We all love the magic of Disney. Everyone has to visit a few times! Once the kids are a little older and are only into the roller coasters, the handful of rides for them in each park doesn’t feel like enough to fill a full vacation.
It’s time to consider Universal!
What began as one small park you could see in one day has grown into a vacation destination all its own.
Universal Orlando Resort features eight onsite resorts operated by Loews Hotels. Just like the Disney resorts, guests at all of Universal Orlando Resort’s onsite hotels receive additional benefits. If you are planning to spend time at Disney, I recommend splitting up your stay to get the benefits of each property.
Resort guests can access early entry each morning into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Either Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade Village will allow you to enter one hour before the general public. This onsite hotel benefit will not only save you a significant amount of time waiting in line for the park’s most popular attractions but will also give you the chance to explore the incredible detail in these areas with limited crowds.
Universal Orlando’s first resort category contains the most affordable accommodations but also offers the least amount of amenities and perks. The Value resort offers guests rooms and suites with standard amenities like televisions, safes, mini-refrigerators, hairdryers, irons and complimentary WiFi.
Universal’s newest hotel complex contains two Value resorts: the Surfside Inn and Suites, which opened first in June 2019; and the Dockside Inn and Suites.
Surfside Inn has 360 standard guest rooms and 390 2-bedroom suites. Standard rooms sleep four at around 313 square feet, featuring vinyl “hardwood” floors, two queen beds, a chair, mini-fridge, coffeemaker, iron, and ironing board. The 2-bedroom suites sleep six.
These resorts are not located on the theme park property so Universal runs private shuttle buses between the resort and theme parks.
This Universal resort category features affordable accommodations with added location convenience. In addition to the standard amenities of the Value resorts, there is also the addition of a table service restaurant.
Placed next to the lushly tropical Sapphire Falls and across the street from the colorfully retro Cabana Bay, Universal’s Aventura Hotel may seem a bit lacking in comparison to its neighbors’ themes. From the sleek, spacious lobby to the streamlined guest rooms, Aventura embodies that trendy aesthetic that Universal describes as simplified style. Standard rooms start at 238 square feet.
You can take the bus or use the walking path to CityWalk (20 minutes). The bus ride is only a few minutes, but you will still have to walk through the CityWalk for several more minutes to get to the park entrance. An alternate way is to walk into Sapphire Falls, which shares an entrance driveway with Aventura, and take the boat from there.
If you like vintage 1950s and 60s designs, you may just fall in love with Cabana Bay Beach Resort, one of Universal’s Prime Value hotels. The mid-century modern aesthetic starts with the neon signage that welcomes you outside and continues inside with lots of windows, bright colors, and period-appropriate lighting and furniture. The hotel’s closest competitor in the Orlando area is Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and the two share many similarities. Both have standard rooms and Family Suites. At 430 square feet per suite, Cabana Bay suites are about 135 square feet smaller than comparable suites at Art of Animation and have only one bathroom.
Cabana Bay has the added features of a bowling alley, second pool, lazy river, and rental cabanas. You can take the bus or use the walking path to CityWalk (20 minutes.)
The Preferred resort level is Universal’s more moderately priced category featuring slightly more upscale accommodations, amenities, and location.
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort transports guests to a paradise in the heart of the tropics. Blue waterfalls cascade across lush grounds, and in the distance, the calming sounds of steel drums call guests to take in the scenic water views, ease into ‘island time’, and let go. The rooms range from 322 square feet for a standard queen or king to 529 square feet for the 36 Kids Suites. Water figures heavily at Sapphire Falls, whose namesake waterfalls form the scenic centerpiece of the resort. The 16,000-square-foot main pool boasts 3,500 square feet of sand on which to set your lounger, as well as a 100-foot water slide, children’s play areas, fire pits, a hot tub, and cabanas for rent. The fitness room holds a sauna. Table tennis (free to use) and a pool table (nominal fee per game) are available outside near the small arcade.
This South Pacific themed hotel is located along Universal’s waterway allowing for quick access to theme parks and CityWalk by complimentary boat transportation or by foot along a walking path.
Universal Orlando’s Premier resorts offer the highest level of comfort and amenities on-property. Premier resorts at Universal Orlando offer standard rooms as well as suites that sleep up to five people. Room amenities include televisions, safes, mini-refrigerators, hairdryers, irons, 24-hour room service, and complimentary WiFi. These resorts are the only on-property hotels offering upgraded Club Level rooms that come with access to a Club Concierge, added in-room amenities and a Club Lounge serving continental breakfast, snacks, and drinks during the day.
Guests of Universal’s Premier Hotels (Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel) also receive unlimited front-of-line access to most of the rides and attractions in the parks. Universal Express Unlimited passes are included in the price of your resort stay. This benefit is invaluable, especially during peak attendance times such as early summer and the holiday season. During the busiest travel times, Universal Express Unlimited passes can cost up to $150 per person so a family of 4 can save up to $600 per day!
A favorite of young families and solo travelers, the Royal Pacific Resort is the least expensive and most relaxing of Universal’s top hotels. The South Seas–inspired theme is both relaxing and structured. The Royal Pacific’s 1,000 guest rooms are spread among three Y-shaped wings attached to the resort’s main building. Standard rooms are 335 square feet and have one king or two queen beds.
Boat transportation to the parks. Express pass included.
For younger adults and families with older kids, the Hard Rock Hotel is the hippest place to lay your head. Opened in 2001, it is the closest resort to Universal’s theme parks. The exterior has a California Mission theme, with white stucco walls, arched entryways, and rust-colored roof tiles. Inside, the lobby is a tribute to rock-and-roll style, all marble, chrome, and stage lighting. The eight floors hold 650 rooms, including 29 suites, with the rooms categorized into standard, deluxe, and Rock Royalty club-level tiers. Standard rooms are 375 square feet.
Boat transportation to the parks. Express pass included.
If you want the ultimate European-style, spare-no-expense, on-site experience, look no further than the Portofino Bay Hotel. Universal’s top-of- the-line hotel evokes the Italian seaside city of Portofino, complete with a man-made Portofino Bay past the lobby. Relax in surroundings inspired by the beauty, romance and charm of the picturesque seaside village of Portofino, Italy. Wonderfully appointed rooms and suites welcome families home each day. Tempting outdoor cafes and shops dot the piazza around a serene harbor. Three enticing pools offer every level of relaxation. Incredible restaurants tempt every palate with flavorful culinary tours of Italy. Most guest rooms are 450 square feet and have either one king bed or two queen beds.
Boat transportation to the parks. Express Pass included
At Showcase the World travel we specialize in vacations the whole family will love! Let us handle all the details of your Universal Orlando vacation so you can reconnect and enjoy your vacation for a change.
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