Cruise Consultant Shares Hot Tips On Holidaying To Orlando

Cruise Consultant Shares Hot Tips On Holidaying To Orlando

For many thrill-seeking holiday-makers, Orlando, in the sunshine state of Florida, is the ultimate bucket list destination. The city is home to the out-of-this-world Universal Orlando, a 500+ acre resort packed full of roller coasters, hotels, restaurants, and a water park. 

To help avid travellers get a feel of what to expect at this huge complex, Specialist Consultant and long-time Orlando holiday-maker, Steve Fuller, has put together the below blog sharing his insights on this truly sensational location. 

Read on to discover Steve’s view on Universal’s theme parks, on-site hotels and benefits, and other nearby attractions…

Orlando is a city in central Florida which is home to more than a dozen theme parks as well as beautiful beaches, restaurants, shopping malls, and entertaining nightlife. Florida has other famous attractions away from the parks including the Kennedy Space Centre, Daytona Race Track, and of course the Everglades.

I started my visits to Florida with the Universal Theme Parks. Universal certainly knows how to bring blockbuster movies and entertainment to life. I’m a big fan of the simulation rides like Spider-Man and Transformers, rather than just a roller coaster.

Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a must in Orlando. From the Castle to Gringotts Bank, to even catching the famous Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross to Hogsmead.

And yes, you can even jump through the wall on the platform of 9 ¾.

Both parks have something for everyone, from family-friendly rides and shows to roller coasters for adrenaline junkies.

I particularly enjoyed my visits when I stayed at a Universal on-site hotel. As well as the proximity and all the theme park benefits, it’s just awesome to be so close.

Universal has some great perks for when staying on-site. If you’re considering Orlando and you want to be close to the action and thrills of the theme parks, then it’s worth considering their on-site hotels.

Ranging from Value to Premier, they all come with theme park benefits. Starting with the Value hotels, you’ll find it’s the cheaper on-site accommodation but you still get perks like early park admission.

These hotels are Universal’s Endless Summer Dockside and Surfside Inn and Suites – inspired by sand and sea, and of course the Florida sunsets.

You’ll get complimentary shuttle service to and from the parks from these hotels, so no need to worry about driving, and paying car parking fees (which is now at $30 per day).

Additionally, shopping in the parks at gift stores doesn’t mean you have to carry your purchases around all day with you. On-site hotels give you the option to charge purchases to your room key card.

You can even have your items delivered to your hotel. You can collect your purchases on the way out too, but why bother when hotel delivery is free!

These perks are extended to the Prime Value hotels too. One of the differences between staying at a Prime Value to a Value hotel is location.

Prime Value hotels are a little closer and allow you to access dedicated walkways to Volcano Bay, Universal’s official water park. The hotels classed as Prime Value are the Aventura Hotel and the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

The Aventura is a modern vibrant hotel, whereas Cabana Bay is more of a 1950s and 1960s retro style. Both of these hotels have a pathway which is a few minutes walk to The Sapphire Falls Hotel.

The Sapphire Falls is a Universal Preferred hotel, more in the midrange price point. It is a little more luxurious and has the same theme park benefits of early admission, as well as the walking path to Volcano Bay. With waterfalls, lush grounds, and a beach area with palm trees, this hotel gives more of a paradise island feel.

Moving onto the Premier Hotels. These are the top-end hotels in terms of price, location, and extra theme park benefits – like the Universal Express Pass.

If you really want to enhance your experience at Universal then I recommend you choose one of these three Premier Hotels, which are the Loews Royal Pacific, The Hard Rock and The Loews Portofino Bay.

The Loews Royal Pacific is like being in Polynesian Paradise. Or, you can live like a Rock Star at the Hard Rock (which is the closest of the Premier hotels to the theme parks).

Then you have Loews Portofino Bay, inspired by the picturesque seaside village of Portofino, Italy. You can experience fine dining at all three of these hotels.

Location-wise, you can walk to the parks using a dedicated pathway. Of course, you still have the option of a water taxi. You can’t stay any closer to the excitement than these hotels.

When you stay at these Premier hotels, you also enjoy the added benefit of the Universal Express Pass. During peak times this is worth its weight in gold.

The Universal Express unlimited pass allows you to use the express line, skipping the regular queues to access the rides a lot quicker. In peak times wait times easily exceed an hour, so this is a real plus.

To use the pass, you will need to purchase a ticket for theme park entry. This is an extended perk to your admission ticket.

You must also purchase a park-to-park ticket if you’d like to use the Hogwarts Express, a Harry Potter attraction that travels between Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

You’ll be surprised how quickly you can explore the parks and experience all the attractions when using the Universal Express Pass, a complimentary benefit when staying at one of the three Premier hotels.

It actually works out better to have a night or two at an on-site hotel just to get the Express tickets, because if you were to purchase them individually either as a single park or a park-to-park hopper it’ll cost more. It’s a great way to save if you’re part of a family sharing one room.

The on-site hotels are also a plus when considering separately ticketed events, like Halloween Horror Nights or Universal’s Mardi Gras. These are some of the seasonal-themed events that require a separate ticket not included in your standard admission ticket.

If you’re going out of season and happy with just the early park admission, then the Value Hotels will be fine.

But if you’re having to travel in peak times when crowds are heavier, then it’s worth staying at Premier Hotel for the additional benefits of the Express Pass. This will drastically reduce your wait times in the queues during peak season when the parks can be at full capacity.

My personal favourite hotel has to be the Portofino Bay Hotel. The hotel is just incredible and you’re just a short water taxi, or a 10-minute stroll along a private pathway, from the entrance to Universal Studios & Universals Islands of Adventure.

I’d also recommend you have a Bay View room, for beautiful views over the bay.

Away from the parks, I couldn’t go to Florida and not see a Gator (alligator). There are a few national parks, like the Everglades National Park, to visit the Gators in their natural habitat.

The national parks are well looked after, the guides are very knowledgeable, and as well as the Gators being the main attraction, there are other wildlife animals to see and things to do.

I once stayed in a Chickee Hut in the national park. Camping with a difference that was! My hut was on stilts over the water’s edge, and when I braved to step outside at night I could see the eyes of the Gators as they raised their heads out of the swamp.

Inside my hut, it was basic. A bed with a mosquito net around it. Not exactly a 4* hotel by any means, but all the same a wonderful experience.

I have to say it was a little scary but I did feel an adrenaline rush. Visiting one of the national parks is another must that I’d recommend when visiting Florida.

Visiting the Everglades National Park leaves you close to Miami. A vibrant city, bustling with nightlife, art deco buildings, beautiful beaches, and Miami Port if you’re taking a cruise too.

I stayed at the Riu Plaza in Miami South Beach. The location I thought was perfect. It’s on a beautiful stretch of beach, one of my favourite beaches in Florida, and is within walking distance for entertainment and nightlife.

The hotel also gives you the option of adding breakfast and or an evening meal. A real plus if you don’t want to leave the hotel to get a meal.

All in all, Orlando is one of my favourite places to visit (if you can’t tell!). It’s a buzzing destination full of fun for everyone, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in visiting Universal Studios especially. 

If my blog has inspired you to book your own cruise holiday to Orlando, do get in touch with me by calling 0333 300 2620 or email me on [email protected] 

About The Author

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *