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Universal globe from CityWalk

Vacations to central Florida amusement parks can be a once in a lifetime getaway. This popular vacationing area isn't cheap to visit, especially for families interested in staying in on-site hotels at one of the theme parks. One of the most popular places for vacation planners is the Universal Orlando Resort. Though admission tickets may always be pricy, there are plenty of ways to cut down on costs and ensure you're bringing your vacation in on budget at Universal Orlando.

1. Stay Offsite

Holiday Inn, Undercover Tourist
Image: Holiday Inn & Suites (Photo Undercover Tourist)

First and foremost, consider staying offsite. Though staying in one of the on site hotels is a wonderful and enchanting experience, those hotel rooms aren't cheap. Many offsite hotels offer a much cheaper rate and are just a few minutes' drive from the resort. Additionally, some of these hotels have complimentary breakfast for those with an appetite first thing in the morning. Grabbing a quick bite before heading to the park will cut down on your food bills for the day.

2. Take a bag to the parks with you!

Pack a bag to take with you in the park. Granted, you can't take huge backpacks into the park with you, but carrying a reasonably sized pack with you can be incredibly beneficial. Pack items such as a water bottle, sunglasses, snacks, and any other essentials you'll need to brave a full day in central Florida. Packing some crackers and easy to eat snacks are another great way to cut down on food expenses, especially if you bring a water bottle you can refill at water fountains throughout the park, It's important to stay hydrated!

3. Select meals carefully

Hogwarts Castle at Universal Orlando

Choose meals that offer more bang for your buck. Food is definitely one of the biggest expenses you'll need to contend with during your stay at a theme park. Thankfully, some options are available to help reduce the overall amount of money you're spending on a big family meal. One of the best examples of this is the Great Feast at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade on the Islands of Adventure side. This meal can feed four or more family members and is relatively cheap compared to purchasing individual meals.

4. Stock up on essentials before you go

Buy the essentials off-site. It's no secret theme parks charge more for items than nearby convenience and grocery stores. Forget your sunglasses at home? Consider picking up a pair at a nearby store rather than one of the many kiosks inside the parks.

5. Go steady on souvenirs

Go easy on the souvenirs. It's easy to get a little carried away while immersed in the atmosphere of the parks, but souvenirs can really rack up your vacationing expenses. There's nothing wrong with bringing home a special memento or two, but make sure you're sticking to a budget and not getting too carried away in the moment.

Universal Studios entryway

Most importantly, establish a daily budget and adhere to it to the best of your abilities!

Hopefully these tips for a cheaper trip help you and your family enjoy a vacation without worrying about going overboard. These steps are easy enough to implement in your daily routine at the parks without taking too much away from your experience as a whole. If you have your own budgeting tricks, try combining them with some of the ideas listed here. Pinching pennies never feels fun, but if you're working with a strict budget, the more pennies you pinch, the sooner you can begin planning your next trip!

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