USF/IOA and HRH Newbie with small kids - need lots of advice (long)


Earning My Ears
Aug 18, 1999
Hi there everyone! We've decided to visit Orlando in April and I'm wondering about spending some time in the Universal area. I have a 4 1/2 year old and a 10 month old. Thanks to these boards I've found a $169 intro rate 4/22-4/24 (I was told no entertainment rate) at the HRH but I really need advice. We have a ressie for the upsell at AKL. Is it worth it to split a stay between the two hotels? Is the HRH really convenient with kids? If we drove from AKL, what is the parking like at USF? Would there be enough to do at the Universal Parks for a small child? Would it take more than one day if we are probably going skip the more adult rides/stuff? We would arrive in the early afternoon on the 22nd, would it be worth it to see one of the parks that evening and the other the next day? How much walking does it involve from the HRH to the Hard Rock Cafe at the citywalk?

Help! Any insights/tips you have would be appreciated and thanks!

DL-too many times to count!
Offsite 10/90, CBR 4/92, DL Paris 7/94, PO 8/98, Poly & Homewood Suites 12/99, ASMo 1/01, AKL 4/01!
I have stayed at the Portofino with young kids twice. I definitely think that it is worthwhile for you to stay on-site at Universal. The onsite perks there are far better than at WDW. First of all, HRH is short walk to Universal and not far to Islands of Adsventure. I would recommend walking straight from the hotel to the parks. You can take the boat from the hotel to citywalk but then you'll have to deal with the stroller.

The best thing, of course is the Express access. Not only does it keep you and the kids out of long lines, but you can do so much in just one morning, and then have time to go back to the hotel, take naps and enjoy the pool. My kids faviorite things at IOA were the Cat in the Hat and If I Ran the Zoo. Bring a swimsuit for that.

The Hard Rock hotel is very beautiful (we went over there last week to take a look). My personal favorite thing about the Portofino over Disney hotels is the SHEETS. The service at the HRH is likely not to be as friendly as Disney both because of the Hard Rock themeing and because it is so new.

All in all, I DEFINITELY recommend staying onsite.
Generally I prefer to stay on-site whenever possible, but I would shutter at the thought of moving my kids (currently 6, 4 & 2) for just a night or two.

There are MANY things for your older one to do at both parks, and you can take advantage of switching off at the major rides.

If you are visiting during a peak time in April (Spring break vs the end of the month) would make my decision about on-site. The perks are great (FOTL) IF you need them. When the park isn't terribly busy, you don't need them, IMO.

I think it is worth your while to split up the stay. We stayed off site and then moved on site at Dixie Landings and could check in at 7:00am so we dropped off the luggage and went straight to the parks with early entry. I strongly recommend that as well as the Universal perks.

Universal has a two day or three pass that allows you to go between parks, but the one day pass doesn't, I think. Cost wise it is best to buy the 3 day one and then save the days until later if you are going again soonish. I liked being able to go to two parks in one day. Of course we went for 2 days and spent more time at IOA, but you might do the opposite. My hubby loved the Curious George area and I bet you all will, too.

Have fun!


I appreciate the input. We are going the last week in April so I'm hoping the crowds will not be really large. As much as I don't like to have to pick up and move in the middle - I'm thinking the ease of just walking into the parks is worth it at USF (and the FOTL). We'll be in Orlando a week so it'd be split between the HRH and AKL.

Thanks again!

DL-too many times to count!
Offsite 10/90, CBR 4/92, DL Paris 7/94, PO 8/98, Poly & Homewood Suites 12/99, ASMo 1/01, AKL 4/01!


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