As someone who grew up in Orlando, I’ve been to Universal Orlando more times than I can even remember, BUT things have majorly changed since I was a kid. If you haven’t visited Universal Orlando recently, you are MISSING OUT. The new park attractions, gorgeous hotels, and updated Universal CityWalk are a must-see if you’re planning a trip to Orlando!
A few months ago, my family and I were generously offered a weekend staycation at Universal Orlando, and of course, we couldn’t pass up such a fun offer! We stayed at Universal’s Aventura Hotel, which is the newest hotel on property, and we were so impressed with the hotel and amenities. If you’re planning a trip to Universal Orlando, keep reading to learn more about our stay and why staying on property is a MUST for any Universal trip. P.S. You can see videos from our stay at Universal’s Aventura Hotel and our trip to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on my Instagram (@ashleybrookenicholas) under the story highlight labeled Universal.
Where to Stay at Universal Orlando + Universal’s Aventura Hotel Review
Universal’s Aventura Hotel is the newest addition to the line-up of hotels on the Universal Orlando property, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. The modern architecture, sleek interior design, and calming vibe are a far-cry from what you’d normally envision to be in a theme park hotel. This modern minimalist hotel has everything you need for your vacation without overwhelming you with extraneous details and features that you won’t actually need while you’re enjoying your days at the parks. We had a wonderful experience at Universal’s Aventura Hotel from start to finish. Self-parking was free, check-in was a breeze (shoutout to my girl Deborah at the front desk- she’s awesome!), and our room was extremely easy to access.
Take a Peek into The Rooms at Universal’s Aventura HotelOur room at Universal’s Aventura Hotel had a gorgeous view of Universal’s Cabana Bay Hotel and the Volcano Bay waterpark. We loved waking up to the bright colors and fun view of the volcano’s cascading waterfall. Despite being so close to another Universal attraction, our hotel room was quiet, private, and peaceful. We loved the minimal layout of the room complete with two comfy queen beds, a sleek desk, and a modern TV system complete with my daughter’s favorite app, Youtube! We let her watch Peppa Pig on the TV while we unpacked, and she was as happy as can be!
Our room had floor-to-ceiling dividers to separate the bedroom from the bathroom and closet area, so you can have extra privacy while you’re getting ready in the morning while the rest of the group is sleeping or lounging. We loved the little cubbyholes in the sink area, which gave us the perfect amount of space to organize all of our toiletries for our stay.
Staying at Universal Orlando Hotels with a Baby or ToddlerUniversal’s Aventura Hotel was a great choice for our weekend staycation with our toddler. The hotel staff kindly provided a crib for our stay (just call the front desk when you get to your room), and while it was impeccably clean, I always recommend traveling with a crib sheet from home for sanitary and emotional comfort reasons. It’s one more thing that’s closer to home for your little one! The crib just fit in between the two queen beds, but you could also position the bed closer to the front door or in the bathroom area if you prefer.
I’ll go into more details on why staying on-property is so convenient, but I have to mention just how easy it was to navigate the area with our toddler. The parking garage is connected to the hotel, and there was only a short walk to the elevator to get to our room. All of the doorways, elevators, hallways, and rooms provided ample room for us to navigate with our large stroller, large toddler hiking backpack, and luggage. We had multiple food options (and Starbucks!) in the lobby if we needed to give Summer a quick bite to eat, and the free bus to the attractions (runs all day long) was SO easy to access. The meeting point was just outside of the hotel lobby, and we were able to hop on quickly and get to the parks in no time at all!
Amenities at Universal’s Aventura Hotel
While we spent most of our staycation enjoying the Universal Orlando parks and attractions, we loved exploring the beautiful Aventura Hotel. My favorite part of the entire resort is the rooftop area, which boasts 360-degree views of Orlando and all of the Universal Orlando attractions and the most beautiful atmosphere.
The rooftop is a great area to watch the sunset, and you can also grab a quick drink or bite to eat at the Bar 17 Bistro. No matter how busy your Universal Orlando stay may be, I highly recommend taking the time to relax in this gorgeous area. It really is a hidden gem in Orlando!
One feature of the hotel that was surprisingly helpful were the interactive displays in the lobby by the elevators. We were able to quickly peruse all of the pertinent information for the day (park hours, weather alerts, shuttle times) at the glance while we went in and out of our room throughout the day. It’s a simple feature, but it really helped us stay organized and top of our schedule each day. When you’re juggling a toddler, stroller, diaper bag, snacks, sunscreen, and more, you need EASY. This display was simple, streamlined, and just what we needed!
If you have some time to kill before or after your trip to the Universal Orlando attractions, the Aventura Hotel has a nice pool area and a quiet gym area to keep you busy throughout the day. We were scheduled from morning until night for our entire stay, but I’ll definitely take advantage of these amenities during our next stay.
Dining Options at Universal’s Aventura Hotel
While you’re enjoying the sunny weather at the pool, grab a drink and enjoy watching a game at the outdoor Sol Bar. It’s a covered space, so you can enjoy this area even when it’s extremely sunny or raining. The lighting is beautiful and even in this area too, so it’s also a great place to snap photos of your family.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, the Bar 17 Bistro is one of my favorite areas of the entire hotel. It has a covered patio area that is absolutely stunning and features gorgeous views of Universal Orlando. It’s a great place to grab a drink and a quick bite, and it’s also a fabulous area to take photos with your family. The lighting is beautiful in this area.
The final, and most functional, dining option in Universal’s Aventura Hotel is the Urban Pantry area in the main lobby. In this area, you’ll find a wide variety of healthy snack and drink options as well as fast-casual options for pizza, sushi, and more.
Urban Pantry boasts a wide variety of affordable options for your family, and I really think there are enough options to please every member of your group. The casual atmosphere and open seating area is friendly to kids and large groups, and it was never overly crowded during our stay.
If you need a quick caffeine fix (who doesn’t?), there’s a full-service Starbucks conveniently located in the lobby. We had a very early morning wake-up call during our days at Universal Orlando, so it was awesome to get my Venti Pink Drink before we even got to the parks!
Universal Studios Store Inside Aventura Hotel
While you’re destined to spend quite a bit of time perusing the beautiful stores inside the Universal Orlando attractions, it’s extremely convenient to take a peek at the Universal Studios store inside the Aventura Hotel before your trip to the parks. If your family wants to walk into Diagon Alley wearing wizarding robes (so fun!), you can purchase them, along with matching wands and scarves, before you even get inside the park! They also have lots of fun Universal merchandise, you can pick up souvenirs before your trip home as well.
Early Access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Staying on property at Universal Orlando is SO convenient. In addition to getting to skip the daily parking fees, getting to/from your hotel and the attractions in minutes with the free buses, and just having a relaxing place to go when it’s raining or gets too hot, there is still a perk that I’ve left out. When you stay on property, you can get into all of the Universal Orlando parks a full hour earlier than everyone else! My husband and I are MAJOR Harry Potter fans, so we headed straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Click here to get ALL of the details from this absolutely incredible area of the park, but before you read, I cannot tell you how awesome it is to wander around this area when it’s almost entirely empty. It makes your experience extra magical, and you can get a head start on some of the busiest rides in the park!
If you’re headed to Universal Orlando, I highly recommend checking out Universal’s Aventura Hotel. It has everything you need to make your days at the parks more convenient and your nights at the hotel peaceful and relaxing. For a peek into another Universal Orlando hotel, check out my stay at the Loews’ Portofino Bay Hotel here, here, and here. You can also find more ideas for your trip to Orlando from my post on the Top 10 Things to Do in Orlando. P.S. Don’t forget to check out videos from our entire stay at Universal’s Aventura Hotel as well as our trips to the Universal Orlando attractions on my Instagram under the story highlight named Universal. If you’d like to learn more about early admission and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, click here.
Thanks to Universal Orlando for providing our room at Aventura Hotel as well as our tickets to the parks. As always, I value your trust and only recommend brands that I truly love. I’ve been to Universal Orlando countless times over the past 31 years, and I would (and have) gladly purchase these experiences myself.