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You’d be surprised how inexpensive a trip to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter can be! There are a few tricks, but some are just lesser known facts.
#1 Universal is less expensive than Disney!
I know, I said it. But, it’s true. Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney World! We own timeshare there. But, a Universal trip is cheaper, plain and simple.
The budget hotels at Universal are nicer and cost less than the Disney ones. You can stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay resort for as low as $116 per night depending on when you go. A stay at one of Disney’s All Star resorts supposedly can be as low as $110 a night, but I’ve never seen them that low. They will usually be around $150 per night.
Also, Universal’s Cabana Bay feels more like a moderate level than a value level resort. The cheapest moderate level resort at Disney will run you at least $203 per night. So, you are definitely getting more for your money at Universal.
Universal tickets are also cheaper and you can do more in less time because the parks are smaller.
Based on travel during Peak Season:
A Universal park to park ticket for one day is $179 for one day and becomes cheaper the longer you stay. For example a 5 day park to park would be only $57 per day right now.
A Disney Park Hopper pass for one day will run you $184 for one day and 5 days park hopper would be $79 per day right now. At Disney, it is cheaper and possible to only do one park a day which would come out cheaper.
I actually recently booked a vacation for one of my readers at Universal for 3 nights, 2 adults and 1 child, 2 days park to park tickets and the Quick Service Dining Plan for 2 days. The entire trip only cost $1600!
So, it’s definitely doable!
#2 Skip the Express Passes!
Express passes are sort of like Disney’s Fast Pass system. But, there are some big differences. Universal’s Express Pass costs extra. A lot extra starting at $85 extra per day and that is if you only want it for one park. Both parks will run you an extra $99 per day.
The other difference is that unlike Fast Passes where you designate times to arrive and only so many people are allowed to enter the Fast Pass line at that time, the Express Pass is just a separate line. During busier times of year, depending on how many people purchase Express Passes, the express pass line can be as long or longer than the stand by or regular line.
I recommend saving your money and just planning your day appropriately, using the app efficiently to track wait times, planning to ride more popular rides either first thing in the morning or last thing at night and utilizing the single rider lines as much as possible.
#3 Plan Meals Out
So, there are several tips that can save you money on food.
The first is that surprisingly, the dining plan at Universal isn’t too costly. I like not having to worry about a budget and many of the places you would want to eat are quick service level meals such as the Leaky Cauldron and The Three Broomsticks. So, you could pull off just getting the Quick Service Dining plan which is only $23.99 per night. You get 1 quick service meal, one snack and one beverage per day you purchase it. They are just allotted credits and you don’t have to use them on specific days.
For an extra $5 you can add on the Coca Cola Freestyle Mug which allows you unlimited refills at any Freestyle machine at the resorts and in the parks. This is another difference from Disney as they only allow you to use your mug at the resorts and not in the parks.
The Freestyle Mug is also a deal in itself as you can purchase it alone separate from Dining Plans for $14.99 a day. If you plan on drinking lots of drinks other than water, this could be an excellent value. And, there is nothing to stop you from sharing it with family.
Another tip is to have any sit down meals at lunch. The wait will be shorter and lunch prices are typically cheaper. Have a lighter breakfast and dinner.
#4 Budget For Souvenirs
Don’t head into the Wizarding World without a budget in mind or you’ll spend a fortune on Wizard Gear, Robes, Wands and Chocolate Frogs!
Plan ahead and tell yourself how much each person is allowed to spend on souvenirs.
I recommend choosing what you know you are willing to splurge on. If you have to choose one thing, I’d choose a wand. Both the interactive and collector wands are a huge part of the experience and I believe worth the cost.
If you have young kids, perhaps purchase one interactive wand to share or only allow the older child to purchase a wand. I know friends who had an toddler and an older child. They bought a cheap wand at home for the toddler to play with and purchased an interactive wand for their older child.
Check out this inexpensive toy wand on Amazon!
#5 Purchase Some Souvenirs Ahead of Time
There are many things you can get before going to the parks.
Robes: There are so many of options for this. You can buy on Etsy, purchase through a big box store, make them yourself or purchase a simple black robe and sew on a Hogwarts patch.
Check out this inexpensive Hogwarts Robe on Etsy:
Check out these inexpensive Hogwarts Patches on Etsy:
Check out Etsy for more Hogwarts gear from buttons and patches to hats and scarves!
Check out my post the Harry Potter Gift Buying Guide for more ideas on items you can hand make or purchase before going on your trip.
Use my Hogwarts Acceptance Letter FREE Printables to provide a surprise reveal for your child or purchase more a more authentic acceptance letter at one of these shops on Etsy:
Do you want help planning your dream vacation to Universal and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Fill out the form in the side bar or follow this LINK to request information.
You can also check out my post The Wizards Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Have you planned a Wizarding World vacation on a budget? What are your tips for saving money? Share in the comments section below!