My friends stayed at the cheap hotel on the property and thought the prices were very reasonable. Find a Frommers book at your local bookstore and you can find a ton of good updated information on the park.
I didn't really care for Universal Studios in CA that much, but then it was about 15 years ago.
I think if you're not into the tours, and don't do the extra tours you have to pay more for, that Florida is probably more entertaining. Hollywood doesn't have nearly as much to do in terms of rides as Orlando.
I was thinking about this thread. I live in the Orlando area and grew up in Sanford. Here is a BIG potentially money saving tip:
Try to fly into Orlando Sanford International Airport if you are flying. They fly from small-to-medium size airports and can really save you money. You are likely going to be renting a car anyway, and it is straight down the toll road to Disney and won't take you really any more time than driving from Orlando International. Here is a list of destinations: http://www.orlandosanfordairport.com/destinations.asp
I;m a travel agent,,,,,there are MANY MANY hotels near Disney that are just as good, if not better, than Disney properties,,,,don't get me wrong, I love Disney properties,,,,but when on a budget, there ARE other choices,,,
one of my FAVORITES is the Floridays Resort,,,,,,GORGEOUS and you can have a suite with a full kitchen for less than you pay for a disney property. If you make breakfast at the hotel and do even 3 dinners at the hotel, an average family of four can save over 250.00 in a week. Not to mention what you save on drinks and sodas,,,,,,,freeze water bottles and take them to the parks with you,,,,,,2.50 is what Disney charges for a bottle of WATER.
Bottled water is outrageous at Disney. But you can get a cup of ice water for free at most food places in the parks. We take a plastic refillable bottle full of ice in the morning, since ice is free at most hotels. Then we get refills of ice at the parks when we run out.
have you ever tasted the tap water at Disney World?? I live 30 minutes from there,,,,,,,,trust me, Buy some.
The water in the fountains is gross. And warm most of the time. But the ice from the soda fountains always tasted fine to me. I suspect like most ice machines theirs has a filter to prevent mineral buildup. I never get water in it, I just let the ice melt.