Are you thinking of planning a trip to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure? Are you trying to decide if staying on property is worth it? Having stayed both on property, and off property while visiting the Universal Orlando Resort, I can compare the differences. Here are 7 reasons to stay on property.
My family and I recently attended a retreat in Florida called Family Forward. Family Forward is organized by Mom It Forward and Universal Orlando Resort. It’s a great opportunity for social influencers and their families to experience everything that Universal Orlando Resort has to offer. Universal Orlando Resort not only includes Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, but also Universal City Walk, and Blue Man Group Orlando. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be breaking down our experience into a series of posts. I am beginning with 7 reasons to stay on property.
We received a vacation package at a reduced rate, which included a hotel stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Now that our suitcases have been unpacked, I can now sit down and list why staying on property is the preferred way to go.
There are five hotels affiliated with Universal Orlando Resort: Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, and Hard Rock Hotel. My family and I had the opportunity to tour some of the other hotels. All five resorts appeal to different demographics and budgets, which means that there is something for everyone.
Reason #1: Convenience
All the hotels are not only located in close proximity to each other, but also close to the theme parks and Universal City Walk. This is especially important when you are traveling with young children. If there is one thing I dislike about going to theme parks, it’s the time spent going there and returning to the hotel. Plus, gifts purchased inside the theme park will be delivered to your hotel for you.
Reason #2: Transportation Included
There are several water taxis available at no extra charge at the hotels to transport guests to and from the theme parks. The water taxis run continuously, and our wait was never long. We didn’t have to fold up our stroller every time we got on the water taxi, either. This is huge. I hate folding and unfolding our stroller. My family and I have stayed at several hotels that have transportation available to theme parks, but it’s at an additional cost. The fact that transportation is included in the hotel stay is an added bonus.
Reason #3: Amenities
If you stay at one property, you are able to use the amenities at the other properties. We visited the Cabana Bay Beach Resort one afternoon, and my son loved it. There is a lazy river at the hotel, as well as a sandy area near the pool, and a bowling alley located on the 2nd floor of the hotel.
My husband and I took a tour of the newest resort later that afternoon, Sapphire Falls Resort. It’s Caribbean themed, and has an awesome looking slide.
Reason #4: Universal City Walk
Water taxis aren’t the only mode of transportation. Guests can also walk to the theme parks and Universal City Walk using a marked pathway. It’s very similar to the River Walk in San Antonio. Universal City Walk is comprised of different stores, as well as restaurants. We ate breakfast at Antojitos, a Mexican restaurant, and dinner at an Italian restaurant called Vivo Italian Kitchen. I’m still salivating over our meal at Vivo.
The latest restaurant to open at Universal City Walk is Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. We went there after we checked into our hotel, and enjoyed milkshakes and sundaes. So delicious!
The Blue Man Group is also at Universal City Walk. I’ll be writing about our experience soon but essentially, there’s no reason why you would need to leave the area, or why you need a car.
Reason #5: Express Passes
A hotel stay at Loews Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay, and Hard Rock Hotel includes express passes. What are express passes? They are tickets that enable guests to avoid waiting in general lines for rides. For example, the general wait for the Simpsons Ride was over an hour long. With the express pass, we waited mere minutes. The express pass is totally worth it, especially for our family. Since we have a young child, we try to avoid waiting in long lines as much as we can. For those that are not hotel guests, an unlimited park hopper express pass starts off at $84.99/person!
Not all hotels on property include express passes, so this is definitely something to consider when deciding on a hotel. For example, a stay at Cabana Bay and Sapphire Falls do not include express passes. Also, guests still need to purchase general admission tickets to the park.
Also, while most of the rides accept express passes, there are a few rides that do not accept express passes, such as Escape at Gringotts and the Forbidden Journey. But, that just leads to another reason to stay on property (see Reason #7 below).
Reason #6: The View
My family and I paid for an upgrade at Loews Royal Pacific Resort for a view of Islands of Adventure. It’s not every day you can look out your hotel window and see the Hulk in front of you!
Reason #7: Early Entry into Theme Parks
This is one of the major reasons to stay on property. Guests of the hotels can enter the park 1 hour before it opens to the general public. Not all areas of the park are open for early entry. Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the areas that is open. This is very beneficial since this area of the park is very crowded throughout the day. Some of the rides in Wizarding World of Harry Potter also aren’t included in express passes. This is another reason why it’s beneficial to stay on property.