My family recently ventured to the “dark side” and added a 2 night stay at Universal Orlando Resort to our traditional Disney vacation.
Perfect add-on for families with older kids, tweens and teens!
Planning a Universal Orlando Resort trip is not quite as overwhelming as a Disney trip can be, but there is still a little planning to be done. I can help you with this too 🙂 This wasn’t my first stay at Universal, but it was our first trip as a family and with the kids . We will be back!
We chose the Portofino Bay Hotel as our home base for our 2 night stay. This hotel is simply stunning. It’s is a replica of the Italian coastal town of Portofino, right down to the little fishing boats in the harbor and vespa’s lining the piazza!
The hotel complex is sprawling, made up of 3 main areas. The lobby facing the main harbor piazza and then the East and West Wings. A Villas Wing extends off of the West Wing.
The West Wing offers the best proximity to the boat dock and walking path to the theme parks and the feature pool.
Rooms at Portofino Bay are spacious and well -appointed, starting at a generous 450 sq feet for a standard room Garden or Bay view. Deluxe rooms, suites and club level services are also available.
Rooms have all the standard amenities and beds are queen sized.
Portofino Bay features Despicable Me suites in the East Wing.
There are numerous restaurants, all Italian, including a Gelateria and Starbucks. Splendido Bar & Grill is right by the main pool with lounge chair service. Three pools are scattered throughout, the Beach Pool being the feature pool with the Roman aqueduct themed water slide, zero entry, sandy beach, waterfalls and a small grotto. Even when busy, we were always able to find a few lounge chairs available.
Recreation includes poolside activities, bocce ball, a game room, fitness center, a spa and much more. Be sure to catch the daily Musica della Notte show in the harbor piazza, and enjoy the sounds Italy.
Transportation to/from the parks is so easy! There are boats running constantly from early morning till the wee hours of the night. Every 20 minutes or so. The ride is less than 10 minutes. The walking path is just past the boat dock and takes about 15 minutes at a leisurely pace, 10 minutes if you are really trying to make it back before a downpour…we made it. 🙂 The path brings you past the Hard Rock Hotel and right to the Universal Studios entrance. They also have bicycle jitneys going back and forth if you choose.
The major benefit of staying on-site at Universal is this:
- SKIP THE REGULAR LINES with Universal Express SM Unlimited ride access* in both theme parks – a FREE benefit worth up to $89 per person, per day** (valid theme park admission required)
- Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, one hour before the theme park opens† (valid theme park admission required)
That’s right, staying at one of the 3 deluxe onsite hotels, Portofino Bay, Hard Rock or the Royal Pacific, entitles you to the above benefits. With the popularity of Harry Potter, that extra hour is much needed! And Express Pass really helps with the rest of the parks , the only place it is not accepted is for the Harry Potter rides.
We made the most of both the parks and the resort by splitting up our day with a pool break in the afternoon each day and with Express Pass and having early entry one day, we were able to see and do everything we wanted to in less than 2 full days, but would probably stay longer next time to really make the most of everything offered.
Universal offers some great packages including a Wizarding World of Harry Potter package and Stay More Save More deals. Contact me for a free no obligation quote.