Theme Park Vacation: 7 Reasons to Stay at On-site Hotels

traveltheme parks & cruise vacations

Where do you usually stay when you go on a theme park vacation? Do you prefer luxury resorts or low budget hotels? Do you look for specific amenities?

Staying on-site at Universal Orlando Resort's Loews Hotels for my past two theme park family vacations in Orlando has made me think twice about my typical low budget hotel ways. This post, which is part of a four-part series on "How to Plan the Perfect Universal Orlando Resort Family Vacation," is all about why you, if you're anything like me and out to have family fun for the lowest price possible, should reconsider too. And you shouldn't reconsider because price isn't important, but because the value and benefits of staying on property can often far outweigh a low price tag.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, Florida

7 Reasons to Stay at a Loews Hotels During a Universal Orlando Resort Visit

When you compare the cost to the value, staying on-site in one of Universal Orlando Resort's three hotels (Loews Portofino Bay, Hardrock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort) is not only hands down the best bet for your budget, but also offers a ton of amenities perfect for families, making your stay much more enjoyable and here's why:

1. Transportation

On both of our visits, when we stayed on resort property, we found that we didn't need a car. Loews has free and convenient water taxis, taking you to and from the parks when the parks open first thing in the morning until City Walk closes at 2:00 a.m. They also take you to the two other Loews properties where upon showing your room key, you are welcome to use all of their facilities. My kids especially loved pool hopping. I enjoyed trying out the various restaurants at the different hotels.
Note: Your only transportation cost to and from the hotel would be a shuttle or a taxi.

2. Express Pass Access With Room Key

Do you want to avoid long lines without having to buy an Express Pass? Your Loews Hotel Key automatically turns into your Express Pass with any valid admission ticket.

3. Longer Park Hours to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter With Room Key

Your room key also allows you to enter an hour earlier than non-Express-Pass-holding ticket holders, which will come in handy, especially if a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is high on your list of must-see park sites.

4. Family-Friendly Amenities

On-property hotels offer amazing amenities, including dining options, spas, fitness centers, pools, and stores. But my favorite are the family-friendly options: family pools, activities geared to kids, character dining, and kid-friendly suites.

Note: To see all the family friendly options offered at the three on-site hotels, check out the Loews Loves Kids program.

Recommendation: For families, we particularly loved the pool at the Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel with its waterfalls and slide or the Royal Pacific's games and water playground. But, teens may appreciate the underwater sound system and sandy beach feel at the Hard Rock Hotel, so check out all three.

5. Kids Cooking Classes and Character Dining

Our first stay on the property was at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. We started our stay with Woody the Woodpecker at an Italian character dining experience. The kids loved mingling with the characters so much that this time around, we extended our character dining experience into the park.
Note: Character dining is offered on select nights at all three on-site hotels.

We also ate at the Hard Rock Hotel's The Kitchen restaurant and absolutely fell in love with the kids play area. I almost felt like I was on a date because the kids were so happy playing on their own. I learned after the fact that they have kids cooking classes. My son, Chase, our budding chef, will appreciate this on our next visit.

6. Family-Friendly Events

My favorite family-friendly Loews event is the Luau at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. This two-hour event includes a buffet and a luau. You can even take part in the action by joining the hula dancers on stage to learn a little island dancing (in front of a huge audience).

7. Babysitting

Universal Orlando Resort has a lot of fun, late night activities. City Walk, for example, is open until 2:00 a.m. The Blue Man Group is an excellent choice for entertainment, but while awesome for tweens and teens, its 8:00-10:00 p.m. time frame may be a little on the late side for younger kids. If you are wanting to enjoy a night without the kiddos, Loews has an awesome kids camp or on-site babysitting options.

Tip: The kids camp is located at each hotel, but they are open on a rotating basis, with just one camp being open on a given night at a specific property. On Friday and Saturday nights, two camps may be open as these are the most popular nights. Be sure to call ahead to check and make reservations.

We absolutely loved staying on property and can't wait to go back!

How to Plan the Perfect Universal Orlando Resort Vacation

For recommendations on planning the perfect Universal Orlando Resort vacation, including what to ride, where to stay, how to eat healthy, how to entertain a baby and toddler, how to celebrate the holidays, how to receive VIP treatment and more, please check out these posts in this series:

Also, Kami from NoBiggie.Net and Carrie from shared their Loews experiences on these fun posts. Be sure to click on their links for more on-site hotel recommendations.

What type of hotels do you like to stay at while on a theme park vacation? Have you ever stayed on property? What did you think?

Disclosure: I was provided with an all-expenses paid trip to Universal Orlando Resort. No follow-up promotion or publicity was requested or required. All opinions are my own.
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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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