Universal Studios in Orlando

Park tickets alone to Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure can easily add up to several hundreds of dollars, depending on the size of your family and how many days you plan to spend at the park. This doesn’t include added vacation expenses like transportation, lodging, and food costs! Without proper planning & research, a vacation to Universal Studios can be quite costly.

Fortunately, a little pre-planning and common sense is all it takes to save big on your trip. A trip to Orlando’s Universal Studios is not totally out of reach for those with a small budget. Following a few of the tips below can make your trip more fun and affordable. Take a look at 25 of the best ways to save on your park visit. Feel free to share a few tips of your own!

1. Consider driving as opposed to flying into Orlando

Driving is much cheaper, especially if you split the costs amongst several people. You can also bring with as much luggage as you can fit in your vehicle as opposed to paying extra airline baggage fees and airport parking fees.

2. If flying, book your flight in advance

Book as far in advance as possible for the best savings. Also, try to book your flight during the middle of the week and preferably outside of peak season (June-August). Be sure to compare multiple airlines on a website like Kayak. Early September and November are the least crowded times at the park. Not only will the park be less crowded at this time, but more importantly, the temps in Orlando will be much more bearable!

3. Plan your trip during the slow season for the best rates

September and November are typically the slowest months, although September will be really hot, humid, and rainy. In exchange for the hot, rainy weather, you will enjoy lower rates on hotels and airfare. Plus, the parks will be much less crowded!

Massive crowds during a holiday weekend…

Massive crowds at Universal Studios. Avoid holiday periods at all costs unless you want to be walking in crowds like this!

Massive crowds at Universal Studios. Avoid holiday periods at all costs unless you want to be walking in crowds like this!

Versus a nice uncrowded spring day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is completely packed in the summer.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on a slower spring day at he park. Much more comfortable, crowd and weatherwise!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on a slower spring day at he park. Much more comfortable, crowd and weatherwise!

4. Research hotels several weeks-months before your trip in order to take advantage of the best deals

Also, be sure to check for vacation packages. Universal Studios has numerous hotel packages and air vacation packages available. You can also research individual hotels and see what type of deals they are offering. Sign up for their email list to receive special promotions.

5. Plan park restaurants in advance

Mythos restaurant at Universal Studios

This will give you time to check out menus and prices before your visit. For a full listing of park restaurants, visit the Universal Studios dining page. I usually pack my backpack with sandwiches and small snacks and then treat myself to one meal a day -usually outside of the park in CityWalk or at a budget friendly chain like Sweet Tomatoes. If you are going to visit a park restaurant, I highly recommend Mythos, a beautiful cave designed restaurant which has won many awards over the years inclduing best theme park restaurant.

6. Book a hotel with a kitchenette

Windsor Hills it the best place for longer Orlando stays. The full kitchen will definitely help you save a few bucks!

Windsor Hills it the best place for longer Orlando stays. The full kitchen will definitely help you save a few bucks!

This will easily save you hundreds on your trip, as dining out is the 3rd largest expense next to park tickets and lodging costs. Another idea is to look into a condo rental vs. a hotel. You will have a full kitchen plus a host of additional amenities including laundry facilities, multiple bathrooms, and extra space! Windsor Hills (although closer to DisneyWorld than Universal), is a great place to stay (about a 15 minute drive).

7. Stay at a Universal on-site hotel if you plan on purchasing a fast pass/visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Stay at an on-site Universal hotel if you are a big Harry Potter fan. You will receive an hour early admission to the park so you can enjoy it a bit before the crowds hit!

Stay at an on-site Universal hotel if you are a big Harry Potter fan. You will receive an hour early admission to the park so you can enjoy it a bit before the crowds hit!

Certain hotels such as the Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay, and Loews Royal Pacific offers guests a fast pass for each day of their stay. This is a great deal as the Express Passes normally start at $40 per day. Also, if you plan on visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which you should as it is awesome), you will want to stay on-site to receive hour early admission. The Harry Potter section is pretty gigantic – there really is lots to explore, so this early admission really is a great value, not to mention you can explore the park in peace without the normal shoulder to shoulder traffic.