Planning to take a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida? These 7 tips can help you save money while you’re there. So you can stay on budget and still have a great vacation.
Summer has arrived! And it’s about that time that many of us are planning trips to get away for just a bit. Here in Arizona we love summer vacations because it gives us a chance to get out of the crazy heat.
Eric and I recently took a trip to the Universal Orlando Resort and it was awesome! The resort has 2 theme parks, Universal Studios of course, and Islands of Adventure.
Our trip was actually quite last minute, we were planning to take an international trip but a week before we were set to leave, we had some trouble with Eric’s passport being sent on time. So, we decided to change our plans and go to Orlando instead.
Everything happens for a reason and we had so much fun. I know it was meant to work out this way because everything just fell into place.
In order to stay within our budget and still have fun, there were a few things we did to help us save some money along the way. I wanted to share these with you in case you might be planning a trip this summer or in the near future.
So let’s get started with tip #1!
1. Choose A Hotel With Free Breakfast
The very first thing we looked at was hotels when we were switching our plans. I mean you gota know where you’re gona stay and if it’s even within budget you know.
We found a great deal at the Hyatt Place right across the street from the Universal Resort.
Insider tip: If you sign up to become a Hyatt member, which is free, you can get free breakfast at some of the Hyatt hotels that offer it.
That’s how we got free breakfast for the week that we stayed at the hotel!
This really helped us to save money because it was one less meal to had to worry about. Not to mention the breakfast options were amazing. They had eggs, potatoes, an oatmeal station, a variety of cereals, many coffee and tea options, peanut butter and jam with an assortment of breads, and fresh fruit daily.
Now I don’t know about you but I think this is pretty good for a “continental” breakfast. Better then boiled eggs and toast, that’s for sure.
Breakfast at this hotel did end by 9am so that’s the only catch, you have to make sure to get there in time. We slept in one day and missed breakfast. But it was ok because it was one of the last few days of our trip and we had a nice brunch at a restaurant in Universal CityWalk, which is where they have lots of restaurant options, shopping, and entertainment.
2. Choose A Hotel With Free Shuttle Service
The photo above is from a spot inside Universal Studios, just so you don’t think this is what the hotel shuttle looked like haha. That would be really cool though having old school taxis, what an adventure that would be. But no, the shuttles don’t look as cute as this so I didn’t bother to take a picture of them.
However, to get back to tip #2 it can be really helpful if you stay at a hotel with shuttle service to the theme parks. Even though the hotel is across the street, the Universal Resort is huge and it’s about a 20 minute walk to get inside from the hotels.
In the hot and humid Florida weather, I’d recommend taking the shuttle. This was a free service offered by Hyatt. The only thing I would keep in mind is that you need to make reservations to take the morning shuttles.
It’s not a big deal but something we didn’t know ahead of time. So it’s just helpful when making plans of what time you want to be dressed, eat your breakfast, make your shuttle reservations, and head out to the parks.
The shuttle had scheduled times from early in the morning until about 11am, then it wouldn’t resume until around 5pm. The day we got up late we missed breakfast and the shuttle, that’s how I know it’s a 20 minute walk to the Universal Resort haha.
But it was ok, the walk wasn’t too bad and we got to enjoy the scenery.
Overall, the shuttle is a great option to save on time and money. Orlando is a big city and depending where you stay it can be a hefty taxi ride if things aren’t that close to you.
3. Look Out For Special Promotions On Tickets
At first I was looking at 3 day tickets, then I decided to see how much it was for 2 days. That’s when I stumbled on the promotion they have going on right now where you buy 2 days and get 3 for free! What are the odds this sale would be going on right when we were changing our vacation plans. See what I mean, it was meant to be.
Now don’t get me wrong the tickets can be pretty pricey, but any little bit helps you know. Plus I read you get more of a discount when you buy tickets in advance instead of at the gate.
And after spending 5 days between both theme parks, I have to say it was well worth it. We were able to take our time and didn’t feel rushed, especially when lines were a long wait for some rides.
So when looking for tickets be sure the check the prices for different amounts of days and be on the look out for special promotions. You never know what you might find.
4. Take A Backpack
We took a backpack each time we spent a day at one of the theme parks. There are lockers you can rent out just as you enter each park. It was $10 for the whole day, and you could go in and out of the locker as you pleased.
In the backpack we packed sweaters in case of chilly nights, pants, and sunscreen. I got this backpack a while ago from Target. You can find it here if you’re interested.
One day we planned it out where we got on all the water rides, one after the other, so we packed a new set of clothes in our backpack.
This really helped to keep us from making any unnecessary purchases. One sweater at a gift shop could be anywhere between $40-$60.
Near the water rides they sell plastic ponchos too and you already know how I feel about extra plastic…bleh.
So we went water crazy and changed into something dry after.
Paying each day for a locker may seem like a lot, but when you consider what you might end up purchasing and for how many people, I think it’s worth it in the end.
We didn’t need all of the things we packed every day that we were there, but I like to think it’s better to be prepared. It always happens to me when I don’t take something, that’s when I end up needing it, like a sweater.
5. Take Snacks
Another thing that we packed in our backpack were a few snacks. Our hotel had a basket of apples and bananas every morning during breakfast, so we would take a few and toss ’em in the backpack.
Here’s a list on the Universal website that tells you exactly what snacks you can bring into the parks.
It was refreshing to snack on an apple while walking around on a hot day.
I think next time I will definitely pack my reusable snack bags in my suitcase. This way we can pack a variety of things to munch on. You know I was not about to buy a bag of plastic snack bags. We did just fine without them.
Either way this can be a real money saver, and healthier too. We all need a snack from time to time, especially on long days spent at the parks.
6. Take A Purse
The purse you see here I found at Ross for $10. I was so excited because when I brought it home I noticed that tag said “vegan,” I was like yay! And I didn’t even do that on purpose hehe.
I strategically looked for a specific purse for a few of reasons. The first, is because even though you bring a backpack there are still things that you have to carry on you like your phone, sunglasses and water bottle.
It’s a good idea to have something to put your stuff in when getting on rides. Some rides offer lockers if you can’t bring your items along, but not all of them. Also, I didn’t want to be paying for 2 different lockers just for all of our stuff.
Second, I wanted a purse that was good a repelling water and had a zipper to close the purse all the way. Both of which are great for taking on rides, and not worrying about losing your stuff or getting your phone wet.
The last reason is because I wanted it to be big enough to fit a water bottle, which leads me to the last tip. I saved the best for last.
7. Take A Reusable Water Bottle
This was the best idea of the whole trip when it came to saving money.
After I bought the purse, we shopped around for a water bottle that would fit inside. We scored this baby at HomeGoods for about $8, whoo whoo!
When you purchase water in the parks they run about $3-$4 a bottle, it’s crazy. Thinking of how many bottles we would’ve had to buy in a day makes me so happy we brought our own. Not to mention, the plastic the amount of plastic that would be wasted.
I was on cloud nine with our water bottle and we always had something to drink.
Insider Tip: The best places to refill you water bottle is Starbucks.
When you need a refill you simply need to find a spot where you can fill up your water. Any water refills are free so that’s a plus. We got water a couple of times at some of the concession stands and also a few times at Starbucks.
In my opinion, Starbucks had the best water because it was nice and cold. At the concession stands the water can be a little on the warm side because they’re sitting outside all day.
The Starbucks at Universal Studios had a pitcher they keep full all day with ice water. All you have to do is walk in and refill you bottle, no need to disturb the workers. I was a little bummed they didn’t have this at the Starbucks in Islands of Adventure only because we had to ask the workers each time.
I didn’t want to give them any extra work, but each time we went in to ask for a refill they happily refilled our bottle for us.
Enjoy Your Vacation
All in all, things came together the way they were supposed and we had an amazing vacation. It was also nice to that we were able to save a little bit of money along the way.
Isn’t it interesting when you’re trying to cut down on waste and plastic use and it ends up helping you save money even when on vacation. I say this because the main reason I bought a reusable water bottle was because I didn’t want to be buying plastic every time I was thirsty.
Turns out it helped create less waste, saved us a little mula, and kept us hydrated all day. Take about scoring big.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Don’t forget to comment down below any thoughts or questions you might have.