First Universal Trip, Accommodations, Transportation

Any information is appreciated!

We will be arriving at MCO on Tuesday, March 26 at 8pm & will need to get from airport to whatever hotel we choose.
We will have 3 full days at Universal. Current crowd level predictions are 4-6. 2 HP obsessed family members. We (or at least some of us) will want to ride as many rides as possible.

We leave on Saturday for a Disney cruise out of Port Canaveral & I have no idea what our port arrival time will be, but we are hoping for early. We will need to get from whatever hotel we are at to Port Canaveral.

Has anyone stayed off site?
Has anyone stayed at one of the EP hotels for one night to get the 2 days of passes & somewhere cheaper the other nights?
Transportation suggestions? (We weren’t planning on getting a car, unless that is a cheaper option)
Thought we would for sure need the EP, but if those crowd predictions are accurate, I’m not sure.

We just returned from a 3 night stay at Hard Rock. The Express Pass was amazing to have. You certainly can go without it if you have a good touring plan (we have done it before) but EP is a very nice perk. Also the walk to and from the parks was so short. It was great not to have to deal with parking.