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Universal Orlando water taxis: This complimentary transportation is one of Universal’s best-kept secrets


When planning a trip to Universal Orlando, one of the main concerns is, “How do I get around?” Universal actually makes this a breeze by offering quite a few different methods to explore.

One of our favorite ways to head out for the day is the resort’s water-taxi service that brings guests from its on-site hotels (Sapphire Falls Resort, Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Portofino Bay Hotel) to a central loading dock at CityWalk and back again.  Each of the venues has a dedicated taxi that floats along on their specific route (so no extra stop for the other hotels!).

What you need to know

Universal Orlando water taxi traveling from CityWalk to Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Sapphire Falls Resort
Universal water taxi traveling from CityWalk to Royal Pacific and Sapphire Falls Resorts

Here are some basic facts for you:

  • The water taxis start 30 minutes before Early Park Admission
  • They run every 15 minutes until 2:30 am, 365 days a year
  • Each leg of your expedition takes anywhere from five to 15 minutes
  • They are free to every guest who visits Universal Orlando!

Let’s repeat that last one: Universal Orlando’s water taxis are free to every guest who visits. Day guests, that means you, too – so, what are you waiting for? Hop on to one of the water taxis and experience a bit more of the Universe. This is encouraged by Universal, as it wants you to experience its on-site resorts with the hope that you’ll book your next stay right there on property.

Do you need a reason to go to one of the on-site hotels? How about Strong Water Tavern at Sapphire Falls, Orchid Court Lounge and Sushi Bar at Royal Pacific, The Palm at Hard Rock, or Thirsty Fish at Portofino Bay? Don’t forget to check out (though not swim in, since only on-site guests are able to do so) each hotel’s incredible pool – or, in Portofino’s case, pools – and feel out each unique atmosphere before planning your next vacation.

Water taxi tips

During the very late evening hours, the water-taxi captains will begin to ask for room keys, simply to keep off any revelers who may have wandered down to the docks from the CityWalk nightclubs. Additionally, if you are looking to hop between on-site hotels, we recommend using Universal Orlando’s shuttle buses, as it usually is a quicker journey.

And here’s a good one: while the water taxis are a great service, did you know that you can easily walk from the parks and CityWalk over to any one of the on-site properties?  If you have never done this before, we strongly recommend it. The path runs adjacent to the waterway, is filled with lush landscaping, and is really an adventure in its own right. If you need a reason to add to your step count for the day, this is the path for you!

In fact – and surprisingly – it can actually take longer to wait for, board, and ride the water taxis from CityWalk to Royal Pacific or Hard Rock than it does just to walk (though if you time it perfectly, the boat is still faster). It’s about a seven-minute walk from Royal Pacific to the CityWalk entrance by Margaritaville; it’s only about a five-minute walk from Hard Rock over to the gates at Universal Studios Florida; and it’s about a 15-minute walk from either Portofino Bay or Sapphire Falls to the front gates.

From the water taxis and walkways to on-site shuttles, there’s no mistaking that Universal makes it easy for its guests to navigate and explore with ultimate convenience.

What’s your favorite way to get around Universal Orlando? Let us know in our Universal Community Facebook group.

Be sure to follow Orlando Informer on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news and tips at Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World, and other Orlando destinations.

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May 23, 2011 2:35 pm

 How long does it take to walk from the Hard Rock to IOA?  How about Royal Pacific to IOA?  Can you tell I'm trying to choose a hotel…

May 23, 2011 3:01 pm
Reply to  aegower

Walking from the on-site hotels over to CityWalk and the theme parks is one of the best reasons to stay on-site at Universal Orlando. It is about a five minute walk from the pool gate at Hard Rock to Universal Studios Florida, and then another five minutes over to Islands of Adventure. From Royal Pacific it is about a seven minute walk from the pool gate to the CityWalk entrance next to Margaritaville, and then another three minutes or so across the bridge to Islands of Adventure. If you guys are coming to see Harry, you may want to choose… Read more »

About Casie Shimansky

Casie {kay-cee; KC} Shimansky is an award-winning social media manager and recognized photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she grew up in the theme parks, moved to Orlando with her family in 1993, and met her now-husband at Universal Orlando while working at Men in Black: Alien Attack in 2005. Dog Mom to two German Shorthaired Pointers, she is also a lover of pizza and Halloween and is a fierce advocate for Children's Cancer Research, having gone BALD just two days after getting married. Casie raised over $26k in 2018 alone for the cause.

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