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  • Writer's pictureMelvin Denton

How to Plan a Family Trip to Universal Orlando on a Budget?

With the King!

Planning a family trip is like taking a second full-time job. If you don’t use a TA (which I recommend), the research seems to take on a life of its own. I’ve done a lot of trips in the last five years, but I have a few suggestions for you when planning that family vacation.


  1. Timing is everything:  Planning a trip for one is relatively easy. Sometimes, it is just a matter of getting that PTO so you can go. But adding the significant other and maybe a few offspring can make the task daunting. Now, it’s a matter of everyone’s ability to take time off. And it becomes a jigsaw puzzle, fitting the pieces together. If possible, make that trip to Universal Orlando an off-peak trip. Crowds may be lower before or right after spring break and between Thanksgiving and the beginning of December. Some ticket prices, especially the express pass tickets, will be lower, which may also reflect the theme parks' desire to get more foot traffic during these times of the year. To summarize: Plan your trip during the off-season or shoulder season to avoid crowds and save money on tickets and accommodations.

  2. Accommodation: Orlando, Florida, has no lack of hotel accommodations. Almost every major hotel chain and regional offering is there. Personally, I appreciate the Universal resort hotels because of the theming aspect, but there are quality hotels for less money around. Universal has what are called “partner hotels.” These hotels were chosen based on quality, reputation, and proximity to Universal Orlando™, and the Universal Partner Hotels are each located within minutes of Universal Orlando™.  The guests at these hotels enjoy the benefits of discounts on some merchandise at select theme park locations, discounts on food and non-alcoholic beverages, also at select theme park locations, and scheduled transportation to the parks. You can book any of these hotels through Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations™ or call your friendly neighborhood travel advisor and let them do it for you.

  3. Transportation: If you are staying at any of the Universal Resort hotels, you will have transportation to and from the parks, either by bus or boat. Partner hotels also offer transportation to the parks, but they can be limited operations, while Universal’s transportation offers service into the late night.

  4. Food and drinks: Universal Orlando allows you to bring your own food, as long as it doesn’t require heating and, of course, there are no glass bottles. There are restaurants around, and while some may be a few minutes’ walk away, you can have food delivered to your hotel room. Bring your own snacks and drinks to the park to save money on food and beverages. You can also eat at off-site restaurants to save money.

  5. Tickets and passes: Look for deals and discounts on tickets and passes to Universal Orlando. The Orlando Informer is one place to consider purchasing multi-day passes to save money if you plan to visit the park for several days. Also, Universal offers discounts many times during the year, including discounts for Florida residents. There was a stay three days, get two days free special earlier this year, and it might still be going on.

I hope these suggestions will help you in your trip planning. Just remember, do not let the planning take away the joy and fun. Remember, you are on VACATION!

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