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Is Universal Studios Orlando Worth The Price?

If you’re into eye-catching live shows, thrilling screen-based experiences, and are a big fan of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Florida is for you.

If, however, wild roller coasters and outdoor experiences are more your things, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and the Volcano Bay water park will suit you best.

All three parks make up the ultimate Universal Studios Orlando experience.

Universal Orlando is also great in unfavorable weather conditions because it has quite a few indoor attractions.

Unfortunately, though, Universal Studios Orlando is a bit less toddler-friendly compared to the nearby Walt Disney World.

That said, there are several attractions like Shrek 4D and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem that enhance the experience for your child.

Older kids, teens, and adults, on the other hand, should have no problem having a good time at the park. 

From E.T. to Jurassic Park to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the possibilities at Universal Orlando are endless.

How Much Does it Cost to Go to Universal Studios Orlando?

You should consider three different cost categories when considering a trip to this world-famous theme park. 

Excluding airfare to Orlando (which varies depending on your home state or country), you should look at:

  • Park Tickets
  • Parking
  • Accommodation (including food and drinks at higher-than-usual theme park prices)

1. Tickets

Because Universal Orlando includes three theme parks, the types of tickets vary depending on the number of people, the number of parks you intend to visit, and the number of days you plan to spend on-site.

Universal offers park-to-park tickets that differ from the regular per-person-per-park tickets, allowing you to ‘hop’ from one park to another.

These are best if it’s your first time and you want to have the full Universal Studios experience.

The costs vary depending on the time of year and do not include tax, so the price as advertised on the official website may be higher once you get to checkout.

Overall, this is what you should expect at Universal Studios Orlando:

  • 1-Day, 1-Park ticket: starting from $109 for adults (ages 10 and up); $104 for children (aged 3-9).
  • 1-Day, 2-Park ticket (Park-to-Park): starting from $164 for adults; $159 for children.
  • 2-Day, 2-Park ticket (One Park Per Day): starting from $213.99 for adults; $203.99 for children.
  • 2-Day, 2-Park ticket (Park-to-Park): starting from $273.99 for adults; $263.99 for children. 
  • 2-Day, 3-Park ticket (One Park Per Day): starting from $233.99 for adults; $223.99
  • 2-Day, 3-Park ticket (Park-to-Park): starting from $313.99 for adults; $303.99 for children. 
  • A 3-Day, 3-Park ticket (One Park Per Day): starting from $274.99 for adults; $264.99 for children.
  • A 3-Day, 3-Park ticket (Park-to-Park): starting from $334.99 for adults; $324.99 for children.

The 2-park ticket prices are based on Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Island Adventure. 

Volcano Bay’s ticket pricing for a 1-day pass is $80 or is included in the 3-park passes.

Keep an eye out for discounts, as Universal offers them several times throughout the year.

If you hate waiting in line or only have one day to check out most attractions, consider getting the Universal Express Pass.

The Express Pass is an additional fee on top of the regular park pass, but you’ll have the freedom to cut lines and go straight to your favorite rides.

The price of an Express Pass ranges from around $80 to $120, depending on the number of times you want to go on a ride and whether or not you’ll need it at more than one park.

With the average wait time being around 30 to 60 minutes per ride, it can be more valuable than you think.

If you think you’re going to be visiting Universal Studios Florida often in a year, you may want to consider an Annual Pass which starts at $399 for 2-Park passes and $499 for 3-Park passes. 

2. Parking

Expect to pay around $27 for regular parking and up to $60 for Prime parking. 

The latter is much closer to the entrance.

Universal Studios also offers Valet Parking at varying prices per hour (starting at $27 for two hours) and discounted rates for Preferred Annual Pass Holders.

Premier Annual Pass holders get free Prime parking and free Valet Parking.

Free parking is also offered after 6 pm, but some exceptions apply (e.g., during the Halloween Horror Nights event).

Though accommodation is covered in detail in the next section, keep in mind that staying on-site doesn’t necessarily equate to free parking.

3. Accommodation

Staying at one of the resorts at Universal Studios comes with several park-related benefits. 

One of the most valuable, in my opinion, is the early entry into the parks one hour ahead of opening.

Other perks include, but are not limited to:

  • Discounted tickets
  • Discounted Express Passes
  • Free parking (in some cases)

There are also several cheaper hotels off-site that offer good value for food and services offered.

You’ll have to do the math and see if staying off-site allows you more flexibility with costs, such as upgrading park tickets or buying food and merchandise at the parks.

Overall, it all depends on whether you think the perks are worth it. 

When it comes to the quality of the resorts, both off-site and on-site hotels are top-notch.

How Many Days Do I Need to See Universal Studios Orlando?

If you plan on visiting more than one park, doing it in a single day will be exhausting.

There’s a lot to see, and trying to squeeze it all in one day can take the fun out of the whole trip.

For the best possible experience, set aside a minimum of one day per destination. 

If you’re a Harry Potter fanatic and need to have the whole Hogwarts experience, set aside at least two days to see it all. 

(Just FYI, the Hogwarts Express Train crosses over both parks, so you may want to consider a Park-to-Park pass).

You’ll probably have to buy more expensive tickets, but to get the full experience, it’s worth it.

What’s the Best Time to Go To Universal Studios

It’s no surprise that the busiest times at any theme park are during the summer and US holidays. 

From Christmas to Easter, holiday periods often equate to busier parks and inflated prices, meaning you may not get good value for your experience.

Usually, most of January (excluding the New Years’ period) and early February are the best times to go. 

Early September (and November) are also great as this is before and after the Halloween Horror Nights Events.

Try your best to avoid going in the summer. 

You can still make it work, but remember that school is out, and the Florida sun won’t be as kind to you.

Conclusion

Is Universal Studios Orlando worth the price?

If you have very small children, plan to visit during the summer months, don’t have at least a couple of days to spare, or couldn’t care less about Harry Potter, thrilling rides, or live entertainment, then no, Universal Studios Orlando is not for you.

If you’re ready to spend 2-3 days in Florida and you love simulators, awesome roller coasters, and live experiences (and you don’t mind paying for parking), you’ll get good value from your trip to Universal Orlando.

To get the most out of your experience, take the time to plan things in advance to ensure a stress-free, super fun trip. 

While you’re there, remember to pick up some Butterbeer – you won’t regret it.

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