Where to start?

Teacherk12

Earning My Ears
Joined
May 22, 2021
I have gone to Disney and learned how to get the cheapest rates and tour plans for 30 years. I haven‘t been to Disney since 2018 because all the new stuff sounds so difficult, so I thought maybe a trip to Universal may be a good option. Is there anywhere to go for money saving tips? Does universal have discounts like Disney occasionally does? We have 3 adults going on want to get front of the line passes. Is it cheaper to stay in a higher end hotel or is it better to go a cheaper route and add the tickets? I saw adding an adult is an extra $45.00 a night!
 

djmeredith

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 9, 2005
The only planning you HAVE to do for Universal is book the hotel and buy your tix. If you're going during a vey busy time, you might want to make a few meal reservations. For savings tips and other general tips, this forum is probably the best place. Use the search feature to search subjects or just ask.

The premier hotels include express pass (EP). It is almost always cheaper to stay in a premier hotel than buying the EP separately, even with the extra $45 for an adult. To save money, some people stay in a premier for one or two nights only for the EP and then transfer to a less expensive hotel. You get EP on check in and check out day. For discounted tix, there is a current Buy 2 Days Get 2 Free offer through one of the reputable discount ticket brokers. You'll find it easily if you Google. I have used that reseller multiple times. That is usually offered once or twice a year. I don't think Uni is offering discounts directly these days, but I had annual passes this past year so I'm not sure. Depending on how long you want to visit etc, an Annual Pass might be a good option. All APs offer hotel discounts. Only one person in the party has to be an AP holder to get the discounts. It is often cheaper to have an AP just for the hotel discount. Some levels of AP also offer free EP after 4 and other great discounts.
 

FoxC63

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 19, 2016
Is there anywhere to go for money saving tips? Does universal have discounts like Disney occasionally does? We have 3 adults going on want to get front of the line passes. Is it cheaper to stay in a higher end hotel or is it better to go a cheaper route and add the tickets? I saw adding an adult is an extra $45.00 a night!
Over on the Disney Gift Card Deals & More thread, we discuss a lot more than just Disney. Many frequent UOS and share their tips on how and where to buy gift cards. Depending on where you live One Step Andy may not be an option.

Post #7 Universal Orlando Gift Cards & Landry's Select Club Offer

I've found it's cheaper to stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort which includes express pass for each member on your reservation and I purchase park tickets or AP's separately. Like all things, you have to do the math and see what options work best for you and your budget.
 

Mackenzie Click-Mickelson

Chugging along the path of life
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Right now they are running a deal for 2 days get 2 free (something they do from time to time sometimes even 3 days free)--see the link for more details to see if it would be something you'd want.

https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/tickets-packages/park-tickets

When we went in May we stayed at Endless Summer Surfside then moved for a night to Royal Pacific for the Express Passes. Staying at the 3 upper resorts gets you EP check in through check out days. We did 1 day at Universal without EP and then had 2 days with EP with the one night at Royal Pacific. We had a non-park day when we were at Endless Summer (our arrival day).
 

Kit Jackson

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 2, 2014
If you are thinking about ExpressPass, it is usually less expensive to stay in one of the higher end hotels that includes ExpressPass. Depending on when you go and your travel style, ExpressPass can be incredibly helpful. Also, if you stay at one of the more expensive hotels, you will be incredibly close to the parks. I think it's less than 15 minutes to walk to the parks and City Walk.

Universal is much less planning and much easier than WDW. With ExpressPass, you do not book or reserve anything in advance. Get in the ExpressPass lane, they scan your pass, and that's it. There are only a small number of popular restaurants that require reservations, and you can make them a month in advance. I would say it's a good idea to do some research to figure out what you might want to do (a list of rides, shopping, shows, food) before you go, but you do not have to do a ton of intense advance planning.
 

ClapYourHands

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 2, 2018
Although there can be hotel discounts for APs, they are limited and typically drop only a few months out. The typical advice is to book a rate you are comfortable with and then check back to see if a better deal comes along. The deadline to cancel without penalty is either 5 or 7 days (can’t remember) from the start of your stay, so no real risk to book early.

The hotels do charge a fee for extra adults over 2 in a room ($45 at the premier resorts, less at the other levels), but kids are free up to the room occupancy. While I don’t know your budget, I think $45 for two days of unlimited express pass is a fantastic bargain. Definitely something WDW cannot touch.

If you are really budget conscious, depending on the time of year you go, you may not need express passes. All Universal hotels come with early park admission so you can rope drop wherever you stay, and the two most popular attractions (velocicoaster and Hagrid’s) do not take express. If your budget is really tight, you can probably have a great experience just utilizing the app to monitor wait times, rope-dropping, and hopping into lines near park close.
 

djmeredith

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 9, 2005
Although there can be hotel discounts for APs, they are limited and typically drop only a few months out. The typical advice is to book a rate you are comfortable with and then check back to see if a better deal comes along. The deadline to cancel without penalty is either 5 or 7 days (can’t remember) from the start of your stay, so no real risk to book early.

The hotels do charge a fee for extra adults over 2 in a room ($45 at the premier resorts, less at the other levels), but kids are free up to the room occupancy. While I don’t know your budget, I think $45 for two days of unlimited express pass is a fantastic bargain. Definitely something WDW cannot touch.

If you are really budget conscious, depending on the time of year you go, you may not need express passes. All Universal hotels come with early park admission so you can rope drop wherever you stay, and the two most popular attractions (velocicoaster and Hagrid’s) do not take express. If your budget is really tight, you can probably have a great experience just utilizing the app to monitor wait times, rope-dropping, and hopping into lines near park close.
Yes, I forgot to mention that in my earlier post. Definitely book as soon as you find a rate you can live with and then keep checking back. AP rates have been released/available anywhere from 4 months out to a few weeks out. At least that is what I saw checking occasionally over the past year. At about the 4 month mark, you might want to start checking almost daily if an AP rate is important to you. You do not have to have the AP to book the room, just when you check-in or out (reports vary on that). Any ticket you buy can be upgraded to an AP while you are there. All the onsite hotels have ticket desks and you can do it there.
 

cdoc29

Cruising with the Crazies
Joined
Apr 22, 2010
The next time I go to Universal will be as an add on to my Disney Trip. I will book 1 night at the cheapest premier hotel (even if I don’t stay there) for the unlimited express pass for my family of 4 and just do two days. I feel it would be easy to see the majority of parks using that strategy. Plus Universal usually reserves a lot of the best things for guest staying on site. Breakfast reservations at Leaky Cauldron, moving pictures reservations in Diagon Alley just to name a few not often mention perks.

Just did 5 days (one of them being a volcano bay day) and it was too much for us. While I enjoyed the majority of the trip it was a far cry from my enjoyment of a week spent at Disney. If I am not doing a Disney vacation I would bundle my Universal trip with a visit to Sea World and if you have transportation Busch Gardens Tampa. As usual everyone has different experiences and thus different opinions.

If you do go I recommend Toothsome for dinner as that was one of our favorite restaurant/experiences outside of the parks.
 

Mackenzie Click-Mickelson

Chugging along the path of life
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
If you do go I recommend Toothsome for dinner as that was one of our favorite restaurant/experiences outside of the parks.
We had dinner in 2017 and my birthday lunch in 2022 there both good experiences and would recommend eating there as well, the steampunk ambience and character interactions are very neat IMO.
 








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