Money MattersUniversal Orlando Resort

Budgeting for a Universal Orlando Vacation – Same Cost, Different Vacations Part 2

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Vacations are expensive – but with some guidance and data, you will maneuver Matrix-like through the code 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 look at the vacation options at several price tiers from $4000 to over $6000. These vacation examples will give you a good idea of how much a future trip could cost.

Budgeting for a Universal Orlando Vacation Series

The Theory

These prices are roughly based on the average prices for a trip around October 20, 2023. Prices do not factor in promotions or sales, such as super-low airfare or hotel deals. Some ancillary costs that we have not factored in include airport parking, hotel parking, car rentals, fees, and other trip-specific costs. All costs include an estimated tax. The goal of this thought experiment is to have fun with some theoretical situations, so don’t sweat it.

$4000 Pricepoint

Our next vacation price point introduces vacations for larger families, Premier (Universal’s term for Delux) hotel accommodations, flying to Orlando instead of driving, and discretionary spending on merchandise and add-ons.

Weekend+ Trip for 4

This vacation extends

  • Transportation: Drive – $177
  • Hotel Stay: Four nights at a prime value hotel – $1028
  • Admission: Four, three-day three-park – $1603
  • Meals: Two full-service meals, six counter-service meals, snacks, and alcohol – $850
  • Souvenirs & Merchandise: $300
  • Add-Ons: Miniature Golf – $80

Total: $4038

I am being a little liberal with the meal pricing to account for alcohol, so if you can cut back then an under $4000 vacation is easily doable. This is the sort of vacation my family would have taken back around 2000 or 2003, makes you really appreciate what they saved up for.

Ultimate Potter Fan Trip

This is the vacation I’d recommend to my bougie friend who wants to see Harry Potter but also relax in the sun. My friend is staying at the Hard Rock Hotel for its proximity to the parks and Express Pass, a three-day two-park ticket, plenty of money for merch, and an ample food budget.

  • Transportation: Fly – $330
  • Hotel Stay: Four nights at Hard Rock Hotel – $2600
  • Admission: Three-day, two-park tickets – $430
  • Meals: Three full-service, five table-service meals – $250
  • Souvenirs & Merchandise: $350
  • Add-Ons: None

Total: $3,960

HHN Trip

We are going all out for this horror couple. They will fly in on a Friday after work, and visit HHN one night to experience some of the fun. Sleep in on Saturday and take an Unmasking the Horror tour, enter the park early with a Scream Early ticket, experience scare actor dining, and have Express Pass that night.

  • Transportation: Fly – $660
  • Hotel Stay: Two nights at Hard Rock Hotel $1500
  • Admission: Two, two-day HHN tickets – $400
  • Meals: Three counter service meals, snacks, and alcohol – $450
  • Souvenirs & Merchandise: $250
  • Add-Ons: Scare actor dining – $130, Express Pass – $350, Unmasking the Horror Tour – $200, Scream Early – $70

Total: $3810

Pharos Lighthouse. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Ultimate Family of Four One-Day Do-Or-Die-In-A-Day

Let’s double our budget and add on flights and upgrade the hotel to a Premier resort. On day 1 we will fly in and have a nice full-service meal, Day 2 is an early entry-to-close full day at the parks, and on Day 3 our family will depart.

  • Transportation: Fly – $1320
  • Hotel Stay: Tw0 nights at Premier hotel – $1200
  • Admission: Four one-day park hoppers – $820
  • Meals: One full-service meal, five counter-service meals per person – $500
  • Souvenirs & Merchandise: Lots of Harry Potter stuff – $250
  • Add-Ons: None

Total: $4090

WFH Long Stay

Another week long escape, this time at Sapphire Falls which has lots of public spaces for working and an epic pool. I added on a three-day, single park ticket for exploring during Early Entry, lunch breaks, or after work hours.

  • Transportation: Fly – $330
  • Hotel Stay: Seven nights at Sapphire Falls – $2400
  • Admission: Three-day single park ticket – $350
  • Meals: Six sit-down meals, seven counter service meals, snacks, alcohol – $600
  • Souvenirs & Merchandise: None
  • Add-Ons: Movie – $20

Total: $3700

We also suggest spending $200 more on admission and upgrading to an Annual Pass which offers hotel and meal discounts. With all those savings you could spend that splurge on a first-class flight.

Hard Rock Hotel. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

$6000+ Pricepoint

Our final price bracket is where we get to have fun with our dream vacations. Below is my “in reach” vacation, an ultimate WFH option, and how much Universal would cost if money was no object.

Weekend++ Trip for 4

The Weekend+ trip from above but with upgraded hotel and flying to Orlando.

  • Transportation: Fly – $1320
  • Hotel Stay: Four nights at a preferred hotel – $1350
  • Admission: Four, three-day three-park – $1605
  • Meals: Two full-service meals, six counter-service meals, snacks, and alcohol – $850
  • Souvenirs & Merchandise: $300
  • Add-Ons: Miniature Golf – $80

Total: $5505

Joe’s Ultimate Trip

Within realistic expectations here is what my ultimate trip would be. I would fly, and stay five nights at the Royal Pacific (which includes Express), have an annual pass, Halloween Horror Nights tickets with Express, and a good split of full-service and counter-service meals.

  • Transportation: Fly 1st Class – $1000
  • Hotel Stay: Five nights at Royal Pacific Resort club level $5200
  • Admission: 3-Park Premier Annual Pass $1030* and Unlimited Fear with Express $900
  • Meals: Five full-service meals, five counter-service meals, snacks, and alcohol – $900
  • Souvenirs & Merchandise: $300
  • Add-Ons: Rental Car – $500, Parking – $150

Total: $9980

Just a tad under $10k! Just need to save up for… a few years….

*Annual Pass will bring the total trip cost down with discounts on the hotel, food, and merchandise.

Money Is No Object Trip

Family of four. Private flights? Check. Two-bedroom suite? Check. Annual passes? Check. Meals? Go for the tomahawk steak.

  • Transportation: Private jet for four – $30,000
  • Hotel Stay: Seven nights at Hard Rock Hotel in a two-bedroom suite – $10,000
  • Admission: Everyone gets Annual Passes! – $8000
  • Meals: YOLO – $1500
  • Souvenirs & Merchandise: We literally have a private jet – $2000
  • Add-Ons: Private limo round trip to and from the airport – $1100, VIP Tours (5 days at $1200 per day) – $6000

Total: $58,500

Fun Fact: The median income of a household in Orange County, FL is $65,000 a year.

Dockside room

Let’s Live at Endless Summer

This is based on a true story.

How much would a month’s stay at Endless Summer Dockside cost? We are imagining a couple doing WFH, jumping between working locations, who choose to live a month at Universal Orlando. Annual Passes for all three parks are a must along with a large add-ons budget. We chose the 2-room suite for the extra space and the pool view because no one wants to look at International Drive for a month.

Bringing your car for this extended stay does some benefits though with the option to bring your own items from home and visit and explore other Florida attractions. Also, we suggest bringing your own towels, pillows, and an extra blanket.

  • Transportation: Drive, seriously I want my car – $177
  • Hotel Stay: 28 nights at Endless Summer Dockside in a two-room suite with a pool view – $5264
  • Admission: Three-Park Annual Passes – $2000
  • Meals: 30 days of groceries, meals, snacks, alcohol, etc – $1000
  • Souvenirs & Merchandise: When does it stop becoming a souvenir of your trip and a souvenir of your alternate life? – $500
  • Add-Ons: Parking – $450, Laundry – $50, Entertainment – $500

Total: $9941

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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.

One thought on “Budgeting for a Universal Orlando Vacation – Same Cost, Different Vacations Part 2

  • YOLO! Still more expensive than living there, I guess 🙂


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