Guides and Tips

Top Ways to Upgrade Your Vacation At Universal Orlando Resort

January 10, 2023
Sign for VIP Experience at Universal

Upgrading your experience at Universal Orlando Resort isn’t hard. First, just being in one of the three theme parks or staying at one of the hotels feels like an upgrade from regular life. However, for those who are celebrating something big, want to WOW their companions, or are simply interested in living the luxe life, there are tons of ways to take a Universal Orlando Resort vacation up a level. 

Some upgrades, like fancy dinner reservations or a post-roller-coaster-day massage, can be small but significant. Conversely, some extras, like booking a VIP Tour or reserving a Club Level suite at one of the Premier hotels, can be once-in-a-lifetime, over-the-top experiences. Any of these additions can turn an already incredible experience into something spectacular. Check out 10 ways to upgrade your vacation at Universal Orlando Resort.

Book a private VIP Experience tour

VIP Tour Group in Gringotts Bank

The private VIP tour is one of the most fabulous experiences at Universal Orlando Resort. It is the best way to experience Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure.

The up-to-8-hour private tour will include only your group for some exclusive VIP treatment that will make you feel like, well, a VIP. Participants can experience the parks their own way, focusing on what they want to do, all while having the expert guide’s undivided attention. The unlimited front-of-the-line access to all participating rides and attractions means skipping the lines and cutting down wait times. It  gives you more time for fun! The private VIP Experience Tour includes valuable extras like valet parking, breakfast (just make sure to get there by 11 a.m.!), lunch and dinner for your group and discounts at select merchandise spots for the entire day. Plus, those on the VIP tour reap the benefit of having some of the most knowledgeable, kind and helpful guides anywhere, who will take you behind-the-scenes for exclusive experiences (hello, who doesn’t dream of an under-track walkthrough of Revenge of the Mummy??).  

You can also go for the semi-private VIP Experience guided tour. This option includes a five to seven hour tour with priority entrance into eight of the Parks’ most popular rides and attractions. 

Visit Mandara Spa at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel


Pamper yourself (or a loved one) with the gift of the ultimate relaxation experience at Mandara Spa. After an action-packed, roller-coaster-riding, Butterbeer-drinking type of day, getting soothed and smoothed will be just what the Doctor Doom ordered. Some of the incredible spa treatments I am desperate to try include: 

  • Indigenous Dolce Limoncello Body Polish with Massage
  • ELEMIS Dynamic Resurfacing Precision Peel
  • Fire and Ice Pedicure
  • Biotechnology anti-aging facial
  • Mandara Deep Tissue Massage 
  • Couples Massage 

There is also a wonderful Fitness Center at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. Use the sauna, work up a sweat on the elliptical or relax in the hot tub. Make it a full day of pampering and caring for you mentally and physically. 

Upgrade your room type

Hard Rock Hotel - Kids Rock Star Suites - Lounging Area

All of the rooms at Universal Orlando Resort are lovely. However, some of them come with an additional woah factor. For those looking to go all out in the luxury department, these are some of the most lavish rooms at Universal Orlando Resort hotels to consider.

Splurge on a cabana

Cabana at Volcano Bay

One of the best ways to add value to your Universal Orlando vacation is to build in at least one day when the only plan is to hang out at the hotel pool. Not only does it give your weary feet a break, but it also can substantially lower your overall vacation costs. And since you’re saving some money, why not spend a little of it on a poolside cabana? These cabanas are the perfect place to unwind, get shade from the sun, have a drink or simply be a home base for the family. Most of them come with lounge chairs, complimentary soft drinks and water, and some even have a TV and private waitstaff.

Or make it a water-theme-park day and head to Universal Volcano Bay! The private cabana includes concierge service and is the ultimate luxurious add-on for a perfect day at this little piece of paradise. No lines for food. No worrying about the inevitable afternoon sprinkle. And, no mad dash to find seating!

Learn more about Volcano Bay in this Complete Guide.

Go bowling at Galaxy Bowl

Galaxy Bowl at Cabana Bay

Sometimes upgrading your vacation is as easy as adding in an extra fun activity, like bowling! You can find the adorable retro bowling alley on the second floor of Cabana Bay Beach Resort’s lobby building. Galaxy Bowl gives visitors an easy way to experience family-friendly entertainment, offering ten illuminated bowling lanes for afternoon and night play. 

In addition to bowling, the alley is home to a delicious restaurant serving American comfort food. It is a full-service, sit-down restaurant away from the hustle and bustle at Cabana Bay. And while Galaxy Bowl is housed on-site at a Universal Orlando Resort, you don’t have to be a registered guest to play here. Also, If you’re driving in, don’t worry about the parking fees: they validate!

Take advantage of special hotel events

Fire Dancer at Luau

Some Universal Orlando Resort hotels have special events available to their guests, which are sometimes free! There are unique offerings throughout the year at each hotel. Guests will find themed food, spectacular decorations, and exciting festivities during the holiday season. These extras aren’t limited to winter months though. You can find sweet upgrades that will spice up your travel itinerary no matter when you visit including:

  • Take advantage of complimentary poolside family activities like ping pong tournaments, pool basketball and arts and crafts at all hotels.
  • Enjoy the nightly musical celebration, Musica Della Notte (Music of the Night), at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. At sunset, the Harbor Piazza comes to life with a complimentary showcase of classic opera! The performers are right on the balcony, and with one of those perfect FL sunsets, it is the dreamiest place to be!
  • Experience authentic Polynesian culture at the weekly Wantilan Luau at Loews Royal Pacific Resort with an all-you-can-eat Polynesian buffet, live Polynesian music and hula dancing. 
  • Let out your inner rock star at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Velvet Sessions, an up-close-and-personal rock concert, at the Hard Rock Hotel.
  • Let your cares float away at various hotels’ family-friendly dive-in movie nights at the pool.

Book a Club Level room or suite

View From Balcony at Portofino Bay Hotel

For the ultimate in upgraded luxury, book a Club Level room or suite at one of the Premier Hotels (Hard Rock Hotel Orlando, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort) for the ultimate in upgraded luxury. Club Level rooms at Universal Orlando Resort feature the highest level of amenities and comfort the resort has to offer. 

These well-sized accommodations include personalized concierge service and access to a private Club Level lounge featuring complimentary continental breakfast, evening beer and wine offerings, dessert, and other food presentations throughout the day. Club Level availability consists of several types of rooms and suites so that you can find just the right place.

Order room service

Room Service in Cabana Bay

It may be old school, but one of the easiest ways to feel like royalty is simply ordering room service. After walking miles through the parks and sweating in the Florida heat, dialing up room service for dinner, a snack or a relaxing drink is pure indulgent magic. After ordering room service one night, I was able to take a shower, rest my feet and get some much needed quiet time before dinner was brought up. It felt truly luxurious. Twenty-four-hour room service is available at all the Premiere Hotels and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. Kids, vegan/vegetarian and allergy-friendly food options are always available.

Reserve a table at one of the more upscale restaurants on site


For a white tablecloth experience (or beige in some instances!), make a reservation at one (or more) of these favorite restaurants at Universal Orlando Resort. Some of my favorite dishes include the gnocchi and out-of-this-world red velvet shake at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, Mojo Marinated Rotisserie Chicken at Amatisa Cookhouse and the risotto of the day at Bice. Reservations for a more deluxe dining experience can be made at the following restaurants:

Grab a My Universal Photos Package


Who takes the photos for a family vacation? Does it have to be you? Getting a My Universal Photos Package allows you to focus on the fun and get in the picture. Let the Universal photographers try to persuade your tribe into smiling and looking at the camera simultaneously. 

My Universal Photos also allows you to obtain photos taken of you and your family on some of the most popular rides and attractions that you can’t get any other way. The pass even gives you unlimited digital downloads for all those #humblebrag posts on Instagram. 

The bottom line is that there are so many ways to upgrade your vacation at Universal Orlando Resort. Whether you are looking to add some small extras to an already fun stay or you are going all out to make the biggest impression possible, you can do it all at Universal Resort Orlando. And if you choose not to add any of these upgrades, you can still have a fantastic vacation at one of the best theme park resorts in the world.

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  • Reply Rosie McCaig March 16, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    My family & I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Universal! We have been vacationing in Florida (we live in UK) for 40 years! My eldest daughter even go married at The Hard Rock Hotel in 2011!!!!! Her wedding photo was featured in a UK bridal magazine!! Our next visit is in October 2023, can’t wait for that!! We have been fortunate to have stayed at all of your fantastic Hotels. Thanks Universal, for giving us many happy memories!!!

    • Reply Digital Guest Communications March 16, 2023 at 12:56 pm

      Hi Rosie! We are grateful to have been a part of so many happy memories! We are excited to see you again in the future!

  • Reply Carlos April 30, 2024 at 9:48 am

    Amo todo, los hoteles, los parques, me siento un ñiño más, los veré a fin de año, ya programe mis vacaciones ahí.

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