Tips for Universal Studios on a budget!
Our family recently got home from a fun vacation to Universal Studios Orlando. We had so much fun spending the week together as a family, making memories, and riding all of the fun rides with our 3 kids. One of my goals for this trip, and every trip we take, is to have a memorable vacation without having to spend a ton of money. So, today I’m going to share exactly how to save money on your Universal Studios vacation! I hope it will help each of you be able to take this trip, even if your budget is tight.
Best Tips to Save Money On Your Universal Orlando Vacation
Any vacation will cost money, but there are some tricks you can do to lower the price a little bit. Learn how to save money on your Universal Orlando vacation below!
1. Stay At A Hotel With A Kitchenette
One of my best budget travel hacks is to book a hotel that has a small kitchen, or kitchenette. This was a huge money saver for us! We ordered groceries from Walmart and had them delivered to the hotel the first day that we arrived. I also saw a lot of people using Amazon Fresh to get groceries delivered.
Using our kitchenette we were able to eat all of our breakfasts and lunches in our room, and only ate out for dinner.
Hotel Breakfast Ideas:
- Cold Cereal
- Instant Oatmeal
Hotel Lunch Ideas:
- Mac and Cheese
- Bagels with Cream Cheese
- Protein Drink
- Cup of Noodles
2. Book Discount Universal Tickets
When purchasing your Universal Studio tickets, make sure to buy them from a discount retailer, you’ll be able to get the best deals and a few added perks! I bought our tickets from Undercover Tourist and was so impressed with the price and ease of the purchase.
3. Split a Meal
Another great way to save money at Universal studios is to split a meal between two people, instead of buying one for each person in your group. All of the meals that we had at Universal Studios were very large portioned, making it easy to buy one meal and split it two ways!
4. Skip Park-To-Park Tickets
Universal Orlando sells two different types of tickets. You can either purchase a single park per day ticket or a park-to-park ticket. The single park per day ticket will allow you into one of the Universal theme parks each day. The park-to-park ticket allows you to visit multiple parks in one day.
Now, I totally think the park-to-park tickets are convenient and fun, but I still recommend skipping buying them. Why you might ask? Well, first off each park is huge and can easily fill an entire day. It takes a lot of time to get to each park, so we prefer staying and enjoying one park each day. The amount of time it takes to walk around one park, and then walk to the next park, and then walk around the other park just doesn’t make much sense to me.
The second reason I recommend buying a single park per day ticket is because it is much cheaper than the park-to-park tickets. You can see the exact same attractions for a cheaper price. I personally don’t think it’s worth the extra money.
Now, honestly, I give this tip with a little bit of hesitation. If you are a big Harry Potter fan, than paying the extra money *might* be worth it to you. The only way that you can experience the Hogwarts Express ride is if you have a park-to-park ticket. The Hogwarts Express was closed when we were there, and at first I was really sad about it, but now I don’t feel like we missed much by not riding on it. We were still able to experience all of the other incredible Harry Potter attractions.
Another exception I would make to my advice of skipping the park-to-park pass is if you only plan to attend Universal Studios for one day. If you only have one day for the park, buy the park-to-park….but if you are going to be there for multiple days anyways, then save yourself some money and purchase the single park per day passes.
5. Visit During The Off Season
One of the easiest ways to save money on your Universal Orlando vacation is to plan your visit during the off season months. The cheapest months to go to Universal Studios Orlando is in January, February, or September. Not only will Universal Theme Park tickets be cheaper, but so will hotel rooms and many airfares.
- Related: The Best Budget Travel Tips
6. Skip The Express Passes
Another extra you can purchase is the Express Pass. The Express Pass is in addition to your regular Universal Studios ticket. This amazing pass gives you the ability to cut to the front of the line on almost every ride (all but two!). It is a great way to save time, ensure that you can ride all of the rides, and stay out of the heat.
I was jealous of every single person who was using the Express Pass, however I do not recommend you buy one…..and here’s why:
The Express Passes are really really expensive. Like, more than double the cost of your ticket expensive. Plus, I don’t think they are necessary!
We visited Universal Studios during one of the hottest, busiest times of the year….and we were still able to ride on every ride that we wanted to ride in. Yes, we had to stand in long lines, yes it was hot….but we survived! And saved a ton of money in the process!
Standing in long lines is not the most fun way to spend a day….but it doesn’t have to be a terrible thing! To help make the experience a little more enjoyable make sure to bring a lot of water, a mist spray bottle, snacks and some fun games. Before our trip I downloaded the Heads Up app onto my phone and we had so much fun playing it while standing in line. We were even able to make a few friends this way!
7. Fill Your Water Bottle At The Free Coca-Cola Freestyle Stations
One of my favorite Universal Studios money saving hack is to fill up your water bottle with ice water for free at the Coca-Cola Stations around the park. These stations are available in multiple locations (you can find exactly where on the Universal app).
You can bring your water bottle into the park and fill it up for free with ice water at any of these stations. Many of them even had free cups available for anyone who didn’t have a water bottle. It’s a great way to stay hydrated while at Universal Studios, without having to spend money on drinks.
My kids loved using these collapsible water bottles, they were lightweight to carry around, and then pull out and fill up whenever we came to a freestyle station.
8. Pack Food Into Park
Buying food inside of Universal Studios is expensive. You will save so much money if you pack your own food into the park each day. We like to pack a backpack full of snacks, sandwiches, and fruit. This way we can bring it with us around the park and we don’t have to pay for a locker.
- Related: Family Trip To San Diego
9. Purchase Souvenirs Outside Of Universal Parks
Souvenirs are a fun part of traveling and visiting somewhere new. We love bringing home a memento or two from our travels.
The problem with souvenirs at Universal Studios, is that they are very expensive!
Fortunately, you can buy the exact same products (or very very similar) for much less if you buy them outside of the park.
For cheaper Universal souvenirs check out Amazon, Target and Walmart. You can even buy an interactive wand on eBay for cheap…and use it to cast spells while at Universal Studios! Turn around and sell it once you get home again!
10. Choose A Hotel Off Site
You can find a lot of great hotel options within the Universal Resort. However, if you are trying to cut costs, I recommend booking a hotel outside of the resort hotels. You can find a lot of great value hotels on International Drive.
Just remember, when booking a hotel off site to add in the “extras” you will be paying. These extras might include: resort fees, shuttle bus, parking, etc. I still think you can find good deals, even with these extras, but the extra costs can be a shock if it wasn’t planned beforehand……and we don’t like surprises when it comes to our pocket book!
11. Buy Tickets In Advance
Universal Studios tickets prices tend to increase the closer it gets to a specific park date. You will save much more money (and time!) if you buy your park tickets in advance. I recommend getting them as soon as you decide to go, months in advance is best!
12. Stock Up On Extras Before Traveling
You will get the best bang for your buck if you buy any miscellaneous items at home rather than waiting until you get to the theme park. These extras might include:
Prices on these miscellaneous items increase drastically once you get to Orlando, with an even bigger increase if you purchase them inside the Universal Parks.
13. Take The Bus
To save money on transportation try using the Orlando public bus system, instead of Uber. Rides on the bus are only $2 each, or pay $4.50 to ride the bus for the entire day, such a good deal! Look through the bus routes here to see if any of them will work for you. It might be slightly inconvenient, but you can’t beat the price!
14. Book A Hotel With A Free Shuttle
Many hotels near Universal Studios offer free shuttle service to the park. When you are trying to find the perfect hotel for your family, make sure to check to see if they offer this shuttle service. It can save you a lot of money in the long run.
15. Utilize Free Universal Lockers
I don’t recommend purchasing a locker at Universal Studios. Yes, it would be so very convenient, but it costs money, and we are trying to save money! Right? Right!
When preparing for a Universal day only pack items that can fit into a small backpack. You can carry this backpack around with you and it will be allowed on most rides. The rides that don’t let you bring a backpack are: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Men in Black, Revenge of the Mummy, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, and Jurassic World Velocicoaster.
However, each of the rides that don’t allow backpacks will offer FREE lockers for you to store your backpack! They are easy to use and completely free. All you have to do is use your barcode from your ticket, or use a barcode pass issued to you by an employee within the ride. This barcode will open and lock the locker door for you to use before and after the ride.
So, instead of renting a locker all day, keep your backpack with you and rent one for free when you need to!
We had such a fun time visiting Universal Orlando this year. We are huge Harry Potter fans and just loved drinking butterbeer, walking through diagon alley, and exploring all of the fun details of the park. I hope that you are able to visit and that this article helped you learn how to save money on your Universal Orlando vacation.
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Have so much fun on your next trip! I hope you have some good ideas about how to save money on your Universal Orlando vacation!