Can staying on club level at Universal’s on-site hotels actually save you money?

Can staying on club level at Universal’s on-site hotels actually save you money?

Can staying on club level at Universal’s on-site hotels actually save you money?


Everyone loves going to Universal Orlando for vacation.  And everyone loves saving money.  Therefore, what could be better than doing both!  It’s really just simple algebra: like x+y = some other letter than the one I guessed at on my math midterm in high school.

There are many ways to save a little cash when visiting Universal, but you may be surprised to know that a great way to do that is to not only stay on-site at Universal Orlando on-site hotels but, depending on your situation, to upgrade to club level!

20150428-_DSC5210Royal Pacific Resort’s Club Lounge welcome letter.

Let’s take a look at how staying at on-site hotels can keep more of that hard earned cash in your pocket.  It’s always a good thing to get more for your money while on vacation, particularly in such areas of food, transportation, and time.

I won’t be covering park admission tickets here, but you can’t go wrong by buying those well in advance and utilizing the expertise of Orlando Informer Travel.

On-Site is Alright!

I’m not sure if you know this but Orlando has a couple hotels for you to choose from…  Approximately 145,000 rooms!  So why should you stay at a Universal Orlando hotel instead of one of the many (apparently) cheaper options?

Well for starters staying at a Universal Hotel is less expensive than you may think; often not even as expensive as some of its direct competitors (looking at you mouse) for a comparable room.  In fact, with a Florida Resident or Universal Annual Passholder Discount, they can be surprisingly affordable on their own.

Hard Rock Hotel OrlandoHard Rock Hotel’s pool at Universal Orlando Resort

But some people forget that price, even at a discount, is not really the singular bottom line.  I’d argue that one of the most valuable commodities on vacation is time.  And if you can save both money and time in one shot, then you’re doing pretty well!

One of the best methods for achieving those goals and getting more from your vacation overall is by doing more and waiting in line less.  That’s where the Universal Express Unlimited Pass comes in.  Normally this benefit will cost you around $59.99 or more (depending on when you’re visiting) per person per day in addition to your respective park ticket.  Wow.  I don’t really like math but I know that’s a lot of money.

However, if you stay at the Royal Pacific Resort, Portofino Bay, or Hard Rock Hotel, you will get free Universal Express Unlimited Passes for your entire party, which saves you a lot of cash and time.

Royal Pacific Resort King SuiteRoyal Pacific Resort King Suite at Universal Orlando.

Better yet, those Express Passes are actually valid from your check-in day through to your check-out day.  So for example if you are staying three nights at one of these respective hotels, then you would actually get four full days of Express Pass access all for the low, low price of free and included.  Bonus!

Speaking of getting the most out of your time on vacation, staying On-Site at any of the 4 (soon to be 5 this summer with the addition of Sapphire Falls) will earn you Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, either Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure or Diagon Alley over in Universal Studios Florida (and sometimes both.)

Getting into the theme park one hour earlier than everyone else (and therefore enjoying an extra hour overall in the park for your visit that day) is yet another great benefit to staying on-site.

One more big consideration for staying on-site versus off property is in the areas of transportation and gas.  One of my favorite things about Universal Orlando is that you drive to your respective on-site hotel, park your vehicle, and that’s really the last time you see it until (sadly) it’s time to leave.

Between the beautiful and scenic garden walkways, relaxing water taxis, and shuttle buses, you will save not only on gasoline and mileage, but maybe equally importantly be spared the aggravation of driving the often congested Orlando roadways to get from your off property hotel to the parks…

Portofino BayPortofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando.

And although there is a self-parking fee at the on-site Universal Hotels, it is still cheaper than the price of the Universal Parking Garage.

Learn more about Universal’s on-site hotels.

Join the Club!

So for all those reasons and benefits, I think it makes sense to stay on-site at Universal Orlando.  But does it make financial sense to upgrade to Club Level, which will often run you approximately $100 more a night than a standard room?

Loews Portofino Bay HotelRoom at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando.

Well, depending on how you and your family, friends, or loved ones like to vacation the answer could be a surprising yes!  Let’s take a look at what Club Level has to offer and whether it could be right for you!

We all know that Universal Orlando has some great restaurants but nothing can drain your budget like eating (and drinking!) out for all your meals and here’s where you can save money with a Club Level stay…

The three Universal Hotels that offer Club Level Rooms each feature a distinctive Club Level Lounge that provides a range of complimentary food and beverage items throughout the day.

At Royal Pacific it’s the Royal Club Lounge, at Hard Rock it’s the Rock Royalty Lounge, and over at Portofino Bay it’s the Portofino Club Lounge.

Royal Club Lounge foodDesserts from the Royal Club.

These respective lounges are typically open from approximately 7:00 am – 9:30 pm and here are the varied offerings available to Club Level Guests during those times:

  • Complimentary coffee, assorted teas, and soft drinks throughout the day
  • Continental breakfast served each morning (7:00 am to 10:00 am)
  • Afternoon snacks (Noon – 3:00 pm)
  • Hot & Cold hors d’oeuvres and complimentary beer and wine (4:30 pm – 6:30 pm)
  • “Sweets Hour” each night (8:00 pm – 9:00 pm)

So, if you were to stay Club Level, you could enjoy breakfast in the Lounge before you head over to your first park for early admission.  Have lunch out wherever you want in the parks or CityWalk.  (Bonus Tip: Order a kid’s meal for a smaller portion or split a dish with someone which saves both calories and money!)

082550_1500_998Club Lounge at Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

Return to your hotel and hit up the Lounge to create dinner out of the varied hors d’oeuvres accompanied by beer, wine, and soda.  Head back out to have some fun and then, and then return to the Lounge one last time to end your night with a sweet dessert!

Add any money-saving tips that you may have to share in the comments.

Don’t forget that the experts at Orlando Informer Travel are always ready to help you save money and time on your vacation.

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Paul Danner Paul Danner believes Florida consists mostly of Orlando, and then some other places with oranges and beaches. He is a proud member of Gryffindor House, idolizes Donald Duck (but unlike Donald, wears pants… uh, most of the time), and occasionally writes things that some people find funny. He has visited theme parks well into the hundreds of times in his life so he knows more about them than other things, like politics and math.

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