When in Orlando we try to fit a lot into a short period of time and visit all the larger parks in the Orlando area. We find the easiest way to do this for us is to split our visit and stay at two different hotels. We have done this on our last two holidays here, we spend a few nights at Universal then use an Uber or Lyft taxi to get to Walt Disney World. This works really well for us. With that in mind, we booked to say at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort for the first part of our stay. The hotel is only a few years old and is really beautiful, it has a Caribbean theme. It took a bit of time for them to find us a room initially despite pre-booking but once we got in there it was a large, bright room with all the amenities you would want including a little fridge for snacks and drinks. One of the main perks of staying onsite at Universal Resort hotel is the early park access, we used this for all the days we spent in the Universal parks and it was a lifesaver. We got so much done before the crowds hit later in the day. Trust me, the early start is worth it.
One of the great features of this particular hotel is the water taxi which takes you to the park, we used this for every visit to the Universal parks and City Walk except for one day when we walked back, which we quickly decided not to attempt again. It’s a long walk. The boat is regular, quick and was never too full that we weren’t able to get on. Plus after a long day at the parks, you’ll be grateful for it to just spend a few minutes off your feet. The boat drops you off at City Walk where you can enjoy lots of activities or head into the parks. I’m going to write about the parks in a separate post because otherwise you’ll be sat here all day reading.
City Walk is the area outside the parks which is part of the Universal Resort, this is where you can find bars, restaurants, shopping and other fun things to do such as Hollywood Drive-In mini golf. The mini golf here is insanely good fun, the holes are so well themed and it’s such a laugh. Make sure if you do play a game to use the app or the little scorecard and answer the questions, it’s easy to do and if you hand the card in at the end or show them the app you get a little scratch off card which will give you some sort of discount for your next trip. There are two courses to chose from but they are both equally good fun.
Since we were last here 4 years ago City Walk has had a few new additions, including Toothsome Chocolate Emporium which is a restaurant/bar/confectionary place. It’s enormous, you really can’t miss it if you are in City Walk. It’s situated down on the waterside and was on our list of places we wanted to try. We had a bit of a wait for our table but just had a little browse around the shop while waiting and then we were quickly shown to our table. The service here was great, our waiter was really nice and made us feel very welcome. The food was good and the cocktails were perfect! The restaurant is steampunk themed and they even have wandering characters dressed up. It’s really good fun for a night out, it’s not cheap but it was a good meal and honestly nowhere in the parks is cheap.
One of the other places we ate at was Antojitos for some Mexican food. Unfortunately, this was not as good as Toothsome. When we arrived the place was nearly empty yet we were told the only tables available for immediate seating were at the bar or we could wait for a table inside. We were quickly seated but honestly, I don’t understand why there was any wait at all. This was a theme of the restaurant, service was slow and not very attentive. It’s a real shame though because the food and the cocktails were really good. They had a fantastic live band playing on the stage when we got seated as well, it was a really fun place but unfortunately, the service let it down.
One of the other must-dos at City Walk is, of course, Voodoo Doughnuts. Oh my gosh, these are absolutely fantastic. We didn’t visit here until late into our visit because every time we went past the queues were enormous and we foolishly hoped it would be quieter at some other point. We eventually sucked it up and queued, I think we stood outside for maybe like 20 minutes? It wasn’t too bad, once inside you were seen really quickly and they were limiting the number of people who could enter so once inside you could really enjoy the eccentric decor famously associated with Voodoo Doughnuts. The doughnuts are really reasonably priced and they are really tasty. I had the Triple Chocolate and it was so good. We got an original glazed to share for breakfast the next day which was equally delicious.
Besides being a great area for entertainment one of the other reasons we stay at Universal is its access to the other non-Universal or Disney parks. The Universal parking lot is where a lot of the tour coaches pick up including the free coach to Busch Gardens which we have used on our last two visits.
If you are visiting Orlando for two weeks or longer then I really suggest considering a split visit. It makes things so much easier and Universal is a great place to stay with lots going on.