Looking for a great destination for a family trip or even a fun couples getaway? You can’t do much better than Universal Orlando Resort—there’s something for everyone! Great hotels, thrilling rides, and delicious food all in one place? Sign me up. This has definitely become a favorite spot for my family, so here are some tips for making the most of your Universal vacation.
Stay at a Universal Property
There is no shortage of hotels in the Orlando area, but if you plan on visiting Universal Orlando Resort, definitely plan to stay at a Universal property. Not only will you be impressed by the quality of the accommodations and care you receive from the attentive staff, but you’ll also love the perks!
During my most recent visit, we stayed at the new Universal’s Aventura Hotel and it was affordable, stylish and incredibly convenient. We were able to take a free shuttle to the parks, get into Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter an hour before it opened (more on that in a bit)!
In July 2019, Universal will be opening the Endless Summer Resort and it looks fantastic. With two-bedroom suites that sleep six, this is an incredibly affordable option for families (especially large ones like ours!).
Guests can stay at these wonderful Universal Orlando Resort properties:
- Universal’s Aventura Hotel (Prime Resort)
- Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort (Prime Resort)
- Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (Preferred Resort)
- Loews Royal Pacific Resort (Premier Resort)
- Hard Rock Hotel (Premier Resort)
- Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (Premier Resort)
- Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites (Value Resort)
- Dockside Inn and Suites (May 2020)
As I mentioned, there are some real advantages to staying at a Universal property, especially if you plan on visiting any of the parks. All rooms come with:
- Early admission (one hour before parks open) to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida and Volcano Bay
- Complimentary shuttle buses to Universal parks and CityWalk
- Resort-wide charging privileges with Room Key
- Free delivery of purchases from shops to your hotel
Staying at a Preferred or Premier resort gives you access to the water taxi shuttle to the theme parks and CityWalk. It’s very relaxing after a long day on your feet!
One huge bonus to staying at a Premiere property is that you’ll get Universal Express Unlimited for FREE. This is a value of $129.99 per person with valid tickets to parks. You’ll be able to skip the regular lines at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure so that you get more out of your day.
Go to Volcano Bay
In case you haven’t heard, the already awesome Universal Orlando Resort added a water park in 2017. I’ve never been a fan of hopping into a public pool, but I absolutely loved Universal’s Volcano Bay. It’s a literal five-minute walk from the Aventura Hotel so, if splashing around is high on your priority list, you might want to stay there.
The park is as clean as it is massive and it’s also incredibly efficient. When you enter the gates, you’re given a TapuTapu device (it’s like a waterproof watch) so that you can scan it to enter a virtual queue for rides rather than wasting time standing in line. We used it for the Krakatau aqua coaster and then spent time doing other fun things until the device told us it was time to hop on the coaster. Honestly, it was great!
Feel the Magic at Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Whether you’re a die-hard Harry Potter fan or just a curious park-goer, you will be absolutely amazed by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. At Universal Orlando Resort, you’ll find Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and the jaw-dropping replica of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.
Of course, you’ll also want to enjoy some butterbeer and the delicious food (we ate at the Three Broomsticks and it was amazing). Remember, staying at one of the Universal properties gets you into Diagon Alley an hour early, which allowed us to beat the crowd for rides like Escape from Gringotts. One morning, we were able to get on this popular attraction all alone, so it’s definitely worth waking up early (and staying at a Universal hotel)!
Eat, Shop and Be Merry at Universal CityWalk
There’s so much to do at Universal CityWalk. Whether you arrive by shuttle bus or the water taxi, you’ll land right in the middle of the action (conveniently nestled between Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida). You can see a movie, grab a snack, pick up souvenirs or even have an indulgent sit-down meal.
Two people could easily share a meal at Red Oven Pizza for less than $15 and be satisfied which is great if you’re on a budget. We sat down at both Antojitos and the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen and left with full, happy bellies.
Check Out Halloween Horror Nights
Visiting in the fall? Halloween Horror Nights typically run from early September through the end of October (be sure to check the dates because they may change) and, if you’re in the area, this is definitely worth the extra ticket. We were fortunate enough to take a private R.I.P. tour and I can’t wait to go back.
Universal has been making movies since 1912, so they know a little something about special effects. The haunted houses, scare zones and actors will make you believe you’ve become the start of a horror movie. It’s so impressive.
Plan Your Visit
It’s easy to plan your entire visit to Universal Orlando Resort from one convenient place. From the official site, you’ll be able to book your flight and accommodations as well as purchase park passes, dining plans and more.
Best of all, they’ve partnered with Uplift so you can spread out the cost over 12 easy, monthly payments rather than having to pay everything upfront. We used this service and had a really great experience.
Ready to plan your trip to Universal Orlando Resort? You won’t be disappointed!