Weekend in Universal OrlandoKim Inman
written by Steve Talbert, Travel Specialist
A quick overview of Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and their resort properties that I gained during my weekend training.
Cabana Bay (Universal’s Value Resort):
Cabana Bay is a flashback in time to the 60’s and all the eclectic style and fun that goes along with it. Cabana Bay has standard rooms, suites and adjoining rooms. The rooms even keep the era going while offering Zest soap and VO5 Shampoo in bottles resembling the time period. Super cute… The perks of staying at Cabana Bay are early entry into the parks and free transportation on 60’s themed buses. However, express passes are not included at this time. The property has a bowling alley, swimming pool, a gorgeous Jack LaLanne fitness center, an arcade room, a Starbucks and a nice dining facility.
Universal’s other properties are Lowe’s Royal Pacific, Hard Rock Hotel and Lowe’s Portofino Bay. All of these properties are considered their three luxury properties.
This property has a Hawaiian themed feeling, complete with Saturday luaus. This property features one of Emeril’s famous dining options.. Tchoup Chop… It also hosts a beautiful themed pool that transports you back to the islands. In my opinion this property would be a great fit for those traveling with children. Free transportation to the park is provided via water taxi. Stays at this property include early park entry and unlimited Universal express passes that allows you to skip the lines in the parks.
Hard Rock Hotel:
This property allows you to rock out and is my personal favorite. It features rock memorabilia from all eras and even allows you to rent a guitar at the front desk to take back to your room, so you too can be a rock star. The swimming pool features a unique underwater speaker system unlike any other hotels in the area. The last Thursday of every month, excluding November and December, they bring in a rock band to put on a concert in the lobby. There is also a children’s club for some kid-size fun. Another fun fact is that upon check out the room key can be cut into guitar picks for a free take home souvenir.
In my opinion this resort offers the best views of the theme parks and is a great stay for anyone with teenagers. Stays at this hotel also include free water taxi transport, early park admission and unlimited Universal express passes.
For someone looking for a posh Italian vacation-like property, that is still close to the parks, Portofino Bay is for you. Take a stroll in the piazza, swim in one of their three pools, one of which is the luxurious adult only pool or get a massage at Mandara Spa. This property offers a variety of dining choices and has a fantastic Italian restaurant that is not to be missed. This resort also houses a fantastic conference center.
In my opinion this resort is best for adults who want a little quiet and classy time away from the hustle and bustle of the parks.
This resort also offers free water taxi transportation or ride in a bike driven by your own personal driver (bike drivers work for tips) early admission to the parks, and unlimited Universal express passes.
Universal Studios Park:
At Universal Studios you can truly ride the movies. The most exciting part of my visit was of course, Diagon Alley and this is a MUST SEE for any Harry Potter enthusiast. Be sure to jump on for the ride of your life with Harry and friends in Harry Potter and The Escape from Gringotts. An amazing ride that carries you 40 mph over twists, turns, dips, spins and more!!! I don’t want to give away too much but you won’t be disappointed. Take a stroll through Diagon Alley and see the 30 foot fire breathing dragon. When you are through making your way through Diagon Alley, hop on board Hogwarts Express and head on over to Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. Once in Hogsmeade, you can jump on board with Harry in Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Oh and don’t forget your Butter Beer. YUMMY!!!
There is so much to do in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I would certainly recommend a 2 day 2 park pass to see and explore it all. And don’t forget Universals City Walk!!!
Universal’s City Walk:
In Universal’s City Walk you can dine in style, take in a movie, shop till you drop, play putt putt golf, party in the clubs, and so much more. Free transportation is provided from all of the Universal resorts.