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Why You Should Stay at a Universal Resort Hotel

There is no denying that with every passing year Universal Orlando is becoming a more popular holiday destination. What was once a “one day” visit during a Walt Disney World trip, is now with the two theme parks (with a third well on the way), there is Volcano Bay, their amazing water park. A hustling shopping, entertainment and dining area in City Walk. And eight resort hotels. And the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was just the start of it.


Now along with the two theme parks (with a third well on the way), there is Volcano Bay, their amazing water park. A hustling shopping, entertainment and dining area in City Walk. And eight resort hotels.

Young girl on a moped at Portofino Bay at Universal Orlando Resort

I had no idea until 2022 that Universal had so many resort hotels, each with it’s own theming and come with special perks for staying onsite. 2022 also saw our first stay at a Universal Resort, and I personally feel like it’s going to become a staple for us.

Universal Orlando Resort sign

But why should you stay at a Universal Resort hotel? Here are my top five reasons;


1. Early Park Admission


Florida is hot. There is no escaping that fact. For the majority of the year anyway. It’s also a known fact if you want to make the most of a theme park in Florida, you either go first thing in the morning, or you go later in the afternoon and enjoy the evening. Or you do both with a break in between (more on that below). Which is why Early Park Admission (or EPA) is a great perk of staying onsite at Universal. Universal’s early park admission gets you into not only Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure up to an hour early, but also their water park, Volcano Bay up to 30 minutes early. For the theme parks this includes The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And for Volcano Bay this could mean the very best sun loungers by the main pool! EPA is available to all Universal Resort guests.


Universal Orlando Resort Express Unlimited Pass

2. Free Universal Express Unlimited


For me, this is the ultimate perk of staying at a Universal Resort. Unfortunately, it’s only at select resorts; Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. And yes, they are the top end of the price scale. BUT when you weigh up the cost of buying Universal Express Unlimited, it can be upward of $800 for a family of four if you holiday during a peak time. And that’s before tax! By booking a Universal Resort room that includes the free Universal Express Unlimited, you get the pass, and all the other perks that come with staying at a Universal Resort as well as your place to stay. Making it a much more efficient use of money.


The best part? You will receive the pass for the days you are there. So a one night stay is two days worth of Express!

Universal Orlando Resort arch entrance

And for those wondering what Universal Express is.. it’s Universal’s line skip pass. You don’t need a specific time to return to the ride. It gives you the wait with Express and without, if you have Express you can join the Express line which is more often than not, the shorter of the two. This means you can get more done in the day. If you only have a couple of days at Universal, it’s well worth it.


Both of the above perks still require Universal Orlando admission.

Portofino Bay Resort Waterway to the Parks

3. Free Transport To and From the Parks and City Walk


A lot of people come to Orlando and do not hire a car. Myself included. This means they rely on the transport available to them, and it can get pricey. But one of the great perks of staying at a Universal Resort is the free transport to and from the parks and City Walk. This is in the form of shuttle buses or water taxi. We absolutely loved using the water taxi when we stayed at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. We never had to wait longer than 10 minutes for one and it was such a relaxing way to return to the hotel in the evening.


Some of the resorts are also walking distance, we did it in the pouring rain after a full park day and it really wasn’t that far. If anyone has visited Disneyland Paris, they’ll know how beneficial it is to have a bed within walking distance after a theme park day because sometimes the waiting for busy public transport is just too much for tired babes. And this leads into my next point...

Portofino Bay at Universal Orlando Resort

4. Location Location

As I mentioned above, we walked from Islands of Adventure to Portofino Bay one evening with no problem. Hard Rock Hotel is even closer. That for me with a child is a huge selling point. Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls, Universal’s Aventura Hotel and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort are also all located on Universal Orlando property. With Universal’s Endless Summer Surfside Inn & Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites just on the opposite side of I4. They mainly rely on shuttle buses to take you to and from the parks. Cabana Bay and Aventura Hotel are the closest resorts to Volcano Bay and even boast their own entrance to the water park.

Hard Rock Cafe and Toothsome Chocolate Emporium Universal Orlando Resort

But not only are the resort hotels all close to Universal Orlando and each other, they’re right in the middle of Orlando itself. A lot of people like to stay on property at Universal Orlando so they have easy access to International Drive. As well as other big attractions in the area. Universal is close to Florida Mall and the outlets if shopping is your thing, and it opens you up to other restaurants you may want to try if it’s your first time to the States.

Portofino Bay Pool Area at Universal Orlando Resort

5. A Universal Resort Really Enhances Your Holiday

Each Universal Resort really has it’s own experience to offer. And each experience really enhances your holiday. You could stay at Cabana Bay and open your curtains to a view of Volcano Bay. You could stay at Hard Rock Hotel for that ultimate rock star experience. Or book at room at Portofino Bay and feel like you were staying on the Italian Riviera complete with balcony entertainment in the evenings. They all have fantastic pools for kids of all ages. Great restaurants to dine at, food really to fit all budgets and tastes. A Universal Orlando Resort really is part of your holiday, not just somewhere to sleep at night.

I could go on with reasons. For example that you can charge your merch shopping to your room. You can also have it sent there so you don’t need to carry it around all day. Or that Portofino Bay has a Starbucks on son-siteite for your morning coffee (and it was probably the quietest one I’d ever been into). And that all the resorts have an assortment of room sizes, views and price ranges to suit everyone. But you’ll just have to go experience it for yourself!


Remember, you don’t have to stay at Universal for your whole Florida holiday, but it’s worth staying at it for part of it.


Contact Fairytale Holidays today to discuss how a split stay could benefit you!


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