There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing where to stay for your Universal Orlando vacation! It’s so hard to choose when there are so many options. We have stayed at almost all of the resorts at Universal Orlando and they are all SO different. Check out my quick guide to Universal Orlando Resorts and find out which ones are our favorites!
A Quick Guide to Universal Orlando Resorts
There are currently four different resort types at Universal Orlando. There are Premier, Preferred, Prime Value, & Prime resort categories from most expensive to least.
However, just because a resort is the cheapest doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best value! Keep reading to find out which resort I think is the best value for your money at Universal Orlando!
What do ALL Universal Orlando Resorts include?
According to Universal Orlando’s website there are quite a few things that ALL the resort categories have in common. If you stay at any of the Universal Orlando Resort properties you can enjoy Early Park Admission† to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and Universal’s Volcano Bay one hour before the park opens. All resort properties also include transportation to the parks via shuttle bus (some resorts offer a water taxi as well).
Some other perks of staying on site are resort wide charging privileges with your room key, merchandise delivery to your resort from the parks, club to club access at Universal CityWalk, and the Golf Universal Orlando Program. However, I think the biggest perk of staying at a Universal Orlando Resort is the convenience of being so close to all the fun!
There are three resorts in this category: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel®, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. You can click the links to see my reviews on all of these resorts at Universal Orlando (we’ve stayed at all of them)! When you stay at a Premier Resort you are closer to the parks (most are only a 10-15 minute walk away)! Premier Resorts also have water taxi transportation available to CityWalk as well!
Staying at a Premier Resort also gets you priority seating at select resort restaurants. We’ve never eaten at any of these, however it is said that they are some of the best dining on Universal Orlando property!
However, the biggest and BEST perk of staying at a resort in this category is COMPLIMENTARY Universal Express Unlimited! Universal Express Unlimited is your pass to skip the regular line on almost all attractions in the parks for the length of your stay! We honestly think that time is money and we don’t like to go to Universal without it!
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is the only resort in this category. With the new resorts being built, there were some re-categorizing of the resorts. This left Loews Sapphire Falls all alone in the Preferred category and truly it is a resort all of its own.
Loews Sapphire Falls is our absolute FAVORITE resort at Universal Orlando, but sadly we won’t stay there because it doesn’t include Universal Express Unlimited! It’s less expensive than the Premier Resorts, but not enough to offset the cost of the Express Unlimited. Sapphire Falls also has water taxi transportation to CityWalk!
Prime Value Resorts
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel are considered the Prime Value Resorts. As of right now these are your cheapest hotels on Universal Orlando property. However, just because these are the cheapest resorts doesn’t mean that you are missing out on anything (other than Universal Express Unlimited). We stayed at Cabana Bay and LOVED it! It was one of Ashtyn’s favorites! Universal’s Aventura Hotel is a great choice for a short stay, but we didn’t think if fit our family for much longer than a couple days!
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites & Dockside Inn and Suites will be the most affordable option while staying at Universal Orlando. This property is set a little further from all the action, but will still offer free bus service to all the parks & CityWalk. The theme of this resort looks like my kind of place! Who doesn’t want to spend time with an endless summer? I think this resort will be great for budget friendly families!
Comparing Universal Orlando Resorts to Disney World Resorts
I have been a Disney girl all my life. I never thought that Universal would be able to compare. However, when I think of the resorts I think Universal crushes Disney. Every single room that I’ve stayed in has been super clean. The rooms are larger and have more storage space. And the beds are absolutely wonderful. Universal Orlando Resorts are the only hotel rooms where I actually don’t want to go back to my own bed because they are better than mine! Even at the Prime Value resorts!
So, which resort do I think is the best value for your money?
Loews Royal Pacific Resort is my choice for value! However, this was the resort that I was underwhelmed with in regards to the theme and style of the resort. BUT – it’s usually a little less expensive than the other two Premier Resorts. It ALSO includes Universal Express Unlimited, which usually makes it cheaper than staying at Loews Sapphire Falls! With Universal Orlando Resorts you really can’t go WRONG!