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What Are Blackout Dates at Universal Studios?

Blackout dates (or blockout dates as they’re called at Universal Studios Orlando) are when the park doesn’t offer special promotions or discounts to guests.

These dates apply when you own an annual pass or have a dated ticket (basically tickets that require you to check the calendar before visiting).

Blackout dates mainly fall during peak seasons or the holidays but aren’t a problem if you buy a ticket at the park’s entrance.

If you own a Seasonal, Power, or Preferred Annual Pass, you’ll see these dates listed for each of Universal’s parks. 

Only Premier Pass holders are ‘immune’ to blockout dates and can visit Universal Orlando any time of the year.

Blackout dates have their negatives, but you can also use them to your advantage by planning your visit around less crowded dates.

Why Does Universal Studios Have Blackout Dates?

Blackout dates are when Universal is sure the parks will be full, explaining why they mostly fall during the holidays.

Most kids are home for major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s, and if you look closely at the crowd calendars, these are likely to be the busiest times of the year.

Universal doesn’t have to offer discounts or promotions during these periods because they’re confident people will turn up in large numbers.

During the less busy times of the year, special discounts on passes help lure people into the park and make up for lower numbers.

Depending on the annual pass type, they’re actually pretty sweet discounts, and given that they’re offered when the parks are less packed, you’re likely to have an even better experience by avoiding the crowds.

What Time of Year Are There No Blackout Dates?

September is the ‘sweet spot’ when visiting Universal Studios.

January and February are also worthy mentions, but you have to visit the theme park in late January (after the New Year’s hype dies down) or on particular dates in February (because of the days surrounding Valentine’s Day).

This year’s blockout dates are listed further below, and you can see these rules in practice.

Note that not all of September is available due to the growing popularity of Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) in October.

If you plan on buying tickets for a September visit, do so earlier in the year, as the closer HHN gets, the bigger the crowds get.

September is also the peak of Orlando’s rainy season (explaining why fewer people visit), so you should come prepared with proper rain gear.

Can I Go To Universal Studios During a Blackout Date?

You can still go to Universal Studios during a blackout date, but you won’t be able to use your pass or dated ticket.

You either need to buy a regular park-to-park ticket at the entrance or upgrade your annual pass to one without that specific blackout date.

Depending on your pass type, upgrading might make sense, but not always.

If you pay for your annual pass in monthly installments using Universal’s FlexPay system, upgrading from a Seasonal to a Power Pass (or from a Power to a Preferred Pass) might not make a big difference cost-wise.

However, if you upgrade to a Premier Pass to get the best perks, you’ll see a substantial increase in the monthly payments.

Usually, the best option is just to buy a regular ticket at the park.

Your Universal ticket includes one visit per pass, so you can use it any day of the week without worrying about blackout dates.

Blackout Dates at Universal Orlando 2022

When buying an annual pass, blackout dates are the most important thing to consider.

There’s no point in getting a pass if you can’t use it on your planned visit date.

Specific dates vary every year, but major holidays are always a given.

Below are the 2022 Blockout Dates for every pass at every park.

Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure

Seasonal Pass

  • Jan 1 – 3, 2022
  • Mar. 12 – 19, 2022
  • April 9 – 16, 2022
  • July 1 – 31, 2022
  • Dec. 17 – 31, 2022

Power Pass

  • Jan. 1 – 3, 2022
  • Mar. 12 – 19, 2022 (Access after 5 pm to Universal Studios Florida for Mardi Gras concerts)
  • April 9 – 16, 2022 (Access after 5 pm to Universal Studios Florida for Mardi Gras concerts)
  • Dec. 17 – 31, 2022

Preferred and Premier Passes

  • None

Volcano Bay

3-Park Seasonal Pass

  • March 12 – March 19, 2022
  • April 9 – April 16, 2022
  • June 11 – August 14, 2022

3-Park Power Pass

  • June 11 – August 14, 2022 
  • Blockouts apply before 4 p.m.

3-Park Preferred Pass

  • July 1 – August 14, 2022 
  • Blockouts apply before 4 p.m.

Premier Pass

  • None

What To Know About Annual Passes

Depending on the tier, an annual pass can cost $299.99 to $599.99.

In comparison, a one-day park-to-park ticket starts at about $164.

To get the most out of an annual pass, you’ll need to visit the park several times throughout the year.

The Seasonal Pass is the lowest tier, and it has more blackout dates than the rest.

These mainly occur during most of the spring, some of the summer, and around Christmas.

The Power Pass is the next available tier and has about half the blackout dates as the Seasonal AP.

The Preferred AP has no blackout dates at Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure, but it’s still blocked out on specific dates at Volcano Bay.

The Premier Pass is the final tier, and it features zero blackout dates at either park.

It does come at a hefty fee, though, as while the other three passes are $50 apart, the Premier Pass is $200 more expensive than the Preferred Pass.

The annual passes also come as either two-park passes or three-park passes.

If the two land-based parks are your primary reason for visiting, you’ll get more value from a two-park-pass (especially a two-park Preferred Pass) than a three-park one, which includes the waterpark Volcano Bay.

Is An Annual Pass Worth It?

If you plan on visiting Universal Studios Orlando for five or more days, you’ll save more with an annual pass.

Universal Orlando does offer a 5-day ticket, but an annual pass is better, depending on your tier of choice.

You get various discounts and offers through an AP, and if your stay is long enough, your overall expenditure is likely to be less than if you bought a regular multi-day ticket.

The perks range from parking discounts to early park admission to discounts on food and merchandise.

An annual pass also allows you to visit all three parks at your own pace, so you don’t have to rush to see the major attractions because you’re short on time.

If, however, you plan on visiting the park for four days or less, a multi-day or one-day ticket is more cost-effective.

Conclusion

If you’re used to buying your Universal tickets at the park, you don’t have to worry about blackout dates.

If you’re used to getting dated tickets or holding an annual pass, understanding the blackout dates is important for determining the nature of your experience.

Planning around them shouldn’t be a hassle, and theme parks are always better with fewer people around.

That said, if you plan on taking the kids to the park in the summer, you’ll need to upgrade your annual pass or just buy regular tickets at the park.

Be sure to compare the costs between the two to get the best value out of your ticket.

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