How to Plan a Luxury Universal Orlando Trip

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I’ve visited Universal Orlando four times this year and have sent countless clients since the re-opening. One of the things I love about Universal Orlando is there is truly something for everyone in a Universal Orlando vacation. From budget to luxury and everything in between, Universal can be enjoyed with your family, extended family, friend group, as an adult-only trip – however you want to do it! And believe it or not, despite being a “theme park” vacation, you can 100% do a luxury Universal Orlando trip if you are looking for a full-service, VIP, high end getaway!


Orlando Resort in Orlando Florida

How to Plan a Luxury Universal Trip

If your family is accustomed to high-end vacations, where someone caters to your every need, BUT you want to take a theme park vacation, this is the article for you! You can totally do a very high-end, luxury trip to Universal Orlando Resort, and let me show you how to create that luxury Universal Vacation Package.

Hogwarts Express, Universal Orlando Resort

The best Luxury Resort at Universal Orlando

When my clients say they want the “best” resort at Universal Orlando, I immediately recommend a stay at Loews Portofino Bay. This is a premier level resort, so a stay here includes unlimited express pass for all guests, on all of their park days, but Loews Portofino includes so much more!

Loews Portofino Bay is a full-service, luxury resort. Here you will find valet parking, room service, a full service spa and incredible gourmet restaurants. The location of Portofino Bay cannot be beat, it’s a quick walk, or even quicker water taxi ride to the Universal Orlando theme parks.

Loews Portofino Bay is designed to transport you to the seaside town of Portofino, Italy, and if you blink, you might think you have been whisked about to Italy!

One of the things I love about Portofino is the amazing rooms – even the standard rooms are larger than at the other Universal on-site resorts and if we book you into a Bay View room, I can request the rooms with patios and the best views on property!

Portofino Bay also offers club level accommodations, and a wide range of larger suites – from the ADORABLE Despicable Me Kids’ Suite, to one and even two bedroom units.

Despicable Me Kids Suite at Loews Portofino Bay
Despicable Me Suite, photo courtesy of Universal Orlando

Club level (at Portofino Bay or one of the other premier hotels, Hard Rock and Royal Pacific) offers guests access to the concierge lounge where they will find breakfast, all day snacks and beverages.

On site at Portofino you will find amazing dining (more on that below) a full gym (actually at all Universal resorts there is a gym), and the Mandara spa!


UNIVERSAL ORLANDO PRO-TIP: The Mandara spa at Portofino Bay is open to the public, as are the restaurants.

Harmony Skillman, Universal Orlando Travel Agent

What are the Three Premier Hotels at Universal Orlando?

In addition to Portofino Bay, the other two premier hotels are Hard Rock and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. These hotels also include express pass with their stay. The main difference is the theming – Hard Rock is a rock n roll themed resort, modeled after the Hotel California, and Royal Pacific is a trip to Polynesia!

Both other premier hotels offer water taxi access (and you can easily walk to the parks from Royal Pacific or Hard Rock) and have fantastic pool areas. The pool at Royal Pacific has a splash pad, and Hard Rock has a waterslide.

Water Taxi at Universal Orlando

The standard rooms at Royal Pacific are the smallest of the premier level hotels, but usually prices out the best – so it’s perfect if you trying to do luxury Universal Orlando but you are bougie on a budget!

Hard Rock offers deluxe rooms which are a little larger than the standard, and have rooms that can accommodate five guests without having to pay for a rollaway.

Pool at the Hard Rock Universal Orlando

Both Hard Rock and Royal Pacific have kids’ suites (rock themed at Hard Rock and Jurassic World themed at Royal Pacific) and offer club level rooms.

I can help you choose the best Universal Resort for you. My Universal Orlando travel planning services are free, yes you don’t pay more to have a professional plan your Universal trip!

Long Island Travel Agent


Luxury Universal Orlando Park Days

Theme park tickets are theme park tickets, and express pass is a nice addition to cut down wait times and maximize your park day, BUT did you know you can book UNIVERSAL ORLANDO FRONT OF THE LINE ACCESS? Yes, for the ultimate in Universal Orlando luxury, book a Universal Orlando VIP Experience.

Express Pass at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando VIP Experience

There are two Universal Orlando VIP experiences offered at this time. Families of 6 persons or less can opt for a non-private, small group VIP tour.

This tour is limited to 12 participants, and costs approximately $250-350 per person. This VIP tour lasts about 7 hours (park admission NOT included) and includes the following:

  • Priority front of the line access to rides and attractions
  • Exclusive behind the scene experiences
  • Complimentary valet parking
  • Complimentary hot breakfast at check in, and a full lunch
  • Unlimited Express ride access throughout the rest of your park day

If your group has seven or more guests or you want a fully private, totally customizable experience, you can book a private VIP tour.

A private tour will start at around $4000/day for a group of 5 but you will set the agenda with your tour guide! You will get everything included in the non-private tour, but also including a dinner at one of one site restaurants, and a three day photo package.

Hagrids Motorbike Adventure - Universal Orlando VIP tour

Luxury Dining at Universal Orlando Resort

Theme park dining and five-star don’t usually go hand in hand but at Universal Orlando resort, there are some truly amazing restaurants that will satisfy even the most refined palates.

And one thing I love about Universal restaurants – everything is family friendly!

Here are my favorite Universal restaurants for luxury dining:

Bice – this Italian restaurant is located in Portofino Bay. We always eat here in Naples, Florida and it’s probably my favorite on-site restaurant at Universal Orlando

Dinner at Bice in Loews Portofino Bay at Universal Orlando Resort

The Palm – famous steakhouse, located in the Hard Rock lobby

Mythos – located in Islands of Adventure (So you need a park ticket to access) definitely the best restaurant in the theme park and a must-do after a long park day

Mythos Restaurant, Universal Orlando Resort

Orchid Court Lounge and Sushi Bar at Loews Royal Pacific – gorgeous sushi bar in the Royal Pacific lobby. This space was recently remodeled and its beautiful!

For unique drinks be sure to check out Bar 17 Bistro, the rooftop bar at the Aventura, and Strong Water Tavern in Loews Sapphire Falls. Here you can sample over 100 different types of rum!


Cabana Rentals at Universal Orlando Hotels

Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific (all the premier resorts) and Loews Sapphire Falls (a preferred level resort) all offer cabana rentals at their gorgeous pool area. You can pre-book cabanas by calling your resort in advance of your stay.

Cabana at Universal Orlando Sapphire Falls

Cabana Rentals at Volcano Bay

Volcano Bay is the thrill water park at Universal Orlando Resort. I love Volcano Bay and you can certainly enhance your stay by booking a cabana for your visit. To rent a cabana, call 1-877-801-9720.

Cabana at Volcano Bay


Arriving to Universal Orlando in Style

I love Universal’s Super Star shuttle and always add it to my clients vacation packages, but if you want to arrive in true style, book a private driver. I can help arrange for a town car, minivan or luxury SUV to take your family from Orlando airport to Universal Orlando resort!

As you can see, a Universal Orlando vacation can be customized to fit the most basic of budgets or for those who want a more luxury Universal Orlando trip! Even if you don’t go full gang-busters on the budget, adding one or two of these extras to your Orlando vacation package will be well worth it!

What is your favorite way to bougie out at Universal Orlando?

Universal Orlando Resort


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