You’re walking down a cobblestone road, listening to Irish music pour out of a bar. Just around the corner, you find yourself in 1950s Los Angeles, passing classic cars and period-accurate shops.
A few blocks down, you are offered the choice of working as a Minion or going on an adventure with E.T.
Universal Studios combines a working movie studio with rides and attractions celebrating favorite TV shows and films like The Mummy, Harry Potter, The Simpsons, Transformers, and others.
In between, you can catch live shows and tours, and learn a bit about how your favorite films are made.
Theme park vacations are generally not cheap, with tickets often reaching about $100 per day. Plus, while you are on vacation, you’ll also likely want enjoyable places to eat, drink, and enjoy a bit of downtime between coasters and games.
How much all of this is going to cost will depend a lot on the time of year you go and the decisions you make during your vacation.
We’ve outlined a few of the elements that make up an Universal Studios vacation to help you figure out how much you’re likely to spend on your trip.
Average Trip to Universal Studios Cost in 2023
A week at Universal Studios will cost around $3,000 for two people:
- Average Accommodation Cost: $150 per night
- Average Flight Cost: $200 per person
- Food, Drink & Activities: $200 per person, per day
- Transportation: $10 per day
- Total Cost: $2,920
Universal Studios Trip Cost: Average by Item
Some parts of your Universal Studios trip have fairly rigid costs. While you can sometimes find discount Universal Studios tickets, other times you’re likely to pay the full ticket price.
Once inside the park, you are something of a captive audience and have few options besides paying the theme park prices for theme park restaurant meals.
That said, there are a few creative ways to cut your costs so you can put your money toward the experiences you are most excited about during your trip.
How close to the action do you need to be? Universal has a number of hotels associated with the theme parks, each at different price points with different perks. You can get a room at either of Universal’s entry-level hotels for about $100 per night.
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort is about a mile and a half away from Universal Studios. For about $50 more per night, you can stay at Universal’s Adventura Hotel.
This hotel is right outside Volcano Bay and has amenities that include a lazy river, bowling alley, and rooftop bar. At the premium end, you have Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel and the Hard Rock Hotel.
Each of these luxury options will run around $400 per night. For the cost, you get perks like upscale rooms, higher end restaurants and live music on site. You can save money by staying someplace outside Universal properties.
The Holiday Inn and Suites just outside Universal Orlando has rooms for around $65 per night. If you’re willing to stay about five mines away from Universal Orlando, you can find rooms at the Days Inn for around $50 a night.
One of the advantages of choosing a Universal Studios vacation is that your trip takes you in through Orlando International Airport. This is a popular international hub, which means a lower ticket price than many other destinations.
Tickets from New York to Orlando will cost about $200 per person. You can sometimes get them even cheaper than that by choosing a route with one or more layovers.
A lot of travelers choose to combine a trip to Universal with a few days on the beach. This strategy can also cut your airfare.
If you fly into Tampa instead of Orlando, you can often find tickets for around $150 per person. Tampa is about a two-hour drive from Orlando and a little less than an hour from the Gulf beaches in Clearwater and St. Pete.
Food, Drink & Activity Costs
Your tickets to the park will likely be your single biggest expense when visiting Universal Studios. These generally run around $100 per person, per day.
Child tickets are only valid for kids between the ages of three and nine, with “adult” rates including anyone 10 years old or older. The difference in price between child and adult tickets is typically only around $5 a piece.
A longer stay can typically mean paying less for your tickets. At the time of this writing, there is a deal to get three days free when you buy a two-day/two-park ticket. Other specials are offered throughout the year.
When you see a deal that matches your travel dates, snatch it up. Love theme parks and think you’ll be back several times in a year? You may want to consider an annual pass.
A two-park premier annual pass costs about $1,000. If you are going to go to Universal theme parks more than 10 times a year, the pass could pay for itself. There are sometimes coupons available that can cut your ticket price a bit.
Costco often offers discounted tickets you can buy either online or in the store. Capital One offers promo codes through their Capital One Shopping program.
‘There is one more way to get Universal Studios tickets, but it will require some willpower and a few hours of your time. Timeshares in the Orlando area often offer free or discounted Universal tickets as rewards to listening to their presentation.
Typically, you’ll have to meet certain demographic requirements to qualify, such as a minimum income. If you have time to spare and want to save a few bucks, it could be a way to get a free day in the park.
Beware, though: multiple redditors report that the presentations can be long and the sales pitches high pressure. Getting into the parks is just your first expense, though. During a typical day in Universal Studios, you’ll likely want to get a few meals, snacks and beverages.
The park has a number of quick-service restaurants with prices between $15 and $20 per person per meal There are also a handful of more expensive sit-down restaurants with entrees between $25 and $50 per person.
You are allowed to bring small amounts of food and drink into the parks with you. The rule state you can bring two liters of water, small snacks, fruits, vegetables, and baby food into the park.
You are also allowed to bring items required for special dietary needs and medical purposes. A couple of bottles of water, an apple, and a granola bar can tide you over between meals and help you keep your food budget reasonable during your trip.
Does your idea of a perfect day at the theme park include an adult beverage or two? You can get cocktails and craft brews at Pat O’Brien’s for around $10 to $15 a piece.
The theme parks themselves are not the only attractions at Universal Studios. The Blue Man Group’s Orlando troupe performs at the park regularly. Tickets are $80 per person for adults and $30 per person for kids.
Universal CityWalk has a movie theater on-site that offers discount tickets on certain days. If you have booked a multi-day ticket to the Universal theme parks, consider taking a breather at the $5 movie showings offered each Tuesday.
Universal CityWalk also has a bunch of retail shops. Prices for t-shirts, candy, and other souvenirs are about what you find inside other theme parks.
The CityWalk is a good place for people watching and window shopping, too, which can give your wallet a much-needed rest in between more expensive attractions. The area is also home to the world’s largest Hard Rock Café.
Buy a drink or a meal, or just spend some time perusing the monumental collection of music memorabilia. You should also check the music schedule at Hard Rock Live Orlando.
This venue attracts international acts from a number of disciplines.
Take in a comedy show with a well-known performer for around $60 a ticket. See music acts for $35 to $100, depending on who is playing and whether you choose general admission or balcony seats.
If you are staying in a Universal hotel, you can access free shuttles to take you to the parks. The parks are all walking distance from one another, so you are unlikely to need a car to get from place to place.
Staying at another hotel will typically mean having a trip of five miles or so to get to Universal Studios. There are buses that run regularly and cost around $2 per person.
If you opt for Uber or a cab, expect to pay between $10 and $15 for the trip. A trip that combines Universal Studios with other attractions may mean renting a car. Expect to pay between $100 and $150 for a week-long rental.
Things to Consider
Here are some things to consider to save you big money when budgeting your trip to Universal Studios:
- Florida residents generally save around $20 on daily tickets.
- If you are a big amusement park fan and plan to be in Orlando often, you might consider an annual pass. The two-park annual pass costs around $1,000 per person.
- Are you a veteran? You can usually get specially priced tickets and vacation packages by going through the Authorized Military Ticket & Travel Office.
- The Universal Orlando app can be a big help when it comes to scheduling and budgeting. You can order food and tickets for events right in the app, which gives you the chance to compare prices.
- Orlando is a central Florida city and it gets extremely hot and humid in the summer. Make plans for some time inside in the AC if you are spending all day at the park.
- Bring hats and sunscreen. If you forget either, expect to pay a premium for them at shops inside the park.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cheapest month to go to Universal Studios?
Universal Studios is a popular family destination, so you can save money by going when the kids are in school. September is often a good choice, since kids will be starting the new school year. You can also find good deals in January after winter break or in February before spring breaks start.
Is Universal cheaper than Disney?
Prices will vary depending on when you go and what activities and add-ons you like. But, in general, a trip to Universal is cheaper than Disney in just about every spending category. You’ll pay less for tickets, food, and nearby hotel rooms.
What is an unlimited ticket at Universal?
The 3-Park Unlimited Ticket is good for 14 days and allows you to go to all three Universal parks (Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay) as well as access to some of the live events at Universal CityWalk.
Is four hours enough at Universal Studios?
Plan at least a full day trip if you go to Universal Studios. This gives you time to ride a few rides, check out the main sites, and enjoy a meal during your stay. You may do even better buying a two-day pass so you can spend time in multiple Universal parks.
How much is a trip for 4 to Universal Studios
Expect to pay around $600 per day for tickets for a family of four. Because kids’ activities is a big attraction at the Universal parks, the tickets for this age group are about equal in cost to tickets for adults.
Depending on the hotel and room you choose, however, you can probably fit the kids comfortably without having to spring for a more expensive room.
So, What Is the Average Trip Cost for Universal Studios?
|🛎️ Average Accommodation Cost||$150 per night|
|✈️ Average Flight Cost||$200 per person|
|🍽️ Food, Drink & Activities||$200 per person, per day|
|🚕 Transportation||$10 per day|
|💲 Total Cost||$2,920|
How much you spend to visit Universal Studios will depend a lot on how many parks you visit, how long your trip is, and how long you plan to go. A trip for two for a week should cost around $3,000.
Pick your time of year and your must-have experiences to figure out the cost of a trip to Universal for you. Happy travels!