As annual pass holders and frequent visitors to Universal Studios Florida, my family visits Orlando often. Here was our experience.
Other than being a hotel owned directly by Universal Studios, it’s hard to get much closer than this to the eponymous theme park. Close to the interstate, the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance of Universal Studios (“Double Tree Orlando” going forward) is exactly that. In fact, guests staying at the property can actually walk to parks using an elevated walkway over the street. All three Universal Orlando Resort parks are easily accessible by the pathway: Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios Florida, and Universal’s Volcano Bay, though the last (a water park) is farthest away.
This property offers ample parking; self-parking costs $23/nightly, valet is $29/nightly.
Address: 5780 Major Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: +1 407-351-1000
This mega property spans two towers and ancillary buildings that include dining, a convention center, and a large amount of meeting space. Between the towers and these other facilities is a courtyard with a water feature, outdoor fires, and several seating options for solo travelers and groups alike.
The standard features of a property this size include a fitness center, several on-site restaurants, Universal Studios, and car rental reservation desks, a convenience and gift store, an ice cream parlor, an on-site Starbucks, a massive swimming pool, hot tubs, and a water play area for children.
As this property is not an official Universal hotel, some benefits like those at owned properties (Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Surfside Inn and Suites, etc.) are unavailable. Early Park Admission is only permitted by guests holding an annual pass or staying with a Universal Orlando property. Universal Express Unlimited passes (skip the rides) are available for some but not all of the aforementioned properties, each of which costs more than double this property; readers are recommended to just buy the pass independently if it’s of interest.
Diamond Suite Upgrade and Benefits
As with most Hilton Orlando properties we have encountered, my Diamond Honors benefits were granted and the staff – from the bellhop to management – was incredibly gracious. Due to changes in the Honors program, stays in the United States now receive a food and beverage credit rather than included breakfast. We used our credit for evening snacks and Starbucks coffee, but I was able to photograph the breakfast buffet in the restaurant which I will show below.
We were also upgraded to an unbelievable corner suite complete with dining room, living room, wet bar and guest bathroom, all of which more than tripled the space of a standard guest room. This room was far and away one of the largest Orlando hotel suites we have received, and will be one of the main reasons we will return to the property even in the event we don’t get upgraded on future visits.
The suite has two entrances, one opens to the living room which felt large enough to play a regulation hockey game (sans ice.)
In addition to the living room, the suite featured a wet bar, an entrance sitting area, a living room with a couch and chairs across from a TV as well as a full six-seat dining room.
This suite was ideal for those hosting a group or business function. For our purposes, we were traveling with family members staying in another suite (had we known we would have received a Diamond upgrade this good, they could have easily stayed on the pull-out couch in the living room.)
Bottles of water were stocked and an empty mini-fridge was great for our snacks.
The dining room table at the far corner of the room provided plenty of space for in-room dining using our daily food and beverage credit as well as evening games of cards.
The floor-to-ceiling windows, huge L-shaped couch and ottoman let my family stretch out away from our bedroom. The veiw outside the windows was of the parking lot and then the entrance road to Universal Studios. An elevated walkway makes the parks walkable though the distance is considerable, especially given the amount of walking most do in the park during a given day.
The bedroom appeared to be in line with what most guests should expect for a standard bedroom. It was clean and modern, recently renovated, and had good access to power ports near the bed. Opposite our pair of queen beds was a desk sufficient for two laptops, a dresser for longer stays, and a large flatscreen TV.
The suite had a guest bathroom (with shower) in the living room suite. This is an optimal situation families staying with guests or those who are hosting meetings with co-workers.
The separation between personal and guest space is priceless. Other than being separate, the bathroom was equipped the same as the master suite bathroom, allowing two separate showers for families getting to the parks late – I’m not pointing any fingers.
The master bath is identical and en suite.
During our stay, we were fortunate to be able to travel mid-week and achieve a nightly room rate of about $120-140 on average. Stays during peak travel periods like Spring Break (March to mid-April), around major holidays, and most of the summer (late May to early September) will likely incur higher nightly charges.
Point redemption costs during our stay ranged from 30,000/night to 40,000 Hilton Honors points. With Hilton, each fifth night is free which can lower the overall average if paying with points. The value for our specific stay was 0.45¢/point, slightly higher than the average Hilton Honors redemption rate of 0.4¢/point.
While the rate was better in this case when utilizing points, it’s not such an outsized value that I’d insist using points. If you have a mountain of points, or are staying five nights, it’s a reasonable redemption. However, other Hilton properties might warrant a better use of points than this particular hotel.
At a $120-140/night, the hotel is an excellent value – especially if you’re able to score an upgrade due to status like we did.
Guests visiting other parks in Orlando, Florida can still make the Double Tree Orlando their home during their stay without creating a substantial imposition. For example, SeaWorld Orlando parks (both a water park and the theme park) is just a nine-minute drive down I-4 (though at high traffic periods this could be longer.) Disney is a farther distance for some parks.
What do you think? Have you stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at the Entrance to Universal Studios? How was your experience?