Wondering how to save money at Universal Studios Orlando?
For many Universal Studios Orlando is a once in a lifetime experience and is often a holiday that is booked well in advance and saved up for. So it is no surprise that many of us like to save a little money on items before we go and while we are there.
The best ways to save money at Universal Studios is by buying a deal ticket with a free day, buying a package deal with accommodation included or staying off-site with a free shuttle to and from the parks. You can also save by taking your own food and drinks and buying souvenirs at a discounted rate.
How To Save Money At Universal Studios Orlando
There are both large ways and smaller ways in which you can save money and over a number of different ways so you don’t feel like you have to completely cut out and give up on all the fun stuff while you are there.
One of the best things to do is make a wants list, this way you can add on items you would like to get, do or try and work to save your money for those items alone.
Shop Around For Deals On Tickets
The best way to start saving before you even get to Universal Studios Orlando is to get the best rate ticket. There are a number of deals you can find on the official Universal Studios website that varies from 2 days to 7 days.
Depending on how long you are going for will depend on what type of ticket you will require. There are often great deals that include an extra day free or something added to make the price better. A common deal is buy 2 park – 2 day ticket and get a 3rd free.
Your park day tickets will also depend on if you are looking at doing 2 parks or all 3 or just one. If you get a dual park day ticket make sure you get the park hopper so you aren’t limited to one park per day.
Buy your tickets in advance to get the best deal whether you book through a 3rd party or through Universal Studios directly.
Look at the benefits of buying an annual pass as you can them get parking for free or at discounted rates along with discounts on food and restaurants at both inside the parks and at CityWalk. You can buy an ordinary ticket and upgrade at a later date.
You can always upgrade later if you want an annual pass or more days. Make sure you upgrade before your final ticket day is up otherwise you will have to pay full price again. Note if you booked via a third party and not directly from Universal Studios you may not be able to upgrade.
Save On Food
We all know that one of the biggest expenses not just as theme parks but generally is food. We found that a high percentage of our overall holiday was on food, from dining in the park, snacks and lunches. It all starts to mount up, especially if you are a family of 4 or more.
There are so many ways in which you can save on food at Universal Studios, we have a more detailed post on this topic you can read more about.
Alternatively, some of the quick and easy ways to save money on food are to bring your own. Universal Studios state no picnic food is to be brought into the park but things such as snacks, a sandwich you made at your hotel is fine.
Bringing your own food can mean you get more for your money, save on food as you can buy from the nearby supermarket when you first arrive and you can even get stuff everyone likes and will eat – no wasted food within the park.
Another way to save on food within the park is to have a child portion, Cora’s mum always gets a child portion because she doesn’t like large portions.
Or you can always share a meal between two, this is a great idea as many of the meals we have had at Universal Studios and Disney are fairly large and more than adequate to share between two people.
If you are looking at snacking your way around the park and fancy some popcorn then you can save a huge amount by getting the refillable popcorn buckets. There you can buy at the start of the day and pay a small fee to refill whenever you want – you can also use that bucket again next time you go and just pay for the refills.
Save On Drinks
Drinks again is another easy and simple way of saving money at Universal Studios. You want to make sure that you drink plenty and stay hydrated throughout the day, especially in peak heat times.
My first option would be to take your own water bottle, that way you can use the free water fountains or ask for a cup of water from the snack carts to fill up your bottle. This is the easiest and cheapest method as you can bring your water bottle from home and doesn’t require you to buy anything.
Another option is to bring your own drinks to the parks, glass bottles or containers are not allowed and you are not permitted to bring in your own alcohol. Otherwise you are pretty much free to bring in your own drinks. Buy a multipack from the supermarket and bring so many each day to keep you going.
If you want to do this I would suggest bringing a backpack and placing it in a locker – that way you don’t have to carry the bag around with you but means you might be going back and forth to the locker and not using your time wisely in the park.
You are not permitted to bring a hard shell cooler box or anything on wheels into the parks. Smaller soft-shell coolers are permitted but must be under the size of 8.5 wide x 6 high x 6 deep (inches).
The final way to save money on drinks is to purchase the Coca-Cola freestyle refillable cup, this is a portable cup with a lid, handle and straw that has a chip in the base that allows you fill it up every 10 minutes.
You can find a whole number of flavours and the machines are located around both parks. It is a one-time payment that allows you unlimited refills throughout the day. You can then re-use the cup for the next few days and pay each day.
I love this as you can share it between everyone and everyone gets a chance to pick the flavour drink – you can wash out the cup with water before filling again. This is a great way of adding a little flavour along with your water during the day and have a cool drink.
My final way of saving money on drinks at Universal is avoiding alcoholic drinks and speciality drinks. These are often very pricey and can easily mount up if you have one or two. If you want to enjoy a nice cool beer on a hot day plan it into your daily budget.
Get Savvy With Souvenirs
We don’t often buy souvenirs for ourselves or other people as we have so many family members it can start to get expensive. So we personally don’t buy them which is the cheapest option for many. Though if you want to look at the souvenirs we do recommend we have a post all about it.
If you are looking to buy something for yourself to take home, plan ahead. If I were to buy anything it would definitely be Harry Potter themed so I would search on eBay for people selling their souvenirs they brought home and no longer want.
You can take photos of the items you like while at the park and have a quick glance on eBay once you get back to your hotel. That way you can still get what you really want without having to pay the full park price.
Alternatively, there are a number of shops that are discount places and off-brand style shops that have loads of Disney and Universal souvenirs you can get. There are also places such as Walmart that have lower cost items that are similar to the parks.
Many people flock to Universal Studios and want to buy the wizard capes and interactive wands. I always suggest to buy these second hand on eBay and bring them with you. That way you can pay a much cheaper price saving you money in the long run and still getting to enjoy the interactive parts of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Finding The Right Accommodation
Whether you are looking at staying on-site or staying further out will depend on a few things.
I would advise looking at the deals for staying on-site as you can get added park hours or deals on tickets or express passes. Explore these different options to make sure you can’t get a better rate per night including the extras that involved.
Look for accommodation that has a free shuttle, that way for those who aren’t driving can use the free shuttle to get there and back. Alternatively, you can get Uber or Lyft to and from the park.
Another way to save money at Universal Studios is to stay in accommodation that has a kitchen or kitchenette. That way you can cook meals in an evening and have breakfast before you hit the parks. You can also then prepare your own food and take it to the parks.
Other ways to save money on accommodation is to check your points, there are a number of ways you can accumulate travel points from credit cards and loyalty cards – We have previously used American Express points to book hotels and even used our Tesco Clubcard points to covert into hotels stays.
Allocate A Set Budget Per Day
If you wanting to stay under a certain amount in total or even by day, set a budget to cover extra expenses such as drinks, additional food and souvenirs. This way you can keep track of your spending and make sure you don’t overspend leaving you short for the other days of your holiday.
Setting a budget for each day is a great way of keeping on top of your holiday spending, it also makes you think twice about buying something knowing the money could go on that Hedwig soft toy you really want or a new Simpsons mug.
Don’t be too strict unless you can handle it, it is all about enjoying your holiday and making the most of what you have.
I also like the idea of using a set budget per day for children to use of sweets and toys etc, this way on the first day if they see something they really like they can save up their money to get it. Or use the change from each day to get that item they have wanted.
Save On Parking
Parking can mount up to be one large sum of money for even 2 days at the parks, so it is well worth looking at deals that can help to cover your parking costs.
Self Parking for cars is $25 per day at Universal Studios. With an annual pass such as the Premier Annual Pass, Power Annual Pass or the Preferred Annual Pass you can get exclusive discounts or free parking depending on which you would prefer to buy.
There are of course other benefits to having an annual pass such as discounts on room rates at Universal Orlando, discounts on restaurants and shops at CityWalk and discounts on Universal Studios merchandise.
If you have a car but not interesting in getting an annual pass to cover the parking costs or even wanting to pay the $25 per day you can stay at a hotel or resort that offers a free shuttle to and from the park. Alternatively, you can stay at one of the Universal Studios hotels and use the shuttle or boat to Citywalk and walk from there.
I hope you have found this useful and helpful when you are planning your trip to Universal Studios Orlando and have found many different ways in which you can save money at Universal Studios.