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If you’re planning a family trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, you’re probably already bracing yourself for the high costs of tickets, food, and souvenirs. But fear not; with some planning and resourcefulness, you can enjoy all the fun without breaking the bank. And with the arrival of a new “land” in the park, you’ll want all of the Super Nintendo World tips you can get.
Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood has gamers and nostalgia-seekers buzzing because it’s currently the only Nintendo-themed land Stateside. (Super Nintendo World already exists at Universal Studios Japan). So yeah, there’s a lot of excitement around it.
Buckle up, grab a snack (homemade, of course), and get ready to learn how to make the most out of your theme park adventure with our Super Nintendo World tips and cost-cutting ideas. And download The Krazy Coupon Lady app for all kinds of great deals sent to your phone.
When possible, visit at off-peak times to save money at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Here’s the thing: Universal operates on a surge pricing plan. This means that when the park is expected to be at its most crowded (think spring break, summer, weekends), ticket prices will reflect that. Also with the new land (and armed with our Super Nintendo World tips), there’s likely to be an uptick in visitors. But here’s how to get the best ticket deals:
Generally, the best deals on Universal Studios Hollywood tickets are available during the off-peak season, which is from January to March and September to December, excluding holidays and weekends.
If you plan to visit the park multiple times a year, an annual pass may be better instead of individual tickets. They offer different types of annual passes, and the price ranges from $179 to $579 depending on the level of access and perks you want. You’ll save $10 on passes if you buy online as opposed to the front gate.
The park often offers discounts on their website or through third-party vendors, such as Groupon or Costco. These discounts can vary, but they typically range from $10 to $40 off per ticket.
If you plan to visit the park for multiple days, purchasing a multiday ticket can also save you some cash. The cost of a 2-day ticket is around $149. Keep in mind you have to use the second day within seven days of your first visit.
Related: How to Save at Great Wolf Lodge
If it’s the main reason you’re visiting, a Super Nintendo World Early Access Ticket add-on may be worth it.
Super Nintendo World is the bright, shiny new thing at Universal Studios Hollywood, which means that everyone in the park is gonna want in on it. Keep in mind, this section of the park only has one ride, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge. Lines for it are likely to be long, even on less crowded days. Currently Universal is offering a Super Nintendo World Early Access Ticket, which starts at $20 and acts as an add-on to your theme park admission. This means you’ll have to pay for a full park ticket first, then have the option to to put the early access ticket on top of it.
The early access ticket gives you time in Super Nintendo World an hour before Universal Studios opens to everyone else. And there are limited early access tickets available. This means you should have an easier time getting on the Mario Kart ride and enjoying the Nintendo area. However, if this doesn’t interest you or you don’t mind waiting in a lengthy line in order to save money, skip it.
You don’t actually have to buy a Super Nintendo World Power-Up Band for every member of your family.
So here’s the thing, there’s a lot talk about the very cool looking Power-Up Bands you can use in Super Nintendo World to complete challenges throughout the land. However, each band will cost you 40 American dollars. That’s a lot if you have a family in tow. Heck, it’s a lot for a single individual.
Here’s the scoop, and it’s one of our best Super Nintendo World tips: the Power-Up band is needed to play the games and collect coins, but if not everyone in your brood is a gamer, you can get one band to share among the family.
The band helps you play games across Super Nintendo World.
There are four key challenges, and you only need to complete three of them to compete in the Bowser Jr. Shadow Showdown (which is like the piece de resistance in terms of activations). You can still participate in the fun even if you don’t have a Power-Up Band; they’ll let you watch the action. However, if you want to gamify the experience, then you’ll need that band and those keys (buh-bye, $40).
It also works in other Universal Studios parks and with a Nintendo Switch.
The Power-Up Band you purchase at Universal Studios Hollywood can also be used at Universal Studios Japan. You’ll be able to use it at Universal Studios Florida when their Super Nintendo World opens (that’s scheduled for 2025).
Plus, you can connect that bad boy to your Nintendo Switch for certain enhancements when playing Mario Kart. Whichever character you chose for your Power-Up Band will translate to the game. The characters you can choose from include Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Yoshi, and Daisy.
If your kids are competitive, you may need to bite the bullet and buy separate bands.
Sibling rivalry is, unfortunately, a real thing. All of the Super Nintendo World tips on the planet won’t change that. If your kids are all gamers or even just highly competitive, chances are they’re going to want to make the accumulated coins their own. Or maybe they won’t be able to agree on which character Power-Up Band to choose. Ultimately, it could mean buying separate bands for everyone. It isn’t ideal but may mean the difference between a pleasant day at the park or an unpleasant one.
Remember what we said about Power-Up Bands? That also applies to Harry Potter wands.
Whether you’re a Harry Potter fanatic or not, the spell-casting opportunities in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter area are pretty fun. Yes, you will need to purchase one of Universal’s handcrafted (ha, just kidding — mass-produced) wands in order to get in on the spell action. However, like with the Power-Up Bands, you really only need one per family.
These wands are sold for $60 each, so it’s really an investment. While you can bring them back to Universal to use with each visit (my kids protect their HP wands with their lives), one really will suffice for a group.
Tips for saving money on food at Universal Studios Hollywood
Let’s face it, no matter how you slice it, theme park food is expensive. But you’re totally allowed to bring your own food and nonalcoholic drinks into Universal Studios Hollywood. Keep these tips in mind when you’re considering food and beverages while at the park.
Bring your own snacks and water.
As we just mentioned, you’re allowed to bring snacks and bottled water into the park. This can save you a lot of money on expensive food and drinks. Save that money for a super special treat, like a Butter Beer in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You can get the coveted drink in either frozen or regular liquid form. Both styles will cost you $7.99. However, if you want your drink in a souvenir cup, the whole shebang will run you $13.49.
Eat a big breakfast before you go.
A hearty breakfast can go a long way in keeping your mind off of food while you enjoy your morning at Universal. This means you’ll be less inclined to buy snacks here and there and can hold off until lunchtime (or later).
Families should consider The Great Feast at Three Broomsticks.
In full transparency, there’s no such thing as a cheap meal at Universal Studios Hollywood. That said, if you’re a family of four with a big appetite, head over to Three Broomsticks in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Not only is it considered the best dining option in the park, they also offer The Great Feast, which feeds four.
Now this assortment will run you a grand total of $69.99 (which breaks down to $17.50 per person), so it isn’t at all inexpensive. However it does include a combo of the restaurant’s herb roast chicken and spare ribs, corn on the cob, fresh veggies, and roast potatoes.
Share meals or try grab-and-go options.
The portion sizes at Universal Studios Hollywood are often quite large, so consider sharing meals with friends or family to save money and reduce food waste. You’ll also come across sundries shops around the park, like Palace Deli & Market, that offer grab-and-go sandwiches, which are a bit cheaper than the made-to-order options elsewhere.
Hit up CityWalk.
You can come and go as you please on the same day of your park admission. With that said, hit up CityWalk, which is adjacent to the park. They have fast casual dining options, including LA’s iconic Pink’s Hot Dog Stand. For familiar haunts, you’ll also find:
- Firehouse Subs
- Jamba Juice
- KFC/Pizza Hut Express
- Panda Express
- Taco Bell
- The Habit Burger Grill
- Wetzel’s Pretzels
You can score free parking if you’re a Gold or Platinum annual pass holder.
If you’re visiting from out of town, the likelihood that you’ll spring for a Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass is small. That means if you’re driving (and most of Los Angeles is), you’ll need to pay to park. Not gonna sugarcoat it, parking fees are pricey.
- General Parking Before 5 p.m. – $30
- General Parking After 5 p.m. – $10
- Preferred Parking Before 5 p.m. – $50
- Preferred Parking After 5 p.m. – $20
- Front Gate Parking – $60
The only way we’ve found to get free parking at Universal Studios Hollywood is to be a Platinum or Gold annual pass holder. Or to purchase the VIP Experience (which has limited availability and starts at a jaw-dropping $369 a person).
Avoid the carnival games at all costs (literally).
They are nearly impossible to keep out of your child’s range of vision, but Universal is teeming with Midway-style games. These are super enticing to kids of all ages (and grown-ups, though hopefully they have more restraint). While they look like fun, the games will pretty much cost you an arm and a leg. Sometimes they offer “deals” on the games, but you’ll still be spending your kid’s college tuition as they attempt to win a small stuffed animal.
To avoid any miscommunication, it might be best to tell your family ahead of time that games are a no-go on this visit. Instead of wasted money on games that are nearly impossible to win, give them a set budget for a souvenir of their choosing instead.