Many regard a trip to the Orlando theme parks as a small fortune but there are many ways you can save money in the parks. Today we are sharing ways to visit Universal Studios and experience Harry Potter World on a budget.
Harry Potter World tips
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter can be found in both Universal Studios and Island of Adventures. This means you will need tickets to both parks (see below for prices) and we recommend spending two days at the parks. This will give you plenty of time to explore the worlds, ride the rides and try some Butterbeer.
- If you want to ride every ride, arrive for rope drop and head straight to the Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike ride; as the newest ride in the Wizarding World, it is the busiest and therefore has the longest queue.
- If possible, aim to visit on a weekday outside of the school holidays – you can check for low traffic days using a crowd calendar online.
- If you are visiting the Wizarding World in one day, make sure to take advantage of the single rider line option when available to save time queuing for the rides.
Harry Potter World on a budget
Stay off property with the same perks
This is our best tip for saving money for all the parks in Orlando and it rings true for Universal Studios Orlando. Some may wish to take advantage of the onsite benefits such as Early Park Admission but the best way to save money is to choose a much cheaper hotel off site.
You can even get the same perks as well – take a look at a Partner Hotel through the Universal Studios Vacation Package. These packages can change during the year but generally, you can expect to have a shuttle transportation option as early park admission. This saves you money on your parking at Universal too.
Stay off property with no perks, but save big
If you aren’t fussed about getting that extra hour in, you can save even more. Days Inn, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites and Westgate Lakes are fantastic hotels in Orlando for considerably cheaper prices.
Alternatively, you can book an AirBnB or villa – places with kitchenettes are a great idea because it allows you to save money on food too.
If you do want to stay on site, make sure you look out for deals and special offers; especially during the Boxing Day sales. Deals can be found on the Universal Orlando website, the Undercover tourist hotel deals and the Universal Orlando Vacations website.
Buy your tickets online
Buy your tickets online to save up to $20 per ticket. When you are visiting multiple days, these savings do add up – you can book tickets directly with Universal Studios. We also keep an eye on deals on this website, they run great deals throughout the year.
Skip the Universal Express Pass
It can be so tempting to book the Universal Express, especially when you are saving money by booking your ticket online. It is possible to ride the Wizarding World rides in one day without an express pass and often, we find the Harry Potter rides don’t open their express pass queue. Unless you are only visiting for one day and during the height of summer, skip the pass to save some money.
Park to Park tickets
A quick reminder, that when booking tickets, you will need a Park-to-Park ticket or Park Hopper pass, so you can ride the Hogwarts Express between the two parks.
Universal Studios Orlando Tickets:
At the time of writing, a 2-day, 2 park pass is $274.99 each. The same pass for a child is $264.99
At the time of writing, a 2-day, 2 park pass is $274.99 each. The same pass for a child is $264.99
Eat the highlights, not the meals
Food in the parks can be incredibly expensive but many feel it is all part of the experience. And it is – sometimes. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter offers a variety of food and drink but not all are worth it. Try the themed stuff – Butterbeer or the Ice Cream from Florean Fortescue’s but skip the English style pub food.
Eat in CityWalk
Although it can be tempting to stay in Harry Potter, make use of the great restaurants in CityWalk. There are many chain budget restaurants and fast food places that are considerably cheaper than the restaurants in the parks.
Some of our favourite budget-friendly places in the CityWalk is Panda Express, Bread Box, Sake Bar, Fusion Bistro Sushi and Blaze Pizza.
The Leaky Cauldron
The Leaky Cauldron is a themed pub in Diagon Alley and a great place to cool off. You can expect typical British food such as Bangers & Mash or Fish & Chips. If you do want to try the food or eat here, why not share a plate with a friend or partner to save some money.
The Three Broomsticks
This is a tavern in Hogsmeade with dishes like a Smoked Chicken Platter and Shepherd’s Pie, with dishes being a little larger than The Leaky Cauldron so are great for sharing. At the back of the Three Broomsticks is the Hog’s Head, a pub that serves Wizarding drinks and brews; including the Hog’s Head Brew for $8.99
Before visiting the parks, make sure you have a proper breakfast. We recommend choosing a hotel which comes with a breakfast or a kitchenette, so you can make your own breakfast before your day at the park. Alternatively, you could pick up some cereal bars, fruit or yogurt from a store the day before your visit. Having breakfast before entering that park not only saves you money but also saves you a great deal of time too.
Bring a water bottle
Bring along a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated without having to spend $4 not the Gilly Water. You can even pick up a Hogwarts inspired bottle online and we recommend a smaller water bottle to avoid adding too much extra weight to your backpack.
This one may sound a little odd but Starbucks is your friend when you are at Universal Studios and not just because it will keep you going. Firstly, the food here is a better price than the themed restaurants in the park and they have a decent selection to choose from too. Plus, the locations at Universal also accept gift cards as payment, so you can pick up a Starbucks Gift card online or at Costco at a better price and use this to save even more money.
Get an extra cup
When travelling in groups, another way to save some money is by sharing those themed beverages or ice cream. We love sharing a Butterbeer but there is no need to buy one each. The vendors in the Wizarding World are happy to provide an extra cup or bowl, meaning you can share your drink, ice cream sundae or gigantic donut rather than have one each.
This is also a great idea when visiting with children as drinks in the Wizarding World have strong and rich flavors, meaning a small amount is all young children will need.
Of course, if you are sharing Wizarding snacks, you may still be hungry whilst in the parks. Make sure you bring snacks from a supermarket to give you an energy boost and fill you up. We recommend picking up cereal bars or anything that won’t melt in the heat.
Buy your Hogwarts robe before your trip
The robes in the parks are $100. They are fantastic quality but who needs this level of quality for a robe they will wear a handful of times every year at the most. Get yourself a robe before your trip on Amazon, with many great choices under $30. You can also get Hogwarts House clothing here too.
Don’t buy a wand
This one can be hard to except – but you do not need a wand! The park sells interactive wands which you can wave around the Wizarding World. These are fantastic purchases when you are travelling with young children and they do add to the magic BUT they are $50. Save this purchase for a special trip but not every visit and only pick up one for the family, rather than one each. You can buy individual wands online ahead of your trip.
Give yourself and/or your kids, a souvenir budget. There are lots of great merchandise in both areas of the Wizarding World, so it can be tempting to buy whatever takes your eye. But even a few magnets and a chocolate frog can add up. Give your party a budget to avoid overspending. You can even make this fun whilst teaching young children how to budget by using the Gringotts Bank Notes. These can be used all over the parks too, not just the Wizarding World.
Bring your own lanyard
You will notice in the parks, many people will carry their ticket and express pass on a lanyard. These are sold in the parks for around $10. Save some money by ordering a lanyard before your visit. Harry Potter ones can be found online too.
Getting to and from the parks
Another way to save money on your Universal Studios day is by planning your transport to and from the parks. Many hotels in Orlando will offer some type of free or budget-friendly shuttle option. If your hotel doesn’t, we recommend taking an Uber to the Studios rather than driving. It will cost you $25 to park in the Studios, with Ubers often costing less than this.
If you plan on spending most of your vacation at Universal Studios, you could also opt for one of the hotels near the theme park, allowing you to walk to and from the parks each day.
Getting to Orlando
Getting to Orlando can be expensive, especially if you are an international visitor. No matter where you are travelling from, we recommend you avoid package holidays and opt for booking your flight independently. We like to find the cheapest days to travel on using the day comparisons on Momondo then use Skyscanner to find the cheapest airline to fly with on that given day.
If you are flying domestically, check out budget airlines such as Spirit, Southwest, Frontier and JetBlue.
You can also use credit card rewards; collecting miles whenever you use your credit card and then using these miles for your flight. The points can also be used for free park passes and hotel stays too.
Another way to save money on flights to Orlando is by setting up an alert on AirfareWatchdog.com.
We hope you have an amazing time in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, let us know what you are most looking forward to in the comments below!