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Saving time and money at Universal Orlando: Top 12 tips, tricks, and secrets

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Top 12 easiest ways to save time & money at Universal

You’ve reached our famous list of the top 12 easiest ways to save time and money when visiting Universal Orlando!

#1 – Buy your admission tickets in advance
The number one easiest way to save money and a heck of a lot of time is to purchase your theme park tickets and Express Passes in advance. Here’s the information right from Universal Orlando’s website:

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Benefits for purchasing your tickets in advance.

Here’s a breakdown of those individual offers…

When you purchase your tickets online through Universal Orlando, you receive a $20 discount over the gate prices for mult-day tickets. Please note that the discount is already applied to the pricing you see on Universal Orlando’s website. In other words, if you go to the gate and purchase a multi-day ticket, you will pay $20 more than what you see online.

This is absolutely a win-win situation for you because you can save a ton of money, and you don’t have to wait in the terribly long lines at the ticket windows!

Also, when you purchase your tickets online, you can print them right at home and go directly to the turnstiles.

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Please don’t get stuck in these lines. Buy your tickets in advance!

When you purchase your admission tickets online from Universal Orlando, you will receive this voucher at the end of your transaction:

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$150 savings voucher for Universal Orlando.

As the voucher states, you just need to bring a copy of it along with your tickets to the Universal Studios Store in Universal Studios Florida or the Islands Trading Company in Islands of Adventure. Then you can exchange the voucher for this:

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Universal Orlando’s coupon book worth $150 in savings.

You can click the image to view it full-screen. If that still doesn’t make it easy to read, you can view the full-resolution file on our Flickr page by clicking here. By the way, since I know you’re pretty crafty, let me just warn you right now that the real coupon book is printed on heavy laminate paper.

Anyway, it’s a really good book of coupons, and since you get it free with your multi-day ticket purchase, you definitely want to pick it up.

#2 – Understand what it means to buy your tickets “in advance”
If I buy my tickets in advance, how far ahead do I have to do it to get the discounts and $150 savings voucher?

Here is something very few guests know: To purchase tickets in advance, you do not necessarily have to purchase them 24 hours or more before you arrive. You can literally be standing at the gates of Universal Studios Florida and call Universal instead of waiting in the ticket line. And if you call, you will save $20 per person for any multi-day ticket. You will then be given a confirmation code to use at the electronic will call kiosks.

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Electronic Will Call Kiosks at Islands of Adventure.

#3 – Buy the less expensive ticket and upgrade later
As long as you are purchasing your tickets directly from Universal Orlando (either online, over the phone, or at the gates), you can easily upgrade tickets at Guest Services. So, if you are not sure whether you want to purchase park-to-park tickets, or 3-day versus an annual pass, buy the less expensive option. Then, if you decide you want more, you can pay the difference and upgrade. Keep in mind that you MUST upgrade while your ticket is still valid. In other words, if you have a 3-day ticket, and you want to upgrade to an annual pass, you MUST do it by the end of day 3. Otherwise your ticket will expire and you will have to buy a full-price for any additional admission.

If you are buying your tickets from a third-party reseller, like Costco or Undercover Tourist, be sure to ask specifically about how to upgrade. Some third-party ticket options and other promotions may not be upgradeable.

#4 – Know what you want before you buy and avoid of heavily discounted tickets
Universal Orlando and the other theme parks clearly state that ticket sales are non-refundable and non-transferable. So be sure you know what you want before you make a purchase, and choose the least expensive option if you are not sure (see the tip above). Also, be aware that you cannot legally transfer ownership of your partially-used tickets to another person or to a third-party vendor. If you do so, the person who ends up buying your partially-used tickets may not be able to use them – that’s why the parks take a biometric scan of your finer.

By the same token, if you are offered heavily discounted tickets and all you have to do is meet someone behind a Red Lobster to get them (I had a friend who had to do this), you are probably not going to get legitimate tickets. In this case, you are most likely buying partially used tickets or the complimentary tickets given out to Team Members, and you may not be able to gain admission to the parks with either of these – just as bad, you likely won’t have recourse to get your money back.

#5 – Purchase VIP tickets or stay on-site instead of purchasing regular Express Passes
This is a great trick that can get you unlimited Express Pass access or accommodations at one of Universal Orlando’s deluxe on-site hotels for about the same amount of money you already were going to spend on admission tickets and regular Express Passes. I explain how this work here: Get unlimited Express Passes for what you are already paying

#6 – Consider booking your visit as a vacation package
If you are booking an off-site hotel room as part of your Universal Orlando vacation, consider booking your visit as an official Universal Orlando vacation package. You will likely end up paying close to the same as you would anyway for the hotel and Universal Orlando park tickets, but you will get the added benefit of Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Please note that if you are staying on-site, you get Early Park Admission no matter how you book your hotel room.

Depending on your travel plans, you might want to consider combining tip #6 with tip #7…

Click below to continue reading the next 6 tips.

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