If you have read many of my reviews and/or vacation tips, I prefer to save money whenever possible. Of course, most people feel that way. Yet many people fail to do the work necessary to save money on their vacation budget. As I’ve written many times over the past year, a great place to explore saving money on your vacation involves accommodation options. If you are visiting Universal Orlando, a good option for at least part of your stay might involve hotels in the Kirkman Road area. In April, I spent part of my trip at the Holiday Inn and Suites across from Universal Orlando. This off-site hotel is near the Universal Orlando property. Although it has flaws, there are plenty of reasons to love this place.
On my last trip to Orlando, I spent most of my stay at the Aventura Hotel onsite at Universal Orlando. My love for Aventura reigns as a well-known fact. Still, my last stay there was my worst there, but that story can be told in another article. On this occasion, I went to the Holiday Inn and Suites for my last night. My main reason for doing this was to save money on the vacation budget. Universal Orlando charges $20 to $50 more per night on weekends than on weekdays. By moving to the Holiday Inn, I saved about $60. Since the Holiday Inn is so close to Universal Orlando, I walked with my only luggage to the hotel, which saved extra transportation costs.
My only other experiences at this Holiday Inn were in their suites. For accommodations that can accommodate six people, the price here should be taken into account. That night I would be staying in a standard room. This hotel has received a good share of bad reviews based on the quality of their standard rooms. In fairness, the property has undergone renovations. People also like to compare the quality here to Universal Orlando’s top-tier hotels, which isn’t fair either. Similar complaints are voiced about the value or superior hotels at Universal Orlando compared to the top-notch hotels there.
That evening, I arrived at 7:58 p.m. to begin the check-in process. When I arrived a long line stretched from the operations desk filling much of the lobby. I waited in line. I started chatting with guests who had never visited Universal Orlando before. We started discussing how many times I had visited Orlando’s theme parks. The conversation turned to all the food I ate that week and the wait time test results in the attraction queue. These conversations have been going on for quite some time since I reached the operations desk at 8:24 p.m. More than 25 minutes for check-in does not start the hotel experience well. Still, Friday nights at Orlando-area hotels create long lines.
I know I mention this often when talking about Holiday Inn properties in the Orlando area, make sure you know which one you are booking with. Two different guests showed up at this establishment only to be told they had no reservations. In both cases, they booked at the Holiday Inn Express located a little further.
Eventually I got a key card for a room on the first floor. I walked through the crowded lobby and the elevator to my room. On the plus side, this room was more spacious than I expected. The beds were quite comfortable. All rooms are also equipped with a Keurig-style coffee maker.
Several potential weaknesses should be considered before choosing to stay here to save money over an on-site Universal Orlando hotel. Yet none of this influenced my stay. However, not everyone travels like me. For example, the bathroom seemed small for a hotel of this type. If you’re sleeping four in a standard room, factor that into your decision.
Also, this place doesn’t offer real early morning breakfast options. According to the staff, the gift shop serving coffee opened at 8am. TGI Fridays, located there, began their breakfast buffet at 7:30 a.m. according to signage and the restaurant’s website. Since early park entry began at 7:00 am the next morning for this example, guests would need an alternate breakfast plan to take advantage of early park entry.
Universal Orlando’s partner shuttles with limited pickup and drop-off times would also not be helpful for early park admission in this case. The first shuttle this morning arrived at 6:47. Depending on what other stops it would make, guests would be late for the early park admission option.
If you are like me and these negative points would not interfere with your vacation, this hotel deserves a lot of attention. As they do more renovations, this place will offer even more value for your vacation budget. May all your days at the theme parks be enjoyable.
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated, fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal theme parks, themed entertainment, and related pop culture from a consumer perspective. The opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its publishers, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial source of information and has no connection with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other business we can cover.