I just returned from an 8-day, 7-night combo Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort trip. Let me tell you, it was a BLAST! One thing that did stand out to me by the end of the trip: Universal’s pools are much better than Disney’s. In this article, I’ll list the ways I find Universal’s pools more fun and why you should book a Universal hotel stay.
Yes, you hear me right, pool hopping. Universal encourages guests at Premier, Preferred, and Prime Value resorts are able to visit each other’s pools. Staying at Aventura Hotel and want to try out the lazy river at Cabana Bay Beach Resort? You can pool hop. Portofino Bay Resort to Hard Rock Hotel? Yup, you can pool hop. We suggest making use of the walkways to the resorts from the parks as direct bus transportation is not offered. Make sure to take your key card for your resort otherwise you will not be admitted.
Guests who stay at Universal’s Value resorts, Endless Summer Dockside and Surfside, are not eligible for pool hopping.
My buddy and I staying at Bay Lake Tower would find ourselves at the pool bar. The drinks were standard menu items and for food, they offered a $9.50 roller hot dog. Thinking back to my prior trips to Disney pools I realized that this was pretty standard for all their offerings: bags of snacks, bottled beer, and mixed drinks straight from the 90s.
Then we went to Sapphire Falls and went to the Drhum Club. We saw the truth and it is the amazing pool bars at Universal. Drhum Club offers well-made cocktails, great food, and an inviting setting with plenty of tables and stools. Sapphire Falls is not the only one, the Hideaway Bar and Atomic Tonic at Cabana Bay, a Prime Value hotel, offers fresh fish tacos and mixed drinks. My travel companion swears the beachclub at Hard Rock Hotel is the best pool bar in the world.
Any regular guest can park it on a lounge chair, but what if you want something a little more special? Universal’s Premier, Preferred, and Prime Value hotels offer rentable cabanas to call home base or throw a party at. Cabanas come with chairs, a table, a mini-refrigerator full of drinks, and a flat-screen TV. Servers can also deliver drinks and food from the pool bars to your cabanas. During our stay, we saw a Harry Potter-themed party in one cabana (including oversized house banners) and other cabanas were full of people watching the NHL playoff games.
Cabana prices vary depending on the resort (Premier cabanas will cost more than Prime Value ones), the season, and the day of the week.
Mobile Ordering to Chairs
Guests not springing for a cabana can still live the dream of having a pool drink delivered to their chairs. All resorts include mobile ordering to chairs for food and drink from the pool bar. Each chair has a large tag with a QR code and location on it. Scan the QR code to access the mobile ordering site for the pool. Once you determine which drink or food you want enter the location on the tag. Once your food is ready it will be delivered to your chair. Now that’s convenient!
How can we forget about the pools themselves! All pools are heated and staffed by helpful lifeguards during pool hours. Pools feature games, activities, water playgrounds, and sometimes even DJs. All the resort pools are unique in some way, such as Portofino Bay’s three pools or Cabana Bay’s lazy river. For a full overview of the amenities and features of each pool read our Hotel Pool Showdown article.
What is your favorite pool at Universal? Leave your comments and thoughts below!