Universal Studios Vacation and Trip Review. Where To Go, Eat, and Stay
Universal Studios is a worth while place to go. Normally I do budget friendly options, but I would be lying to you. All around you are going to spend money when you chose to go to Universal. I did bundle my flight and hotel, which may have saved some money. And although staying on a Universal Resort is pricier, I felt like it was worth it in both the experience and the convenience.
I do not think Orlando has Uber, so using Mears for transportation is ideal. We took the shuttle from the Airport to the Hotel. But it took so long to wait for the shuttle and the shuttle had several other people to drop off before us, which took hours, before we arrived to the hotel.
When leaving the hotel to go back to the airport we took Mears but opted for a private car over a shuttle. Which was much better because it was private and we did not have to wait. The price for a private luxury car was only about $7 more than a shuttle. So it was well worth it.
Where to Stay.
We stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel. This hotel is a four star Universal Hotel with an Asian Pacific theme. The hotel is a bit pricey but there are perks that comes with being at this hotel:
- The Express Pass: The express pass allows you to get through the rides faster by skipping the line, and retails for $89. But the express pass is included in your stay at the Royal Pacific.
- Early Entry to The Park: There are some main attractions such as Harry Potter and Godzilla that do not allow an express pass and the lines can be crazy long. So the hotel allows for all of its guest to get into the park one hour before it opens to the public so you can hit the popular rides, that do not accept an express pass before everyone else gets in.
- City Walk: Staying at the Universal Hotel allows for you to get in free to many bars and clubs on city walk that usually require a cover charge.
- Free Transportation: Staying at the hotel allows you to get on a free shuttle or water taxi to and from the resort for free, which comes in handy. The water taxi, runs fairly often and there is never a long wait.
The hotel also has onsite amenities such as restaurants and a luau on Saturday nights only. A tip is to buy your luau tickets in advance because we waited too late and were unable to get tickets because the event was sold out AND had an extensive waiting list.
Where to Eat.
When eating on Universal Studio, expect to pay $24-$30 per person for food and that does not include drinks. So if you have four people then you bill will be over $100.
We ate at this restaurant twice during our trip. This restaurant was on site at the hotel. The first night we went here for dinner and got their buffet. The buffet was the best! It is more of a buffet bar where you go to the bar and choose all of the ingredients that you want to include in your stir fry. This includes veggies, meats, noodles, rice, spices and the chef mixes all the ingredients together right there in front of you. You can go back as many times as you want AND the buffet includes a salad and soup bar as well. The second time we ate at the restaurant was on July 3rd for my son’s birthday. We had breakfast there and each Sunday they have a character breakfast. The staff makes sure that each character comes around and pays each table attention, which was great for my son and my grandmother. My grandmother was more into it over my 8 year old son! The buffet was also amazing. They have a traditional breakfast, an omelet bar, and fresh fruit.
This is another on site hotel. I am ashamed to admit that I have never heard of the restaurant or the owner. Apparently the owner was on top chef. There are two Emeril’s one at the resort we stayed at and one at Universal City Walk. I had mussels at the restaurant, which to me was not that good. It was okay but it was not the best mussels that I had. I felt like it needed to be seasoned a little bit more. The dessert crème brulee was pretty good though.
This was the last on site hotel we ate at. This hotel features live entertainment starting at around 8:30pm. Other than that the food is American based. I had the crab cake sandwich and sweet potato fries, which was pretty good.
After getting early admission to the park and getting on some of the rides, we ate at the Leaky Cauldron for breakfast which is Harry Potter themed. They do not have many breakfast options, but the breakfast options are good and feature a traditional American breakfast. The prices for breakfast average around $16 per person.
This is a chain restaurant that I have seen but never ate at until now. This place did not disappointment. It was a fun environment. We played Forrest Gump trivia (which I won because I have seen Forrest Gump like 20 times). We went there for dinner f or my son’s birthday and the amazing thing is that they sing happy birthday and give you a cup cake which is rare to find in restaurants now a days. They had a variety or shrimp dishes and the food was very good.
Universal Studio and Island Adventures
The parks were amazing especially since we had the express pass and early admission. We were able to get on to most of the rides. This is a bonus that I feel everyone should know about. My grandfather was with us and he had a cane. Because of this, the family received a special express past that allowed us to skip the line on all the rides (even the ones that do not take express passes). So that means we rarely waited in line more than 10-15 minutes for any ride. I thought it was good for Universal to offer additional passes to those who have a handicap, who are older, or have those who have a cane. Also the park offers scooter rentals for those who need to stay out of the heat or stay off their feet, which was an added bonus for my grandfather. As far as the rides were concerned, my son was turning 8 and he was able to get on most of the rides, including his first REAL roller coaster that went upside down.
Rides that are good for the whole family:
- Harry Potter (at both Universal Parks)
- The Simpsons
- Sea World
- The Minions
was a must needed relief because walking in Universal all day had my feet barking. So we got the chance to sit down and watch some shows that is pretty much all we did at this park. They had rides, but I really was not that interested. It was more of a family day since my grandparents were with us AND is was hot and the show provided relief from the sun.
- Shows To See
- The Dolphins
- Sea Lions
- The Pet Show
Universal was fun, but we did not get to do everything at Universal because it was hot and a lot of walking. I wore sandals the first day at the park trying to be cute and my feet were killing me. So much so that I had to take Advil to relieve my foot pain. So here are tips you need to survive at Universal especially in the summer.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Wear Comfortable Shoes
- Go inside the shops or cooling spots often to get out of the heat.
- Sit down when needed, as there are many places to sit down.
- If you are staying at an onsite hotel, if it gets too hot; take the bus or water taxi back to the hotel and rest. You can always comeback when the sun goes down.
All in all it was a great trip. And expensive trip, but sometimes you have to splurge.