Top tips for planning your Universal Orlando holiday
Always choose a Resort Hotel
By Becky Fantham
After two lockdown birthdays, including an incredibly miserable mid-breakup, locked down 50th, we decided that this birthday we’d go all out and celebrate with a trip to Orlando. I wanted to show Jamie everything (he’s never been to Orlando, or indeed the States) so we booked a full fortnight, with a few days at Universal, a few at Walt Disney World, and then a few days to chill in our own Sonder apartment too (more of this very soon). We’ve inspired Sam and his girlfriend to book a trip out to Orlando, and I found myself blathering on with an awful lot of (hopefully helpful) advice: hotel tips, trip timing, park tips and more… so I thought I’d get it all down in some semblance of order so if you’re in need, you can also take advantage of my top tips for planning your Universal Orlando holiday.
Always choose a resort hotel…
Take it from me, there are SO many reasons why you should always stay in a Universal Orlando Resort Hotel, the biggest one, obviously being that the resort hotels are utterly gorgeous. It’s not just that, though, the perks are worth their weight in gold, especially early park admission and the fabulous resort shuttle buses. We didn’t bother to hire a car. We stayed at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites, and it was just a $35 Uber to get there from the airport. The rest of the time, the shuttles arrived at our hotel every five minutes, and even when it was busy, one would be just pulling off and another would arrive. They’ll take you everywhere you want to go, from CityWalk and the parks, to other resorts, and of course, Volcano Bay. If you stay at a Premier Hotel (I’ve linked to the video guides that Em and I made for Attraction Tickets) : Loews Royal Pacific, the Hard Rock Hotel, or Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, you’ll get free Universal Express Unlimited too. All these perks add up to quite a lot of money saved, so the first thing I said to Sam was definitely a resort hotel.
…but which one?
Oooh this is so difficult. I mean, I guess a lot depends on your budget. For value, Dockside Inn and Suites and its sister resort, Surfside Inn and Suites can’t be beaten. We adored our stay at Dockside. It’s got a lovely, holiday village feel to it. We had a two bedroom suite overlooking the gorgeous pool area (they serve the best slushy cocktails at the pool bar, omg). The rooms are bright and colourful, and there’s everything you need: a handy Starbucks, a lovely marketplace area to buy food (I highly recommend a wander down there first thing in the morning to pick up buttery pastries and freshly squeezed juice), you can have pizza delivered to you room (yes, really) and there’s a nice little bar area for a much-needed cold after-park beer.
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