TouringPlans previously covered how a Universal Orlando Annual Pass (UOAP) could save hundreds of dollars on hotel accommodations, but how much does upgrading one family member to a UOAP save a family during a whole trip? Is it worth it to incur a higher admission cost to save money with lodging, food, drinks, and souvenirs? In this article, I will compare vacations where normal tickets are purchased to ones where one person upgrades to a UOAP.
Our case study will be of a family of four: father Homer, mother Marge, son Bart, and daughter Lisa (let us pretend Maggie is staying with Patty & Selma). They will be visiting Universal Orlando for five days, four nights, with three days in the parks. Our animated family will be spending their nuclear plant provided cash on:
- Four nights on Standard Room with two queen beds.
- 3-Day, 2-Park Admission
- 4 Counter Service Meals
- Adults: Average priced burger meal with a non-alcoholic drink
- Children: Average priced children’s chicken tender meal with a drink
- 3 Full-Service Meals
- One appetizer for the table
- Adults: One entree and one alcoholic drink
- Children: One entree and one non-alcoholic drink
- 20% tip
- Adults: T-shirt and a home item
- Children: Wand, t-shirt, and candy
We will not factor in travel costs such as flights, driving, or parking. Also, they will not be visiting Volcano Bay. Express Pass will only be purchased as a comparison against staying off-site versus on-site at a hotel that offers Complementary Express Pass. All hotel prices are based on a stay September 13 – 17.
All prices and discounts below are accurate as of September 10, 2021, and include tax. Please check Universal Orlando’s website for the latest pricing.
Standard Vacation Cost
Let us start by looking at a Standard Cabana Bay Room:
Okay, let’s upgrade the hotel and go with Sapphire Falls:
Here is the cost for a room at Royal Pacific, the lowest cost resort that includes the Complimentary Unlimited Express Pass:
Finally, let us look at the cost of staying at the closest 4-star offsite resort, the Crowne Plaza Orlando, and buying an Unlimited Express Pass only on the days needed.
Total: $5,030.08 ($2,559.48 without Express Pass).
UOAP Discounts Vacation Cost
For this vacation, we upgraded Homer’s ticket to a Preferred Annual Pass which costs $479.24 with tax. That pass includes the following discounts:
- Up to 25% off hotel rooms
- 15% off admission bought at the front gate (front gate tickets cost $20 more per ticket)
- 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
- 10% off merchandise
We will factor those discounts in the calculations below and display the UOAP savings on the right.
Let us see how much we save staying at Cabana Bay:
As you can see we are spending roughly $160 more on admission (the increase in UOAP is slightly offset by the discounts on theme park admission it grants) yet saved $190 on the hotel and around $100 on meals and souvenirs.
Finally, I will compare a stay at the Royal Pacific, which includes Complementary Unlimited Express Pass, to staying offsite at the Crowne Point and buying Unlimited Express Pass:
Read our Complementary Unlimited Express Pass and UOAP Hotel Discounts article for more information on calculating the savings of staying on-site versus buying Express Pass.
Upgrading one party member’s ticket to a UOAP can save at least $120 on your vacation, and if you stay at a Premier hotel, $400 or more. While it might be tempting to stay off-site to save some money you will forego the benefits of staying on-site at Universal, like early entry to the parks, fast transportation to the parks, package delivery to your hotel, and more! Plus the UOAP will be valid for one year, so your savings will increase even more if you return within a year.
Do you have any other money-saving tips for a Universal Orlando vacation? Leave them in the comments below!