Is a Universal Orlando Vacation Actually Less Expensive Than Disney World?

We get it — you want to save as much money as possible when planning your theme park vacation!

Universal Orlando

The great news is that there are almost always discounts available on rooms, tickets, and other features. And here at AllEars, we’re constantly sharing the best deals to help you save on your next trip. But if you want to get the most bang for your buck, which should you choose: Disney World or Universal Orlando?

Today, we’re breaking down the costs of visiting the two theme park giants, each for a week-long vacation in February. We’ll make sure to keep the variables the same — similar resort category, same ticket type, travel dates, and travel party. Which one will come out cheaper? Let’s find out!

Which resort will come out on top?!

Walt Disney World

Let’s start by breaking down the cost of a Deluxe Resort stay for a week. For our examples, we’ve chosen the dates of February 12th-18th, 2024 with a family of four (two adults and two children ages six and four). Staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge in a Standard Room during those dates and buying 5-day Park Hopper tickets will cost you $7,038 total.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

But what about the budget route? Well, using the same dates, travel party, and tickets, let’s move our hotel stay over to a Value Resort. At Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, the same package will cost you $4,540.

Disney’s All-Star Music Resort

So what’s great about staying at either one of these resorts? Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to some phenomenal dining choices, not to mention a stunning savanna filled with exotic animals and a lobby with an art collection that rivals a museum. All-Star Music has pretty basic accommodations but at an affordable price with larger-than-life theming. Neither resort is particularly close to a theme park, and both have only bus transportation available around the resort.

You’ll have to take a bus no matter where you go!

Universal Orlando

For the Premier (Universal’s version of Deluxe) option at Universal Orlando, we’re going to check prices on a vacation at Loews Royal Pacific, their most expensive hotel. For the same dates with 3-park 5-day Park-to-Park tickets, the total price would come out to $5,711. At Universal Orlando, you can save $125 for having a 3-park ticket, so this price includes the discount.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

On the cheap side of things, you can book a stay at Universal’s new Endless Summer Resort — Dockside Inn & Suites. The hotel isn’t anything incredibly fancy, but you can have a weeklong stay here with the same 5-day tickets for $2,840.

©Universal Orlando

At Royal Pacific, you’ll have access to free boat transportation to and from CityWalk and the dry theme parks. And because you’re staying at a Premier resort, Universal’s Express Pass will be included for each person in your room, meaning that you’ll get to skip the line at many attractions around the parks. Endless Summer offers shuttle service to the parks but doesn’t offer Express Pass.

You can take the water taxi to the parks from Royal Pacific!

So Which Is a Better Deal? Let’s Break it Down.

Just glancing at the prices, things seem pretty black and white here. You’ll save $1,300 at Universal Orlando on the more expensive package and $1,700 on the cheaper one! If you were to take the Royal Pacific package and compare it to a package at Disney World, it would be similar in cost to a Little Mermaid Room at Art of Animation Resort. That’s going from a Premier resort at Universal all the way down to a Value at Disney!

Art of Animation Little Mermaid Bathroom ©Disney

But what about the other costs associated with a vacation? One of the biggest things you’ll factor into your budget is the cost of food. At the two theme parks, you’ll find that meal costs are very similar and you’ll be able to find things to eat for most budgets. When comparing restaurants specifically, it seems that Universal Orlando’s individual meals are on average a few dollars more expensive, but it’s not a big enough difference to make a sizable dent in the savings.

The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida

And if you’re planning on bringing your own vehicle, then you’ll need to set some money aside for parking. Theme park parking is $25 at Disney World and $30 at Universal Orlando, with both resorts offering the option to upgrade for a closer spot. At the Disney World resorts, parking is currently free for resort guests, but it’s between $15 and $28 per night at Universal Orlando.

Parking isn’t cheap at either resort!

When discussing price, it’s also important to discuss the value that you get for your money. At Walt Disney World, you’ll have access to four theme parks, as compared to Universal Orlando’s two dry parks and one water park. But each resort is tailored to fit a different kind of traveler. Disney is made to be family-friendly and features big franchises like Star Wars, Disney Princesses, and Pixar. Universal, on the other hand, is home to big thrills and Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Marvel.

Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida

But which one will actually save you more in the long run? While Universal Orlando may nickel and dime you a bit with the cost of food and parking, the amount you spend in those categories will almost certainly not add up to the total of what you save. Seriously, the two fancier options have a $1,700 price difference…that’s HUGE!

And Royal Pacific is a great place to stay!

No matter which vacation you choose, you’re sure to have an amazing time! If you’re planning a trip to the theme parks in the future, stay tuned to AllEars for the latest news, updates, and advice!

Click Here to Check Out Another “Universal Orlando Vs. Disney World!”

Which theme park resort do you prefer to visit? Tell us in the comments!

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5 Replies to “Is a Universal Orlando Vacation Actually Less Expensive Than Disney World?”

  1. With annual passes, we’re staying at Cabana Bay for 7 days for around $900. Disney isn’t even a thought anymore.

  2. Cost isn’t the only factor. I can’t do “thrill” rides. At Universal after I delete the kiddie rides, the thrill rides, and the “I hate getting wet” rides, there’s very little for me to do there. I can do lots of stuff at WDW.

  3. Royal Pacific is not the same level as the Animal Lodge – There are two higher levels, and I would put Hard Rock at the same level (Portofino Bay being the highest level, but even thats not as “Nice” as the highest level Disney resort)

  4. Just went to universal and it was much cheaper than Disney, without all the crazy difficult app stuff Disney makes you do. I love the fast pass @ Universal, was well worth the money.