Where to stay when visiting Universal Orlando?

Universal Orlando: I was thinking of staying on International Drive...

From Kylie Bee
Posted July 23, 2010 at 9:48 PM

I am going to be in Orlando for 7 days and have decided to spend 4 days at Disney World, 2 days at Universal and 1 day just taking in Orlando. I am thinking we should stay on-site at Disney World for the first four days but am unsure where to stay for the other three days. I was thinking of staying on International Drive so that at nights and on our spare day we would be able to enjoy seeing some other things (other than Universal). Otherwise we could stay onsite at Universal and then try get to International Drive to have a look around on our spare day. Any advice?

Also - is it worth having a spare day in Orlando? To have a look around International Drive/Shopping? Or do you think the main draw in Orlando is the theme parks?

From Carrie Hood
Posted July 23, 2010 at 11:09 PM
A shopping day often is nice, even having grown up down in Orlando I'll often spend at least three days running around just the tourist areas for shopping and "checking out whats new". There's a lot of great outlet malls very close to I-drive, there are also Disney Outlets which I personally will go to before I hit up the theme park itself (Prime Outlets, Premium Outlets, Etc) . There's also a lot of other attractions you may want to take it depending upon your interests, we do have things to do outside of Disney! On top of the fact you may want to spend an evening just going to Downtown Disney. There is also things like Wet'n'Wild, Skyventure, Magical Midway, Fun Spot, Point Orlando, Wonderworks, Old Town and several Dinner shows.

Also keep in mind International Drive and 192 are not really Orlando, just the tourist areas. You can find a lot of nice hotels around I-drive and on 192, depending on how much you want to spend you can find great luxury or clean and cheap lodging. Personally, I never tend to spend much on my hotel rooms since I'm rarely in them when visiting outside of sleeping. I look for three things anytime I travel 1. Clean 2. Close and 3. Cheap. :)

From Jennie Lea
Posted July 24, 2010 at 4:15 AM
I always stay on International Drive when I go to Orlando. It's pretty central for all things, even Disney is only a bus ride away. The hotel I stayed at last time is only a mile from Universal too so we walked there in the morning and after wandering around all day caught a cheap cab back to the hotel.
There's lots to do outside of the parks too. Ripley's and Wonderworks are good ways to spend an hour or so in the evening. During the day maybe hit Wet n Wild although in my opinion the Disney water parks are better.

From Kylie Bee
Posted July 24, 2010 at 5:12 AM
Thanks for the advice. If we only have one day to spare, where do you recommend checking out? International drive? Premium Outlets? Is it easy to get from Universal to these places? I am pretty sure we would like to stay onsite at Universal for the benefits.

From Carrie Hood
Posted July 24, 2010 at 1:20 PM
Well you could hit up International Drive. Prime Outlets are off the far end of I-drive closer to Universal's side, that's the closest Disney Character Outlet to Universal. So you could hit that up if you stuck around I-drive for a day, there is a bit more to do then say 192 in Kissimmee.

This isn't the exact website I was looking for but they have a lot of the info listed. :)


From Bob Miller
Posted July 24, 2010 at 5:29 PM
Kylie,be prepared for all the traffic on I-Drive, especially at Sand Lake Road and I-Drive, very long wait for the red light. My 11 year old grandson Zachary and I stayed in that area last year and it does get heavy traffic. Ripley's was ok, Wonderworks was ok also.

From Danny C
Posted July 26, 2010 at 1:58 PM
We stayed recently at Extended Stay America on Major Blvd. which is right beside Universal and a quick jump onto I-4. We stayed 7 nights and the rate was $50 a night. The room was clean and it had a complete kitchen. Just have to take towels down to front desk for new ones b/c housekeeping is only once a week when you stay for a week.

From Jason Read
Posted July 28, 2010 at 10:15 AM
You can't beat Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal studios.

You're extremely close to the parks by water taxi-- just far enough away that its a respite from the crowds.

The hotel has great amenities-- my favorite being the outdoor wine bar "Thirsty Fish" and the nightly opera performance from the balcony.

Plus the included front of the line access is pretty wonderful. There also (?) is early admission to WWoHP I believe as well.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted July 28, 2010 at 1:07 PM
An outdoor wine bar and nightly opera? I know where I'm staying next time I'm in Orlando.

From Nick Markham
Posted July 28, 2010 at 8:08 PM
I just flew in tonight from my week trip at Universal and must recommend Loews Portofino Bay. Not only is this hotel magnificent in its architecture and food, but the service and transportation is truly what defines this hotel. Transportation to parks is provided via Water Taxi or PediCab (I highly recommend pedicab over water taxi if you want to reach the parks faster and don't mind a small tip).

Also, there service is excellent as I will point out in my Trip Report I will try to begin posting tomorrow! I don't want to say too much here that will be in the report, but they will make sure you get wherever you need or want, even if they have to get one of their valet parkers to get you there!

You would be crazy not to choose this hotel!

From Katie White
Posted August 2, 2010 at 10:57 AM
I know I'm a little late on posting but I recommend staying at the Universal Hotels if you can. I have stayed at Royal Pacific and Hard Rock and both are great. I'm sure Portofino is too based off Nick's review. And the price is totally worth it with the benefits of unlimited express pass.

From Will Chilcote
Posted August 2, 2010 at 4:43 PM
From what I have heard, it is a large benefit to stay on Universal property now. The front of the line passes are great plus. Also, the hotels on property are very close to the parks.

From Kylie Bee
Posted August 2, 2010 at 5:52 PM
Thanks everyone - I will definately be staying onsite!

From Nick Markham
Posted August 2, 2010 at 6:02 PM
^ If you read my trip report, you would find Loews Portofino Bay to be the best possible choice to stay onsite at Universal, if you don't mind spending a little more. If you do mind, check out Royal Pacific.

From Katie White
Posted August 2, 2010 at 7:42 PM
You won't regret it! All the hotels are great.

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