Is Staying Onsite At Universal Studios Worth It?

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when planning a Universal Studios vacation is whether or not you’re going to invest in staying onsite in one of the eight Universal Studios hotels.

Staying onsite at Universal Studios is worth it since you’ll benefit from a number of perks (inc extra time inside the parks) for very little extra money when compared to other hotels in the Orlando area.

However, you may not want to stay onsite at Universal Studios if you’re visiting Orlando for more than a week and Universal Studios only makes up part of your Orlando vacation.

How Much Does Staying Onsite At Universal Studios Cost?

The cost of staying onsite in a Universal Studios hotel ranges from $170 to $710+ per night depending on which hotel you choose.

Universal Studios hotels are broken down into four categories;

  • Value
  • Prime Value
  • Preferred
  • Premier

Value hotels are the cheapest onsite hotels at the Universal Studios Resort while premier hotels are the most expensive and come with the additional perk of a complimentary Universal Express Unlimited Pass for each hotel guest to use inside the parks.


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Value Hotels

The two value hotels at Universal Studios Resort are;

Prices are based on two people sharing and will vary depending on dates and length of stay.

Prime Value Hotels

Prices are based on two people sharing and will vary depending on dates and length of stay.

Preferred Hotels

Prices are based on two people sharing and will vary depending on dates and length of stay.

Premier Hotels

Prices are based on two people sharing and will vary depending on dates and length of stay.

Parking At An Onsite Universal Studios Hotel

Sadly, Universal Hotel guests do not get complimentary parking. Instead, the cost of parking at a Universal Orlando hotel is dependent on the hotel and the type of parking you require.

Universal Premier hotels currently charge $28 per night for self-parking and $37 for valet parking. Meanwhile, Sapphire Falls charges hotel guests $26 for self-parking and $45 for valet.

As such if you’re staying onsite at the Universal Studios Resort it’s often significantly more affordable to use a ridesharing service than it is to get a rental car.

Florida residents are often provided with exclusive Florida resident discounts on Universal Orlando hotels and theme park tickets. This makes typically makes visiting the Universal Orlando Resort 10% to 20% cheaper when compared to the retail cost.

Benefits Of Staying Onsite At Universal Studios?

The cost of staying onsite in a Universal Studios hotel is often between 10% and 20% more expensive than a similar hotel in the area (star rating, facilities and amenities).

However, the extra 10% to 20% to stay onsite is often a worthwhile expense given the number of exclusive benefits you’ll receive when visiting the Universal Studios parks.


Universal Studios hotels are all within walking distance of the Universal Studios theme parks, the entertainment complex CityWalk and the Volcano Bay waterpark.

Premier hotels are all the closest to CityWalk, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure and are the more traditional onsite hotels.

Meanwhile, prime value and value hotels are located just off International Drive just outside of the Universal Studios Resort area.

Early Park Admission

By staying in a Universal Studios Resort hotel you’ll be able to benefit from early park admission.

This includes entry to the Volcano Bay waterpark one hour before the general public and entry into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and other select attractions at either Universal Studios Florida or Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Since Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure currently doesn’t permit the use of Express Passes this is the only way to take advantage of shorter wait times on this ride.

You’ll still need an eligible theme park ticket in order to use this onsite hotel benefit.

Complimentary Transport

All onsite hotels at the Univeral Studios Resort include complimentary transport to both CityWalk for the Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure theme parks and the Volcano Bay water park.

While all hotels provide shuttle buses as a base mode of transport, select hotels situated around the lagoon also provide boat transportation.

Hotels offering this service include; Loews Sapphire Falls, Loews Portofino, Hard Rock Hotel & Loews Royal Pacific.

The complimentary transport to the parks begins two hours before the park opens and ends one hour after Volcano Bay closes for Volcano Bay and either midnight or 2am for CityWalk depending on the day of the week.

Complimentary Universal Express Unlimited (Selected Hotels Only)

Guests staying in a Universal Studios premier hotel are able to benefit from the additional perk of complimentary Universal Express Unlimited passes.

A Universal Express Unlimited pass allows you to skip the queue on the vast majority of rides inside the Universal Studios parks.

In our experience, this will save you roughly 70% compared to the standby wait time for a ride.

As such if the line for Hollywood’s Rip Ride Rockit is 1 hour, you’ll roughly wait around 15 minutes.

The Universal Studios Express pass is essential for those visiting Universal Studios during the peak season, or those looking to do either both parks in a single day or a single day at each park and still experience all the rides and attractions each park has to offer.

The Universal Studios Express pass benefit covers all guests staying at the premier hotel and is inclusive of both check-in and check-out dates.

While these passes can be purchased separately, they often retail for upwards of $250 per person, per day.

As such they make staying onsite in a premier hotel incredible value for money.

Starbucks, Universal Store & Restaurant

While Universal Studios hotels don’t offer a complimentary breakfast that you might find at other nearby hotels, they do all have a Starbucks located in the lobby.

Meanwhile, for those vacation essentials and last-minute souvenirs hotel guests will be able to benefit from an in-house Universal Studios store.

Finally, all onsite hotels at Universal Studios have a restaurant (or a number of restaurants) serving a range of delicious meals.

Best Onsite Hotel At Universal Studios

If the amount of money you spend on a Universal Orlando vacation isn’t a factor, then the best onsite hotel at Universal Studios is The Hard Rock Hotel. This four-star hotel is located just to the right of the Universal Studios Florida theme park and is within an eight-minute walking distance from door to door.

Being a premier hotel, guests staying here benefit from complimentary Universal Express Unlimited passes alongside the traditional onsite benefits of complimentary transport and early park admission. The Hard Rock Hotel is made up of 650 luxurious guestrooms including 29 suites and a 12,000 square-foot swimming pool with a giant waterslide, underwater speakers and a sand-pit.

🎟️ Where To Buy Tickets for Universal Orlando?

If you’re based in the US or Canada, I recommend Klook for your Universal Orlando tickets. Klook consistently has the most competitive prices. There’s also a range of different ticket options to suit all budgets and requirements.

Meanwhile, if you’re based in the United Kingdom. Then I recommend buying your Universal Orlando theme park tickets from AttractionTix. I personally use AttractionTix when purchasing Orlando theme park tickets. That’s because AttractionTix consistently has the most competitive prices and incredible customer service.

🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Visit to Universal Orlando?

If you’re travelling to Universal Orlando for vacation, then travel insurance is recommended. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.

However, if a trip to Universal Orlando isn’t part of a vacation. For example, you live locally. Then travel insurance isn’t likely to be necessary.

🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Visit to Universal Orlando?

You don’t need to rent a car to visit Universal Orlando, as the resort has Uber / Lyft pick-up and drop-off points. However, if Universal Orlando makes up the majority of your vacation, then you may want to stay on-site.

Staying onsite at the Universal Orlando Resort comes with several perks. Including complimentary transport from the hotel to the Universal Orlando theme parks. In some cases, you can even walk from your hotel straight to the theme park gates.

However, if a trip to Universal Orlando only makes up a portion of your vacation, then you may want to rent a car. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental for all of my trips to Orlando.

🏨 Where to Stay When Visiting Universal Orlando?

If you’re spending the majority of your vacation at Universal Orlando, it’s a good idea to stay at a Universal Orlando hotel. Staying onsite at Universal Orlando comes with several perks, including;

While staying onsite at Universal Orlando is great value for money, it can still be out of budget for many. Thankfully, there are several budget-friendly hotels close to Universal Orlando to choose from.

Meanwhile, if Universal Orlando only makes up part of your Orlando vacation, then you may want to stay elsewhere. Kissimmee, International Drive and Lake Buena Vista are all within a 40-minute drive of Universal Orlando.

When it comes to booking hotels in Orlando, I use either or However, for large families and groups, VRBO is my number one choice.


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