If you have read many of my reviews and/or vacation advice, I prefer to save money where possible. Of course, most people feel this way. Yet, many people fail to do the work to save some vacation budget money. As I have written many times in the last year or so, a good place to explore saving money on your vacations involves accommodation options. If visiting Universal Orlando, a good option for at least part of your stay could involve the Kirkman Road area Hotels. In April, I stayed part of my trip at the Holiday Inn and Suites Across from Universal Orlando. This off-site hotel resides near Universal Orlando property. Though it has flaws, there are plenty of reasons to love this place.
During my most recent trip to Orlando, I spent most of my stay at the Aventura Hotel on-site at Universal Orlando. My love for Aventura reigns as a well-known fact. Still, my most recent stay there ranks as my worst one there, but that story can be told in another article. On this occasion, I switched to The Holiday Inn and Suites for my final night. My primary reason for doing this involved saving some vacation budget money. Universal Orlando charges from $20-$50 more a night on weekends compared to weekdays. By moving to the Holiday Inn, I saved around $60. Since the Holiday Inn resides so close to Universal Orlando, I walked with my one piece of luggage to the hotel saving any additional transportation costs.
My only other experiences at this Holiday Inn were in their suites. For accommodations that sleep six, the price point here demands consideration. On this night, I would be staying in a standard room. This hotel has received a fair share of poor reviews based on the quality of their standard rooms. In fairness, the property has been going through renovations. People also like to compare the quality here to premier level hotels at Universal Orlando, which is not fair either. Similar complaints are voiced about the value or prime value hotels at Universal Orlando compared to the premier hotels there.
On this night, I arrived at 7:58pm to start the check-in process. When I arrived, a long queue extended from the operations desk filling much of the lobby area. I got in line. I started chatting with some guests who had never visited Universal Orlando before. We started chatting about how many times I had visited Orlando theme parks. The conversation turned to all the food I ate that week and the results of attraction queue wait time tests. These conversations went on for a while since I reached the operation desk at 8:24pm. Over 25 minutes to check-in does not start the hotel experience off well. Yet, Friday evenings at Orlando area hotels create long queues.
I know I mention this often when talking about the Orlando area Holiday Inn properties, make sure you know which one you are booked with. Two different guests showed up at this property only to be told they had no reservations. In both cases, they booked at Holiday Inn Express located a little farther away.
Eventually, I got a key card to a room on the first floor. I went through the crowded lobby and elevator area to my room. On the positive side, this room felt more spacious than I expected. The beds were reasonably comfortable. All rooms here come with a Keurig style coffeemaker also.
Several potential weaknesses should be considered before choosing to stay here to save money versus an on-site Universal Orlando hotel. Still, none of these influenced my stay. Yet not everyone travels like me. For example, the bathroom area seemed small for a hotel of this type. If you are sleeping four in a standard room, factor that into your decision.
Also, this location offers no true early morning breakfast options. According to staff, the gift shop serving coffee opened at 8am. The TGI Fridays, located there, started their breakfast buffet at 7:30am according to signage and restaurant’s website. Since early park admission started at 7am the next morning for this example, guests would need an alternative breakfast plan to enjoy early park admission.
The Universal Orlando partner shuttles with limited pickup and return schedules would not be helpful for early park admission either in this case. The first shuttle this morning arrived at 6:47am. Based on other stops it would be making, guests would be late for the early park admission option.
If you are like me and those negatives would not hamper your vacation, this hotel deserves great consideration. As they make more renovations, this place will provide even more value for your vacation budget. May all your theme park days 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's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.