Universal Orlando Tips

Thursday 3: Comparison of Disney & Universal Family Suites - Value Resorts

Reservations are now being accepted at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites for dates beginning August 1, 2019. We recently compared the standard hotel style rooms so, today, I will cover the family suites to two Disney World value resorts that have both standard rooms and family suites: Disney’s All-Star Music and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. We can help you plan a vacation that includes your stay at any of these resorts so request a free, no-obligation quote today.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort - Cars Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort - Cars Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s All-Star Music Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s All-Star Music Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Family Suite / Universal Orlando

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Family Suite / Universal Orlando

How do the rooms compare?

Capacity: All of these suites can accommodate up to six (6) adults plus one infant in a Pak ‘n Play crib.

Kitchenettes: All three options include a have a kitchenette with microwave, coffee maker and mini-refrigerator

Disney’s All-Star Music Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s All-Star Music Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Size:

  • Universal’s Surfside Inn family suites: The 440-square-feet

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort family suites: The 520-square-feet

  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort family suites: The 565-square-feet

Beds:

  • Universal’s Surfside Inn family suites: three queen beds with one bed in a separate room and the other two beds in the main area.

  • · Disney’s Art of Animation Resort family suites: one bedroom with one queen-size bed; one double-size convertible TableBed; one double-size sleeper sofa.

  • · Disney’s All-Star Music Resort family suites: bedroom with one queen-size bed; a living area with a double-size sleeper sofa; a sleeper chair; a sleeper ottoman.

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Family Suite / Universal Orlando

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Family Suite / Universal Orlando

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort - Cars Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort - Cars Family Suite / Walt Disney World Resort

Bathrooms:

  • Universal’s Surfside Inn family suites: one bathroom that has two compartments with the toilet and tub/shower in one section and a separate section with two sinks and a vanity

  • · Disney’s Art of Animation Resort family suites: two full bathrooms

  • · Disney’s All-Star Music Resort family suites: two full bathrooms

Seating

  • Universal’s Surfside Inn family suites: Concept art shows an adorable picnic table with a bench on one side and two chairs on the other.

  • · Disney’s Art of Animation Resort family suites: There is the sleeper sofa and the table with seating for four.

  • · Disney’s All-Star Music Resort family suites: Sleeper sofa, chair with ottoman, and a small round table with two chairs. There is also a chair in the bedroom.

Official Disney Hotel Benefits: Staying at an official Disney resort gives you some great benefits like airport transportation at no additional cost, Extra Magic Hours not available to the general public, complimentary bus transportation to the Disney theme parks and the ability to book FastPass+ reservations 30-days ahead of the general public when you have tickets or a vacation package that includes tickets. Disney Magical Express transportation between the Orlando International Airport and these resorts is also available at no extra cost.

Official Universal Orlando Hotel Benefits: Staying at an official Universal Orlando hotel gives you benefits like Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and complimentary bus transportation to the Universal Orlando theme parks. A neat perk of the official Universal hotels is that you are allowed to use the pools at any of the other official hotels, where Disney does not allow “pool hopping” in most cases.

2019 Cost comparison: Pool view rooms are available about Universal’s Surfside for an additional $20 per night. Finding Nemo suites at Disney’s Art of Animation typically cost more than the Cars and Lion King suites. Disney’s all-Star Music resort does not offer any upgrades for their family suites. For consistency, the lowest priced, undiscounted suite available was used for the cost comparisons below. Prices do not include tax.

Parking: Universal charges $12 per night and Disney value resorts charge $13 per night for self-parking.

August 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $184
Disney’s All-Star Music - $309
Disney’s Art of Animation - $406

September 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $184
Disney’s All-Star Music - $310
Disney’s Art of Animation - $405

October 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $154
Disney’s All-Star Music - $300
Disney’s Art of Animation - $395

November 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $184
Disney’s All-Star Music - $306
Disney’s Art of Animation - $395

December 15
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $189
Disney’s All-Star Music - $339
Disney’s Art of Animation - $425

Getting two standard location connecting rooms at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort or any of the value resorts is usually cheaper than getting a family suite and can sleep up to eight adults. On August 15, 2019, the cost of two connecting rooms at Disney’s All-Star Music is $270 which is $39 cheaper than the family suites. You can get guaranteed connecting rooms if you only have two adults in the party and more children age 17 or younger than one room can hold.

I limited the above comparisons to official theme park resort hotels but it is worth mentioning that DoubleTree Suites, one of the Disney Springs Good Neighbor hotels offers a less expensive suite option that runs about $245+ tax per night for the nights listed able and includes some great on-site benefits like Extra Magic Hours, bus transportation to the parks, and the ability to book FastPass+ reservations 60-days prior to arrival when you have a package that includes tickets. This hotel does not participate in Disney’s Magical Express airport transportation so you may need to include transportation costs into your comparison.

DoubleTree Suites - Disney Springs - An official Disney World Good Neighbor hotel / Walt Disney World Resort - Florida

DoubleTree Suites - Disney Springs - An official Disney World Good Neighbor hotel / Walt Disney World Resort - Florida

In summary, the suites at Universal’s Surfside family suites are significantly cheaper than the Disney value resort family suites and they’ll be shiny and new when they open next August but they’re smaller and only have one bathroom. The Universal resort hotels do not offer complimentary airport transportation so that, if needed, will affect total cost. The Disney family suites are bigger and having two full-bathrooms is definitely a big advantage when you’ve got a lot of people all trying to get ready to get out the door in time for park opening. Families who need separate beds may find the two twin sized pull-out beds helpful at Disney’s All-Star Music resort. I didn’t dive too deeply into style and theme because Surfside only has concept art at this point but it should be noted that, although the most expensive, the suites at Disney’s Art of Animation are delightfully and adorably themed. Disney’s complimentary airport transportation may offset the higher price of the Disney resorts for larger families.

Don't Get Overwhelmed By The Details - Let Us Help!

Vacation planning is always a lot easier when you have one of our travel agents on your side because we specialize in Disney and Universal Orlando vacation destinations and we can help you manage things like crowds, park hours, entertainment schedules, and dining options.  It can be a lot to think through but Imagine how much better your vacation will be when we:

  • Give you a "Best Days" itinerary that puts you in the best theme park for each day of your trip

  • Book dining reservation on your behalf (subject to availability) at times that don't interfere with parades and fireworks

  • Give you excellent theme park touring plans that keep lines to an absolute minimum.  

You get all of this expert service at no extra charge when you book your Disney vacation through Build A Better Mouse TripClick here for more information.

Let’s start planning a great vacation!

Our “Quote Request” form is the easiest way to start planning your trip. Just fill in as much or as little information as you know at this time and one of our agents will be in touch soon. There’s never any pressure or obligation.

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Thursday 3: Comparing 3 Value Resorts - Universal and Disney Standard Rooms

Comparison of Disney & Universal Standard Hotel Rooms - Value Resorts

A comparison of Disney World and Universal Orlando Value Resort Rooms

Reservations are now being accepted at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites for dates beginning August 1, 2019. This Universal Orlando value resort features standard hotel rooms with two queen beds and 2-bedroom suites so I am going to compare them to two Disney World value resorts that have both standard rooms and family suites: Disney’s All-Star Music and Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. We’ll cover the standard hotel style rooms this week and the family suites next week. We can help you plan a vacation that includes your stay at any of these resorts so request a free, no-obligation quote today.

How Do the Rooms Compare?

Beds: The standard rooms at Universal’s Surfside Inn and Suites have two queen beds and a full bathroom. Rooms have mini-refrigerators but they do not have microwaves.

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites Standard room Opening August 2019

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites Standard room Opening August 2019

At this time, the standard rooms at both Disney’s All-Star Music and Disney’s Art of Animation resort have two full-size beds. Couples or 2 guests + one infant can request a room with one king-size bed instead of two double beds; requests are not guaranteed but Disney tries to honor them when possible. Disney’s Pop Century resort, another value hotel, has recently undergone a renovation where it now has one queen bed and one full-size pull down bed; Disney’s All-Star Movie’s resort is currently undergoing the same type of renovation and we suspect that all of Disney value resorts will someday have this type of bed configuration. Rooms have mini-refrigerators but they do not have microwaves.

Little Mermaid Standard Room at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort / / Walt Disney World

Little Mermaid Standard Room at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort / / Walt Disney World

Standard Rooms at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort / Walt Disney World

Standard Rooms at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort / Walt Disney World

Official Disney Hotel Benefits: Staying at an official Disney resort gives you some great benefits like airport transportation at no additional cost, Extra Magic Hours not available to the general public, complimentary bus transportation to the Disney theme parks and the ability to book FastPass+ reservations 30-days ahead of the general public when you have tickets or a vacation package that includes tickets.

Official Universal Orlando Hotel Benefits: Staying at an official Universal Orlando hotel gives you benefits like Early Park Admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and complimentary bus transportation to the Universal Orlando theme parks.

2019 Cost comparison: You can upgrade to a preferred location room at Disney’s all-Star Music resort for an additional $30 per night. Pool view rooms are available about Universal’s Surfside for an additional $20 per night. The Little Mermaid standard rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation resort have been excluded from every discount since they opened.

August 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $109
Disney’s All-Star Music - Standard Room: $135
Disney’s Art of Animation - $185

September 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $99
Disney’s All-Star Music - Standard Room: $136
Disney’s Art of Animation - $184

October 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $134
Disney’s All-Star Music - Standard Room: $126
Disney’s Art of Animation - $173

November 15:
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $129
Disney’s All-Star Music - Standard Room: $135
Disney’s Art of Animation - $174

December 15
Universal’s Surfside - Standard View: $99
Disney’s All-Star Music - Standard Room: $150
Disney’s Art of Animation - $195

Parking fees for overnight guests:
Universal’s Surfside Inn & Suites: $12 per night + tax
Disney Value Resort: $13 per night + tax.

In a nutshell, Universal’s Surfside Inn and Disney’s All-Star Music resort are pretty comparably priced most of the time though that can vary by date. If Disney continues to offer their Free Dining promotion in September, Disney’s All-Star Music will probably be the better value for most families of up to four people (or five, if the fifth person is an infant) when that promotion is available. The Little Mermaid rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation resort are quite a bit higher and, so far, those rooms have been excluded from all promotions since the resort opened. The queen beds are a plus at Universal’s Surfside Inn. We only have concept art for the Surfside pool yet so it is hard to say which pools will ultimately be the best but, at this time, the three pools at Disney’s Art of Animation resort are absolutely adorable!

Click here to learn more about Disney’s All-Star Music Resort

Click here to learn more about Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

This video tells you a bit about Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Keep in mind that standard hotel rooms are only available in the Little Mermaid section though guests may use all of the pools and other resort amenities.

This short video gives you a good overview of Disney’s All-Star Music resort though the standard rooms no longer have the colored bedspreads. They’ve switched to the all white

Don't Get Overwhelmed By The Details - Let Us Help!

Vacation planning is always a lot easier when you have one of our travel agents on your side because we specialize in Disney and Universal Orlando vacation destinations and we can help you manage things like crowds, park hours, entertainment schedules, and dining options.  It can be a lot to think through but Imagine how much better your vacation will be when we:

  • Give you a "Best Days" itinerary that puts you in the best theme park for each day of your trip

  • Book dining reservation on your behalf (subject to availability) at times that don't interfere with parades and fireworks

  • Give you excellent theme park touring plans that keep lines to an absolute minimum.  

You get all of this expert service at no extra charge when you book your Disney vacation through Build A Better Mouse TripClick here for more information.

Let’s start planning a great vacation!

Our “Quote Request” form is the easiest way to start planning your trip. Just fill in as much or as little information as you know at this time and one of our agents will be in touch soon. There’s never any pressure or obligation.

Get A Quote

Marvel Super Hero Character Dinner at Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando has introduced a fun new Marvel Super Hero dinner at Cafe 4 in Universal's Islands of Adventure park.  

Dine with your favorite Marvel Super Heros at the Marvel Character dinner at Cafe 4 in Universal's Islands of Adventure park at Universal Orlando.   

Dine with your favorite Marvel Super Heros at the Marvel Character dinner at Cafe 4 in Universal's Islands of Adventure park at Universal Orlando.   

Dine with: 

  • Captain America
  • Spider-Man
  • Wolverine
  • Cyclops
  • Storm
  • Rogue
  • Character subject to change without notice

These Marvel Super Heros will come right up to your table to sign autographs and take photos with your group so start practicing your best super hero pose today! 

Meal includes one digital photo taken during the dining experience (via My Universal Photos).   The digital photo ticket must be exchanged for a My Universal Photos card at the Marvel Character Dinner.   Guests must go to any My Universal Photos location to view and gain digital access to photo.  Click here for more information on My Universal Photos

Marvel Character Dinner Details: 

The menu may vary but the buffet will include fresh salads like orzo and mozzarella and tomato along with entrees like roasted rosemary chicken, shrimp scampi, chicken sallopini, Penne Bolognese, stuffed jumbo shells and specialty pizzas.  A selection of delicious desserts will able be available. 

  • Dinner only
  • Thursday - Sunday
  • Begins at 5PM
  • Cost: Age 10 & up - $49.99 + tax / Age 3 - 9 - $24.99 + tax

Reservations are required and must be made up to 24 hours prior to arrival.  This restaurant is located inside Universal's Islands of Adventure park and separate theme park admission ticket is required.  Ask your travel agent to make your reservation or call 407-224-3663.   

Click here for a free, no-obligation Universal Orlando Vacation Quote

More helpful information: 

Disney World Tip - Good Communication is Key!

Ian's Tip for A Better Disney Trip: Communicate!

Disney Advice from Ian - Let people know what you want to do. 

Disney Advice from Ian - Let people know what you want to do. 

Everybody has their own idea of what a Disney vacation looks like, but nobody else knows what's in your head unless you tell them!

You don't have to micro-manage every second of your trip or squeeze in every single attraction (newsflash- you can't get 'em all), but if you have something you want to see, do, or eat - you have to actually TELL somebody!

Before (and during!) your excursion, communicate with each other so that everybody knows what's in everybody else's head that day. Even if you can't get to all of it, the really important things can take precedent and help eliminate bruised feelings, sulking, pouting, and those oh-so-awkward public arguments!

About the Author:  Ian and his wife Toni work together to help their clients have wonderful Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Orlando vacations.  There is no extra charge to get their expert help for your trip when you book your vacation through them.   

Click here to read more about Ian

Planning a Disney vacation? You'll definitely want to subscribe to our free newsletter. You will receive a link to 45 great Disney World Freebies in your welcome note and several helpful “how-to” e-guides over the next week. Unsubscribe at any time.

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Ian's Good Guest Tip: Don't Spoil it for Others

There's sometimes somebody that just has to be the wittiest person at the park - the ones who talk along with the River Boat spiels, or heckle the Great Movie Ride Tour Guide.

Everybody else on the ride is being polite, so I'll say it - please stop. Don't spoil their experience or ruin somebody else's adventure.

The jokes are bad - that's the point. There's probably somebody on the ride with you that hasn't heard it, or somebody that absolutely LOVES the humor.

Be cool and respectful so that you're not the worst joke on the ride.

About the author:  Ian and his wife, Toni, work together to help their clients have wonderful Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando vacations.   There is no extra charge to get their expert help for your trip when you book your trip through them.  

Click here to read more about Ian

Planning a Disney vacation? You'll definitely want to subscribe to our free newsletter. You will receive a link to 45 great Disney World Freebies in your welcome note and several helpful “how-to” e-guides over the next week. Unsubscribe at any time.

Email: 

Vacation Tip: Test Your Clothes Before Your Trip

Orlando Theme Park Tip:  Take a brisk walk in the clothes you plan to wear to Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld to see if they remain comfortable.  

Orlando Theme Park Tip:  Take a brisk walk in the clothes you plan to wear to Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld to see if they remain comfortable.  

Once you've planned your clothes for your trip to the Florida theme parks, test your outfits by walking briskly around the block because you'll probably walk 6-10 miles over the course of a day in the Orlando theme parks. Dealing with shorts that scrunch up all day or that shirt button that keeps unbuttoning when you walk is not how you want to spend the precious vacation time you've worked so hard for. Have your kids test their clothes too. Although you can find apparel at the theme park gift shops, it is easier and less expensive to make adjustments to your vacation wardrobe before you go.  

Orlando Theme Park Vacation Tip - Test your shoes and socks before your trip to Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld.  You'll do a lot of walking and you want your feet to be comfortable. 

Orlando Theme Park Vacation Tip - Test your shoes and socks before your trip to Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld.  You'll do a lot of walking and you want your feet to be comfortable. 

Think too about how quickly or slowly your clothes dry because you might get soaked to the skin on Splash Mountain (Magic Kingdom) or Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom) at Disney World, Dudley Do-Right's Rip-Saw Falls or Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges (Islands of Adventure) at Universal Orlando, and Journey to Atlantis or the Shamu show at SeaWorld.    Click here for Monica's rain poncho tips. 

Don't forget to take your socks for a test drive (test walk?) in the shoes you plan to wear to the park.  I once had to hunt for a gift shop at Disney California Adventure that sells socks because the pair I was wearing kept sliding down and bunching up in the middle of my shoe.   

Here are a couple of additional apparel tips from our friends

Jeni says, "I remember having all new clothes / undergarments / socks.  Bra + see through shirts...definitely not cute!"

Kathy added this great suggestion:  "And definitely DO NOT BUY NEW SHOES. Learned that the hard way on my trip there in 2000.  Had to use my mother's wheelchair in EPCOT because my feet hurt so bad."  

Speaking of shoes, Toni wrote a great article on picking shoes that will keep your feet happy in the Disney World and Universal Orlando theme parks.   Click here to read it. 

Planning a Disney vacation? You'll definitely want to subscribe to our free newsletter. You will receive a link to 45 great Disney World Freebies in your welcome note and several helpful “how-to” e-guides over the next week. Unsubscribe at any time.

Email: 

Disney World & Universal OrlandoTip: Save Indoor Shows for the Afternoons

Monica's Tip o' the Day:

When planning your day at each Disney World and Universal Orlando theme park, try to save all the indoor shows/attractions for the afternoon!  Here's why:

  1. It's a nice break. If you got to the parks before park opening (which we strongly recommend) you'll be ready for a little time off of your feet.

  2. Orlando Weather - Afternoons are generally the hottest part of the day so that air conditioning feels great and gives you a little extra energy to push through the rest of the day! Orlando also gets afternoon rain showers, especially in the summer, which is another good reason to wait on the shows.

  3. Minimizing Lines - Since crowds are lowest in the first hour or so after park opening, you'll want to get through as many attractions with short ride times as possible in the morning. Crowds peak in the middle of the day and lines are at their longest so heading to something with a large capacity that also takes more time(most Disney shows are about 20 minutes) just makes better sense.

There are indoor, air-conditioned shows at every park. Be sure to pick up a Daily Show guide at the front of the parks to get the schedules. (Another quick hint: Pick 1 up at the front desk before you head out to the bus stop, and you can plan when to go while you're waiting for the bus, or riding the bus!)

One of our favorites is to ride Spaceship Earth at Epcot at around 2pm. The ride is about 20 minutes long, it's dark and it's cool! It give me just enough time to take a little rest, relax, and occasionally a little catnap! Of course, you'll want to be awake and smiling when they take the picture for these fun little Jetson-like scenes!

Have a magical day!

Monica

Travel Agent specializing in Orlando theme park vacations

Let Monica help you plan a great vacation!

Our “Quote Request” form is the easiest way to start planning your trip. Just fill in as much or as little information as you know at this time and Monica will be in touch soon. There’s never any pressure or obligation.

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