I just got back from a week long trip to Orlando, Florida. I was there working with Mom It Forward for the Family Forward: Orlando Adventure conference for work. It was an amazing week with a bunch of awesome bloggers. While at the Family Forward conference everyone attending stayed at the Portofino Bay Hotel, which is one of the 4 hotels on Universal property. Since I had never been to Universal before everything was completely new to me. I was happily surprised by all of the great perks that came with staying on property.
5 Reasons To Stay On Property At Universal Studios Orlando
1. The Hotel Property
Have you ever been to Naples, Italy? I have. This property makes you feel like you are there, in Italy, but with palm trees. The grounds are beautiful, the hallways have such great attention to detail, and the buildings are amazing. From the pool to the courtyard (with little vespas set up for pictures) to the common areas you feel like you have been whisked away to another country.
2. Early Admission
Anyone that stays in one of the four unique Universal property hotels gets into the parks an hour early. Everyday. Yes, even on holidays and weekends. At 8 am you can head straight into Hogsmeade (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) or Diagon Alley (Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts) and ride one of the rides that don’t accept Express Passes. I went in one morning early and just walked around Diagon Alley and took pictures while there were no people walking around. If you have ever been there you know that it is usually wall to wall people! It was like a personal VIP tour. The beauty of the early admission is a 30 minute or less wait for one of the awesome Harry Potter rides instead of 120 minute wait. You can’t beat that!
3. Express Pass
Speaking of not waiting in line! When you stay on property you get to skip the regular lines for free! Every person that stays on property gets an Express Pass using their hotel room key. It is an individualized pass with your picture on it so that it can only be used by YOU! It is a value of $89 per person in your room, per day! It’s the fastest way to ride – enjoy access all day long, as often as you’d like! In fact with this express pass we rode The Mummy (my personal favorite ride) 4 times in one day. We literally walked right onto the ride several times while people without passes had to wait. Talk about a time and money saver!
4. Property Hopping
When you stay at one of Universal’s properties you have access to all of the other properties as well. We stayed at Portofino Bay but right across the street, a short 10-15 minute walk or 1-2 minute drive is The Hard Rock Hotel. The Hard Rock has an amazing pool with an underwater sound system. It is very popular with teenagers, little ones, and parents alike. We decided to go to The Hard Rock for dinner one night. When we called for reservations we were put right in and they sent town cars, free of charge, to transport us back and forth. We were able to charge dinner to our account, using our room key and name, at the other hotel since they are sister properties.
Can you say character dining? When staying on property you can have your favorite characters give you a wake up call in the morning. Or how about meals with some of your favorite theme park characters? They will pose for pictures, sign autographs, and interact with everyone at your table… just wait until you tell everybody back home who YOU had dinner with! In fact we had a nice meal with Homer and Bart on our first night at Hard Rock!
This one is a no brainier. The Universal Resort Properties all have complimentary water taxis, shuttle buses or walking paths to both theme parks and Universal CityWalk, and most have all three. This saves time and cars can stay parked while you are on your vacation.You also receive priority seating at select restaurants throughout both theme parks and CityWalk when staying on property. Sometimes when you are having fun at theme parks meal time sneaks up on you so priority seating makes meal time faster and easier. You also have complimentary delivery of all merchandise purchased throughout the resort and parks to your on-site hotel room. This makes it nice when the kids want to buy 10 pounds of candy from Honeydukes or that giant stuffed Hedwig in Diagon Alley at 8 am and you still have the whole day of rides ahead of you.
With the knowledge that I have gained by attending Family Forward I will never vacation the same way again. I understand the amazing perks and extras that you get while staying on property. I can’t wait to take my family and let them experience the fun and excitement just like I did last week.
*I was not compensated in any way for this review. I stayed at Loews Portofino Bay during a conference that was partially sponsored by them. All opinions, as always, are my own.