Universal’s website frequently offers vacation packages including hotel accommodations and theme park tickets. You’ve got to do the math, though, because sometimes it’s difficult to see how buying the package can save money over buying each component separately.

Here’s an example. A Harry Potter Vacation Package deal in late 2012 offered a family of four - 2 adults and 2 kids under age 10 – these components:

The package costs $1,709, including tax, for most of early 2013. There were significant restrictions, including blackout dates around spring break, Easter and Memorial Day (but not Presidents Day), and the stay had to happen on a Sunday through Thursday to qualify for that low rate – weekend nights were more expensive.

Here’s the first thing to recognize: the last two items – early admission to The Wizarding World and access to live entertainment at CityWalk – are automatically given to everyone who stays at a Universal resort and buys a multi-day park ticket. Those are already included in the package, so they don’t have any value by themselves.

There are only three components to price: the hotel, tickets and breakfast at Three Broomsticks. We checked Universal’s website for the cost of these components using various dates in early 2013, and ensured those dates would also qualify for the package above. Here’s a typical cost per component:

The total cost if you bought each component separately is $1,515.67, a savings of almost $200 off the online package. That being said, it’s very difficult to reserve breakfast at Three Broomsticks unless you’ve bought a vacation package. Universal’s price for the breakfast, however, is $15 per adult and $12 per child, so it’s easy enough to figure out what it costs. And you can always have lunch at Three Broomsticks too, with the money you’ll save by buying each item separately.