How to Save Money at Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland Tickets: Insider Tips for Theme Park Savings

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As a huge fan of theme parks, I know how expensive it can be to visit Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for ways to save money on my visits. Learn How to Save Money at Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland Tickets with this ultimate guide to insider tips for theme park savings.

If you’re planning a Disney vacation or a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood, there are some great money-saving tips and tricks to help you save big on your next family vacation. In my experience, there are several strategies you can employ to keep your wallet happy while still enjoying these magical destinations.

Note: Some links may be affiliate links. That means I may make a commission if you use my links to purchase, at no extra added cost to you! I only recommend products that I personally love and believe in. Full disclosure here.

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Planning Your Trip to Save Money

Off-Season Travel

To save money on both Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland tickets, the time of the year matters. I recommend traveling during the off-season for some of the best deals. Prices tend to be lower, and the parks are less crowded.

This usually falls during the months when kids are in school, like mid-January to March, and mid-September to early November. As a plus, I enjoy visiting California and Florida during these periods, as temperatures are milder, making it an even better vacation experience.

Try to also avoid visiting on major holidays and spring break, as tickets can be more expensive and the parks are packed.

Multi-Day Tickets

One of the best ways to save money on tickets is to buy multi-day passes. At both Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland in Los Angeles, multi-day tickets can offer significant discounts. For example:

  • Disneyland: A 2-day ticket costs around $235, while a 5-day ticket is about $340. That’s a savings of $19 per day.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood: A two-day ticket costs around $149, compared to a single-day ticket for $119. That’s a saving of $89 over two separate single-day Universal tickets.

Keep in mind that these prices may vary, but investing in multi-day tickets will give you more time to explore the parks and save you some cash.

Vacation Budget

When planning my trip, I always set a vacation budget. This helps me to prioritize expenses, find cheaper alternatives, and track my spending. Here’s how I usually break down my budget:

  • Transportation: flights, rental cars, shuttles, or public transit
  • Accommodations: hotels, vacation rentals, or friends/family who may host you
  • Park Tickets: multi-day tickets or combined park tickets can save you money compared to 1-day tickets
  • Food: groceries, dining out options, and any potential in-park meals
  • Souvenirs and Extras: shopping, additional experiences, or upgrades

By sticking to a budget, I can enjoy my time at Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland without the stress of overspending.


Another way I save money on my trips is by creating a well-planned itinerary. This allows me to make the most of my time at the parks and avoid unnecessary costs. Here are my quick tips for a successful itinerary:

  1. List must-see attractions: These are usually the busiest, so I try to visit them early in the day or during off-peak hours.
  2. Include meal breaks: Planning my own breaks ensures I don’t overspend on food and can avoid peak dining times in the parks.
  3. Prioritize park hopping: If my tickets include access to multiple parks, I schedule my visits strategically to make the most of my time. A park hopper option can be a great way to save.
  4. Schedule downtime: It’s important to balance park activities with relaxation, especially if I’m traveling with family or friends.

In conclusion, visiting Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland can be more budget-friendly by following these tips: travel during the off-season, invest in multi-day tickets, set a vacation budget, and plan a detailed itinerary for the best price.

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Discounts and Deals on Park Tickets

Annual Passes

I recommend considering annual passes if you plan to visit Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland multiple times throughout the year. Annual passes can save you money compared to purchasing individual tickets for each visit.

Keep in mind that some passes have blockout dates, so review the available options to choose the best pass for your needs. Southern California residents can also save more on annual passes (which are essentially a season pass, so they make sense if you live close by).

Discounted Ticket Sources

Looking for discount Disneyland tickets or Universal Studios tickets? A great way to save is to purchase them through online sources that offer discounts. My personal favorites are Undercover Tourist and Orlando Informer. They often provide deals on park tickets, reducing the cost substantially compared to buying directly from the parks.

WebsitePark Tickets
Undercover TouristUniversal Studios / Disneyland
Orlando InformerUniversal Orlando Resort

Special Pricing and Offers

Occasionally, both Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland offer special pricing and offers on park tickets. These may include:

  • Multi-day tickets at discounted rates
  • Discounts for military personnel, students, or AAA members
  • Seasonal promotions, such as special pricing during off-peak times

Be sure to check the parks’ official websites for any current offers. Also, sign up for their newsletters to receive the latest information about discounts and promotions.

By taking advantage of annual passes, discounted ticket sources, and special pricing, you can save money on your Universal Studios Hollywood and discount Disneyland tickets. Don’t forget to check for early park admission options which can maximize your time in the parks and further enhance your experience.

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Saving Money on Accommodations

Hotel Packages

One great way to save money while planning trips to Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland is by taking advantage of hotel packages. I have found that booking packages that include both hotel accommodations and park tickets can result in substantial savings (especially when not during peak season).

Personally, I recommend checking out official partner hotels like the Hilton and Accor group, as they often offer exclusive deals on theme park tickets when you stay at their properties.

You can also contact hotels directly and inquire about any available discounts or promotions on a hotel room. Furthermore, it’s worth exploring websites such as Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz, as they occasionally provide one-size-fits-all vacation packages (including free parking or a free shuttle to the parks), saving you time and money.

Off-Site Accommodation Options

While staying at an official partner hotel might seem appealing due to its proximity to the theme parks, looking into off-site accommodation options can save you more money. You don’t have to stay at a Disneyland hotel! There are many good neighbor hotels near the parks.

I have found that renting a car or using ride-hailing services allows me to explore cheaper lodging choices outside of the immediate park area.

For example, I once booked an Airbnb that was a short drive away from the parks and saved a considerable amount compared to an on-site hotel. Here are some more ideas for saving on accommodations:

  • Rental Homes: Booking a vacation rental, such as those available on VRBO or Airbnb, can often provide more space for less money. This is especially beneficial when traveling with a larger group.
  • Budget Hotels: Look for more budget-friendly hotel chains like Best Western or Holiday Inn Express. These hotels may not be as luxurious as their higher-priced counterparts, but they provide a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.
  • Car Rentals: You can save by reserving rental cars through companies like Enterprise or Hertz. Sign up for their loyalty programs and keep an eye out for discounts or promotional rates.

By considering these alternative lodging options and using these strategies, I’ve been able to save significantly on accommodation costs, leaving more money to spend on the enjoyable attractions while on the West Coast.

Cost-Effective Transportation

Shuttle Services

I found that one way to save money on transportation is by using shuttle services. Many hotels near Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland offer free or discounted shuttle services to and from the parks. It’s a good idea to check with your hotel or any nearby hotels if they offer such services. You can also check for shuttle discounts on AAA membership if you’re a member.

Rideshare Options

Another way I save on transportation is by using rideshare options like Uber and Lyft. Often, these services offer first-time user discounts or promo codes which can make the ride to the parks cheaper. If you have a travel credit card with points or rewards, you can redeem them for rideshare credits, further reducing your transportation costs. Remember to share the ride with friends or family heading to the same destination as it can lower the overall cost.

Rideshare CompaniesWays to Save
Uber1. First-time user discounts
2. Promo codes
3. Redeem travel credit card rewards
Lyft1. First-time user discounts
2. Promo codes
3. Redeem travel credit card rewards

Parking Fee Savings

When it comes to saving on parking, one trick I use is to research different parking options near the parks. While general parking rates can be high, there are often nearby lots or garages that charge less, or even offer discounted parking if you show your theme park tickets.

Upgrading your ticket to a multi-day pass or annual membership can sometimes include free or discounted parking, so don’t hesitate to explore all the available options.

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Budget-Friendly Dining

Bring Your Own Snacks

To save money during my visits to Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland, I always bring my own snacks. This helps me avoid the temptation of spending too much on expensive treats at the parks.

It’s important to check each park’s specific rules regarding bringing food, but generally, small items like granola bars, fruit, baby food and chips are allowed. You can also bring an empty water bottle to refill. Bringing my own snacks keeps me full throughout the day and allows me to allocate more of my budget for other experiences.

Meal Plans and Deals

I’ve found that purchasing meal plans or looking into available deals can significantly cut down on dining costs. Many parks, including Universal Studios Hollywood, offer meal deal options that provide substantial savings compared to buying meals individually.

For Disneyland, keep an eye out for deals from reputable ticket resellers, which sometimes include dining packages or discounted food vouchers. When planning my trips, I always do a little research to find out what deals or plans are currently available.

Affordable Restaurant Options

Although theme parks are known for their pricey dining options for quick-service restaurants, I’ve found a few affordable restaurants that offer tasty meals for a reasonable price. At Universal Studios Hollywood, Three Broomsticks is a popular option that serves hearty British fare at a moderate price point. Another affordable restaurant I often go to is Panda Express, located in the park as well. It serves filling Asian dishes that can easily be shared among my group.

When visiting Disneyland, I like to explore the many quick-service options available in the parks. These spots offer affordable meals and snacks, often at a lower cost than traditional table-service restaurants. By choosing more budget-friendly dining options, I can enjoy my theme park visits without breaking the bank.

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Maximizing Park Experiences

When I visit theme parks like Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland, I always look for ways to save money and make the most of my experience. In this section, I’ll share my tips on how to prioritize attractions and rides, as well as utilize express passes and perks.

Prioritizing Attractions and Rides

The key to maximizing my park experience is planning ahead and deciding which attractions and rides are must-sees for me. I start by making a list of the top attractions and rides I want to experience and then group them by the area of the park they’re in. This helps me create a route for the day, which allows me to minimize the time spent walking between attractions.

I also check the park’s website or app for ride wait times, show schedules, and any special events that may be happening on the day of my visit. By doing so, I can plan my day around these events to ensure I don’t miss out on anything important.

Utilizing Express Passes and Perks

To make the most of my time in the park and skip the long lines at popular attractions, I sometimes invest in an express pass. Universal Studios Hollywood offers the Universal Express Pass, while Disneyland has a similar option called the Disney MaxPass.

Universal Express Pass options include:

  • Universal Express: This pass allows me to enjoy one-time express access to each ride, attraction, and seated show. The prices for this pass vary depending on the day of the week, time of the year, and if I purchase it online or at the park.
  • Unlimited Express Pass: With this pass, I can enjoy unlimited express access to rides, attractions, and seated shows. The prices for this pass also vary depending on the same factors as the Universal Express.

Both of these passes include park admission, so they can be a great value if I’m looking to save money on my overall theme park experience.

Another option for an ultimate experience at Universal Studios Hollywood is the VIP Experience. This premium package includes exclusive perks such as guided tours, reserved seating at shows, and all-day access to the VIP lounge. While the VIP Experience may be more expensive than other options, it can provide a truly memorable and hassle-free day at the park.

At Disneyland you can choose to get park hopper tickets or a Magic Key pass, allowing you to visit more than one theme park per day with a reservation to both parks.

By carefully prioritizing attractions and rides, and considering express passes and perks, I’m able to maximize my theme park experiences and create unforgettable memories at Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland.

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Saving on Souvenirs and Extras

Budget-Friendly Souvenir Shopping

When I visit Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland, I love bringing home souvenirs to remember the trip. However, souvenirs can be expensive, especially in Harry Potter-themed areas like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. To save on these keepsakes, I’ve found ways to shop more affordably:

  • Browse off-property stores. There are many shops near the park selling merchandise at lower prices.
  • Check out clearance sections. Stores inside the parks have clearance racks with discounted items.
  • Stick to smaller, unique items. Instead of buying expensive wands and robes, I opt for smaller items like pins, keychains, or ornaments that have the same charm at a fraction of the cost.
  • Create a souvenir budget. Before visiting, I set a budget for souvenirs and only allow myself to spend that much.

Rewards and Loyalty Programs

Another way I save on souvenirs and extras is by joining rewards and loyalty programs. These programs can provide discounts, special offers, and even free items. Here are a few I use:

  • Universal Studios Hollywood App. I installed the app, and it offers exclusive deals and discounts on shopping and dining.
  • Disneyland Mobile App. Similar to Universal Studios’ app, Disneyland’s mobile app has notifications about shopping deals and discounts.
  • Disney Visa Card. While I only recommend this for frequent Disney visitors, this credit card offers rewards, discounts, and exclusive experiences at Disneyland.
  • Sign up for email newsletters. Both Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland have email newsletters that occasionally include special offers and discounts.

Overall, being a savvy shopper and using available rewards programs and credit card points will help you save on souvenirs and extras during your visit to Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland. Keep a lookout for deals, stay within your budget, and enjoy your memorable keepsakes without breaking the bank.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find discounted Universal Studios Hollywood tickets?

I’ve found that the best way to find discounted tickets is through websites like Undercover Tourist, Costco Travel, and Additionally, keep an eye on Universal Studios Hollywood’s official website for special offers and promotions throughout the year.

What are the best times to visit Disneyland for lower prices?

From my experience, the best times to visit Disneyland for lower prices are during off-peak seasons. Typically, this means weekdays, particularly during the school year. January, February, and September are usually less crowded and can offer lower ticket prices as well as shorter wait times.

Are there any special deals for Universal Studios Hollywood tickets with AAA or Costco?

Yes! AAA members can often find discounted tickets for Universal Studios Hollywood, and Costco also offers special deals on their Travel website. Be sure to check the respective websites frequently as these discounts and promotions may change over time.

What are some tips for saving money on food and souvenirs at both theme parks?

When visiting both Disneyland and Universal Studios, I try to save money on food by bringing my own snacks and water bottles. Many restaurants at the parks can be quite expensive, so opting for smaller meals and sharing with friends or family can help stretch your budget. Regarding souvenirs, it may be worthwhile to purchase merchandise outside the parks, like at Downtown Disney or Universal CityWalk, as they can have similar items at lower prices.

Do any hotels offer discounted ticket packages for Disneyland and Universal Studios?

Yes, many hotels in the area offer discounted ticket packages for Disneyland and Universal Studios. Examples include the Disneyland Resort hotels, partner hotels, and nearby hotels in Anaheim and Los Angeles. Be sure to compare deals by checking prices on their websites or contacting the hotels directly to ask about any special offers available.

Can I save money by purchasing multi-day or park-hopper tickets?

Definitely! Multi-day tickets can save you money compared to buying single-day tickets, especially if you’re planning to visit both Disneyland and Universal Studios. Park-hopper tickets, which allow you to visit multiple parks in a single day, can also be a cost-effective option if you’re interested in experiencing both Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland during your trip.

Final Thoughts on Trip Planning

When it comes to visiting Universal Studios Hollywood or planning a Disneyland vacation on a budget, I hope this article was helpful for you. Remember: always plan your trips in advance for the best deal. This not only allows you to keep an eye out for deals but also ensures you have time to search for discounted tickets.

Believe it or not, there are legitimate sources out there offering discounts for both Universal Studios Hollywood and a Disneyland vacation. Just remember to be cautious and verify the authenticity of the seller before making any purchases.

Another essential tip is to pack food and snacks for your park day. While theme park food can be delicious, it’s also notoriously expensive. By bringing your own meals, you can save a significant amount of money and still enjoy all the rides and attractions that make these parks worth visiting.

I hope you have the best time!

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