SO excited to finally share my travel dairy and a review of the brand new Universal’s Aventura Hotel at the Universal Orlando Resort! If you follow along on Instagram, you surely caught a peek at my girls’ weekend with Savannah, my gal pal and fellow blogger babe. We had the BEST time, checking out the gorgeous new hotel and having a blast at the parks. I hadn’t been to Universal Orlando since high school, so I was excited to check it out as an adult and to see all the new attractions and ride old favorites. (THE HULK!!)
Since I’m now partially based in Savannah, Georgia, I drove down to Orlando and met my friend Savannah (lol) who had driven up from Miami. I was so happy we had this trip planned, because (long story short) there was a shipping mishap and my dining room chairs had been delivered to my Miami address instead of the Savannah address. (Eek!) Luckily, Sav is the best friend ever and picked them up for me and brought them to Orlando.
We checked in on Sunday afternoon and immediately explored the hotel and checked out our room!
All About The Hotel
So, the skinny on the property: Universal’s Aventura Hotel recently opened, just in August 2018. There are 600 rooms and some fantastic amenities: a virtual reality game room, pool, fitness center, car rental on-site, free wifi, and a great self parking garage.
There’s also an official Universal Studios Store so you can pick up your fave branded merch before hitting the parks.
There are also free shuttles to the parks and you get free admission to Universal City Walk! You also get early park admission (score!!!) and priority seating at select Universal Orlando restaurants.
The hotel is on-site at Universal and really centrally located to downtown Orlando and the airport. So on to the rooms!
So… our room was AMAZING! We had the coolest view of Universal’s Volcano Bay and one whole wall of our room was basically all windows… total view goals. (Side note: Universal’s Volcano Bay looks amazing and I am dying to go, but alas, there was no time.)
I love the shape of the hotel… as you can sort of tell from the photos, the hotel has this really unique, beautiful curved shape. Our room was almost a semi-circle… it was really roomy and the fact that one whole wall is windows really opened the space up and made it seem like you were smack dab in the middle of Universal Orlando… which you are, basically.
The rooms were really modern and clean, spacious and home-y at the same time. I loved that we had access to iPads to control everything from the temperature to the lights and you can even connect your Hulu, Netflix, and assorted streaming accounts so you can continue your current binges after a long day at the parks. The only thing that Savannah said she would change is the mattress on her bed. This could have just been her personal preference but she preferred the one she has at home that she got at Leesa.com.
We slipped down to the pool one morning and it was so peaceful and pretty! There’s a pool, a hot tub, a kid’s splash pad and the cutest little fire pit area! There’s also a poolside bar that serves a variety of cocktails including frozen cocktails which is #necessary.
If you’re traveling with kids and pool safety is a concern, there are, like, 6 lifeguards at the pool. Since no one was swimming when we ventured down, they definitely watched me take photos for, like, 30 minutes until people showed up lol. (AWKWARD ALERT.)
The Food + Drinks
So many food and drink options! First of all– there is a Starbucks in the lobby which is a total lifesaver. Gimme that venti.
There’s also a Food Hall called Urban Pantry offering tons of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. We had breakfast and dinner at Urban Pantry.
Breakfast options? They basically had it all. Yogurt and fruit bar, waffles, egg platters with biscuits, breakfast sandwiches… you name it.
For dinner we both hit the stir-fry station and had delicious noodle bowls. They also had fresh sushi, a burger bar, and a lot of other delicious options.
Sav has a gluten allergy, so choosing a place to eat can be a challenge sometimes when we travel together. The chef at Urban Pantry was incredibly accommodating, he chatted with her about the options and modifications he could make for her. She was really happy that she could do a noodle bowl… she mentioned while we were eating that she loves Asian food and it’s often hard to have it out because of the soy sauce or the types of noodles, etc. So… if you can’t have gluten– there are options for ya!
The Rooftop Bar & Grill called Bar 17 Bistro serves tapas and the yummiest “Almost Sangria” which is a rose based sangria that was so refreshing, the perfect rooftop cocktail! They also had mouth watering charcuterie boards and tasty appetizers. (The roof is also the BEST spot to take pics!! I shot my outfit and we got a cute little pic of the two of us overlooking the parks!)
There is also the previously mentioned Poolside Bar and a Lobby Bar, that we unfortunately did not visit.
If in-room dining is your jam, you can order pizza from the in-room iPads!
All About Universal Orlando Resort
As I mentioned before, I hadn’t been to the Universal Orlando Resort in years! I was excited to visit the parks again!
The first day that we arrived, we got there late in the afternoon as I mentioned. We checked in, explored the hotel and then decided to head to Universal CityWalk for dinner. (So easy, just hop on the shuttle!)
We ended up choosing an Italian restaurant, Vivo Italian Kitchen, because they had gluten free options. We split a gluten free pasta and a gluten free pizza so that we could have both! Everyone was so amazing at the restaurant… so accommodating as well, sending over the chef to talk to Savannah about the gluten allergy and go over everything.
After dinner, it started raining so we went back to the hotel to get to bed early in preparation of a long day at the parks.
The next morning, we grabbed breakfast at Urban Pantry and then hopped on the shuttle and were at Universal CityWalk in minutes. The buses were huge and run often– every 15 minutes at least.
In case you’re not familiar, basically, you take a bus to Universal CityWalk and then walk over to Universal’s Islands of Adventure and enter that way. Once you’re at the park, you can go between Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure either by foot or on the Hogwart’s Express, if you have a Park-to-Park pass. (Which we did and I HIGHLY recommend!)
Another thing I highly recommend? Investing in the Universal Express Pass. The Universal Express Pass is basically a pass that lets you skip the line on every ride… and it’s amazing! We walked on to every single ride at both parks without ever waiting. Granted– I’m sure this isn’t normal. They pretty much assure you that it will cut the wait time in half… but the waits were pretty short in general while we were there, so maybe we just got lucky. But this pass? GAME CHANGER. We were able to accomplish so much!
My favorite ride at the park? The Hulk. My favorite area? Seuss Landing, which is insanely Insta-worthy with TONS of pink everywhere. HEAVEN. I love the rollercoasters! We had a great time at the park both days!
** red jumpsuit + chambray peplum are both from Shop Aria Rose!
We had such a fun girls’ weekend! A great experience overall, the hotel was fab, the dining was great, and we just had a good time together, as we do. This trip has had me thinking about a friend of mine who owns a smaller hotel on her own. She had been looking at ways to cut costs to reduce the bills she had to pay for the hotel. She found a website called Simply Switch which allowed her to see if she could be financially better off at a different provider. She was delighted to found out she could save some money, but not quite as delighted as I was with this awesome trip. I think the best part of a trip to the Universal Orlando Resort is that you’re having FUN and just building memories together, whether it’s your family or your friends. Definitely a great trip idea! We had an amazing time! Can’t wait to go back.
Have you ever visited the Universal Orlando Resort?? Which park is your favorite?? Have you stayed at any of the Universal Orlando Hotels?? Which one? (DYING to stay at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel next… THE PHOTOS!!!) Hit the comments and let me know what you think!