By Jon Self
Right before the July 4th holiday weekend, Universal Orlando has discontinued their full service and quick service dining plans. This came as a surprise to many in the theme park community. Pietro Maximoff’s first line of dialogue in Avengers: Age of Ultron was:” You didn’t see that coming” In fairness, Pietro and Universal Orlando, I did not see that coming. When Disney is promoting that their dining plan would be returning at some point, I did not see that coming! When the news broke on July 2nd in the morning, I was messaged by several theme park writers saying all my work on how to maximize the Universal Orlando version of the dining plan was no longer valid. Yes, I did not see that coming. In fairness, when the news broke, I was proofreading a potential article entitled: The Universal Orlando Resort Dining Plan Demystified. Well, maybe you are like me and sometimes used the dining plans at Universal Orlando. Now you are confused what to do. As of writing, I have spoken with multiple travel agents that were also caught off guard by this change.
This is what we know for sure: Both varieties of the Universal Dining Plan are no longer being sold in person or online. If you have already booked a full-service plan or have credits with a quick service plan/card, those will still be honored through the end of the year. Overall, this seems like a curious move with Walt Disney World talking about a return of some version of a dining plan.
There do seem to be some practical reasons why this plan may have been discontinued. First, Universal never could (or would) integrate dining plans into their mobile ordering system. Second, the dining plans in their current form caused food/beverage queues to move even slower than the incredibly slow pace since increasing park capacity. Third, the pricing breakdown on certain items in the plans did allow more skilled visitors to save more money than Universal Orlando probably intended.
We have logical reasons to conclude that a dining plan of some type will be returning to Universal Orlando. We know this was a large up-sell option with their vacation packages. On the other hand, what if you are planning to visit Universal Orlando in the next few months wanting to take advantage of the dining plan?
You still have a few ways to save on food/beverage at Universal. As of writing this, I see several options. First, Universal Orlando in previous years offered a combo ticket of mini-golf and a meal at one of the table service dining options in CityWalk. They also offered movie and meal deals. These were not a huge savings, but they would save you a few dollars if you were planning to go to a movie or play mini golf anyway. These plans were removed from Universal’s website many months ago. However, we hope to see them return soon in the future.
If you are looking for dining discounts, one of the best deals in Orlando area is a premier or preferred annual pass. You get at least 10% off all food/beverage in the parks and CityWalk. In the past, Universal Orlando has offered additional food/beverage discounts as high as 25% during certain seasons of the year. With passholder appreciation days coming from August 16th through September 30th, this might be a good time to explore your annual pass options.
Please note that the cost for if your purchasing multiple Coca-Cola Freestyle Cups have also increased by a dollar. $13.99 for three to six Coco-Cola Freestyle Cups, 16.99 for two Coca-Cola Freestyle Cups and 17.99 for one Coco-Cola Freestyle Cup.
We will have to wait and see what happens regarding Universal Orlando Resort dining plans. Until then, these options could save you some money and frustration. As always, enjoy the park and the adventure.
Thrills Taste Travels Blog
The Thrills, Taste & Travels Team provides news, information on attractions, restaurants, as well as provide general information about our favorite parks