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.
There are both big and smaller ways to save money, and over several 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.
Table of Contents
- 1. Shop Around For Deals On Universal Studios Park Tickets
- 2. Save Money On Food At Universal Studios
- 3. Get Savvy With Souvenirs
- 4. Find Money Saving Accommodation
- 5. Allocate A Set Budget Per Day
- 6. Save On Parking
1. Shop Around For Deals On Universal Studios Park Tickets
The best way to start saving before you even get to Universal Studios Orlando is to get the best rate ticket. Several deals on the official Universal Studios website vary 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 improve the price. A common deal is to 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 Universal Studios directly.
Look at the benefits of buying an annual pass, as you can get parking for free or at discounted rates along with discounts on food and restaurants both inside the parks and at CityWalk. In addition, 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. However, make sure you upgrade before your final ticket day is up; otherwise, you will have to pay full price again. Note that you may not upgrade if you booked via a third party and not directly from Universal Studios.
2. Save Money On Food At Universal Studios
There are several smaller ways to save money at universal studios, but that can often mean giving up something you would more than likely want to do or like. Once you are within the park, there are a couple of ways to save money; one of those is food.
Take Your Own Food
You can take your own food in Universal Studios Orlando as long as it follows some guidelines. See a list below for products and rules over bringing food into the park.
Bringing your own food can be beneficial as you can bring exactly what your family likes, plenty of snacks and treats. Bringing food to the parks is also beneficial if you have anyone with allergies, dietary requirements or just a little fussy with food.
We have often taken our own snacks to Universal Studios as we like to have something on hand while waiting for a ride or just a great way to save money. Bringing snacks is probably one of the easiest and simplest ways to save money on food at Universal Studios Orlando.
As funny as it sounds, the meal portions are larger in the U.S.A than in the U.K. Sharing meals is a great money-saving tip for people and children who don’t eat much or such large portions.
On our first trip to Universal Studios Orlando, we shared meals as we didn’t need a large breakfast, lunch and dinner, so 2 out of 3 meals could be shared.
Sharing meals is such a great way to save money on food at Universal Studios Orlando. Even if you have children, you could split a meal between them to make money go further and reduce the amount of waste.
We got crisps (chips) on one of our meals as part of the meal. Unfortunately, we didn’t have room for them, so we saved them in our bag to eat later.
Eat Smaller Portions
Many times on our visits with Cora’s parents, we have both shared meals and eaten smaller portions. In particular, Cora’s mum doesn’t eat large meals and often at home has a starter as a main.
She would order a child’s portion in many restaurants as it was much easier for her to handle, and it saved money.
Obviously, if you are an adult and like to have the adult portion, that is fine; there are still plenty other ways to save money on foot at Universal Studios Orlando.
Universal Studios Orlando has a deal much like the Refillable Cup but for popcorn. You can buy a bucket for a set price and pay as little as $2 for refills around the park. Using the refillable popcorn option is a great way to save a little money, especially if you like to snack.
You can get a bucket to share between the family , and everyone can enjoy it without breaking the piggy bank.
Also, once you have purchased the bucket, you can use it again and again during your visit and in the future, saving you even more money on your return trip!
Bring Your Own Drinks
One great way to save money on food at universal studios Orlando is to take your drinks. I always try to drink plenty of water while at the parks, primarily due to the heat. So I always take a water bottle that I can fill up at the fountains, or you can get free water at locations around the park.
When travelling with children and prefer flavoured water, why not pick up the Robinsons squeeze dilute bottles that fit in the palm of your hand and use the free water to fill up your bottle and drop some flavour in.
If you want to add a little fizz and flavour to your day, you can look at bringing your drinks or getting the Refillable cup. You can purchase a cup and refill it at different stations across the parks.
3. 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 recommend we have a post all about it.
Suppose you are looking to buy something for yourself to take home, plan ahead. For example, if I were to buy anything, it would definitely be Harry Potter themed, so I would search eBay for people selling the 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 at eBay once you get back to your hotel. That way, you can still get what you want without having to pay the full park price.
Alternatively, several shops 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 similar to the parks.
Many people flock to Universal Studios and want to buy wizard capes and interactive wands. I always suggest buying these second hand on eBay and bringing 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.
4. Find Money Saving Accommodation
Whether you are 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 involved.
Look for accommodation with a free shuttle; that way, 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 with a kitchen or kitchenette. That way, you can cook meals in the evening and have breakfast before you hit the parks. You can also prepare your own food and take it to the parks.
Another way to save money on accommodation is to check your points; there are several 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.
5. Allocate A Set Budget Per Day
If you want to stay under a certain amount in total or even by day, set a budget to cover extra expenses such as drinks, other 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 an excellent 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 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 using a set budget per day for children to use sweets and toys etc., this way, on the first day, if they see something they like, they can save up their money to get it. Or use the change from each day to get that item they have wanted.
6. Save On Parking
Parking can mount up to be one large sum of money for even two 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, deals on restaurants and shops at CityWalk and discounts on Universal Studios merchandise.
If you have a car but are not interested in getting an annual pass to cover the parking costs or even pay the $25 per day, you can stay at a hotel or resort that offers a complimentary 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 valuable and helpful when planning your trip to Universal Studios Orlando and have seen many different ways to save money at Universal Studios.