Universal Orlando recently opened its seventh hotel, targeting families on a budget by offering more affordable suites with on-site theme park privileges.
Called Universal's Surfside Inn and Suites, the 750-room, surf-themed hotel is the first in the park's "value" category. It is the first phase of what will be called the Endless Summer Resort, occupying the space on International Drive that used to house the Universal-owned Wet 'n Wild water park. Next up is the Dockside Inn and Suites, the second phase of the Endless Summer Resort, which opens in two stages in 2020, adding another 2,050 rooms.
Besides standard resort hotel amenities like two-bedroom suites, a restaurant and a pool, guests will get early park admission and shuttles to the theme parks.
A single-night stay ranges from $164 to $239. But a seven-night stay starts at $73 a night for a standard room with two queen-sized beds. Two-bedroom suites start at $113 per night for a seven-night stay. The suite includes two separate rooms with a total of three queen-sized beds, a kitchenette area, a picnic table and a bathroom.
The hotel also features Beach Break Cafe, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner of sandwiches, pizzas, power bowls and burgers, with most dishes under $12.
"The Loews-run hotel promises to disrupt the budget hotel industry on International Drive," said Robert Niles, the founder and editor of the Theme Park Insider website. "Now guests can get an 'on site' theme park resort hotel experience for far less than they've paid in decades."
Despite its price, the hotel doesn't feel or look cheap. It has a huge surfboard-shaped pool with a beachlike zero-entry slope on one end and loads of cushioned seats and umbrellas next to a poolside bar with reasonably priced drinks.
It compares to Walt Disney World's value hotel option, Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, which starts at $112 per night.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @SharonKWn.