While booking Walt Disney World from the UK is an absolute breeze, Universal Orlando takes a bit more consideration. There are some factors that are easily overlooked in the excitement of booking this brilliant holiday. Below I want to outline a few things to think about before you dive into the world of Universal.
No special ticket offers
Universal offers ‘Get the 3rd day free’ and similar to its US and Canadians visitors – but for the rest of us, full price tickets all the way. If there is an offer out, it’s for the hotels. The more nights you stay, the less you pay for example. Special offers like these only become interesting though if you plan to spend at least three nights at Universal.
Pick a website
When deciding to book Universal, you can book via universalorlando.com or universalorlando.co.uk . There are benefits to either choice, which I will outline below. For your hotel stay, however, you will have to stick with com.
Look at the exchange rate
This ties in with the website choice because the exchange rate can play a big role in this. It can work out cheaper booking your tickets via the American site as you will get a better price out of it. So, get out the exchange converters and do some maths. (Side note: The rates were so good that we booked via the US for our last two trips)
Think about transaction fees
If you are booking via the .co.uk site, this will not affect you. Should .com be your choice, remember that the money will be taken from your card/out of your account from an American company. This means transaction fees! Depending on your bank this can be a hefty amount leaving you speechless. Figure out this amount when you are doing your maths and calculate it in. It might just tip the scales.
Look into credit cards
There are also credit cards that allow for free transactions from abroad. These often have an annual fee – but when booking a US holiday, the money you save on transaction fees alone can often make up for that. If you are a frequent traveller anywhere outside the UK, this is definitely something you should look into. They often come with added bonuses as well, check with your bank.
No way around with hotels
As already mentioned, you can only book the hotels directly with Universal via their US site. The main advantage of this is, besides mentioned above, the package option. Same as for a WDW holiday, you can book your hotel and tickets all in one go.
I would highly recommend booking these hotels directly with Universal, as this guarantees all the benefits associated to a hotel stay (Early Entry to Harry Potter anyone?). They will take a deposit equal to one night at your chosen hotel at the time of booking, so again think about those additional fees that can come from these transactions.
Will you be doing a ‘Split Stay’
Most of us visitors from the UK like to do a ‘Split Stay’. Think about the best way for you personally to do this – WDW first, UOR first, or a few days in the middle? All of these are viable options, it just depends on your needs and preferences. Will you be driving? How are you getting from and to the airport? How will you be travelling between WDW and UOR? (Side note: you don’t need a car to make a split stay work)
Don’t forget about special events
As for any theme park trip, look into the special events. These will affect you, whether you plan on going to them or not. They affect the opening hours and the crowds. This is especially important if you only have a few days – and are possibly planning a split stay on top of this! Mainly though, they can add that cherry on top of your unforgettable holiday.
Overall, these are all just little tricks to make planning your trip to USF even easier, cheaper and better. In the end, the most important tip is that you do what suits your needs best.
Have a fantastic time at Universal Orlando!