First trip to Universal Studios Resort

I was at Universal Studios the first week it opened in 1990, but I have not been back since and I would like to take my children there in April while visiting family in the area. I am having a hard time with planning. I have been to WDW many times, but I do not know too much about Universal. I would like to stay one night in one of the hotels that offers the express pass. Which hotel would everyone recommend? Is 1 day enough time in the parks or should we do 2 days since we are planning on staying overnight? We would like to do both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. My children are 8 and 10 and they are adventurous. I will also be with my 2 nieces that are not as adventurous. There will be 6 people total in our group which probably means we would need 2 rooms for the night? Thank you in advance for any help on planning this trip!

I’d go with the cheapest hotel that offers the Express Pass, which is the Royal Pacific.
And yes, I would do 2 park days. Your 1 night stay at the hotel should provide you Express Passes for both your check-in day and check-out day :slight_smile: You will just need to buy park tickets.

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We’re doing our first Universal trip in March, staying at Hard Rock (better location and theming for us). My understanding is that you can fully do both parks in 2 days with the Express Pass, so that’s our plan.


I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the “premier” level hotels – I’d go w/ best rate. I don’t travel w/ that many ppl, so I don’t know if those hotels offer multi-room suites. Two rooms might have to be the solution.

If you are staying overnight I’d do two days – one for each park. You can cram all the “E-ticket” rides in one day, especially with UXP. However, it really is a great theme park. There are too many Disney people who won’t even try it because it’s “not Disney”.

There are plenty of shows and things to do that I like USF/IOA better than either AK / Epcot. (Before SW:GE I’d have included DHS in that list. Now, I think that park and Universal are both on the same level)

Here’s TP’s room descriptions and photos if that helps:


I agree with this. While it would be possible with 1 day using express pass, there is a lot to just look at and enjoy, so two days would be better and make it easier.


I’m so excited for you, Universal is a lot of fun! For me, the correct answer to how many days is as many as I can go, lol. We’ve never did the express pass hotels, but I’m sure any of them you can’t go wrong at. They are all pretty close to the parks, so if it was me, I’d probably pick the cheapest one. We’ve stayed at Cabana Bay most of our trips, and from there to the buses to the gates, it wasn’t more than 15 minutes unless we took our time walking. The hotels you’re looking into are closer than that. Also, don’t stress out, you’ll see when you get there that Universal is a lot more chill than Disney. You’ll have even more time with the passes. We’ve done so much without the express passes even during Spring Break. You should check out my latest trip report—here’s the link: Impromptu Trip Report


Thanks! I am feeling a little anxious because I am a Disney person and this is out of my comfort zone.

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Thanks for the info! I will definitely check out your trip report. I notice that during the weekdays the parks close earlier, at 6:00 PM. Does that ever cause an issue with fitting everything in? Are the weekends a lot more crowded than weekdays?

I don’t know abotu 6 people but we were able to get a regular room at Portofino and have a rollaway bed for the 5th person. There was a $35 / night charge for it, but it was worth it: it was a really nice rollaway bed.

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I’m glad to hear its nice. I have a rollaway needed for one night at RPR and I’m hoping its good.

UOR with Express Passes is blissful. It’s so easy. You do what you want when you want. It’s like having an FPP for everything all the time. (Except Hagrid. Ugh.)

I would do the two days for sure. Just to take the pressure off. And for rain contingency. You need to see WWOHP in sunshine.


When I went once during spring break, the weekend seemed a little more crowded, but not unbearable. On this trip, the parks closed around 7/8, and the weekend really didn’t feel more crowded at all. Also, the weekdays do not always close earlier than the weekends, it just depends on when you go. If I remember correctly, spring break was usually open later than the weeks before or after. Sometimes they closed earlier due to a private event. For instance, last year, the parks closed early on a Friday because of a private event. I hope this helps, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

We needed a suite and found the pass holder rate for rpr was cheapest. But they’re pricey, like $700+ a night, without the pass holder rate. But a seasonal pass, which qualifies you for that rate, is the same price as a 3 day park to park, so…

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I looked back at my pics of the rollaway bed. It was great for my DD7. It looks like it would be big enough for an adult too, but if you have tall adults you might want to call them for dimensions to be sure it works. It is placed at the foot of the bed and its length is the same as the width of the bed, which I think was a queen. It was way nicer than similar things I slept on when I was a kid—it was like a real bed, just down closer to the floor.

Thanks, this definitely helps! I am sure I will have more questions.