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Topic: Universal hotels - any recommendations?

  1. #1

    Default Universal hotels - any recommendations?

    Having just come back from Orlando,we're wondering whether we can squeeze in a week at the end of August! We're thinking about staying onsite at Universal and missing Disney as it's such a short trip. For the first time ever, we're seriously considering not bothering with a hire car but wanted to know how accessible the restaurants of international drive are without a car?
    We've never stayed onsite and never attempted Orlando during the summer so would be grateful for any advice/recommendations!

  2. #2
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    How exciting to be adding another trip! An onsite stay at Universal would be fantastic, and it isn't overly difficult to get to I-Drive without a car. You WILL have to walk (15-20 minutes from the transportation center at Universal; longer, obviously, depending on which resort you stay at) to get the Lynx bus or I-Ride Trolley, but once you're on the bus or trolley it's relatively easy to get to any part of I-Drive. Others who have done it will surely be along soon with better advice.

    August in Orlando is not only blazing hot, it's also ridiculously humid. But if you know that, and you're prepared, you can tailor your expectations to the weather. You'll probably have less stamina, probably won't do quite as much, and probably won't have as much appetite in the heat and humidity, and it's definitely a month worth investing in Express Plus for both parks, if you can. It's not only a savings time-wise, but also in your energy level, your comfort, and (probably!) your attitude!











    Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you Im not messing around, use the gifts you were given.

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    If you're staying at any of Portofino Bay, Hard Rock or Royal Pacific, you automatically get Universal Express, which is a big time-saver. Otherwise, you might want to consider maybe staying somewhere nearby on I-Drive, somewhere like the Four Points by Sheraton Studio City, which is not too far in walking terms, is right on the I-Ride Trolley route and has its own shuttle service to the nearest parks.

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    If you're staying at any of Portofino Bay, Hard Rock or Royal Pacific, you automatically get Universal Express
    Of course you do. Sorry! My brain took the day off.











    Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you Im not messing around, use the gifts you were given.

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    It's worth pointing out that Cabana Bay doesn't include the UE perk (just early entry to the parks). Many people assume this is the case with all Universal hotels but overlook the fact Cabana Bay is a 'budget' choice, hence doesn't have the 'extras' that the other 3 have.

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    We love Royal Pacific. I can't comment on getting to International Drive from there because we've always spent our evenings at Citywalk which is a pleasant 10 minute courtesy boat ride away. The longest that we have stayed on site at universal is 4 nights but I have a feeling that even if we were there for a week we might not go further than Citywalk ... There are certainly a weeks worth of restaurants that we are happy to eat at ... Huw loves the atmosphere and the food at margaritaville ... He'd probably be happy to eat there every night
    Having visited in August my advice would be to plan to do half of what you'd normally plan to get done ... Could be just us but the heat and humidity wears us out .. We'd normally take advantage of early entry and be back in the resort pool by early afternoon .... The pool at Royal Pacific is lovely

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    There are some great deals around right now for the new Sapphire Falls hotel at Universal which is opening June, including a $150 dining credit.

    I'd agree with Elaine that you wouldn't need to go any further than City Walk for restaurants for a week, yes they might be a little more than I Drive but not more than you'll save by not having a car.

    We spent 3 nights at the Hard Rock Hotel in 2014 and they were the best days of our holiday, so much so we are going back for 4 nights this September.

    If you are bored then you can take a look at the first few days of the 2014 trip report (Gone Broke Tour trip report) that will give you some ideas on how good staying on site at Universal is and also how hot and humid it really is at the end of August.
    Last edited by spencem; 22-02-2016 at 06:42 PM.
    5 Trips to Florida, Christmas in LA, Disneyland Paris twice and odd days here and there.

    All my trip reports are now HERE.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Veness View Post
    It's worth pointing out that Cabana Bay doesn't include the UE perk (just early entry to the parks). Many people assume this is the case with all Universal hotels but overlook the fact Cabana Bay is a 'budget' choice, hence doesn't have the 'extras' that the other 3 have.
    And neither will Saphire Falls

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    Which is definitely a surprise, as it is about $100/night more expensive than the Cabana Bay resort (but still about $100/night cheaper than the next-door Royal Pacific).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Veness View Post
    Which is definitely a surprise, as it is about $100/night more expensive than the Cabana Bay resort (but still about $100/night cheaper than the next-door Royal Pacific).
    Yes I thought so too. I emailed them to check and they confirmed and indeed if you look on their site and the section that describes the different hotels it has SF in same catogory as RP but clearly below them and with no tick beside UE.

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