Universal offers perks to get theme park visitors into its hotels. The most valuable of these are unlimited Universal Express access for each guest in the hotel room and admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure 1 hour before the general public each morning.
Other benefits include:
- Priority dining reservations at Universalâ€™s restaurants
- â€œNext table availableâ€ status at CityWalk restaurants
- Universal hotel guests can charge in-park purchases to their hotel room
- Free package delivery to their hotel room of anything bought in the theme parks
- Free parking at its theme parks to hotel guests, although weâ€™re not sure why anyone would do this
- Free transportation by bus or boat to its theme parks and CityWalk, plus SeaWorld, SeaWorldâ€™s Aquatica water park, and the Wet â€˜n Wild water park
Having stayed at each of Universalâ€™s hotels, we think the third-best benefit is the ability to walk to the parks from your hotel. And itâ€™s not just the convenience â€“ the walkways are pretty and almost serene at night, if you can ignore the whooshing noise from the Incredible Hulk coaster.
Crunching the Numbers
Unlimited use of Universal Express costs $57 to $137 per day per adult and $53 to $133 per child, excluding tax, depending on the time of year you visit. That works out to $220 per day for two adults and two children. One night at Universalâ€™s Royal Pacific hotel costs anywhere from $201 to $309, excluding tax, depending on the season. If you were planning on staying at a comparable offsite deluxe hotel anyway, staying at the Royal Pacific gets your family two days of unlimited Universal Express at little to no cost. A father from Snellville, Georgia, did the math and discovered that it was cheaper for his family to stay at a Universal resort than buy Universal Express Plus:
The benefits of that room key alone can be worth the price, with early entry to The Wizarding World and unlimited Express privileges at both parks. We got a room at the Royal Pacific Resort for $349 on a Saturday night, which allowed us to use Universal Express Saturday and Sunday. The room cost $43.63 per person per day, while an [Ã la carte] Express pass this same weekend would have cost $55.99 per person per day, and we still would have had to pay for a hotel.