Why I Spent $325 on Today’s Daily Getaway Deal

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Today I spent $325 on a Daily Getaways package that I have previously never remotely considered purchasing for my family, despite it being on the list of offers year after year. While the deal is now sold out, so this story won’t help anyone in this exact scenario right away, I think the purchase is a perfect example of how as family travel goals and priorities shift, you should always be prepared to act on deals you had previously ignored.

 

I’ve written about the Loews hotel travel packages available via the annual Daily Getaways sale for years. Five years ago I even described them as a “sleeper deal that actually has some real value depending on how you plan to redeem.” However, it wasn’t until today that I woke up to the real savings these packages represented for my own family and our upcoming travel plans.

This year is the summer we have committed to taking our kiddos to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, but it is wizardingly expensive. I mean, even more so than Disney. If you read my previous posts on planning this trip you have probably already seen me express shock over this price tag once or twice. I thought the best I was going to be able to do was earn a whole ton of points on the small fortune that Universal would cost our family, but today I found a way to actually keep costs down.

Get Universal Express Passes by staying at select hotels

One way to control costs and increase the enjoyment of a trip to Universal Orlando is by having included Express Passes for your family via staying at one of three hotels – Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, or the Hard Rock Hotel. These Express Passes allow you to skip the regular lines on lots of rides, including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, ET, Hogwarts Express, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, among many others. With two little kids and a somewhat impatient husband in the July Orlando heat, these Express Passes are an absolute must for our group.

However, the Express Passes normally cost $89 per person, so that would be quite the expense for our family in addition to the cost of the regular admission tickets, a hotel stay, etc. Getting the passes included by staying at one of the three participating hotels mentioned above can be a much more cost-effective way to secure the Express Passes than purchasing them outright, assuming the hotel stay isn’t astronomically expensive.

Saving hundreds on a stay at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort

A one-night stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort for our dates is north of $400 for a standard room, and frankly, a one-night stay isn’t ideal since we really need the room all day on our big day in the parks as our toddler will need a nap at some point. We really need two nights, and that price is coming in at more than $900! The $325 Daily Getaway I purchased today can be used for not one, but two nights at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort for hundreds less than the going paid rates. This purchase will cover two nights at this hotel, give the toddler a place to nap in the afternoon, and we will all have Express Passes which otherwise would cost hundreds of dollars if purchased without an eligible hotel stay!

 

I was very excited when exactly at 1PM Eastern today I clicked on the Daily Getaways package and it was successfully added to my cart. There were only 20 available, so I wasn’t sure this plan would really work until it did.

I guess technically I’m still not sure it will work without a hitch as there are unpublished blackout dates with this package, so fingers crossed our dates aren’t on that list. Paying $325 for a two-night travel package is a far cry from traveling for free, but free really isn’t always our goal these days. These days, our goals often center around maximizing the money we do spend, and spending $325 to secure two days at a nice resort right next to Universal with included Express Passes is money well spent for where we are in our phase of travel. That’s a certainly a  much better deal than paying more than $900 for a two-night stay!

Have you ever done something similar to save at Universal Orlando or been surprised by a travel deal you ignored in the past is the perfect match for your family now?

 

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Comments

  1. That is a great deal! We were at Universal in February and had a great time. Pricey for sure.

    I used the 40k sign up to stay at the Hyatt nearby for 5 nights. We didn’t need express passes because February.

    Wizarding World is so fun!

    We also popped over to Disney resorts for dinners.

  2. I found that as long as the standard rooms were open on Loews website it was fine to book. You have to email someone with a scan copy of your certificate with 3 date choices and then they get back to you within 48 hours.

    So worth it….

  3. Very curious to find out if your dates are available. That was the problem I ran into last year when I had this deal. Please keep us posted.

  4. Congrats! I tried with 2 browsers for 10 minutes, then gave up. I was on right when they went on sale too. Oh, well. I love the Royal Pacific, and yes, the Express passes are absolutely worth every penny. We’ve been to the Wizarding World a few times, and it’s really amazing, no matter what age you are. Even better if you’re a Harry Potter fan. Your girls will love it!

    • So bummed you didn’t grab one. I wish the inventory was higher. My husband and I were both trying and I think we just got lucky this time. I think my girls will freak to be there in person!

  5. Added benefit…The 2 nights are worth 3 days of express passes because they give it to you on the day of check-in as well.

  6. Per the T&C: “Certificate is redeemable for two (2) consecutive nights in a Standard room at participating resorts (single or double occupancy). Accommodations of a Vibrant Standard Room differ by property and specific room type will vary based upon availability at the time of booking; not all room types are available as part of this offer. Room images shown may not be reflective of the actual room you will receive. Double occupancy.”

    Are you planning to ask if they can have 4 in a room? Every year we go for the 2 for $275 option and luck out every couple of years (with another this year… yay!). We asked about adding our son in the past and they were willing to change the reservation to 3 but that assumed we extended our stay a couple of days at the standard rate.

    Really curious to hear how things work out for you and the family, as we would love to follow a similar strategy in future years at Universal.

    Our prior experiences with Loews have been absolutely amazing!

  7. We went last year, checking early at 8 am because the room is available. Got 2 days express pass for the 5 of us, over a night stay on 2 Queen beds that I paid with AA miles. A very nice hotel indeed.

  8. These hotels can change extra for more more than 2 guests. This was based on my multiple stays in club rooms so not sure about standard rooms. You cannot “sneak” them in since they link the express pass to each registered guest which has their name on it.

  9. Noting the T&C specified double occupancy, I called Loews Royal Pacific prior to yesterday’s deal and was told you could have up to the maximum allowable in the room per hotel policy at no extra charge, which in this case would be 2 adults/3 kids for a standard room.

  10. I’m surprised you’re finding it more expensive than disney. We went last October and I thought Universal was a steal compared to disney!

    • Nancy, for us the tickets are more expensive than Disney and then you either need to tack on the $89 each for Express Pass or stay at pricey onsite hotels. You also have to factor in transportation as there is no Magical Express Bus to/from MCO. All together that makes it more than Disney for us.

  11. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for this deal next year. We’re doing Disneyland this summer but I know my oldest (and me!) would love to see the Wizarding World.

    My wife and I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel once years ago to get the Express Passes for Universal. We stayed one night and got Express Passes for 2 days, which is a great deal.

  12. We have stayed at all of the Universal deluxe hotels multiple times (standard and club level rooms) – with 2 queens you can have up to 5 people (2 adults/3 kids) no extra charge. Most of the time I just book with 2 adults since I was usually booking through travel portals and just tell them how many at check in and get our 5 express passes! I wish I had gotten in on this great deal – have fun!!

    • One thing – with 5 there is a $25 rollaway charge nightly ONLY if you ask for the rollaway. On one week long trip we just bought a cheap air mattress at Walmart since we had rented a car and used that for one of the kids :).

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