Universal Orlando Resort: Tips and Tricks for Getting the Biggest Bang for your Buck!

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universal-get-the-biggest-bang-for-your-buckFor the second year in a row, we chose to take our big family vacation to Universal Orlando Resort. And boy oh boy did we have a BLAST! You can read my post from last year RIGHT HERE.

Here’s some of my tips and tricks for traveling to Universal and how to get the biggest bang for your buck.

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Plan on Spending at Least 3 Days

Universal is comprised of 2 main parks (they are currently building a third which is a water park and it looks amazing). To enjoy the parks fully, I recommend getting a 3 day Park-to Park Pass that will get you into both parks!

Follow THIS LINK to see the best deals available. Deals are changing and are updated all the time.

Please note, that the tickets listed here already include tax. If you are shopping directly online over at Universal Orlando’s website those do NOT include tax. You will always get a better deal shopping through THIS LINK!

hogwarts

Also with your Park-to-Park pass comes passage on The Hogwarts Express. You can not ride this train/ride unless you have a Park-to-Park pass because it takes you from one park to the other. This is a MUST HAVE if you are a Harry Potter fan. My girls LOVE it!

Head on over HERE to see these discount prices.

volcano-bayAs I mentioned before, Universal Orlando Resort is currently building another park. This is a full water park, Volcano Bay. It looks amazing and I now REALLY want to go back next year. Because this park is slated to open some time in 2017 (they are shooting for the summer) we won’t know ticket prices until later. But after sitting through a presentation on this park, you will for sure want to plan another day of swimming and crazy fun in Volcano Bay when it opens.

Travel Off-Season

There are so many reasons to travel off season. I know it can be little more tricky if you have kiddos in school, etc. But for us it is totally worth it. My husband is a Jr High teacher and we still try to always travel off-season, even though that means he will have to take leave time.

Here are just a few of the reasons why we travel off-season. (We have gone over Labor Day the last 2 years and it has been great).

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1. Cheaper Flights.

We have been able to fly from Salt Lake to Orlando from right around $200 round trip! Which is a steal in my opinion. Even better, if you have reward miles, they will go further at off-peak times.

If you don’t already have a Southwest Rapid Rewards Card, I highly recommend this card. If you sign up right now, you will get 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. We did this and we were able to get 4 round trip flights to Orlando this year from Salt Lake City for FREE with our bonus points!

  • Just a note, this card does have a yearly fee, but the bonus points are totally worth it for me! Make sure you use your credit card responsibly and pay it off each month.

loews-royal-pacific

2. Cheaper Hotels.

This might surprise you, but I recommend staying On-Site at Universal in one of their hotels. There is nothing quite like it. One thing that I love about Universal is how they think of everything! They really make your stay amazing and it truly is a get-away. Because there are a number of On-Site hotels, it makes it SO FAST to get to the parks. You just hop on a 5 minute Water Taxi ride and you are there!

express-pass

The biggest perk about staying On-Site is the FREE Express Passes!! If you stay at  Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort you will receive FREE Universal Express Unlimited access! And you get them for Every Day and for Everyone in your room. So not only do you get the convenience of staying just minutes from the park entrances, you also get to experience all the attractions faster than you would in the regular line. This pass is worth up to $89 per person per day! So you can see why getting it free is a HUGE savings!

For the record. You can have up to 5 people in one room and everyone who stays in your room gets the Free Express Passes.

hogwarts-2Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ one hour before the theme park opens (valid theme park admission required).

This early entry is HUGE! The line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (the big ride that is in Hogwarts) doesn’t have an Express Pass line. The line can get pretty long. So get there early and ride this ride. Even if you decide not to ride (if you get motion sick, you might want to sit this one out) you NEED to check out the inside of Hogwarts. It’s worth walking through. Trust me!leaky-cauldron

3. Less Crowded

It might seem obvious, but traveling at non-peak times means that there will be less people. Which means you might stay late and be the last person in the Leaky Cauldron! Just saying. Check out that picture I snagged!

hogsmeade

Get to the Park as Soon as it Opens!

I know. You are on vacation. You want to sleep in. So does everyone else. Make yourself get up and be there when it opens. If you are staying in one of the on-site hotels like I recommend, that will be an hour earlier than everyone else. Enjoy the early morning when there are less people in the park. Then take a break back at your hotel if you need during the busiest and hottest time of the day. Then head back to the park and close it out! You will have less crowds, your feet will get a break, and you will all be happier!

Trust me! This is the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck and get to enjoy the most of what the parks have to offer.kong

Here’s an example. We were in the parks right after Skull Island: Reign of Kong opened! First thing in the morning, the wait for that ride was only about 10 minutes. Later in the day it got over 2 hours (and remember, we went during a non-peak time). I’ll admit, the line was totally worth it and the ride is AMAZING! Thankfully we had a Express Pass and didn’t have to even wait close to as long. But if you were there nice and early in the morning there was little or no wait at all!

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Pack A Day Bag

Make sure you take a small backpack or day-bag with you when you go. They have free lockers that you can use on the rides that won’t allow you to take larger items, so you won’t have to worry about it. It’s worth having this bag. Fill it with the following.

  • Sunscreen – Last year I got crazy burnt. I did not make that mistake this year.
  • Ponchos – It rains in Orlando. A Lot! Ponchos are a must. Even if it doesn’t rain, you might want to use them on some of the rides. There are quite a few that will literally soak you! You will want the ponchos and this will save you from having to purchase them in the park.
  • Snacks – We always like to have one meal in the park (at least). There are so many amazing places to eat and the food is WOW! But we also pack snacks to keep kiddos and big kiddos going from ride to ride. Things like jerky, crackers, etc will save you!
  • Water – Drink water! Stay hydrated.
  • Little Battery Powered Fan – Or anything else that will help you stay cool – A guy we met from the U.K. had this really cool misting spray. I’m still on the hunt for it here.
  • Wet Wipes – Will also help you stay cool and clean. (I just have a little bag so it isn’t heavy)

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We absolutely adore Universal Orlando Resort. We highly recommend it for kids of all ages. It’s perfect for any age as there is something for everyone.

Make sure to check out my post on why we love it for younger kiddos as well.

Universal Orlando Resort! Wonderful Vacation Destination for Kids Under 10.

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