While there are plenty of hotels around the Universal Orlando area, there are only a handful on property… with Universal’s collection of awesome resorts, most within walking distance of the two theme parks and Volcano Bay water park, and to CityWalk, it’s easy to get around. And with the four categories, there is a Orlando Hotel for every budget and style.
Click on each available link to read about each resort: (page still under construction, so please be patient as these resort pages are built)
—Endless Summer Surfside Inns & Suites (Value Hotel)
–Endless Summer Dockside Inns & Suites (opening later 2020) (Value Hotel)
–Aventura Hotel (Prime Value)
–Cabana Bay Beach Resort (Prime Value)
–Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (Preferred Hotel)
–Loews Royal Pacific Resort (Premier Hotel)
–Hard Rock Hotel (Premier Hotel)
–Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (Premier Hotel)
You may be wondering what all four categories mean, and what the differences are… Prime Value and Value are much alike, and while Premier and Preferred have perks that Prime Value and Value do not have.
Before we get to that, let’s talk about all the things you’ll get by staying in ANY of the eight resort hotels:
- Early admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Transportation to all three parks and to CityWalk (though it’s an easy walk from any of the hotels, except for Endless Summer)
- Resort-wide charging privileges and delivery of purchased merchandise
- Free basic WiFi, with premium WiFi available for a fee
- Heated, themed pools with lifeguards on duty
- Game rooms
- Complimentary fitness centers
- Laundry services
- Non-Smoking rooms that contain flat screen TVs, hairdryers, a safe, iron and ironing board, and coffee maker
- Random character appearances
- Access to Mandara Spa at Portofino Bay
Each resort also offers supervised children’s activities, including arts & crafts, story times, movies and more. There are supervised children’s areas open Sunday through Thursday, 5p to 1130p, and Friday and Saturday, 5p to midnight (times always subject to change). Availability at these children’s areas may be at various resorts on a rotating basis, so please check for details. Kids must be between age 4 ot 14, must be potty-trained, and the fee is $15 per child (plus meal costs) for these programs. Please note that THIS IS NOT a one-on-one baby sitting service, but there are third party services available.
For VALUE and PRIME VALUE resorts, which include Endless Summer, Aventura, and Cabana Bay, one of the main points is it’s budget conscious costs. Both Endless Summer and Cabana Bay also feature family suites that sleep up to 6 at a very affordable price, especially with the kitchenettes and multi-bathroom areas. Aventura does not have a family suite category, as its billed as a more traditional hotel at a more affordable price.
The main difference in Endless Summer and Cabana Bay and Aventura is location on property. Both the latter two, Prime Values, are accessible by walkway to the theme parks and to CityWalk — being on the west side of property, you still may want to take a shuttle, though both are super close to Volcano Bay.
However, Endless Summer is located on a part of land that used to be Wet n Wild Water Park, and is located across a highway. The shuttle service is necessary here.
Finally, none of the three are located on the water, meaning you cannot take a water taxi to either of the parks or CityWalk.
For the PREMIER and PREFERRED Hotels, which include Sapphire Falls, Royal Pacific, Hard Rock, and Portofino Bay, you’ll find them a distinct level above the Prime and Value resorts. First, all four in these categories are AAA Four-Diamond resort properties, with detailed amenities like large pool areas, fine dining, and business centers.
All each of the Premier and Preferred, you’ll find:
- Water Taxi transportation to each of the parks and CityWalk
- Individual Suites
- Pets are allowed
- Valet parking
- Concierge desk
- Business Center
- 24 hour room service.
The biggest point to remember are the two differences that set Hard Rock, Portofino, and Royal Pacific ahead of Sapphire Falls, and really every other resort — first, Premier Resorts get priority seating at Universal Orlando’s various restaurants, and second — and this is huge — you get free Unlimited Express Pass for each hotel guest.
Unlimited Express Pass is essentially a “front of the line pass” — at nearly all Universal Orlando park attractions, there is an express pass line that anyone wearing the badge will enter, bypass the standing queue, and nearly walk-on all qualifying attractions. These passes are limited per day, similar to Disney’s Fastpass service, but your pass is good for all attractions, not just one at a time. You can add this feature to any resort stay, but it can run upwards of $80 to 100 per person to do so depending on the time of year, so having this complimentary is a massive benefit.
FYI… details about the Water Taxi… each hotel has a dedicated Water Taxi that continually runs from that hotel to the parks and back. They do not stop at other resorts. Each of Sapphire Falls, Hard Rock, Portofino Bay, and Royal Pacific offers the water taxi service that starts 30 minutes before the parks open and will continually run until 230a. They can only be used by general park guests, except for peak seasons and late at night, when it’s restricted to on-site guests. In these cases, the boat captain may ask to see room key cards. Water taxis (and all other transportation) are ADA accessible.