We plan to visit EPCOT and Animal Kingdom and Universal Studio parks during the week before Christmas. What are some of the stay options to consider? We plan to rent a car as well. We are open to staying at two different places.
I recommend staying at one of the premier Universal hotels for the days you are at UOR (Hard Rock, Royal Pacific, and Portofino Bay). That way you can get Express Pass included. It may be tricky to get a decently priced room there for the week before Christmas. If you’re talking about 2022, at least you have time to pounce on a room as soon as inventory is available, and then look out for deals later (you can cancel and rebook at the lower rate).
I would recommend doing a split stay with a hotel at WDW for your days there. Anything in the Epcot area (Beach Club, Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Swan, Dolphin, Swan Reserve) would work great. If you want to be closer to Animal Kingdom, Coronado Springs or Animal Kingdom Lodge would work but neither is super close to anything.
All of these suggestions are on the expensive side. You could also consider other hotels on property depending on your budget - including Value hotels - and have a great time.
The Universal premiers have a huge advantage, the express passes that come with the room. For those with a car, Disney hotels have early entry which can be priced the same as one ILL$$$ per person. They really have nothing else if you drive.
A place I like is closer to Universal, Drury Inn. Includes a free hot breakfast, free hot dinner, two free alcohol drinks and a soda fountain. It is more of a business hotel so the pool is small.
I was considering Pop century resort for WDW and Cabana Bay for Universal. I plan to visit Universal for at least 2 days. Cabana Bay offers Early entrance. Can it compensate the express pass? I thought Universal is more much manageable in terms of Crowd. Would it be crazy too?
You did say the week before Christmas. I assume that every theme park will be insane then. During normal crowds, you don’t need express passes. But, Christmas-ish time. Early entry is nice, but not express pass nice. Money will be better spent to stay premier onsite at Universal and cheap offsite at Disney. With the money saved from POP to offsite you can buy G+ and maybe a ILL$$$ or two.
Since you’ll have a car, you’ll pay for parking one way or another at Disney.
what is ILL$$$?
An individual paid lightning lane reservation is sometimes referred to as an ILL (or ILL$ to emphasize that you have to pay extra for it). A good example is Rise of the Resistance.
Is Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Lake Buena Vista better option?
Yes this, especially if you’re visiting during the week of the 19th. Very busy time.
By the way, here is a thread on Genie+ and Lightning Lane if any of this isn’t familiar to you.
I have stayed here multiple times. It is a pretty good hotel that gives you the benefits of a Good Neighbour Hotel - like Early Entry to the Disney Parks.
Your suggestions are very useful.
All the premier onsite hotels do not seem to have any availability
Do the premier Universal hotels provide express pass to everyone who stay? Does it mean that the price of the room is almost free?
I assume you’re going this year then? In that case I think you will have to settle with buying Express Pass separately (which is quite expensive and may not be in your budget). If you can get Cabana Bay, that is an excellent Universal Resort. It gets rave reviews as a good value.
For Disney I think it sounds like the Holiday Inn would be a good option for you. With a car and early entry, there’s not much more an on-site hotel could get you unless you really just like a particular hotel.
Yes that is correct. Express Pass is included in the price of the hotel. The price of express pass and of the hotel rooms can vary, and depending on how many people are in your room, it can pay for itself.
Is the Express pass provided on the checkin date or checkout date if I book for one night?
Both check in and check out days will get express if you book for 1 night. It’s a great deal!
Room key acts as the pass so we can enter the park only after 3 pm and will not have the key the next day. It seems to me it is useless on the day of checkin and check out
You can get your room key/express pass as early as 6am on check in day, and it is good until the parks close on check out day. You get 2 full days of use.