Free Parking and Discounted Parking at Universal Orlando
There are a few ways to get free parking at Universal, all of which are restricted in one way or another; these perks mainly benefit passholders who can drop in for just a few hours without feeling like they “wasted” the cost of an all-day theme park ticket.
- Parking in Universal’s main complex is free after midnight on Halloween Horror Nights. This admittedly isn’t much of a freebie, as you will have missed most of that night’s event if you wait until midnight to arrive.
- Parking in Universal’s main complex is free after 6pm on all other nights. Universal makes parking free after 6pm so people can come and enjoy the bars and restaurants in CityWalk at night without having to pay a big fee for parking. Depending on the time of year, the theme parks might — or might not — still be open.
- Parking in Universal’s main complex is free when you buy two matinee movie tickets (11am-6pm showtimes) at Universal Cinemark. You will still have to pay for regular parking as normal when you enter, but you’ll be reimbursed when you show your receipt.
- There are some Passholder parking discounts and freebies, which vary by tier of pass purchased (see below).
- Some car rental customers get free upgrades to prime parking (see below).
Passholder Parking Benefits at Universal
Most Seasonal / Annual Pass tiers offer parking discounts or freebies while visiting Universal Orlando:
- Power Passholders get 50% off regular parking
- Preferred Annual Passholders get free regular parking, discounted prime parking, and 50% off valet parking
- Premier Annual Passholders get free regular, free prime, and free valet parking
These discounts/freebies only apply to the main parking structures at Universal (not the hotels) and are typically blocked out during special event nights such as Halloween Horror Nights or Mardi Gras concerts. You’ll still have to pay full price for parking during your first visit; discounts and freebies kick in on the second.
Car Rental & Parking Discounts
Renting a car can make sense if you are planning on driving a lot during your visit and thankfully Universal has partnerships with rental companies that come with some benefits both at the rental counter and the resort.
- Those staying at a Universal hotel can receive up to 25% off an Avis or Budget car rental at Orlando International Airport
- Those who rent a car from Avis or Budget at Orlando International Airport receive a free Prime parking upgrade once regular parking fees are paid.
Other Ways To Save
If you are looking to save money on parking there are a few things I’d recommend. First of all, rethink how you’re getting to Universal from the airport. I’d consider the option of using rideshare apps instead of renting a car. If you’re flying into Orlando, the price of renting a car everyday and paying for parking will be far higher than using rideshare apps to get to and from the airport plus a few small trips. Although, if you are looking to make some longer trips outside of Universal or if you just really want to have the freedom of renting a car while you are visiting, there are some great options available. Remember that all of Universal’s on-site hotels offer either shuttles or water taxis to the park (and many are even in easy walking distance). Even if you’re staying off-site, you might be able to take advantage of a free hotel shuttle to Universal.
Is There Accessible Parking at Universal?
Like most things at Universal, yes, the parking is accessible in the resort. There is a designated section within the main parking complex for individuals who need accessible parking, so when you arrive just let the attendant know that you require an accessible spot and they will let you know how to proceed!
Refrain from reaching 88MPH at the parking plaza, or you’re going to see some serious… citations.
Is There a Drop-Off Area at Universal Studios?
If you grab a ride-share to Universal or if a friend is driving you, there is a designated drop-off zone where you can get out and make your way to the parks without having to pay a fee. Once you arrive at the resort, drop off sections will be clearly labeled and easy to find. If you go to the main parking complex, you and your ride will wait in line with the rest of the cars, go through security, and finally make your way to the dedicated drop off zone in the parking garage.
Alternatively, there is a taxi and bus drop off zone next to the transportation hub, where you can be dropped off and then go through security before you enter into the parks.
The process is generally pretty quick, and the pick up/drop off zones function almost like they would at an airport (plus a little added security).
Parking at Epic Universe: TBD
Epic Universe is Universal Orlando’s upcoming theme park and is expected to open sometime in the summer of 2025. The theme park is located a short drive away from the existing resort complex, so some type of special parking arrangement will likely be required.
The opening date and official plans for the upcoming park are still unconfirmed by Universal, but in the future you will likely need to plan your parking carefully considering the extra distance between Epic Universe and the existing resort complex.
The opening date is still some time away and could even be delayed if any issues arise, so I wouldn’t worry about delaying your trip to wait for Epic Universe – just save it for a later visit!
Parking at Universal Orlando is generally straightforward and easy to navigate. If you’re staying at a hotel, I recommend parking there, and if not, I recommend parking in the main complex by Universal CityWalk. Upgrading to Prime parking or Valet parking are great options if you choose to use them, and if not, regular parking is what my family and I use every time we go (and it works perfectly well).
Compared to parking at Disney World or parking in a city for a day, Universal is pretty affordable, especially if you select the regular parking option. If you have any parking questions or concerns during your visit, the staff and parking attendants at Universal are really helpful! That’s all we have for now on parking at Universal Orlando Resort – see you next time!