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Exploring the Resort Categories at Universal Orlando Resort: A Guide to Where You'll Stay Next

Universal Orlando Resort is more than just thrilling rides, unforgettable characters, and immersive worlds. If you really want to take in everything the resort has to offer, then you have to stay on site. The resort offers a range of hotel categories, each tailored to different tastes, budgets, and needs.

Whether you're a luxury seeker, a budget-conscious traveler, or somewhere in between, there's a place for you. Here's a comprehensive breakdown of each of the resort categories, their perks, and pros and cons, so you can choose which one might be the perfect fit for your next vacation.

Premier Hotels

What's Available: The cream of the crop, includes the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel®, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

Perks: Guests enjoy free Universal Express Unlimited passes to skip the regular lines at most attractions, priority seating at select restaurants across the resort, and complimentary water taxis or shuttle buses to the parks and Universal CityWalk.

Pros: The Express Passes alone can make a huge difference in your experience, significantly cutting down wait times. Often, the price to purchase the Unlimited Express Pass on it's own for your entire family is more than one night at a Premier resort so it pays for itself right there! The luxury and thematic immersion of these hotels are unparalleled, providing an upscale retreat after a day of excitement. There is also nothing like a calm ride on a water taxi after a long hot day in the parks. Their proximity to the parks can not be beat.

Cons: Price can be a major con for some, as premier hotels come with a higher cost. However, the value in terms of time saved and convenience can outweigh the expense for many.

Ideal For: Families and couples looking for a luxurious stay with added benefits to enhance their park experience.

Preferred Hotels

What's Available: Loews Sapphire Falls Resort offers a middle ground in terms of luxury, location and budget.

Perks: Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and Universal's Volcano Bay™ water theme park 1 hour before the park opens (valid theme park admission required). Complimentary water taxis and shuttle buses are also a perk.

Pros: A more affordable option than the Premier Hotels but still offers significant benefits like early park admission. The thematic immersion and amenities are still high quality. It also had the largest pool on property. Like I said above, you can't beat taking the water taxi back to your resort!

Cons: Lacks the free Universal Express Unlimited pass, which can be a major game-changer for park visits during peak times and those who don't like to wait. It also lacks a proper quick service option. The only dining options are a lounge - Strong Water Tavern, table service - Amatista Cookhouse, pool bar - Drhum Club Kantine and a grab and go market - New Dutch Trading Co.

Ideal For: Travelers seeking a balance between cost and convenience, with a touch of luxury.

Prime Value Hotels

What's Available: Universal’s Aventura Hotel and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort are fantastic choices offering stylish, comfortable accommodations.

Perks: Early Park Admission is included, as well as complimentary shuttle buses to the parks and CityWalk.

Pros: These hotels offer great themes and amenities at a more affordable price point, making them excellent for budget-conscious travelers who still crave a themed resort experience. They each have a fitness center, Starbucks and great food courts. Cabana is one of my favorite resorts on property.

The theming and views are fantastic! There are two large pool areas, including a slide and a lazy river plus a bowling alley. For those high tech travelers who love a sleek and modern look Aventura is a great option. It has a rooftop bar plus iPads in each room to control the TV, lights and to order room service plus Relay, a room service robot!

Cons: The trade-off for the lower price is again the lack of Universal Express Unlimited passes and the distance from the parks. From both of these resorts you have to rely on bus transportation, but don't let that scare you. The trip is really short. It's only 5-10 minutes.

Ideal For: Families, groups, and solo travelers looking for a fun, themed environment without breaking the bank.

Value Hotels

What's Available: Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites and Surfside Inn and Suites provide the most affordable stays within the Universal Orlando Resort.

Perks: Early Park Admission and complimentary shuttle buses to the theme parks and CityWalk.

Pros: The lowest price point of all the resort categories, making it ideal for those on a strict budget. The hotels are newer, offering clean and modern accommodations. They also feature a Starbucks, large pools, pool bar and a food court

Cons: The amenities and room sizes are more basic compared to the other categories. The location is the furthest from the parks, though still within a quick shuttle ride.

Ideal For: Budget travelers, young adults, and anyone who plans to spend most of their time in the parks and needs a comfortable place to sleep.

Choosing Your Perfect Universal Orlando Resort Stay

A key thing to note, Universal does not operate their hotels on property. They outsource it to Loews, so that is why you get room key cards and separate park tickets. So when you arrive to your resort you must visit both the front desk to check into your room and the Vacation Planning Desk to pick up all your Universal park components.

Selecting the right hotel category at Universal Orlando Resort depends on your budget, the perks you value most, and the type of experience you want to have. Each category has its unique appeal, from the luxurious pampering and time-saving benefits of Premier Hotels to the budget-friendly, yet stylish options of Value Hotels. Consider what’s most important for your trip — be it saving time with Express Passes, enjoying early park admission, or simply finding a cozy spot to rest — and you’ll find a resort category that fits just right.

The next year is a big one for Universal. Their 4th park will be opening sometime in 2025 and it's going to be EPIC! Epic Universe will feature a new Wizarding World land, Dark Universe based on Universal classic monsters, How to Train Your Dragon and Super Mario World. Stella Nova and Terra Nova will be two more Prime Value hotels set to open in January and February of 2025. So reach out to your Coasters & Castles Travel advisor and let them assist you with your epic getaway!


Melissa Lenox specializes in concierge vacation planning. I cater to those who don't have time to research and plan a vacation or just don't want to do it! Where to go, when to go, daily recommendations for your trip and even assistance while you are away so the entire process is seamless and stress free.

My specialties are theme parks, all inclusive resorts and ocean cruises. I am a Gold Level, Senior Travel Advisor with Coasters & Castles Travel and Blog Editor of Main Street to the World.

Follow me on my pages below or contact me at mlenox@travelcnc.com to plan your next adventure!

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