Finalizing resort(s) for March (AND OTHER PRE-TRIP DISCUSSION)

New trip booked for late March. Sadly, without Mummy, but we’ve ridden it quite a bit. AP discount availability on the premiers for my dates has changed often and/or been a hot commodity since recently released, making it hard to string together more than a couple nights in a row without hitting a (very high) rack rate night that would destroy the budget. Just nailed down the first 2 nights at Portofino (regular 2Q room, 5 people). Was thinking of then transferring to an Endless Summer 2BR suite, also with AP rate, but…

We want 3 full park days to make sure we do absolutely everything and repeat what we want to at a pretty relaxed pace. Our previous 2 UOR stops were extremely rushed add-ons before the longer WDW stay. If we do the above, the 3rd full day is without EP after having 2 with it. (Would be entitled to EP on check in day also, but we may not get on property with much time left to even want to or be able to get into the parks much, and can’t seem to get AP rate on a later 2 consecutive nights). I was thinking that can still work and to focus on repeating Hagrid and VC that 3rd day as well as the shows and maybe a longer meal, but now I looked again, and there is a 3rd night at Portofino I could add on at the AP rate but only Club Level. If I went that route, when would the club perks actually start? Beginning with breakfast on check in day which would be great since we’d already be at the resort, or not til officially having access to the club room later in the day? Need to add up the value to see if switching to club for one night, along with the extra day of EP is a luxury worth the ~$350-400 or so difference vs just going to Endless Summer at that point.

@gingerSnaps543222 , if I remember right, you just did Portofino club level on your recent trip. Any thoughts on Portofino, or if a night at club level there is worth it in general? (I will also find your trip report again.)


I agree this would be a good strategy, or other rides that EP doesn’t really help with. I found there have been plenty of rides where EP was saving just a few minutes. (Just to confirm, EP hasn’t been added to Hagrid or VC yet, right?)

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I’ve done both kinds of things of what you’re doing. I did an Oct 20 trip where i finished in the 2 bedroom suite at Endless Summer Surfside (which the room layout is pretty fabulous for the kids…I think the adult bedroom is cramped). But more space is always nice. We also did one day without EP and focused on shows and rides that didn’t have long lines and it was very easy to do everything I wanted to do that day and use EP the other two days for the rides that needed it.

However, I also liked club level. Did you see my breakfast spread pics? Breakfast was great and it started running at 7am I believe. There was an absolute ton of offerings. I was not as impressed with the dinner or dessert service and the wine isn’t great wine but my mom said it wasn’t terrible. I did not imbibe. There is only beer/wine at the dinner time which was only made once because we were usually in the parks. That was like 5-7pm (might have been 8pm). I’d call them and ask or look on the internet which I can do too in a second. Dessert was easier to make and it was just okay. I like the tiramasu and cannoli the best but it tastes very much like super market dessert. However, again for us it wasn’t that much more (like $30 a night or something cuz of a sale for 3 nights so I think breakfast for 4 people was very much worth that for us). How much would spend on breakfast otherwise? Then if it’s about the cost difference book the Club Level!

I’m gonna go lookup details and I’ll post photos and details here…

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For us Early Entry was at 8am so we could easily grab some breakfast and make EE but it wasn’t terribly crowded…We only had EE at IOA and these were our crowd levels:
First number is All parks, then USF and then IOA

What you don’t see in those pics is a very large table with tons of different flavors of juice, coffee and teas and water. We would grab a couple of water bottles each in the morning and at night and we never needed water. Also behind the charcuterie table as four hot buffet servers with things like breakfast sandwiches, eggs, etc. Very yummy stuff for breakfast…and look at the fancy donuts! The bagel area had lox for bagels which I love. It was hands down a wonderful breakfast with lots of places to spread out and that was the view. You could out on the balcony too but it’s standing room only out there.

  • Continental breakfast served each morning (7am – 10:30am)
  • Afternoon Break (12 pm–3:30 pm) (I never did this one)
  • Hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and complimentary beer and wine (5 pm–7 pm) (made this one once)
  • “Something Sweet” each night (8 pm–9:30 pm)

For fair balance the bus from Surfside is fast and often. The bus is probably faster than the boat but you do have to do more walking since you come in at Citywalk. And if you’re planning to walk Portofino is lovely for that. I do really like having two rooms for the kids too though but personally, I’d probably choose club level.

If it’s just for the extra day of Express Passes I don’t think that’s necessary given your plan but if you want to relax a bit more and not have to bother with switching hotels and use those club lounge offerings to save money on food/drinks then that’s why I’d choose that personally.

Thank you! I feel more confident now that this would be adequate to do everything in the parks the way we want to (looks like crowd level 8 or so).

And your club details are also super helpful! I’ll just have to find out if I can get 2 breakfasts on 1 club night or just 1. That could make or break the value with 5 people, and since that seems to be by far the best food offering of the day.

You may want to check Royal Pacific for Club Level. I think they are a little cheaper than Portofino. Plus people love the Lounge being on the 7th floor, the same floor as the rooms.

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They don’t really check. They ask for you room number and jot it down. Our room keys never worked and they always had to let us in. My mom went alone one time and couldn’t remember our room number and she gave them the wrong one…they never did anything…they seriously don’t check. ha ha

Also, given you get your keys when you check in (cuz that’s your express pass) I would think that’s sufficient to use the lounge immediately. You can definitely use it on checkout day…we did.

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Also, you don’t have to switch rooms to get club level btw. I wanted a bay view so I was actually in the wrong wing…so I’d just ask to keep your room but add the club level service for the last night as long as its not an upgrade of a room view, I’m sure they’d oblige.

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And FYI I did my non-EP day on a crowd level 10 saturday on a holidaay weekend (Columbus day). You can still very easily do shows. We did stuff like Bourne, Horror Monsters Show, Animal Actors, some of the street shows, and in the first couple of hours you can ride headliners too without too much of a wait. It really starts to feel crowded at 11am. Again this was on a crowd level 10 day so you’ll be just fine.

Across All Universal Orlando Theme Parks

  • Crowd Level:
What we predicted: 7 out of 10
What we saw: 10 out of 10

Universal Studios Florida

  • Crowd Level:
What we predicted: 7 out of 10
What we saw: 10 out of 10

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

  • Crowd Level:
What we predicted: 7 out of 10
What we saw: 10 out of 10

That was my day without express. ha ha…


Excellent inside info there. Not having to pack up and put bags in the car for the day (or tip to have them held) until the other room is ready is definitely worth some of the extra cost in added convenience.

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Yup get @Jeff_AZ to price out two quick service breakfasts for 5 people and a day’s worth of bottled waters plus put some financial value on not having to switch rooms in a spreadsheet for you! :wink:


With 5 people I’d choose Portofino over RPR for the size of the room. It’s huge at Portofino!


Overall, RPR would be last preference of the premiers since we have stayed there already (regular room, not club) and not the other 2, but would have still considered if it were the only one with AP discount, but never saw it for dates we could use. We did love the resort though, albeit in a crammed room.


While I like the RPR as a resort I much prefer the rooms at Portofino. Portofino also just has this very relaxed air that you will absolutely love. I beg of you to find some time to just wander around. There are so many quiet places to just have a drink of coffee in these magical Italian looking settings (You can get your beer from the club and go sit in them too!). And at about 6pm a couple of opera singers come out and sing a few songs…so if you do make it back for the evening hordeouvres and drinks on club days you can grab a wine and some snacks and go find a table in the piazza for the most magical early evening break. If the parks are open late go back and ride some more rides refreshed. Can you tell Portofino is my favorite of the Universal resorts so far (yet to stay in Endless Summer Dockside or Sapphire Falls)?!?


Ah, that’s why the price difference!

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I found these gems…so old they came from before I had a smart phone but I didn’t take a lot of photos of the hotel this time


Was really on the fence about this, so gave it another day or two to think about it, and now the option is gone, which I accepted as a possibility by waiting. If it was critical to the trip, I would have jumped on it. There’s definitely value to be had with club for a party of 5 (thanks for all the great info Jenny), but it’s a luxury we can probably omit this time without sacrificing much, if anything, in the quality of our park time (just a little in convenience) and keep the total bill a little lower.

If it was between PB and PB Club (these sound like sandwich options), it would be worth the marginal upcharge, but between PB Club and Endless Summer is quite a cost gap. We’re driving, so I’ll try to stock up on food and drinks in such a way to simulate a poor man’s club level the best I can. :joy:

So it’s looking something like:

Day 1:

  • Arrive on property mid to late afternoon, check in at PB

  • Dinner (probably Toothsome)

  • A little park time until close if we’re up for it since we’ll have EP, or even just to stroll around

Day 2:

  • All day in parks with EP

  • QS Lunch?

  • Maybe an afternoon pool break if we’re making good ride progress

  • Dinner at Cowfish (some of us love good burgers, some love sushi)?

Day 3:

  • All day in parks with EP (focus on things not done on previous day)

  • Lunch at LC or 3B? (Which is better if we only do one?)

  • Transfer to Endless Summer suite

Day 4:

  • In parks as long as needed/wanted with focus on Bourne, Horror Makeup, Animal Actors, street stuff, shops, repeat rides of Hagrid & VC, and anything else missed or wanting to repeat where the lack of EP is not a big factor

Day 5 and beyond:

  • Check out of Endless Summer, leave UOR

  • Tentatively do some non-park things at WDW and/or something else before having to head home (keeping costs down, have seen everything recently enough and will be back soon enough)

Anything to know between Dockside and Surfside 2BR suites? Will it matter much which one we go with?

For park time, I kind of just want to wing it and go with what we feel like in the moment rather than declare a US or IOA day or a HP day, etc. I think we have the time. And then the Hagrid’s and VC wait times will just be a regular thing to be aware of in the background. We’ll see how EE plays into those rides by then too.

Will narrow down food options when it gets closer, but don’t know a lot yet and have only been to Toothsome and a couple in-park QS thus far (the Simpsons one and the one between JP and Kong I think). Really wanted to check out Mythos for the ambiance but not sure my family is crazy about the menu.


Try this article: