While theme parks are high on the list of popular holiday destinations, they can get you Really expensive Really fast, if you consider extras like hotels and food.
Here at The Penny Hoarder we believe a healthy balance between work and leisure. So, if you can afford it, take this dream vacation and enjoy every second of it – just make sure you do not give up your penny hoarding methods altogether.
When you are on the road Universal Orlando Resort – Home to the incredible wizarding world of Harry Potter – read the insider tips I developed as a native Orlando and a former witch in Diagon Alley of Universal. You save money in the parks without sacrificing the fun.
Find tickets for less
Your savings can start before you enter the hubs – take a look at these ideas to reduce the cost of parking!
1. Buy your tickets in advance
The easiest way to save on Universal Park's park ticket prices is to buy your tickets before you arrive at the gate. You can save up to $ 20 per person by purchasing multi-day tickets online. If you're traveling with a family of four, you're already saving $ 80.
2. Use your AAA membership for your benefit
The prices vary. Ask your local AAA office for discounted universal tickets. You can save 15% or more if you buy by AAA.
3. Buy the lowest tier ticket and upgrade later
As long as you buy your tickets directly through Universal Studios, you can upgrade your tickets at any time during your trip in Guest Services.
This is a good idea for anyone traveling with children – they get sick, burned out, and they do not care if they spend a hundred extra dollars on a three-day ticket.
If you find that everyone is free for an extra day, you can upgrade your tickets by paying the difference – as long as you do so before leaving the park. As soon as your tickets expire you will have to pay for new tickets.
4. Shop carefully
In Orlando, there are many grubby ticket vendors offering theme park tickets at half price.
But beware – even if the tickets you buy are In fact, these providers may sell them illegally. These tickets often come from park employees or locals who attend special events and receive free tickets. Universal does not allow the sale of these cards.
If you get caught at the gate, you're out of luck – and no money.
Nevertheless, there are some reputable ticket sites. Just make sure you research the seller before you buy.
Travel and accommodation
After the tickets, the hotel and travel fees are the biggest items in your holiday budget. Here are some strategies to save those costs.
5. Book everything in advance
If you're an experienced Penny Hoarder, you probably already know this tactic: Purchasing flight tickets and reserving your hotel room early is the easiest way to get the best rates.
6. resort or not resort?
Unfortunately, there is no single answer here: it will take some time to find out which hotel is right for you.
There are cheaper hotels (or Airbnb rentals!) If you leave the Universal Resort property, but you could pay more in the long run because you miss some pretty, sweet perks in the parks.
To make it short: choose Universal Resort Hotels including shuttle transportation to and from the airport and the parks. Staying at the property will save you $ 25 per day in transportation and parking fees you would pay while driving.
But more importantly, and something you should consider if you've already decided to buy Express Passes: Certain resort hotels will charge free universal Express Unlimited passes for each family member – worth $ 129 per person Person and day. (Remember, a family of four spends four days in the parks, $ 129 four times four days = $ 2,064.)
Another bonus? Universal Resort Hotel guests will get an early entry into the wizarding world of Harry Potter and into parts of Volcano Bay: you have a whole hour to explore every morning before the big crowds come in.
Angry. Did you hear all that? Great, because I have one last point to address: Choosing the Universal Resort hotel route and using the Express Unlimited passes, you can spend your day in the park and your day on your trip (which means one day less for tickets and a hotel is paid.)
If you are not worried about crowds, waiting or transportation (maybe driving to save on airfare!), A cheaper hotel outside the hotel may be the answer for your family. I'm just trying to show you all the options, friends!
Make the most of your time
If you make the most of your time, you can visit more attractions without spending extra days in the gates.
7. Decide if Express Passes are right for you
If you are not sure yet if you want to secure Express Passes for your trip (and do not take part in the route of a resort hotel), consider the following points. Visitors can often pack Express Passes with tickets, which significantly reduces the overall cost.
However, if you're a serious Harry Potter fan, you should know that express passes are not valid for some attractions in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Here is a really helpful guide this breaks down express passes along with the rides and attractions they work on.
If you choose, you do not need to skip the lines all day long each In one day you can buy each member of the family an Express Unlimited Pass for one day. You can turn off a fairly extensive list of attractions on this day and then travel the rest of your journey at a more leisurely pace.
8. Plan your holiday in the high season
Check this handy mass calendar from Orlando Informer (a really great resource for all things Orlando and theme parks have to offer) to find out which days will be the least crowded. Smaller crowds mean less waiting time. Less waiting means you can spend less days in the parks. If you spend less days in the parks, you save tickets.
On weekdays the number of visitors is lowest, especially in late autumn and late winter. If your family can afford the free time and the school, you get the best for your money at these times,
Save at the Universal Studios at the Park
While most of your savings come from major tickets such as the park entrance and the hotel, the little things can add up quickly.
9. Use the lockers
Bring everything you need and rent a full-day box for about $ 10 a day. Unlike, you get unlimited opening rights the timed and free lockersSo you can use your locker as a base to return to the place where you need to re-apply sunscreen, put on dry clothes, or buy a sweatshirt for the evening cold (yes, even in Florida).
Even though you pay $ 10 a day, you save money by not spending $ 40 on sweatshirts for the whole family when the sun goes down.
10. Avoid paying for expensive food
Theme Park food is expensive. Buy breakfast food (if your hotel does not offer free breakfast) and portable snacks on your way to your hotel. The parks enable small snacks that do not require heating or cooling – and although you can not bring a picnic, the rules for a "small snack" are somewhat unclear, so you can probably argue for many articles.
Avoid buying expensive sodas and bottled water in the parks – you can bring sealed or empty water bottles to replenish them all day long.
Well, while this Penny Hoarder would normally recommend bringing along all the snacksIf you divide your meals in four ways and avoid expensive alcohol and novelties, I have a caveat: If you are mainly there for the experience of the wizarding world of Harry Potter, you should invest in a diet. Even if you only buy one, your whole group can try the entertaining wizarding world treats – and if butterbeer is non-negotiable, you save a good deal of money with the menu.
11. Buy souvenirs in advance
The parks are full of funny T-shirts, plush toys that are strategically placed at the child's eye level, and theme-related equipment, such as wands and robes, all with a huge serve.
Save money on souvenirs by buying toys from another dealer and packing them in your suitcase. Then, when you arrive at your hotel, sneak them out and make them magical appear on the pillows of your children. Wizarding World junkies cost around $ 110 in the park, and $ 25 to $ 80 on sites like Amazon.
12. Take advantage of every discount
AAA members receive a 10% discount on food in the parks. Take your membership card with you. American Express also offers discounts, but the perks often change. You can download the Universal Orlando app to see which offers are available through American Express.
13. Complain a little bit
This one comes not only from me, the former theme park employee, but also from me, the lifelong visitor to the theme park in Florida. I have experience in navigation in the system.
I do not mean that you should get upset, moan and stomp your feet. Believe meThis does not help you with most employees. But, you know, Universal's primary goal is to provide each guest with an incredible experience. You simply can not build a realm of fantasy and fun without having special benefits for your visitors.
If something goes wrong, do not be afraid to inform a team member about the problem. If you reach the front end of the line after one hour and wait for the ride to be closed for maintenance, request an express pass so you can return when the ride is over. If someone runs away with your child's brand-new, stuffed Spider-Man toy, report an employee and ask what he can do to help.
Some team members have the power to procure free treats and gifts to make your experience as good as possible. So do not be afraid to ask for extra perks – of course within reasonable limits!
Also (or just) on vacation you need a budget
Whether you choose to bundle your vacation package or make an exciting journey of your own, make sure you hoard pennies wherever you can.
Take time to sit down and decide exactly how much you can afford for your leisure park vacation. Once you have a number, put together a journey that works within the bounds of that budget.
And do not be tempted to exceed your set amount – even if you see one Chess game for $ 300 that you only need to have, (You do not need it, I promise.) If you argue about the prices of Universal Studios every time you hear a register cha-ching, you will not enjoy yourself, and you have wasted your money on it. which leaves you feeling frustrated and mentally exhausted.
Stick to your budget and enjoy every minute of your vacation in Universal Orlando – after hard planning, you've earned it!
Grace Schweizer is the author of e-mail content for The Penny Hoarder. Born and raised in Orlando, she knows her way around the theme parks!
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