Getting a discount to Universal Orlando is a good bit harder than it used to be, but it is still possible to save a few bucks. Here’s how.
AAA. Members of the American Automobile Association receive a modest discount for all members of their party, up to six people, at the gate on the two-day Universal Orlando pass only. The policies on AAA discounts change frequently, so double-check by calling one of the toll-free numbers given earlier. AAA members can also buy their tickets through a local AAA club office, in which case the discount will no doubt be better and will vary from club to club. Once inside the parks, your AAA card is good for a 10% discount at the shops and restaurants.
Fan Club. Members of the Universal Fan Club get an array of discounts. Membership is free but the catch is you must enroll through your employer, which must participate in the program. The Fan Club program is available to companies with more than 100 employees (more than 50 for Florida firms). For information on how to get your company enrolled, ask your Human Resources manager to call (866) 886-5027, extension 1. For more information, log on to www.universalfanclub.com.
Medical Discounts. Disabled guests receive a 15% discount. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from enjoying Universal's more intense or active rides — even if you do not consider yourself "disabled" — go to the "Guest Services" window near the ticket booths to inquire about a disability discount. This is a good strategy for grandparents who know they'll be sitting out the Hulk, Dragon Challenge, and some of the other more aggressive rides. You will not be asked to prove you have a disability or other medical condition.
Ticket Brokers. Another major source of discounts is ticket brokers. There are dozens of them scattered around the tourist areas, many of them located in hotel lobbies. Ticket brokers concentrate on the major attractions and the dinner shows that are an Orlando staple. Discounts for the major theme parks aren't as good as they used to be. At most you will be able to shave a few bucks off the price of the popular Universal Orlando passes. At worst, you will pay full price in exchange for the convenience of not waiting in a long ticket line at the parks. One place worth checking out is the Official Visitors Center at 8723 International Drive, operated by Visit Orlando (formerly the Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau). It is about a mile south of Universal Orlando. There you will find plenty of discount tickets and the free Orlando Magicard, which offers a broad array of discounts at hotels, restaurants, and attractions.
On the Internet. Ticket brokers are cropping up on the Internet. One of them, Ticketmania, offers Universal Orlando passes for a few dollars off the gate price, depending on the pass. They currently offer free pick-up at their Kissimmee store, $6.95 home delivery, or delivery to an Orlando-area hotel for $13. The Ticketmania web site is www.ticketmania.com.
Timeshare Come-ons. Some ticket brokers advertise Universal tickets for an eye-popping $20 or even for free. The catch is, you must agree to sit through a presentation on timeshare properties. There's "no obligation," of course, but you can expect to be subjected to a concentrated hard sell. Another thing to consider before going for these super-cheap tickets is that the tickets Universal sells to the timeshare tour folks are heavily restricted; for example, they do not allow park-to-park access.
Travel agents. Bona-fide travel agents (there is a strict screening process) receive complimentary one-day admission to the parks. For more information on how to apply, visit www.universaltravelagents.com.
Vacation Packages. If you purchase a vacation package from your travel agent, one that includes airfare, hotel, and a rental car, as well as passes to Universal Orlando, you are probably getting a very good buy on the tickets. If you are making Universal Orlando the primary focus of your trip, these package deals offer excellent value and make a lot of sense.
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