On Site or Off Site Hotel?


I’ve caught the Disney bug.
Oct 7, 2018
We are going to Universal Nov 20-25 and debating where to stay. I have been to Universal once - April 2018 and we stayed at RP. We loved the convenience of being able to walk and the express passes. We also love pools and felt that RP was a little lacking. In the effort to save a little money, I'm debating staying off-site, maybe someplace with a kitchen to be able to do breakfast and simple dinners. The biggest drawback off site is there don't seem to be any great pools in the area so I think I'd look at staying a little further away - maybe the Sea World area where we can get a great pool. We don't usually rent a car so then I am adding the cost of an Uber or Lyft. Is it worth it? Or more of a hassle? Have you stayed on site and off? What would you do next time?

If on site is your go to - EP hotel or not? Anyone know what the crowds are like the week before Thanksgiving? I've done Disney at Thanksgiving but not Universal. Will we need the EP's?

Extra note - after Universal we will be staying four more nights (until the 29th) so if we stay off site I may just look at staying one place the whole time.



DIS Veteran
Apr 21, 2003
I've done all of the above - stayed onsite at deluxe, stay onsite at Cabana Bay, stayed offsite. I have an AP though and go several times a year, so if I don't get everything done in one trip it's no big deal. I would guess the week before Thanksgiving wouldn't be too bad, crowds may pick up on the weekend. Did you know that Universal allows pool hopping, so you can go to any pool (saw something about Endless Summer, the newest, least expensive resort, does not offer this though). We were at RPR last year for Thanksgiving and did use the pool and VB some, but it was kind of cool temperature wise. I would consider how important a pool might be in November if the weather is cooler.

I like CBBR because you still have the early entry even though no EP. My trip coming up I am staying at a timeshare with complete kitchen and free parking for $90 a night. I will have a car and parking is free with my AP. Universal has a lot of single rider lines which make it more manageable without EP.
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J'aime Paris

Living happily ever after
Mar 7, 2008
I'd never give up the convenience of location, EE and EP at the Universal Resorts. I only stay at RPR or HRH.
Those factors would definitely win over a pool for me. Although I'm quite fine with the pools at Universal, and you are allowed to pool hop!
  • Maytrix

    Jul 18, 2012
    Having EP is always better then not having it. If think about your plans though.. Are you going to go to volcano bay? If you are. You won't need express that day. You can anyways do one night at whichever of the 3 that have EP are cheaper. We stayed at sapphire falls last week but booked one night at RP just for express. Didn't even change rooms. Less expensive then spending the whole time there and we still got EP at a great discount from buying it. And it turned out my sister used the room so it was well worthwhile.

    And as far as the pools go.. You can use any of the polls at the other resorts on property. Last couple years we've didn't time at sapphire while stay at RPR. This year we went to portifino for a couple hours (sapphire pool is better I think).


    DIS Veteran
    Jul 28, 2008
    I'm not a fan of split stays - too much time wasted packing and unpacking. There is a lot of value to staying onsite ( not having to deal with the parking garage is priceless in my mind ) . Since you'll have another 4 nights - would you consider staying onsite for the whole time?


    Proud Redhead
    Jan 1, 2001
    I always stay at EP hotels. If I am arriving late on a day when I won't be going to the parks, I will stay that one day at a non EP hotel, but onsite. It's just easier.


    DIS Veteran
    Oct 19, 2013
    I always stay at EP hotels. If I am arriving late on a day when I won't be going to the parks, I will stay that one day at a non EP hotel, but onsite. It's just easier.
    We pretty much do the same.

    We have about a 5 hour drive and typically leave home on a Friday after work. We get in late and have always stayed at the Fairfield Inn on Vineland that first night (there are cheaper places that are close, but we'll spend a bit more to collect the points). We get up early the next morning, grab a quick fast food restaurant, then check in to one of the EP hotels - whichever has the better rate at the time. It's usually RP, but we found Portofino cheaper once.

    We're considering a Christmas trip this year. If we pull the trigger, we'll probably stay that first night at Endless Summer or Sapphire Falls - they are cheaper than the Fairfield. Significantly enough to not worry about the Marriott points. We're a two room family, so it adds up.

    If it were up to me, I'd move back to ES or SF on the last night to save more money (with AP rates at Christmas, it's a savings of $275). We've never gone to the parks on our last day, so the EP benefit doesn't matter. My family has already shot down the idea - they don't want to move hotels an additional time.

    I'd move every night if it saved me some money. ;) I'd rather put that money towards a nice meal or a side trip over to Disney or whatever.
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