Which of the Universal Orlando Resorts is Right for You?

Universal Orlando, home of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is one of the biggest theme parks in Florida. With five on site resorts to choose from, you can find exactly what is best for your family and your budget. All five on site resorts are unique in their own ways and cater to different needs. After 3 years of visiting and staying at the resorts, I have come up with a simple guide to help you narrow down which one may be the best for your family.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Universal Orlando Resorts
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The Cabana Bay Beach Resort is the most affordable option in the family of Universal Orlando Resorts, and great for a family on a budget. It is definitely not lacking in fun and style. Designed to look right out of the fifties and sixties, Cabana Bay's retro feel is funky and fresh. Both their guest rooms and family suites are reasonably priced, which is great for larger families. The parks aren’t that far of a walk, or you can take a shuttle. The food court in Cabana Bay has such a wide variety, you can please even the pickiest eaters (and without breaking the bank).
Amenities Include:
  • two large pools
  • a lazy river
  • 10 lane bowling alley

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

©2013 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved
The Sapphire Falls resort is the newest of the on site Universal Studios resorts, and is designed to look like a tropical island. While it’s more relaxing than funky, it is still great for families. Their guest rooms are about the same price as a suite at Cabana Bay and their suites range in prices. The parks are within walking distance (about 10 minutes), or you can take a shuttle or water taxi.
Amenities Include:
  • 4 restaurants and lounges
  • a gym
  • game room
  • the largest resort style pool

Loews Pacific Resort

Universal Orlando Resorts
©2013 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved
The Pacific Resort will take you to Hawaii without the long flight. It is both beautiful and relaxing. They have an authentic torch lighting ceremony by the pool each night (weather permitting), as well as an authentic Hawaiian Luau. This resort is priced in the middle, but is also the least expensive option to offer club rooms. Book a stay on the elite seventh floor and experience complimentary breakfasts, as well as evening food and dessert! Beer and wine is available on the club level for those over twenty-one, while soda is there for the younger crowd. You can walk along the waterway (about 8 minutes) or take the water taxi to get to the parks.
Amenities Include:
  • 5 restaurants and lounges
  • a gorgeous lagoon style pool with water splash park for kids
  • 2 hot tubs
  • sand volleyball court
  • fitness center with cardio cinema
  • game room
  • Universal Express Pass Unlimited (skip the lines)
*Express Passes allow you to skip the line for many Universal attractions.*

Hard Rock Hotel

Universal Orlando Resorts
©2013 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved
The Hard Rock Hotel is designed for laid back luxury and making you feel like a rock star. The atmosphere is fast paced and upbeat, with music going until late in the evening. Want to escape to hotel California and listen to some great music? If the answer is yes, this hotel is just right for you. The pool atmosphere is pumped up and fun, with all kinds of music playing (from the classics to today's top hits). They’re about mid ranged in price. They also offer club rooms with access to breakfast, drinks, and desserts. This resort is also within walking distance or you can take complimentary shuttle and water taxis. With your stay, you receive priority seating at any on site dining location.
Amenities Include:
  • 5 restaurants and lounges
  • a sand beach pool with underwater speakers
  • play splash area for kids with slide
  • 2 hot tubs
  • game room arcade
  • walking paths
  • Universal Express Pass Unlimited (skip the lines)

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

Universal Orlando Resorts
©2013 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved
The highest priced of the onsite accommodations (but still affordable), Portofino Bay is designed to take you to a small water side Italian village. They include everything the other premiere onsite hotels have, as well as a spa and live music. Located right on the water where the taxis run, it’s one of the most beautiful places to stay. They’re also the only onsite hotel to have a spa available that offers many different treatments.
Amenities Include:
  • 8 restaurants and lounges
  • 4 gift shops
  • Game room
  • Bocce ball courts
  • Jogging & walking paths
  • a full service spa
  • nightly opera show
  • three pools:
    • 1. the beach pool: for families
    • 2. the villa pool: more luxurious and offers cabanas
    • 3. the hillside pool: quiet and mostly used by the adults
  • Universal Express Pass Unlimited (skip the lines)

All On-Site Hotels Offer These Benefits to Guests

  • Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, one hour before the theme parks open (valid theme park admission required)
  • Complimentary transportation to and from theme parks and CityWalk®, and guided walking paths
  • Complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to your hotel
  • Universal Orlando character appearances with some of your favorite theme park characters
  • Optional wake-up calls from one of your favorite Universal Orlando characters
  • Golf Universal Orlando® program, offering preferred tee times and complimentary transport to Grand Cypress Golf Club (subject to restriction)

Tips for Picking Out the Right Resort

The first thing you will need to know is your budget. Your budget could remove several resorts off the list almost immediately. But before you cross one off, remember to check with any memberships like AAA, AARP, and others to see if they offer a discount.
Is it absolutely necessary for you to have a hot tub? Maybe you want a 24 hour eatery? Make a list of your must have amenities, and then go through the resorts to see if they offer them. If they don’t, you may not want to stay there.
All of the resorts have food options, but they vary in cuisine choices. Check the menus of the restaurants online and see which option fits your family the best. You can always float to another resort for a meal, but why not see if you can stay where you like the food the best?
If your kids want to swim, you can stay at any resort. Each resort has a plethora of kids activities, so ask your kids what they want to do and pick the resort that matches up the most with their responses. No matter what you're looking for or what your budget is, you’re bound to find a place at Universal Orlando Resorts that fits your needs. Whether it’s partying like a rock star, watching a movie poolside, or enjoying traditional island food, your entire family will have fun in the end.

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