Many times, I’ve heard people say “What’s that other park in
Orlando?” The truth is, there are multiple theme parks in the Orlando area. And Universal Orlando is an entire vacation destination by itself. After attending an informational seminar, I’ve learned that this is a “must see” for people of all ages.
Let’s start by taking a look at the fabulous resorts that Universal offers. There are now 5 that you can choose from, all with different themes and perks. There is a resort for every price range and style. The two original resorts, Hard Rock and Portofino Bay, are the in the ‘Premiere Resort’ category. Both offer early admission to Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Express Pass that allows you to skip the lines, complimentary transportation to the parks and Universal City Walk, access to City Walk, delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort, priority seating at restaurants and transportation to Sea World and Aquatica.
The Hard Rock name is known for it’s rock star style and rare rock memorabilia. That’s exactly what you will find at this resort. Rock star theming along with comfy beds, full service dining and great pools! Speaking of pools, HR has the only pool that allows you to jam under water with it’s submerged speakers. The pool also has a fun water slide and cabana rentals. On select evenings, you can catch a “dive-in” movie poolside. The standard rooms at Hard Rock can sleep up to 4 people. If you need a bit more space and have the kids in tow, you might want to opt for the rock themed kid suites.
Looking for some great food? Try The legendary Palm bringing the legacy of its famous New York steakhouse to Universal Orlando® Resort. The Palm’s legendary menu offers a variety of American fare, Italian specialties, and its prime cuts of beef and jumbo lobster. If you’re in the mood for eating like the celebs, head to The Kitchen. It has an array of comfort foods with rock memorabilia on the walls. If you are lucky enough to be visiting Hard Rock on the last Thursday of the month, you can sit in on a Velvet Session.
Portofino Bay, in my opinion, is the stark opposite of HR. It is an experience in the charm and romance of a Mediterranean village in Italy. Portofino has elegant rooms and dining. The water area is gorgeous with it’s 3 pools and breathtaking lagoon. The Beach pool has a water slide and sand beach, the Villa Poll has cabana rentals and if you’re looking for some quiet time, check out the Hillside pool. PB comes alive at sunset when guests are serenaded on the piazza with live Italian opera during Misica della Notte (Music of the Night).
The accommodations are made up of 750 rooms and suites. There are several different suite configurations. One of my favorites is the Despicable Me themed kid suites. An exquisite culinary voyage right to the heart of Italy awaits you amid a decor of Bice (Bee-Chay) at Portofino, which combines Old World elegance and modern chic. Bice Ristorante offers Northern Italian cuisine and superb service in an elegant atmosphere. If you have a hankering for a brick oven pizza, be sure to give Sal’s a try. The Thirsty Fish is a casual bar on the piazza that offers live Jazz Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Royal Pacific and Sapphire Falls are the Preferred class of resort. Royal Pacific offers the same front of line access of the two Premier resorts . Royal Pacific also will give you priority seating at the restaurants throughout the resort. Other perks, such as early admission to Wizarding World of Harry Potter, complimentary transportation to the parks and Universal City Walk, access to City Walk, delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort, priority seating at restaurants and transportation to Sea World and Aquatica are available at both.
The Royal Pacific will transport you to an exotic South Seas island with it’s sparkling waterfall and lush landscaping. The 1,000 guest rooms and suites, it can accommodate families of 2 to 5. If you want some privacy away from the little ones, opt for the Jurrasic Park kid suites.
RP offers some great dining choices. The Island Dining room features Pan Am with a twist. This is where you can dine with the characters and there is even a special dining room for the kids! Emeril’s Tchoup Chop (Chop Chop) features cuisine with an Asian-Polynesian fusion. How can you go wrong with Emeril? One of the best “extras” at RP is the Luau on Saturday evenings. It all starts with the nightly torch lighting. Sit back and experience an evening of authentic Polynesian food and entertainment at the enchanting Wantilan Luau. The weekly Hawaiian dinner show featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet of Polynesian specialties, live Hawaiian music and traditional hula dancing. Hula and fire dancers delight the audience and entice a few to even learn the hula!
Sapphire Falls is the newest resort and Universal calls it “an island escape in the heart of an unforgettable adventure”. It boasts a 16,000 sq ft. zero-entry pool with water slide, play area, hot tub and fire pit. The 1000 guest rooms and suites all sleep up to 5 people, with different configurations. Each room has a mini fridge, coffee maker and free WiFi. You can pick from standard view, lagoon view or pool view. All of the rooms are comfy and a great place to rest after a long day at the parks.
Rumbling in your tummy? SF has full service dining at Amatista Cookhouse, Water Tavern and Drhum Club Kantine. If you are
looking for something filling with great ambiance, try Amatista. The outside seating is next to the waterfall for a beautiful, relaxing sound. Upon entering the Strong Water Tavern, you’ll find a wall of vintage rums complete with your own rum expert, a ceviche bar, and a patio with breathtaking views of the lagoon. Be sure to take part in the daily rum tasting.
If you are looking for a value, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is first resort in the Prime Value group. Currently, the Bay has 1800 guest rooms and suites. The plan is to add another 450 rooms by the end of 2017. The standard rooms will fit a family of 4 comfortably. They do offer family suites that sleep 6. Cabana has 2 large pools, a tasty food court and the Galaxy Bowl Restaurant, which is a sit down. Along with a sand beach, CB has a 10 lane bowling alley and dive-in movies. If you want a blast from the past and you’re missing the beach hotels of yesteryear, this is just what you’ve been looking for!
So, as you can see, Universal Orlando offers a resort for everyone. Whether you are looking for top of the line amenities or just a great resort at a value, you can’t go wrong. By the way, did you know that there are 2 awesome parks within walking or complimentary shuttle distance? Watch for my September blog for more information about those adventures.
If you would like more information about any of the spectacular resorts of Universal Orlando, just contact one of the Travel Pixies at Our Laughing Place Travel. We will help you plan the perfect vacation!