How to Do Universal Orlando on a Budget


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top of a red rollercoaster and tall palm trees against a blue sky with fluffy clouds - how to do universal studios orlando on a budget

Everything you could know that can assist you plan a visit to Universal Studios Orlando on a price range!

If you assume your dream journey to the Florida theme parks is assured to interrupt the financial institution, assume once more! Although it’s no secret that an adrenaline-fuelled vacation in Orlando might be fairly costly, there are many methods to maintain prices down.

I first visited Universal Studios Orlando as a child, wayyyy again when there have been simply two parks and the actually terrifying JAWS trip was nonetheless round!

Since then, I’ve returned as an grownup just a few instances, together with a memorable journey with my outdated housemate Vicky who described me as “unbearable” after I dragged her across the Wizarding World of Harry Potter like an excited youngster!

It’s certainly one of my favorite theme parks on this planet – and positively price a splurge for a dream trip.

BUT earlier than you empty your checking account, take a look at my money-saving ideas and methods that can assist you plan a extra budget-friendly journey to Universal Orlando.

My resort and park tickets for Universal Studios Orlando have been kindly offered in change for this evaluation. BUT the next recommendation relies on quite a few journeys, and the remainder of my Florida journey was paid for on my own. As all the time, all phrases and opinions are my very own.

emily next to a jurassic park car wearing denim shorts and a grey t-shirt with the jurassic park logo pretending to run away from a t-rex emerging from the bush behind her at Islands of Adventure Orlando

How Much Does it Cost to go to Universal Studios?

This is a little bit of a “how long is a piece of string” query – as a result of how a lot it prices to go to Universal Studios Orlando depends upon loads of elements. How lengthy you need to go for, which parks you need to go to, what time of 12 months you propose to go, and many others.

Single-day tickets begin from:

  • Universal Studios: $109 + tax
  • Islands of Adventure: $109 + tax
  • Volcano Bay: $80 + tax
green water slides curling around above a small pool of bright blue water surrounded by palm trees and tropical greenery on a sunny day at Volcano Bay Universal Florida
Volcano Bay is the Universal Studios water park

However, it really works out cheaper per day to buy a multi-day, multi-park ticket. And with three superior parks to discover* – and SO MUCH to see and do in each – spending just a few days having fun with the Universal Orlando Resort is a superb concept!

For instance, the 3-Park 4-Day Ticket begins from $75.00 + tax per day (from $299.99 per grownup ticket).

Children’s tickets (aged 3-9) aren’t less expensive, so visiting as a household can add up a bit. For instance, the 3-Park 5-Day Ticket would begin from $1,288 for a household of 4.

*you’ll discover a breakdown of the three parks later on this submit.

Emily wearing a black and white dress and a Hogwarts robe holding a butterbeer in one hand and a wand in the other standing on a street in Hogsmeade Village at Islands of Adventure, with stone cottages on either side topped with snow -  how to do universal studios orlando on a budget
Visiting Hogsmeade on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Parking at Universal Studios Orlando

Bear in thoughts that parking at Universal Orlando Resort begins from $27 a day, so you’ll want to issue these prices in if you happen to’re not staying at one of many resort motels.

Other Travel Costs

The essential different journey prices to think about when visiting Universal Studios Orlando are:

  • Flights – guide prematurely and store round utilizing Skyscanner to discover a good worth. Or signal as much as Jack’s Flight Club (learn my evaluation right here) and see if a discount comes by!
  • Accommodation – extra on that later on this submit.
  • Food & Drink – money-saving ideas for this later within the submit.
  • Souvenirs – if you happen to’re on a good price range, attempt to keep away from shopping for too many of those. TOP TIP – save all of your purchases on your final day to keep away from impulse shopping for!
roofs of stone cottages with snow on them against a bright blue sky with a signpost pointing towards Hogwarts at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida
Hogsmeade Village at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

How to Get Cheap Universal Orlando Tickets

Often, it really works out least expensive to buy your tickets immediately from Universal Studios. External reserving platforms might add on a reserving payment, so in the event that they aren’t providing a reduction in opposition to the usual ticket worth it’d find yourself costing extra.

However, you possibly can generally discover offers to seize your self some discounted park tickets. Shop round and evaluate costs earlier than reserving. Here are just a few reliable websites to search for low cost Universal Orlando tickets:

AttractionTix an awesome supply for discounted tickets, together with cheaper multi-day tickets. They even have a Disney and Universal mixture ticket that will work out cheaper than buying individually.

Groupon – usually has offers and gives for the Orlando theme parks and different points of interest.

GetYourGuide generally have multi-day park tickets at a barely cheaper charge. They even have some nice excursions and different attraction tickets.

Viator have a “lowest price guarantee” and supply sure discounted ticket packages that will work out cheaper.

If you’re reserving your vacation as a package deal, your park tickets could also be included within the package deal, which may work out cheaper than reserving all the things individually.

Emily wearing a bright blue bikini facing away from the camera in front of a large blue pool with a giant model volcano behind - Volcano Bay and Universal Studios Orlando on a budget
Volcano Bay is the right place to chill off within the Florida sunshine!

What are the Three Parks at Universal Studios Orlando?

There are three parks at Universal Studios in Orlando, and so they’re all superb. But if you happen to’re on a price range, reserving the 3-park ticket is probably not an choice. So right here’s a fast overview of the parks that can assist you determine which of them you don’t need to miss.

Universal Studios: The unique Universal park, the place films and TV reveals are dropped at life with superb units and immersive rides. Top points of interest embrace: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit™ rollercoaster, the Springfield space that includes The Simpsons Ride™, and the beloved E.T. Adventure (a traditional).

Universal Studios has the Diagon Alley department of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, the place you’ll discover the Escape From Gringotts™ trip and might go to Ollivanders to see a wand-choosing demonstration.

looking across a lake towards various pretend buildings at Universal Orlando on a cloudy day
Universal Studios appears to be like like a movie set dropped at life!
a dragon on top of the tall white building of Gringotts Bank in Universal Studios Orlando
Gringotts in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios
Emily wearing a bright yellow dress and black leggings hugging a statue of Millhouse from the Simpsons who is drinking from a can through a straw - how to do universal studios orlando on a budget
Simpsons Land at Universal Studios

Islands of Adventure: A park divided into a number of totally different themed lands together with Jurassic Park, Dr Seuess, and Marvel. Top points of interest embrace: Jurassic World Velocicoaster and the Jurassic Park River Adventure, The Incredible Hulk Coaster®, and Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls®.

Islands of Adventure has the Hogsmeade department of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, that includes Hogwarts Castle and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure™.

If you will have a two-park ticket, you possibly can journey between parks on board the Hogwarts™ Express.

View of Universal Islands of Adventure across a lake on a cloudy day with a train going over the top of a tall section of rollercoaster track
Islands of Adventure options totally different themed lands set round a lake
emily wearing a black and white dress standing in front of a metal enclosure with an animatronic velociraptor behind her -  how to do universal studios orlando on a budget
Raptor Encounter within the Jurassic Park land
emily in a black and white dress going through a shop doorway into Honeydukes at Universal Islands of Adventure
Hogsmeade Village within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Volcano Bay: An superb water park primarily based round a towering volcano with tropical South Seas vibes. There’s a lazy river, a wave pool, and a number of other seashores to loosen up on.

For thrill-seekers, there are dozens of water slides, together with the Ko’okiri Body Plunge; a 70-degree fall by a drop door. Don’t miss the Krakatau Aqua Coaster or the 2 epic rubber-ring slides of the Honu ika Moana.

many people on rubber rings in a lazy river with bright blue water between lots of tropical green plants on a very sunny day at Volcano Bay Universal Florida
Lazy river at Volcano Bay

What if you happen to can ONLY Visit One Park?

Honestly, that is completely as much as you. In my private opinion, Islands of Adventure is probably the most enjoyable park, and it most likely has just a few extra thrill rides.

But if you happen to’ve by no means been earlier than, Universal Studios is the unique park and gives the traditional expertise. Plus it has some superior areas with unbelievable theming to discover.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan primarily visiting Universal Orlando for the Wizarding World, the query all of it comes all the way down to is: Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade and Hogwarts? You’ll discover the previous in Universal Studios and the latter in Islands of Adventure. Both are AMAZING so that you gained’t be upset with both expertise… however I really feel like it will be a disgrace to not see Hogwarts fortress, so Islands of Adventure may need the sting there!

Hogwarts Castle at night lit up with gold patterned progections and the shape of the Hogwarts crest -  how to do universal studios orlando on a budget
Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle – Islands of Adventure

How Many Days for Universal Orlando?

Again, what number of days to spend at Universal Orlando completely depends upon you, your price range, and the size of your journey. You may do exactly someday, however you might additionally do 5 or 6 days with out becoming bored! There’s rather a lot to see and do.

THREE DAYS: Ideally, you want at the very least three days to get one of the best out of Universal Orlando. That provides you one full day at every park – or you might do two full days on the theme parks, plus a morning revisiting any points of interest you missed and a day enjoyable on the water park.

FOUR OR MORE DAYS: Personally, I believe 4 days is finest, with three days on the two theme parks and a full day on the water park. There’s a lot to see and do within the theme parks, significantly Islands of Adventure, so having an additional day (or longer) to revisit something you missed or trip your favourites once more is good. It additionally provides you time to attempt just a few totally different eating places.

ONE DAY: If you’re on a really tight price range, you might choose one park and simply do someday, and it will be sufficient to get pleasure from the primary highlights. In truth, you might nearly squeeze the highlights of the 2 theme parks into one lengthy day – particularly with the Universal Express cross. But it will be tiring and also you’d miss loads of the enjoyable particulars.

the back of emily's head with one arm raised to point a wand at the scarlet red steam train engine of the Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios Florida
You can trip the Hogwart’s Express between the 2 theme parks at Universal Studios

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando to Save Money

There’s no official peak- or low season at Universal Orlando, because the solar shines year-round in Florida and the parks are open three hundred and sixty five days a 12 months.

BUT there are occasions when the parks are busier than others. Visiting throughout the quieter instances of the 12 months may also help you lower your expenses on flights, automobile leases, and lodging…

  • January to early February – normally up till the UK half time period, and earlier than the beginning of the favored Mardi Gras pageant in mid-February.
  • April to May – the “shoulder season” between Mardi Gras and summer season, with comfy heat climate and fewer crowds. Avoid any seasonal breaks and faculty holidays.
  • September to November – the second “shoulder season” – so long as you keep away from fall break, the UK’s half-term vacation, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

Most notably, the parks are busiest whereas youngsters are off college: throughout summer season holidays, spring break, main US public holidays, and UK half-term holidays. These busy intervals normally imply full-price journey prices and fewer reductions (plus massive crowds within the parks).

You must also consider any particular occasions, such because the Halloween Horror Nights, in addition to new trip openings, which may draw massive crowds, once more driving prices up – significantly on the resort motels.

large crowd in front of Hogwarts Castle at Universal Florida on a very sunny day
Weekend crowds in June at Islands of Adventure

Where to Stay at Universal Orlando When You’re on a Budget

One of the large concerns when planning a visit to Universal Studios Orlando on a price range is the place to remain. Should you keep on the resort at one of many Universal motels, or do you have to go for a less expensive resort in Orlando and journey in?

Although they could be a little dearer than motels outdoors of the resort, there are a number of perks to staying at one of many Universal resort motels, which may really aid you lower your expenses.

emily wearing denim shorts and a grey t shirt linking arms with a statue of Duff Man from the Simpsons and pretending to laugh while touching his bicep. how to do universal studios orlando on a budget.
Hotel friends get early entry to the parks – which implies emptier picture spots!
  • Early entry to the parks. Hotel friends can enter the parks an hour earlier than everybody else, that means you will get on among the busiest rides faster.
  • FREE Universal Express Unlimited Pass for friends at premier motels. This superior cross enables you to skip the traces to most rides within the parks, and normally begins from $79.99. Guests on the following motels will get the cross FREE: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel® and Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
  • Direct entry to the parks – avoiding taxi charges (which might be fairly expensive). Some of the motels are inside strolling distance of the park gates (just like the Hard Rock Hotel®), whereas others embrace frequent free water taxis or shuttles.
  • Free parking. Parking at Universal Orlando Resort begins from $27 a day, so staying on-site can prevent fairly a bit!
  • Pop again to your resort simply. If you’re staying self-catering or have a fridge in your room, you might simply nip again to the resort for lunch or an early dinner, earlier than returning to the parks for the night. Thus saving your self from buying two meals on the park that day!
  • Bundle and save. Booking your park tickets and resort as one package deal immediately by Universal Studios may prevent as much as $200!

If you’re reserving a Universal Studios resort resort, be sure to store round to check costs. Check their web site first (and test the particular gives web page for any offers), but in addition test resort reserving websites like and to see who has one of the best worth.

Universal Studios Orlando’s Value Accommodation: Endless Summer Resort

looking down from a hotel room window at a curved blue pool on a cloudy day with various other hotels and buildings in the background - budget accommodation at universal studios in orlando florida
Dockside Inn and Suites is without doubt one of the two Value motels at Universal Orlando

The Endless Summer Resort is the place you’ll discover the 2 Value motels at Universal Orlando, offering a extra reasonably priced choice for these visiting the parks on a price range.

Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites are each fairly related. With rooms ranging from $91 per evening, these are probably the most reasonably priced choices inside the Universal Orlando resort.

I stayed on the Dockside Inn and Suites on my final go to and liked it. The rooms are easy, however they’re additionally clear, comfy, and vibrant, with enjoyable beach-y decor. And actually, you gained’t be spending an excessive amount of time in your room with so many enjoyable parks to discover!

I attempted one of many two-bedroom suites (sleeps six). Thse include a small kitchenette space and a desk, in order that they’re best for snacking in your room to chop down on meal prices. I additionally tied out the dual room for an evening, it’s smaller however in any other case pretty related.

Hotel room painted in pale blue with two double beds with pale cyan bedsheets. there is a wooden blue picnic table in the foreground with a straw hat and sunglasses on it. budget accommodation at universal studios in orlando florida
The two-bedroom suite at Dockside Inn and Suites sleeps as much as six

There are two giant out of doors swimming pools with small sandy seashores and poolside actions like ping-pong. Considering it is a “budget” resort, the swimming pools are superior – I extremely advocate spending certainly one of your free days lazing on a solar lounger with a cocktail from the pool bar!

Food and drink choices are considerably primary – there’s a canteen-style eatery with first rate sufficient meals which is nice for a fast pit cease, plus a pizza supply service, and a Starbucks within the foyer. But you possibly can simply hop on the free shuttle to City Walk to get pleasure from one of many extra budget-friendly eateries there. There are additionally some first rate eating places and fast-food chains inside strolling distance of the Endless Summer Resort.

The essential draw back is that the Endless Summer Resort motels aren’t inside strolling distance of City Walk or the theme parks. But throughout my keep, we by no means waited longer than 5 minutes for a shuttle, and the drive takes lower than ten minutes, so it’s tremendous handy.

a hotel with an orange and yellow patterned facade standing behind a bright blue pool. budget accommodation at universal studios in orlando florida
One of two swimming pools at Dockside Inn and Suites

Other Budget Hotel Options Near Universal Studios

These motels supply free shuttles to and from the Universal Studios parks, though these could also be slower than those from the resort motels.

You can discover cheaper lodging farther from the parks, however the further journey prices might negate any financial savings you make, so weigh up all of your choices earlier than reserving.

Cheapest Place to Eat at Universal Studios Orlando

a bright turquoise circular building wiht a pink sign saying Mel's Diner and two retro American cars in front of it - based on the set of American Graffiti - one of the cheap places to eat at Universal Studios Orlando
Mel’s Diner sells burgers. fries and shakes!

Below, I’ve listed among the most reasonably priced eating choices in every of the parks at Universal Studios Orlando…

Universal Studios: The Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck and Fast Food Boulevard (each in Simpsons Land), TODAY Café, Mel’s Diner.

Islands of Adventure: Doc Sugrue’s Desert Kebab House, The Three Broomsticks, Fire Eater’s Grill.

Universal CityWalk: Bread Box Handcrafted Sandwiches, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, Red Oven Pizza Bakery, Burger King, Starbucks.

Volcano Bay: pizza from Whakawaiwai Eats (the recent canine are NOT well worth the cash), Bambu Jungle Kitchen.

TOP TIP 1 – in table-service eating places, lunch tends to be extra reasonably priced than dinner. So if you would like a sit-down meal, take into account having your essential meal round lunchtime, and one thing extra snack-y for dinner.

TOP TIP 2 – you don’t should eat out for each meal. Cut out restaurant prices by ordering takeaways or Uber Eats to your resort and eat in your room (or by the pool)!

Selfie of Emily taking a bite of a pink doughnut with sprinkles the same size as her head outside a replica of Moe's Tavern at Simpson's Land in Universal Studios Florida
Stuffing my face at Universal Studios!

Can You Take Food Into Universal Studios?

The excellent news is that you possibly can take meals into Univeral Studios, with just a few restrictions. There are bag searches on coming into, so any prohibited objects could also be confiscated.

But you possibly can positively deliver your individual water (and there are refill fountains across the park) in addition to snacks. You can’t take meals that wants heating or hard-sided coolers, however you might deliver some pre-made sandwiches to save lots of your self from shopping for lunch. If you’re on a price range, it’s a good suggestion to deliver your individual sweets/sweet, crisps/chips, and different snacks, too – as these might be fairly expensive within the parks.

These are the accepted and prohibited meals objects in accordance with the Universal Studios insurance policies web page:

Acceptable Items

  • Bottled Water (most 2 litres)
  • Small snacks that don’t require heating
  • Any meals required for medical functions and medically-indicated dietary dietary supplements
  • Any meals required for particular dietary wants
  • Baby meals/child system
  • Soft-sided insulated luggage no bigger than 8.5″ large x 6″ excessive x 6″ deep

Prohibited Items

  • Glassware or glass containers
  • Open containers or drinks containing alcohol
  • Hard-sided coolers
  • Soft-sided coolers bigger than 8.5″ large x 6″ excessive x 6″ deep
  • Picnic lunches; any meals that requires heating or refrigeration; folding chairs
close up of a plastic cup of Butterbeer with a cream foam on the top at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando
Harry Potter followers gained’t need to miss the possibility to attempt a Butterbeer!

Is the Universal Express Pass Worth It?

The Universal Express passes allow you to skip the road on taking part rides and points of interest on the Universal Studios theme parks.

For Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, the Universal Express cross begins from $79.99pp plus tax, whereas for Volcano Bay it begins from $19.99pp plus tax. So it’s a little bit of a splurge, particularly if there are a number of of you.

But on busy days, queues for the favored rides can generally be properly over an hour. If you’ve solely received a day at every park, you won’t be capable to go on all the things.

giant red and white striped hat with a saign saying The Cat in the Hat with a cloudy sky behind. budget guide to universal studios in orlando florida
Sueuss Landings is without doubt one of the themed lands at Island’s of Adventure

Ultimately, I believe the query of whether or not or to not purchase the Universal Express cross comes all the way down to how lengthy you will have on the parks.

If you solely have a day at every park and also you’re eager to go on as a lot as potential, the Express tickets are well worth the splurge. If you don’t thoughts lacking some stuff, skip the Express cross to maintain your general Universal Orlando price range down.

If you’re visiting for longer and plan on spending greater than someday at every park, you gained’t really want the Universal Express cross. Another argument for saving extra by staying longer!

Remember – friends at Premier motels within the Universal Orlando Resort get FREE Express passes. You may bundle them together with your park tickets to save cash when buying direct.

model of a predator dinosaur emerging from a thicket of bamboo behind a red and gold Jurassic Park jeep

Money-Saving Tips for Visiting Universal Orlando on a Budget

A number of extra money-saving ideas that can assist you plan your journey to Universal Orlando on a price range…

Check for Discounted Rates

Before reserving, test to see when you’ve got entry to any discounted charges. Members of sure organisations, reminiscent of AAA within the USA, can entry discounted charges for Universal Studios tickets. Likewise, there are reductions for members of the US Military, and a few journey golf equipment additionally present entry to theme park offers.

emily wearing a black and white dress at night standing next to Spiderman and pretending to shoot webs from her hand. they are both lit by a red light .
Meet comedian guide heroes within the Marvel space at Islands of Adventure
a circular blue shop with a picture of Spongebob Squarepants on the front and a sign saying Spongebob Storepants. budget guide to universal studios orlando.
And meet Spongebob and buddies in Universal Studios

Use Clubcard Vouchers to Book a Universal Orlando Hotel

If you’re within the UK and gather Tesco Clubcard vouchers, you possibly can convert these into vouchers to assist make your journey extra reasonably priced.

For £5 of Clubcard factors, you will get £15 of vouchers, which can be utilized to guide the Universal Studios resort motels – saving you a good bit of cash and supplying you with entry to the Express Pass. Click right here for more information.

You may use Clubcard factors to purchase Virgin Points, which may very well be used in direction of reserving your flight (or upgrading).

Yellow archway with a sign saying Universal Studios Florida against a blue sky at the entrance to the park

Take your Own Ponchos, Water, and Sunscreen

Florida could also be generally known as the sunshine state, however that doesn’t imply it by no means rains. In truth, throughout the summertime wet season (May-October), a day rainstorm or two is fairly widespread.

Ponchos in Universal Studios can value round $10 a pop, however you should purchase them for about $1 on Amazon. So purchase them prematurely, take them with you, and also you’ll save a ton of cash!

Likewise, take your individual water bottle and refill it on the ingesting fountains across the parks. If you’re frightened concerning the high quality of the water, spend money on a Water-to-Go filter bottle which may immediately filter the water earlier than you drink it.

Suncream (sunscreen) is one other merchandise that’s on the pricier aspect inside the Universal Studios resort, so if you happen to’re in Orlando on a price range I counsel pre-buying your solar safety and taking it to the park with you.

Final Thoughts

If you’re visiting Orlando on a price range and need to go to the parks at Universal Studios, it’s definitely do-able. You simply should be savvy!

Try to guide as far prematurely as you possibly can, and do numerous analysis to be sure to’re getting one of the best offers. Always test the Univesal Studios web site first, as they could have one of the best costs and particular gives – then store round to see if yow will discover higher costs wherever else.

Most of all – get able to have the BEST time. Whether you’re a Harry Potter tremendous nerd like me, an enormous Jurassic Park fan (additionally like me), a lover of all issues Marvel, massive into Nickelodeon cartoons, or feeling nostalgic for traditional films like ET and Back to the Future, there’s one thing for everybody. And it truly is like watching your favorite movies and TV reveals come to life!

Do you understand every other nice money-saving ideas to assist individuals plan a visit to Universal Studios Orlando on a price range? Scroll down to go away a remark!


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