Money MattersUniversal Orlando Resort

Budgeting for a Universal Orlando Vacation – Admission, Food, and Merchandise

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Vacations are expensive – but with some guidance and data, you can maneuver The Matrix-like as you plan your next vacation. This series will cover how to budget for your Universal Orlando vacation, from how many nights you can stay at various hotels for $1000 to the average meal price at the Three Broomsticks.

Today we will cover admission costs, your food budget, and what to expect to spend on merchandise.

Note: Prices are accurate as of the date of publishing.

Budgeting for a Universal Orlando Vacation Series


Universal’s hotels are a destination on their own, but the core of a theme park vacation is the theme parks. Universal currently offers three – the traditional theme parks Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure plus the water park Volcano Bay. Universal’s ticketing options resemble Disney’s, with date-based variable pricing and multi-day options. Disney and Universal have been keeping up with the Joneses on pricing with similar pricing on one-day, two-day, and three-day tickets.

Tickets to the theme parks start at $109 per adult plus tax for one day at Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure theme parks and $80 per adult plus tax at Volcano Bay water park. One-day admission can be upgraded for $55 per ticket plus tax to park hop between the two theme parks and ride the Hogwarts Express.

Multi-day tickets are great if you are visiting more than one day at the parks and save you money over buying individual single-day admission. For more information on multi-day tickets read our blog posts on date-based tickets (Blog: Universal Orlando Date-Based Tickets – How to Save Money).

Periodically Universal offers admission discounts on multi-day tickets, like the current promotion “buy three days get two days free” where five-day tickets are available for the price of a three-day ticket.

Here are the admission options at our three price levels based on party sizes.


  • Party of Two: One-day park-to-park tickets or two-day one-park tickets
  • Party of Four: One-day tickets


  • Party of Two: Four-day park-to-park tickets
  • Party of Four: Two-day park-to-park tickets or three-day one-park tickets
  • Part of Six: One day at Volcano Bay


  • Party of Two: Two annual passes
  • Party of Four: Four annual passes
  • Party of Six: Three-day one-park tickets
Ribeye Steak. Photo copyright Universal Orlando.

Food & Beverage

Universal redefined themed food with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s fresh rustic cuisine and Butterbeer drinks. Over the decade since the Three Broomsticks opened its doors, Universal has refreshed all its food offerings, from the expanded presence of Starbucks at the resort to eight new restaurants in CityWalk.

You should expect to pay roughly $50 a day per adult and $30 per child plus tax on food costs. This includes two counter-service meals per day, no full service meals, and no alcohol. That estimate is a very rough estimate as food costs will greatly vary depending on appetite, party size, and food preferences. Below are some examples of meals, snacks, and alcohol from the theme parks.

Full Service ($40 per adult, $25 per child*) Counter Service ($25 per adult, $15 per child)
  • Finnegan’s Bar & Grill (Total: $121.11 w/ tax + tip)
    • Irish Loaded Fries appetizer – $11.99
    • Salmon entree – $25.95
    • Burger entree – $17.95
    • Two Kids Meals – $17.90
    • Four soft drinks – $17.96
  • Mythos (Total: $133.32 w/ tax + tip)
    • Spanakopita appetizer – $11
    • Beef Tenderloin entree – $28
    • Pad thai entree – $26
    • Two Kids Meals – $18
    • Four soft drinks – $18
  • Fast Food Blvd (Total: $69.30 w/ tax)
    • Two Burger platters – $26
    • Two chicken tenders platters – $20
    • Four soft drinks – $17
  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Total: $72.60 w/ tax)
    • Two Fish & Chips platters – $34
    • Two Kids platters – $15
    • Four soft drinks – $17
  • Thunder Falls Terrace (Total: $89.10 w/ tax)
    • One Rotisserie Chicken platter – $19
    • Two Rice Bowls – $32
    • Roatiserie Chicken salad – $13
    • Four soft drinks – $17
Snacks ($10 per person) Alcohol ($15 per adult 21+*)
  • Butterbeer – $8
  • Soft Pretzel – $7.50
  • Popcorn – $5.20
  • Candy – $4
  • Draft Beer – $10-12
  • Mixed Drink & Wine – $12
  • Specialty Cocktail – $14

*Includes tip. No, tipping is not optional.


  • Party of Two – Five days of counter-service meals and snacks
  • Party of Four – Two days of counter-service meals and snacks
  • Party of Six – One day of counter-service meals and snacks


  • Party of Two – Five days of full service meals and snacks
  • Party of Four – Two days of full service meals or four days of counter-service meals, plus snacks
  • Party of Six – Three days of counter service meals or two days of full service meals, plus snacks


  • Party of Four – Five days of full service meals and snacks
  • Party of Six – Four days of full service meals or six days of counter service meals, plus snacks
(photo by Michael Carelli)


Universal has invented lots of ways to part with your money, from brooms to umbrellas, clothing for every part of the body, enough pins to festune a war-torn general, and enough trinkets to fill your grandmother’s most spacious display cabinet. Good news – merchandise is not a per-day cost. Instead, we’ll look at what souvenirs are available at various price ranges. The most up-to-date pricing on theme park merchandise is available on Universal Orlando’s online store.

$25 and Under $50 and Under
  • Lanyards – $13-15
  • Candy – $5-15
  • Keychains – $9-15
  • Pins – $9-14
  • Hogwarts House socks – $15
  • Mugs – $21
  • 1 t-shirt – $30
  • 1 Hogwarts House scarf – $40
  • Themed scented candle – $25-30
  • Travel Tumbler – $29-32
  • Wall art – $30-$50
$100 and Under $200 and Under
  • 1 Olivander wand – $63
  • Harry Potter throw blanket – $85
  • Loungefly Backpack – $88
  • Quidditch sweater – $110
  • Hogwarts Robes – $140
  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster coaster train wooden model – $200

We also split our price ranges in half because STARTING at $500 in merchandise ignores real-world spending. Instead, let us look at what sort of tchotchkes we can get at $250, $500, and $1000 price levels.


  • Party of Two – lanyards, t-shirts, Olivander’s wands, mugs
  • Party of Four – lanyards, two t-shirts, Olivander’s wands, mugs for the parents
  • Party of Six – lanyards and t-shirts


  • Party of Two – lanyards, three t-shirts each, Olivadner’s wands, Harry Potter blanket,
  • Party of Four – lanyards, six t-shirts, two Olivander’s wands, two homeware items, and a throw blanket
  • Party of Six – lanyards, t-shirts, and four wands


  • Party of Two – Full Harry Potter kit (wands, robes, house scarf, house tie, sweater) plus Harry Potter trinkets, Wizarding World candy, Loungefly backpacks
  • Party of Four – lanyards, two shirts per person, four wands, Harry Potter trinkets, and Wizarding World candy
  • Party of Six – lanyards, t-shirts, six wands, Wizarding World candy, and one Hogwarts House item per person.

Other Costs To Consider

Keep these extra costs in mind when planning your trip, whether to buy HHN tickets or to set aside some money for hair braids.

  • Vacation Add-Ons – My Universal Photos packages, a Hawaiian luau, in-park rock climbing walls for kids, hair wrapping, and more are available
  • Special Events Costs – Factor in experiences that are not covered here, such as Halloween Horror Nights which is a separately ticketed event.
  • Other Entertainment – CityWalk includes a movie theater, music concert venue, escape rooms, miniature golf, and even a tattoo parlor.
  • Tipping – Tip your luggage handlers and housekeeping.

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Joseph Matt

Joe covers theme parks through the lens of his quality engineering day job. He has over five years of writing experience at Touring Plans and has gone on dozens of trips to Orlando over his life. When not at amusement parks you can find Joe at breweries, enjoying live theater, playing video games, and cooking.

4 thoughts on “Budgeting for a Universal Orlando Vacation – Admission, Food, and Merchandise

  • Your cost breakdown is also inaccurate.

    • We’ll be happy to doublecheck any specific disagreement that you have.

  • Thanks for the article. Nicely laid out!
    You might want to fix this though…”two shits per person”. Haha
    Or maybe you wanted it there. 😀

    • Oh my goodness this shows no matter how many times I proof read an article sometimes I still miss typos. Thanks and edited. And thanks for the kind words!


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