When I was just a wee Floridian, my family would frequently road trip to Universal for vacations (get tickets here!). Back then, to save money we stayed at hotels near Universal Orlando on International Drive or even as far away as Kissimmee. There were very few Universal Orlando onsite hotels in the early days, and my Mom just couldn’t resist a bargain, no matter how inconvenient.
Now though, the game has changed.
So why stay one of the Universal Orlando onsite hotels? Fast forward to the present day. Universal currently has 8 onsite hotels, and there’s more coming every year.
In the modern age of theme park hotels, you get so many benefits for staying on property, and for no more than you’d spend offsite. Driving anywhere after a day at the parks is just ridiculous! Also, when you’re attending an event like Halloween Horror Nights or Rock the Universe, there’s nothing better than rolling out the park’s exit and falling into your comfy hotel bed a few minutes later. I can’t imagine ever going back to staying elsewhere in Orlando for a strictly Universal vacation.
Universal Orlando’s Onsite Hotels
Keep in mind the onsite properties offer different benefits depending on which hotel category you book:
For a little taste of la dolce vita, take advantage of Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, inspired by the Italian village of the same name. You’ll love the picturesque piazza, three different pools, and more. Check prices & availability here
Hard Rock hardly needs an introduction. The brand is known for mixing a rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic with luxury, and you can enjoy just that in their Universal Orlando location. From their California design to a pool with underwater music, and more, you’ll get to feel like a rock star when you’re not at the parks. Check prices & availability here
Inspired by the beauty of Polynesia and the South Seas, Loews Royal Pacific Resort is for those who want a little escape within their vacation. The resort features a lagoon-style pool, a white sand beach, island-themed rooms, and more. Check prices & availability here
If you’re looking for a little more luxury that’s still budget friendly, then you’ll love the charming Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. The design is inspired by island paradises with Caribbean-themed restaurants, beach areas, and more. Check prices & availability here
With the more modernly-designed Aventura, you’ll get incredible views of all three theme parks and be within walking distance of Volcano Bay. Rooms are equipped with tablets for interacting with the front desk. Sleek design and seriously ridiculous views. Check prices & availability here.
While there are amazing benefits at all the resorts, they don’t all offer the same thing, so click around and do your research before you book.
Need some advice? Here are my top 7 reasons to stay at one of the Universal Orlando onsite hotels!
1. Complimentary Transportation
Each hotel is within easy walking distance of Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk, but why waste your energy on walking to and from when you can take a complimentary scenic water taxi or bus? Transportation within the resorts and the parks is so easy, it feels like a part of the whole vacation experience rather than just a way to get from Point A to Point B.
2. Early Park Admission
All five properties offer what I think is one of the best reasons to stay onsite: Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Trust me, if you’re visiting Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade, you want to get there before the wand-waving hordes do, so those parts of the park open up one hour early for hotel guests. It doesn’t get more magical than that, whether you’re staying at Universal Orlando for 2 days or 2 weeks.
In awesome early bird news, Universal’s water theme park, Volcano Bay, is also on the Early Park Admission bandwagon. You can beat the heat and the crowds!
3. Free Universal Express Pass
Let’s be honest. The worst part about theme parks is the standing in line. Nothing kills a good time more than 90 minutes of dilly-dallying in between 90-second adrenaline spikes. That’s why I love Universal’s Express Pass. For guests staying at Portofino, Royal Pacific and Hard Rock, an Express Pass valued at $90 is included for each person on the reservation. This means everyone gets to SKIP THE REGULAR LINES in the park. WHAT?!
I warn you though. Once you’ve had an Express Pass, you’ll never go back. It’s such an epic time-saver, and it ensures you get to see and do so much more.
4. Complimentary WiFi
A huge pet peeve for me is hotels that still charge for WiFi. Why is this still happening in 2018?! For the social media-attached consultant/blogger/newshound like me, I can’t tell you how much I love that you can connect to WiFi at all the hotels for free. Also worth noting, WiFi is free in the parks.
5. Room-Key Purchasing & Complimentary Hotel Delivery
It goes without saying that if you’re bringing kids or Harry Potter fans to Universal, you’re going to depart with a lot more swag than you came with. Nobody wants to carry armloads of Minion merch and house robes around all day, fussing with lockers and whatnot at every attraction. That’s why I LOVE that you can have all your purchases delivered to your hotel, complimentary. And you can activate your room key for charges throughout the resort. Easy peasy.
6. Themed Pool Areas
If you’ve never been to Orlando in the summer (roughly January through December), you might not know how unbearably hot and humid it can get. When you stay onsite at Universal Orlando, you have access to the refreshing oases at all five properties, including lazy rivers, water slides, and cabanas. I personally like to hit the parks hard in the morning, spend hot afternoons pool hopping and then finish off the day watching the sunset over Hogwart’s then dining at CityWalk.
7. Character Wake-up Calls
I mean, obviously as a mature adult I would never schedule a wake-up call from the Grinch, Spiderman, or Optimus Prime, but just in case the kid in you delights in such things, it’s super easy to do! Just call the front desk and ask for a wake-up call, and you’ll get quite the surprise in the morning.
You in? Time to book a flight and stay onsite at Universal Orlando! And stay tuned because I have lots more Universal content & tips coming your way!
Explore more of Universal Orlando
- Get tickets for Universal Orlando here
- Our Best Tips for Visiting Universal Orlando
- VIDEO: Our Silly Day at Universal Orlando
- Airbnbs near Universal Orlando
Have you stayed at any of the Universal Orlando Resort properties? Which is your favorite? Leave me your thoughts in the comments!
Please note, this is not a sponsored post. I was not compensated in any way for this content. I just love Universal and get lots of questions asking me about the hotels, so I wanted to provide a shareable resource. Photos courtesy of Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort.