How to Choose the Best Universal Orlando Resort for Your Family

Choosing a Universal Orlando Resort for your family doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Having stayed at several, and having toured all of them, I definitely have my favorites!  So today, I am going to share How to Choose the Best Universal Orlando Resort for Your Family!

Universal Orlando’s hotels are the best locations, in my opinion, for a staycation.  They literally offer EVERYTHING!  It is easy to make a quick weekend getaway out of a stay at one of the Universal Orlando hotels.  Overall, they offer fantastic theming, amazing pools, great dining options, and lots of activities.  What I really love is their proximity to each other!  You can easily walk to several close to your hotel, or take a water taxi to Citywalk and then access other hotels.  It’s all so seamless!

Choosing the Best Universal Orlando Resort for Your Family

While those are the things I love overall, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one for your family.  So let’s dive in!

Benefits of Staying at a Universal Orlando Resort

Guests of Universal Orlando get lots of perks! These are similar to some of the Disney resort benefits, and make your trip so convenient.

Early Park Admission

Free Water Taxis and Shuttles

Resort Wide Charging Privileges

Free Merchandise Delivery

Priority Seating at Many Universal Citywalk Restaurants

Regardless of the tier of resort, guests get these privileges.  When it comes to Express Pass, which is Universal’s version of “FastPass”, only guests of the Premier Hotels get it for free.  The Premier Hotels are Loews Royal Pacific, Loews Portofino Bay, and Hard Rock Hotel.  If you choose one of the “lower tier” hotels, you can choose to add Express Pass for a fee.  

Consider the size of your family 

Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Endless Summer Surfside/Dockside Inn come to mind immediately for our larger family.  Both of these resorts have family suites that are amazing.  They have a small kitchenette in the regular suites, and plenty of sleeping space.  Also, moving into a 2-Bedroom Suite at each of these gives you much more floor space, more bathroom area, and lots of storage.  Two full bathrooms in the 2-Bedroom Suites are a must!  Loews Sapphire Falls Resort also offers kids’ suites for your larger family.

Even if you have a larger family, but you want a more deluxe feel to your resort, there are others that offer lots of space.  Portofino Bay’s Deluxe Rooms are the largest on property as far as square footage. Also, each of the Premier Hotels offer themed family suites from Minions, to Jurassic Park, to being a rock star.  Each of these offers a Club Level access as well.  Our family LOVES having club level access.  The food offerings in the lounge are perfect for our family, and we get the value and use out of it.  My kids love grabbing a soda and snack on the way to the parks, and I love not having to pay for it and not having to stop to eat in the parks.  

What Resort Amenities are Important to You

Personally, the easier it is to get to the parks, the happier my family is.  We really enjoy Loews Portofino Bay because of this!  The water taxis make it SO easy, and you can literally walk to Citywalk in minutes.  Having both of these options allow us to get to the parks on our own schedule.  We like to take the walking path sometimes, or hop on the boat if we feel like our bodies need a rest.  A resort such as Cabana Bay with solely bus transportation is not appealing to us.  

If you prefer easy, and lots of dining options, you will want to consider a resort such as Cabana Bay.  Their food court is AMAZING!  That is one thing we didn’t love about Portofino Bay.  There are some spots to eat, but my family REALLY likes a food court and lots of options.  So in terms of that, Cabana Bay stands out to me.  Sapphire Falls also has a grab and go and some made to order selections.  So much like Walt Disney World, if you need plentiful quick service options, leaning toward the value hotels at Universal is your best option.

A good pool can make all the difference.   The amazing thing about Universal is you can “pool hop” amongst the resorts.  Loews Royal Pacific has the best pool for families, and offers a water play are for the kids. Cabana Bay has a lazy river, and Sapphire Falls has a slide as well as the largest pool.  Those are my favorite pools on property.  I really don’t think you can go wrong with any of them!

Each Resort Offers Activities for Everyone

The three Premier Hotels offer Children’s Activity Centers for a small fee.  These are housed onsite at those particular resorts.

Each resort, regardless of tier, gives guests access to a game room.  Taking it up a notch, Cabana Bay houses a full bowling alley on site.  

Poolside movies, organized activities, and water play areas are offered at each resort.  

Guests really can’t go wrong with any of them.  When choosing one for your family, my personal favorites are Loews Sapphire Falls, Cabana Bay Beach Resort, and Loews Portofino Bay.  The pools, access to the parks, theming, activities, and overall price point of each of these make them stand out.  

Which Universal Orlando Resort do you want to book for your next trip?  

Carrie Hurst

Married to my high school sweetheart, we are raising two pirates and a princess. A lifelong Disney fan, lover of good food, and all things creative, I hope you will join me in sharing joy and making memories everyday.


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