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How to save time and money at Universal Orlando

I’m always eager to learn how to save time and money at Universal Orlando. It’s a delicate balance. If you live anywhere but Florida, you’ve probably already paid a pretty penny to get there in the first place. Although, I hate to spend all that money and not be able to experience the parks like we wanted to. We visited Universal Orlando the last week in July this year. So here are my tips for making the most of your trip to these theme parks.



No crowds with early entrance…


1) Stay at an affiliated Universal Studios hotel – Originally we were going to stay close to Disneyworld and bus or Uber over to Universal. But the perks of staying at an on site hotel are too much to ignore. We chose the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel. It is the least expensive option to get early entrance into the Harry Potter lands as well as unlimited express line access in the parks. For our family of 5, that meant a savings of almost $900. Since we were only spending 2 days at Universal Orlando, I didn’t want to spend it waiting in line. I’ve had friends that have done both parks in one day because of these benefits. That’s a long day, but it can be done.


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Check out the benefits…


2) Bring your own breakfast – I just don’t believe in paying extra in a hotel or theme park to eat breakfast. I don’t want to wake up extra early to have breakfast with the masses before we hit the theme parks for the day. I’d rather sleep a little later, grab a quick bite and head to the parks. My boys are always clamoring for popcorn or some other snack by 10am anyway. Our airport to hotel transfer made a grocery stop without any extra fees. We picked up milk, breakfast bars, etc. This trip I actually packed one hard suitcase full of prepackaged cereals in cups. Since we traveled with Southwest the extra suitcase didn’t cost me anything extra. (Don’t forget plastic spoons!)



Packing this saved a lot of dough…


3) A little hotel recon can go a long way – The rooms at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel could accomodate 5 people with a roll away. As a family of 5, I always like to hear that we can all fit in one room. I’ve also learned over the years to check in, get to the room, and then order extra things like roll away beds or a mini fridge. Sometimes the housekeeping or delivery people forget to notify the front desk that these items were delivered and they are not added to your bill. Which is exactly what happened on our recent trip.



Older children can still stare in wonder…


4) Check out affiliated partners – I learned a little too late that American Express has a partnership with Universal Studios. If you purchase your tickets with an Am Ex and carry your receipt, it will get you extra benefits. One of those benefits is a food and beverage lounge within the park. Talk about saving money!!  I did not get to partake of this benefit, but I did begin to use my Am Ex for purchases. A few times it got me a discount in the City Walk area, but I could never figure out the rhyme or reason of the discount.

I always read articles about saving money at theme parks that suggest visiting during off peak times. But for most of us, that just doesn’t work. Universal is really for older kids, or at least kids tall enough for the majority of the rides. By the time my boys reached that height, they were in middle school and it was much harder to take time away from school. Universal Orlando also seems to run fairly lean during the off season. Our first visit was several years ago during Thanksgiving week and there were lots of food and merchandise kiosks that were closed. We had a good time, but it was a little different. Hopefully these tips will help you get the most bang for your almighty buck!

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