you have food allergies to everything except burgers and steak? Okay, I’ll do my best to offer comprehensive coverage of both! Anyway, we’re pretty excited about these Universal hotel stays–hopefully the resulting posts are useful to your planning!

Need trip planning tips and comprehensive advice for your visit to Central Florida? Make sure to read our Universal Orlando Planning Guide for everything about Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Also check out our Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Guide for everything about those parks, resorts, restaurants, and so much more. For regular updates, news & rumors, a heads up when discounts are released, and much more, sign up for our FREE email newsletter!


Will you be taking advantage of any deals, freebies, or benefits during Universal’s Passholder Appreciation Days? Thoughts on those hotel discounts? Any questions or thing you’d like to see us cover with regard to Universal’s on-site resorts? Thoughts on anything else covered here? Will you be attempting to visit Central Florida this late summer/early fall, or are you waiting? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

27 Responses to “Our Big Plans for Universal’s Passholder Days”
  1. YYC mom September 10, 2021
  2. GB August 30, 2021
  3. Susan August 17, 2021
  4. Jess August 16, 2021
  5. GB August 16, 2021

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