EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog was originally published in 2018 and then underwent extensive updates and editing in the fall of 2020 to remain current and relevant.
It can make such a difference in the lives of you and your loved ones to take a break, have some fun, and make memories. But we all know that going on vacation can also be expensive, so you want to do it right. Feeling good about the time, money, and effort you put in is important.
Before heading on your Universal Orlando Resort adventure, we’ve got some insider tips to help you choose which upgrades are the best value.
Upgrading your tickets will be the best thing you do all vacation. It allows you to have the flexibility to roam all three Universal Orlando theme parks whenever you’d like, making planning so much easier. Not to mention, with the Park-to-Park ticket you can board the Hogwarts Express and journey between the two lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
2. Hotels that Offer Free Express Passes
For perhaps the most surprising value at Universal Orlando, turn to our Premier hotels. They might cost a bit more than the Preferred, Prime Value, and Value hotels, but Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and Hard Rock Hotel all offer free Universal Express Unlimited. This benefit lets you skip the regular lines at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You can save a good amount of money per person and get more time to ride your favorite attractions.
My Universal Photos lets you focus on having fun — we’ll document the memories for you. A one-day pass allows you to get unlimited digital downloads of photos from your rides and character meet-and-greets. This is especially valuable if you have little ones and don’t want to deal with the hassle of digging out your phone and missing that special moment. And the package includes on-ride photos, so if you plan to go home with more than a couple of those, this will help.
4. Volcano Bay Premium Seating
If you don’t want to spring for an entire cabana at Volcano Bay, a great option is Premium Seating. Beach chairs can go fast and lockers cost money. But with this upgrade, you get a pair of reserved padded loungers with an adjustable shade canopy and a built-in storage lockbox. Plus, you can enjoy the services of an area attendant who’ll see to your food and drink orders, delivering them right to your seats. It is so worth it to make your chill day the chillest.
5. Refillable Cups and Buckets
Drink water or soda all day long when you purchase a refillable Coca-Cola freestyle cup. Machines are located throughout the parks so you’ll never go thirsty in the Florida heat. You can also keep the snacking going when you purchase a popcorn bucket with the option of low-price refills. Just ask for either at the nearest beverage counter, quick service restaurant, or full-service restaurant.
6. Shutterbutton’s DVD Photo Album
You should definitely consider the Shutterbutton’s experience in Diagon Alley if you’ve got fans of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in your party. You’ll be guided through 12 scenes taken from iconic locations, you’ll choose your outfits, and after a bit of acting, you’ll create a portrait of yourself that actually moves. Plus, the DVD photo albums are an amazing keepsake!
For more information, click here.
Become a Universal Orlando expert with our VIP Tour Experience. You’ll get a guided tour through all of the most popular rides and attractions and get the inside scoop on all the little-known facts and secrets of the parks. Not only can your tour guide give you insider information on rides, but they’ll also help you score priority front-of-line access on select rides. Skip lines and become a Universal Orlando aficionado? Yes. Please.
8. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Cabana Rentals
When it’s time to take a break from the parks, cabana rentals can be a great option for groups staying at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Up to six people can enjoy amenities like an LCD TV, an in-house telephone to order delivery pizza, an armoire, table, cushioned lounge chairs, and a refrigerator. You can spend a full day recharging with everything your family will need within arms reach.
If you’re going to spend more than a few days here, you might as well spring for an Annual Pass and reap the benefits of discounts on things like food and hotels. The difference in price of the tickets will be made up for in the money you save elsewhere, plus you’ll know that you can come back anytime within the year as long as your pass isn’t blacked out. Click here for detailed information on the different levels of annual passes and their benefits.
Which upgrades work best for you and your travel family?! However you decide to experience Universal, we’re excited to see you soon!