17 Ways To Save Money At Universal Studios Hollywood

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A trip to Universal Studios Hollywood doesn’t have to break the bank. Instead, there are a number of ways in which you can save money when visiting this incredible theme park. These money-saving hints and tips might not all be right for you, however, just one or two of these can save you $20 or even $100+ per person.

1. Stay In A Hotel Close To Universal Studios Hollywood

If you don’t live in California, or perhaps even Los Angeles County then it’s highly likely you’ll be spending a night (or two) in a hotel. However, hotel prices in Los Angeles can range from around $120 a night for a budget room up to $500 and beyond for a luxury five-star resort.

When choosing your Los Angeles hotel we recommend considering the distance to the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. For example, staying in a hotel within walking distance of the theme park may cost more money initially. However, it could also mean that you don’t have to get an Uber or get a hire car, both of which can quickly add up.

2. Compare Hotel Prices On Different Booking Agents

Once you found a nearby hotel it’s worth checking the price on different booking agents (Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia etc.) since there’s pretty much always a disparity. However, make sure the booking agent you use is reputable and well-known, and if you see a price that’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Also, consider any tier or promotional points you might have with a specific hotel brand (i.e. Hilton, Marriott, Accor) which may provide you with a discounted rate or additional benefits at no extra cost (such as a room upgrade or complimentary breakfast).


Loews Hollywood Hotel

The four-star Loews Hollywood Hotel is our hotel of choice when visiting Universal Studios Hollywood.

Situated in a prime location at the foot of the Hollywood Hills this hotel offers incredible value for money.

3. Compare Hire Car & Uber Costs

If you’re planning on exploring more of Los Angeles during your trip then you’ll also want to consider the cost and flexibility implications between hiring a car or using carpooling services such as Uber and Lyft.

Make sure when considering the cost of a hire car, you also add on the price of gas and the parking charges for both your hotel, Universal Studios Hollywood and any additional attractions which may charge you to park.

Get $15 off your first Lyft ride by using code: CORA86601

If hiring a car is the right option for you then consider looking for a hotel that offers complimentary parking. While the cost of the hotel may be higher, it may actually work out cheaper overall once you add together the price of your budget hotel’s nightly rate and the parking charge.

4. Opt For General Parking

If you decide to drive to Universal Studios Hollywood then you’ll be presented with several options when it comes to parking, the price of which varies significantly.

Parking TypePrice
General ParkingBefore 5:00pm – $30
After 5:00pm – $10
Preferred ParkingBefore 5:00pm – $50
After 5:00pm – $20
Front Gate Parking$70
Valet Parking$25 for First 2 Hours
$50 after 2 Hours

Subsequently one of the quickest and easiest ways to save money when visiting Universal Studios Hollywood is to simply opt for the cheapest parking option which will see you park in one of the many ‘General’ parking garages.

This means that you will have to self-park and have a slightly longer walk to the theme park’s entrance. However, we personally feel that this is worth the hassle to save $20 when travelling to Universal Studios on a budget.

5. Visit During The Off-Season

Universal Studios Hollywood sells its theme park tickets using a dynamic pricing model. This means that the cost of tickets to the theme park is higher during predicted popular dates, and lower during predicted unpopular dates.

On the cheapest days, a one-day ticket to Universal Studios Hollywood costs just $109. However, on the most expensive, the same one-day ticket can cost up to $149. This dynamic pricing model doesn’t just apply to general park admission tickets but also to;

Visiting during these cheaper dates also means that Universal Studios Hollywood is expected to be quieter. So not only are you going to save money, but you’re also likely to experience shorter wait times and therefore not require a Universal Express Pass.

6. Buy Your Park Tickets In Advance

The first hour after Universal Studios Hollywood opens is the ‘golden hour’ as this is the time when the park is least crowded. As such the last thing you want to be doing when arriving at the theme park is waiting in line to purchase your park tickets.

Instead, it’s quicker, easier and often cheaper to buy your Universal Studios Hollywood theme park tickets in advance.

If you’re based in the UK I recommend buying your Universal Studios Hollywood park tickets from AttractionTix. They have the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.

If you’re based in the US or Canada I recommend Klook for your Universal Studios Hollywood tickets. They have the most competitive prices and a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.

7. Avoid The 2 Day Park Ticket

Universal Studios Hollywood is a relatively small theme park when compared to the Universal Orlando Resort or even the nearby Disneyland.

Subsequently, we find that the vast majority can experience everything that this incredible park has to offer in one full day and therefore we recommend avoiding the additional cost of upgrading to a 2-day park ticket.

8. Skip The Universal Express Pass

Adding the Universal Express Pass to your one-day Universal Studios Hollywood general theme park admission typically costs an additional $90 to $120. However, this upgrade isn’t always a worthwhile expense. Especially if you’re travelling to Universal Studios Hollywood on a budget.

In our personal experience, the Universal Express Pass saves you up to 85% of the standby wait time on eligible rides. This means that if the wait time for a popular ride such as Revenge of the Mummy is 1 hour, you’ll likely only wait 10 to 15 minutes.

However, if you’re visiting during the off-season, then Revenge of the Mummy might not have a 1 hour standby wait time. Instead, the wait time may only be 20 minutes and in that case, the benefit you get from the Universal Express Pass isn’t as valuable.

As such you’ll want to thoroughly consider not just your budget but the value you’re going to get from the Universal Express Pass before deciding whether this investment is the right one for you.

9. Consider Upgrading To An Annual Pass

Purchasing a Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass sounds like an unconventional way of saving money. However, if you’re planning on visiting Universal Studios Hollywood twice over a 365-day period then it often works out cheaper to buy the lowest tier annual pass (Silver) instead of two one-day theme park tickets separately.

This combined with the additional benefits Universal Studios Hollywood offers to annual passholders makes this a worthwhile consideration for many visitors.


Free Universal Hollywood
Printable Packing List

Our comprehensive Universal Hollywood packing list can be both customised and printed for your convenience.

10. Bring Snacks To The Park With You

The Universal Studios theme parks sell a wide variety of food and drink. However, as with the majority of theme parks, the cost of these items is inflated when compared to traditional stores and restaurants.

Luckily, you can save money by bringing snacks to the parks provided it meets the rules and regulations laid out by Universal’s security.

Just because you can bring a banana or a turkey sandwich to Universal Studios doesn’t mean you should. The heat and humidity can leave some snack options inedible or worse still cause damage to your backpack and the other items inside.

11. Bring A Water Bottle

Universal Studios Hollywood is happy to provide cups of water complimentary from any quick-service restaurant or refillable drinks location. Subsequently, if you’re happy to drink water or pack a squash and drink squash then we highly recommend bringing a water bottle with you to the parks.

If you do want a drink of water throughout the day and don’t have a water bottle with you, rather than purchasing a bottle of water from one of the quick-service dining locations (at a cost of around $5) instead, ask at the counter for a cup of water and you’ll be given one complimentary.

12. Invest In A Refillable Cup

If you don’t fancy drinking water at Universal Studios Hollywood then consider investing in either a refillable cup or a souvenir cup.

A refillable cup costs $18 plus tax and includes unlimited drinks every ten minutes until the park closes. Drinks can be obtained from any of the Freestyle machines located across the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park which offers a comprehensive range of drinks.

Regular fizzy drinks at Universal Studios Hollywood cost $4.25, while large drinks cost $5.00 as such if you’re likely to buy more than 3 fizzy drinks throughout the day then the refillable cup offers great value for money.

If you’re visiting Universal Studios Hollywood for more than one day, are an annual passholder or plan to return to the park in the future then keep hold of your refillable cup as when you return to the park you can reactivate it for $11 plus tax and once again used for unlimited drinks every ten minutes until the park closes.

Alternatively, a souvenir sipper cup costs between $20 and $30 depending on the design and comes with a complimentary drink. However, after this, all refills must then be paid for at a cost of $1.50 plus tax. Much like the refillable cups, however, you can bring your souvenir sipper back to Universal Studios Hollywood time and time again to save on the cost of drinks at the park.

Themed drinks such as Butterbeer found in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Super Star Lemon Squash at Super Nintendo World are not eligible for any refillable or souvenir cup programme. These lands also do not have any Freestyle machines inside so make sure you fill your drink before visiting.

13. Grab A Refillable Popcorn Bucket

If you’re looking for a fun and affordable snack at Universal Studios Hollywood then consider investing in the refillable popcorn bucket. Depending on the exact design these buckets cost between $24.99 and $39.99 plus tax.

One regular serving of popcorn costs $5.99, subsequently, if you’re likely to purchase three or four portions of popcorn in a single day then the refillable popcorn bucket quickly becomes an affordable souvenir.

14. Eat At Budget Dining Spots

While the food at Universal Studios Hollywood does come at a premium, some restaurants are still cheaper than others. In this case, we’ve often picked up meals and snacks from the following locations;

There are also plenty of quick-service dining spots out at CityWalk too, however, more often than not we splurge on a table-service meal here after a long, fun-filled day at the park instead.

15. Purchase Your Hogwarts Robes & Wands In Advance

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the most incredibly immersive areas at Universal Studios Hollywood. Fans of the Harry Potter books flock to this fantastic place to experience the rides & attractions and, of course, to buy souvenirs. However, some of the most premium souvenirs here can come at a very high price.

Interactive wands that mirror those of famous wizards such as Harry Potter, Hermione Granger & Ron Weasley start at $59 plus tax. While highly detailed Hogwarts robes start at $145 plus tax. While these two items are some of our favourite souvenirs, if you’re travelling on a budget then they may be out of budget.

Thankfully, you can often buy second-hand Hogwarts robes & wands from previous guests of the park on sites such as eBay or even buy a licenced Hogwarts robe from the likes of Walmart and Target in exchange for one of the more expensive Universal licenced ones instead.

16. Avoid The Arcade & Carnival Games

Once you get inside Universal Studios Hollywood, all the rides and attractions are free – except for the arcade & carnival games. With so many fantastic things to see and do as part of your admission to the park, spending your extra dollars here can be somewhat of a waste.

The vast majority of these arcade & carnival games are situated inside of the Super Silly Funland and are therefore in prime position to be marketed to kids, and since each game costs $8, the cost of playing can quickly add up.

17. Bring Your Own Stroller / Wheelchair

Strollers and wheelchairs are available for hire at Universal Studios Hollywood. However, they come at a high premium.

  • Single Stroller: $25
  • Double Stroller: $35
  • Wheelchair: $25
  • Electric Wheelchair: $75

As such if you’re going to need a stroller or wheelchair during your trip to the parks we highly suggest bringing your own with you instead.


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