This year we spent Spring Break with the kids visiting Universal in Orlando, FL and we had a blast! The weather was perfection with a high in the low to mid 80’s everyday which we gratefully embraced. We stayed on-site at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel which is one of their premiere hotels. One of the biggest perks of staying in a premiere hotel is that unlimited express passes are included with your tickets, meaning your wait times for just about every ride are drastically reduced. Waiting in lines isn’t something anyone looks forward to, so this was a big perk in our book. You can also take advantage of early park entry when available (which comes with staying at any Universal hotel).
Although the hotel was less than a 10 minute boat ride to the parks, it felt like a remote getaway when you were on property. Although it is a rather large resort, it felt quaint and charming….unless you were at the beach pool which was a non-stop party!
We loved the fact that they had three pools to choose from; the beach pool which was a lot of fun for the kids with a sandy beach and a waterslide, a large villa pool with lounge chairs and cabanas and a smaller, more remote pool on the opposite side of the hotel. No matter where you were, the service was fantastic and you always felt taken care of.
I should mention that I would not have known half of this information had it not been for Ashley with Great Adventures Travel Co. She is always so helpful booking our vacations and makes sure everything is planned out seamlessly. She’s a pleasure to work with if you are ever in need!
Another perk that’s an available add-on for Portofino guests is their Club Level. Not only are the rooms slightly larger (very much appreciated with a family of five) but you also get access to their Club Lounge which offers breakfast, snacks throughout the day and hot appetizers in the evening. Although they don’t claim to provide full meals outside of breakfast, it was more than enough food on the days we were on-site and able to take advantage of. Not to mention you could grab snacks, drinks and waters at any point during the day. It was well worth it for our family!
We purchased tickets for three park days which were interchangeable between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. The parks and hotels are all in one general area and very easy to navigate from one place to another.
My kids (especially the older two) are big Harry Potter fans, so this was a very special trip for them. They researched every ride and basically navigated us throughout the parks and Jack and I were more than happy to follow along! We rode the Hogwarts Express back and forth between the parks (which you are only able to do with a park to park ticket) a couple of times and everyone loved that.
Everyone was so friendly and there was a lot of comedic interaction which only made everything that much more appealing.
Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade were both very impressive…even for those of us that haven’t read through the series! It truly was a magical place.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but after having a frozen butterbeer it only left me wanting more! So yummy!
Jack bought an interactive wand that he was able to use throughout the Harry Potter areas. We all got a kick out that!
We didn’t ride every ride (some of the 3D and twisting and turning is a little more than we can handle), but we did ride most of them. Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure was probably about Audrey’s limit, but she claims it as her favorite ride!
After some of the more adventurous rides, we all welcomed a slower pace in Seuss Land! Overall, I’d say these parks are better for the older kids, but this area was so well done and quite adorable.
Speaking of adventurous rides, the VelociCoaster turned out to be a favorite for the three of us after we dug up the courage to ride it! It was intense but a very smooth ride. And it turns out you will survive going upside down with only a lap bar!
I stayed back with the girls while the guys rode the Hulk coaster, which they both loved! I remember riding this one as a kid, so I figured that was enough!
We all had one of the best meals at the Chocolate Emporium which came highly recommended by a number of people. It was located along Universal’s Citywalk, the hub of the area.
These trips always fly by, but we made the most of our time and had a great time visiting Universal, even with a few meltdowns and ‘hangry’ moments which are par for the course! We would certainly consider visiting again in future!