Best Way To Book A Trip To Universal Studios Orlando

Booking a trip to Universal Studios Orlando for the first time can be confusing, especially if the trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience or you’re looking to stick to a strict budget.

In our experience, the best way to book a trip to Universal Studios Orlando depends on the type of trip. If you’re staying on-site, book a vacation bundle. If you’re flying, bundle your flights and hotel together. If you’re making it a part of a vacation to Florida, then book things separately.

We’ve had experience booking trips to Universal Studios Orlando in various ways for various reasons. So with that, we wanted to share the lessons we learnt and some tips & tricks you need to know before booking that all-important vacation.

Best Way To Book Universal Studios If You’re Staying On Site

If visiting Universal Studios, Orlando is your entire vacation, and you’re going specifically to Orlando to experience everything the resort has to offer, then I’d recommend staying on-site.

There are multiple benefits to staying on-site at Universal Studios, including;

  • Being able to enter both the Volcano Bay water park and the Wizarding World one hour prior to general admission.
  • Complimentary merchandise delivery from Universal shops direct to your room.
  • Complimentary Unlimited Express Pass (Premier hotels only)

These benefits and being in the heart of the action help to enhance your experience at Universal Studios in Orlando. As such, you’ve not got to worry about driving or parking at the Universal Studios theme parks, and you could even go back to the hotel during the day for a break with no inconvenience.

Of course, all of this convenience comes at a price and while the Universal Orlando Resort has several ‘budget’ resorts (Universal Endless Summer: Dockside & Surfside, Cabana Bay etc.) they are still often more expensive when compared to similar hotels within walking distances of the Universal Studios theme parks.

That all being said, if you decide that staying on-site in one of the Universal Studios, Orlando hotels is best for you and your family. Then combining your ticket and hotel purchase with a customised Universal Orlando vacation package on the Universal website is often the cheapest and easiest way to book.

Depending on the length of your stay, you’ll save up to $200 by combining your resort booking and park tickets on the Universal Studios, Orlando website and also be eligible for the “Best Price Guarantee” promotion.

If you are a Florida Resident then you’re eligible for Florida Resident Universal Orlando theme park tickets & vacation packages. These packages are often significantly cheaper when compared to similar which are offered to the general public.

There are a variety of resorts and ticket bundles you can choose from on the Universal Studios, Orlando website. They include;

Five-day, Five-Night Vacation Package

This vacation package includes;

  • Five nights in an on-site hotel (Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort or Universal’s Aventura Hotel)
  • Five-day park-to-park tickets (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure)

Prices start from $89 per person, per night.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Exclusive Vacation Package

This vacation package includes;

  • Five nights in an on-site hotel
  • Five-day park-to-park tickets (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure)
  • A specially themed keepsake box filled with Harry Potter goodies
  • One breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron
  • One breakfast at the Three Broomsticks
  • A Shutterbutton’s Photography Studio session

Prices start from $115 per person, per night.

Premier Vacation Package

This vacation package includes;

  • Four nights in a Premier on-site hotel
  • Five-day park-to-park tickets (Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay)
  • Free unlimited express pass
  • Priority seating at restaurants
  • Special discounts on VIP tours

Prices start from $185 per person, per night.

While park-to-park tickets are slightly more expensive they are in our opinion very much worth it. These tickets provide you with the flexibility to visit multiple Universal Studios parks in one day. 

They also allow you to ride on the Hogwarts Express between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure - a must for fans of Harry Potter.

Best Way To Book Universal Studios If You’re Flying To Orlando

If you’re flying to Orlando for your Universal Studios trip, then you can save money either by bundling your flight and hotel or your flight, hotel and park tickets (where applicable).

These savings apply whether you’re planning to stay on-site in one of the Universal Studios hotels or off-site in a hotel elsewhere in Orlando.

These vacation packages can be booked with Universal Orlando Resort or on travel websites such as Expedia.

Bookings with Universal directly only allow you to book flights with hotels and park tickets, and these hotels are on-site only. So if you are looking to save further by staying off-site or plan to only spend a selected portion of your vacation at Universal Studios, then this platform isn’t going to be right for you.

I put together a dummy booking to highlight the potential savings available by utilising a flight, hotel and park ticket vacation package on the Universal Studios website. This booking is based on two people with return flights from Boston on the 7th of November to the 10th of November (3 nights in total).

The most affordable package presented to me by the Universal Studios website was the create your own vacation package, which came to $1,541.50

This package included;

  • 2 Return flights from Boston on Delta Airlines
  • 2 Park to park tickets (3 parks for 5 days in total)
  • 3 nights at Universal Endless Summer Resort

Booking this same trip separately, I was able to find two return flights at $378.40 with Delta (these were the cheapest airline on this route on the same dates).

I could then book the same hotel (Universal Endless Summer Resort) for the same three nights for $407.

However, you could save further when booking this way as you’re able to get other three-star, similarly rated hotels for almost half the price.

Finally, you’re able to book the tickets directly on the Universal Studios website for $334.99 per person.

These prices increase depending on the time of year you visit. In the case of the dates I had selected, the 7th to the 10th of November, the prices were higher at $382.99 per person or $765.98 in total.

If you are able to be flexible as to when you visit the Universal Orlando Resort, then I suggest avoiding the tropical storm season which runs from July through to September. Universal Studios doesn’t close for thunderstorms, however, rides are suspended for at least 30 minutes from the last lightning strike in the area.

This price was based on the same tickets as the vacation package allowing you to visit Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay for 3 days with 2 days free (5 days in total).

If you're based in the UK then you also have access to licenced third party ticket suppliers such as Florida Tix or Attraction Tickets Direct. 

These companies are ideal if you're looking to purchase combination tickets such as Universal Studios and Walt Disney World or Universal Studios and Legoland. 

The park tickets cost brings the total cost of the vacation package when booked individually to $1,551.38, which is almost $10 more than the Universal Studios Orlando vacation package.

While this demonstrates that booking vacation packages is cheaper, we believe that the perfect combination of savings and flexibility can be achieved when booking with holiday companies such as Expedia.

In this case, we’re able to book the same package; flight, hotel and park tickets for $1,581.53

Expedia is almost $40 more than the Universal Studios vacation package (which can be saved by purchasing the park tickets from Universal Studios for $765.98 instead of Expedia, which are charging $801.38 for the same ticket package).

However, booking with Expedia comes with the ability to pay in instalments, and only book accommodation for a part of your stay or even stay off-site to maximise savings.

Best Way To Book Universal Studios Orlando If You’re Going As Part Of A Larger Vacation To Florida

If you’re planning to incorporate Universal Studios into a more extensive vacation in Florida, you’ll want to ensure you book a package that allows for flexibility.

However, you’ll also want to ensure you allocate enough time to experience everything that Universal Studios Orlando has to offer.

If you can only spend one or two days at Universal Studios but would like to experience both theme parks and the water park, then planning your Universal Studios Orlando vacation in detail is going to be essential.

As is staying on-site to reduce travel times and getting a Universal Studios Express pass.

In that case, a Premier on-site hotel is likely the best option. That’s because these hotels come with a complimentary express pass for all hotel guests.

In this case, you can see that prices for a 2-park Universal Express pass cost between $119.99 and $209.99 per person per day during March 2022.

So assuming there are two adults and one child travelling for 2 days, the total cost of Universal Express Passes would be between $719.94 and $1,259.94.

Compare this with the $564 cost of one night at a Premier on-site hotel that comes with a complimentary Universal Express Pass for both the check-in and check-out date for all guests.

If you can spend longer at Universal Studios, Orlando, staying in accommodation off-site should save you money without compromising on time and efficiency.

In this case, booking a package with Expedia (and only booking accommodation for part of your trip) or booking the trip separately using different websites is likely going to allow for the most flexibility.

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