I love Disney World and so do my kids, but Universal Studios has also become a main attraction for the kids as they hit their teenage years. Staying on property at Universal Studios is my preference as it is with Disney World.

Staying at Universal Studios has it’s great advantages that includes:
convenience of accessing the park free Express Pass tickets (skipping the
regular lines at the attractions is definitely worth it.) You can enjoy the nightlife of City Walk, use the courtesy water taxis and shuttles to the hotels and Universal Studios and amenities.

On-site hotels include:

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Studios with it’s Italian Riviera flavor, luxury and full service Mandarin Spa. It also has suites that include Dr. Seuss kid themed suites  (the suites start at $600 a night, other rooms at $300 a night)

Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Unviersal Studios is built around the idea of living on a remote private island in the South Pacific. You get that feel from the thatch roofed entryway to the tropical foliage that covers every inch of the property. Rooms start at approx. $250 with king suites running $400 per night.

Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios is based on the famous franchise Hard Rock Cafes. It features memorabilia from the music industry’s greatest performers. Smallest of the three, this hotel has only 600 guest rooms and 29 suites. It does have a 12,000 sq foot pool and sand beach. The standard room is $289 a night, with a king suite going for $544 a night.

Is it worth the cost? The main difference in staying on property for me is the “Front of the Line” pass at Universal. Unlike Disney’s Fast Pass, where you have to still reserve “time appointments” — you don’t with Universal’s pass. You always get  unlimited Express access to the rides. Fodor’s Eric Wechter put it best, “When we needed to resolve an important debate over which ride was the best, we, pretty much at will, revisited each of the candidates (Spider Man, Simpsons, Mummy, Hulk, Dueling Dragons) for further evaluation.”

Always check the website for special offers. The current promotion is KIDS EAT FREE at the On-site hotels with stays of 3 nights or longer (aug 16 to Sept 30, 2009). Restaurants include:

  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel: Trattoria del Porto, Sal’s Market Deli, Splendido Pizzeria
  • Hard Rock Hotel: The Kitchen, beachclub
  • Loews Royal Pacific Resort: Islands Dining Room, Jake’s American Bar, Bula Bar

More Details here.

Another offer is: stay 4 nights or longer your Kids (ages 3-9) get FREE theme park admission, PLUS save up to 30% on hotel room rates. Check out details here.

Finally, remember to use your AAA rate discount (10%)

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