REVIEW: UOAP Passholder Night Returns with Huge Crowds, Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, Specialty Food and Drinks, & More

Jonathan D

REVIEW: UOAP Passholder Night Returns with Huge Crowds, Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, Specialty Food and Drinks, & More

The Universal Orlando Resort is currently celebrating Passholder Appreciation Days, and Passholder Night has returned for the first time since 2019. Passholder Night is an exclusive after hours event for annual passholders at the resort, often known as UOAPs. This year, the event took place at Universal’s Islands of Adventure from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., offering access to attractions, meet and greets, and exclusive menu items.

Passholder Night Check-In

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When Universal Orlando Resort announced the perks for Passholder Appreciation Days, they also announced that UOAPs would need to register to attend this event. Registration filled up extremely quickly, leaving many Passholders disappointed. There was a standby line offered in CityWalk, which stretched down along the pathway in front of the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Hard Rock Cafe. Guests were lined up quite early to wait for an opportunity to join Passholder Night.

Guests from the standby line would eventually be let in to the park, along with essentially any passholder who showed up, even if they did not have a reservation. This is great for the people who did not get a reservation, though it is also disappointing for guests who expected lower attendance due to capacity.

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Many guests lined up outside of Islands of Adventure to check in and get a wristband, but there was also a location inside the park. Just across from Confisco Grille, by the water, signs for the event indicated reservations were required. We walked up with no wait and got our wristband around 6 PM.

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The park was not cleared of guests before the event started, though the wristband was used to identify who would be able to access parts of the park or the attractions. It’s a very good thing we got our wristband when we did.

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Closer to 7 p.m., the queue to check in stretched all the way to Seuss Landing. Get your wristbands early! Guests could get their wristbands as early as noon.

Special Food and Beverage

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Starbucks offered a specialty Cookies and Cream Cold Brew for UOAPs, so we decided to make a stop and give it a try. This is a very strong cold brew coffee with a touch of vanilla and a sweet cookie cold foam. The caffeine definitely kicked in and we were ready to start our Passholder Night adventure.

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We initially went in with expectations of low crowds, but this was really the opposite. The place was packed. At the start of the event, with day guests mixing into the queues, the wait times were exorbitantly high for Jurassic World VelociCoaster and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. These are the most popular attractions in the park, so it was a little disappointing that the wait times were just as high as any average day. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure had an 80 minute wait at the start of the event.

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Instead of queuing for rides, many chose instead to get in line for the specialty food and drink offerings. In Jurassic Park, Jurassic Pop had a Jalapeño and Cheese Stuffed Pretzel available for purchase. The line for the pretzel moved quickly, though the stand was consistently busy throughout the night.

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This pretzel was amazing and we hope it becomes a permanent addition to the menu. The melted cheese inside paired with the crispy, hot exterior was a delicious combination and the perfect pairing to the drink from the Watering Hole. Additionally, the Lemon Slush stand in Port of Entry had a Spinach and Feta Stuffed Pretzel, but we did not get a chance to try it.

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Extracting a drink from the Watering Hole was a challenge, and well worth the wait. The Watering Hole usually has a long line, but tonight, it was wild. This drink contains mango rum, spiced rum, mango puree, pineapple juice, and smoked chili bitters.

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Backwater Bar in Port of Entry had a Cachaca Punch available, which consisted of Brazilian rum, grenadine, lemon juice, pineapple, and raspberry. This was another delicious drink we would love to see on the menu permanently.

Coca-Cola Zone

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The Lost Continent was transformed into the Coca-Cola Zone with a lounge area, DJ, and giveaways. Red lighting was set up throughout the land and the Coca-Cola logo was projected onto the side of Poseidon’s Fury. A colorfully-lit vehicle was parked near Poseidon’s Treasures.

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Tables were set up around the area for guests to hang out and relax. Near the entrance to Mythos Restaurant, Team Members handed out free samples of Fanta Strawberry and Fanta Orange.

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The DJ played music and hyped the crowds up while Team Members on stilts gave out freebies and encouraged guests to dance. This was one of the best spots to hang out during the night.

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Coke cup coolers, mouse pads, pins, and buttons were only some of the gifts handed out in this area. Other than the items handed out in the Coca-Cola Zone, there were no other gifts for attending the event.

Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle

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Hogsmeade was by far the busiest area in the entire park. The line for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure consistently stayed around 80 to 90 minutes throughout the entire night. The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle closed for refurbishment earlier this year, but Passholder Night offered a special opportunity to witness the show.

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Due to this experience being closed all summer, this was another big draw for the crowds. Hogsmeade was packed during the first showing.

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The show was exactly the same and we didn’t notice any differences. Still, it was nice to be able to enjoy this again and we have the perfect view, too. Watch the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle performance during Passholder Night in our video below.

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There sure are a ton of Annual Passholders at Universal Orlando! The turnout for this event was massive.

Character Meet and Greets and Photo Ops

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There were several different meet and greets around the park, including Marvel characters, Woody and Winnie Woodpecker, and the Whos! These were just a few of the roaming characters out for the night.

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There were also some photo ops set up around the park, including giant UOAP letters in Toon Lagoon and the UOAP Night neon sign in Port of Entry. There were photographers at these locations to help you capture the moment. Most of the characters and photo ops had exceptionally long lines, though.

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Several buildings around the park had different Passholder themed images projected on their sides. This was a nice touch to make the night feel special and unique.

Passholder Lounge

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The Passholder Lounge was open during the event, though there was nothing particularly special happening inside. Free Jurassic Park art prints were still available, as well as the new UOAP merchandise, but there was nothing unique to UOAP Night. There was a ridiculously long queue snaking through Toon Lagoon, which may be a good indication that this new Passholder Lounge is not big enough.

Overall

We have mixed feelings about Passholder Night. Depending on what your expectations were, you may or may not have been disappointed at this event. The event was free, though it did require reservations and those reservations filled up swiftly. This may have given people the impression there would be a limited capacity with eased crowds. Our experience was the opposite, and the park was actually busier than a normal night. We spotted many guests without wristbands lingering in Islands of Adventure and at one point in the night, the entire standby queue was admitted — in addition to any other passholders who showed up.

The two most popular rides in the park had high wait times, but everything else was almost a walk-on. Lines for the specialty food and drinks were long, but they moved quickly and everything we tried was well worth the wait. Seeing the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle was a nice treat we truly enjoyed. The Coca-Cola Zone and Port of Entry DJ areas were a blast! Simply enjoying the party vibes among other Passholders was fun for us.

Overall, we had an amazing night. Passholder Night is what you make of it. We skipped the rides and enjoyed dancing and snacking around the park in the dark. If you went to the event thinking you would walk onto Hagrid’s without waiting, this was going to be a huge letdown for you. Personally, we would much prefer smaller Passholder events, such as the Mardi Gras Token Experience Party or separately ticketed events rather than these crowded ones. Regardless, we would definitely attend the next event and hope to see more Passholder Nights in the future.

Did you have a chance to attend UOAP Night at Islands of Adventure? Would you be interested in seeing more after hours events at Universal Orlando Resort? Let us know in the comments.

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