Best of Universal Orlando
By guest writer Cara Goldsbury
Universal Orlando is
one of the other fascinating and fun ways to spend some time
while in Orlando.
For full information on
Orlando and the Walt Disney World complex, see her book,
Guide to Walt Disney World.
So you've done Walt Disney
World and now you're ready to discover Universal Orlando.
But where to start?
Universal Orlando is a
whopper of a destination composed of exceptional resorts,
first-rate restaurants, and two theme parks offering a certain
brand of high-speed intensity sure to please. Here are some of
Universal's best experiences.
Best Deluxe Resort
For the height of luxury in a
Mediterranean seaside setting head straight for this exclusive
hotel designed to resemble Italy's idyllic seaside town of
Portofino. The scenery is
pure postcard with colorful fishing boats bobbing in the
seductively curving bay, sun-bleached stucco buildings with
shuttered windows and trompe l'oeil decorative facades, and a
charming, waterside piazza loaded with appetizing restaurants.
Guestrooms are large and luxurious with four-poster beds, luxe
linens, down pillows, and a pile of other amenities that can't
Best Resort For the Utterly
Rock's motto is "love all, serve all" and serve they
certainly do at the single coolest place in Florida to hang out
in California hip style. It's a mix of pure luxury and star
worship where an ultra slick marble lobby, a marvelous pool
complex, and stylish guestrooms are interspersed with over one
million dollars worth of rock and roll memorabilia and rock
music blasting away in every public space; over 900 speakers are
scattered throughout the property, all running seven days a
week, 24 hours a day. But rest assured, from the moment you
enter the hallways leading to your trendy guestroom, only
beautiful silence is heard.
Best Resort Pool
Rock's 12,000 foot zero-entry pool is almost too hip
to handle. It comes with an underwater sound system and a
250-foot slide (the longest at any U.S. hotel), all surrounded
by a sand beach and swaying palm trees. For the ultimate in
luxury, rent a poolside cabana equipped with lounge chairs, TV,
telephone, fax line, refrigerator, and ceiling fan. You can even
order up your own private masseuse.
Best Resort Lounge
It depends. The hip crowd should
head to Velvet, Hard Rock
Hotel's so cool cocktail lounge offering a huge list of
specialty martinis and premium cigars along with rock and roll,
chic seating, and a great outdoor terrace with a view of the
resort's pool. Those with a more sophisticated inclination will
love Bar America at
Portofino Bay Hotel where a pianist entertains a fashionable
crowd feasting on Beluga caviar and fine wine in an elegant
Best Attractions For Thrill
Universal Orlando is the perfect
place for those who crave a rush of adrenaline. And the best
park for thrills is Universal's newest, Islands of Adventure.
Head first to the Incredible Hulk
Coaster where you're launched from a near standstill
to 40 mph in 2 seconds, then immediately into a zero-G dive roll
looping through inversion after inversion and twice underground
before coming to a halt. Then take a ride on
Dueling Dragons, the world's
first inverted, dueling (there's two of them), near-miss
coasters. At certain points during the ride you'll swear your
dangling feet almost touch those of the opposite dragon as it
goes roaring by.
Best Way to Spend an Evening
Without the Kids
First check the children into one
of the Universal resort's excellent child care centers. Then
head to either Emerils at Citywalk,
a classy spot reminiscent of the New Orleans warehouse district
with intoxicating Creole/Cajun food or
Tchuop Chop at Universal's Royal Pacific Resort, one
of the most beautiful restaurants in Orlando serving innovative
Asian/Polynesian fare. Afterward dance the night away at
Universal's Citywalk. Buy a
Party Pass for unlimited admission to all the nightclubs and
Best Resort Restaurant
It's a toss up.
Tchoup Chop at the Royal
Pacific Resort for it's breathtakingly beautiful dining room and
imaginative cuisine or Delfino Riviera,
Portofino Bay Hotel's stylish and sophisticated Italian
restaurant perched above the piazza overlooking the bay.
Best Way to Spend an Afternoon
Away From the Parks
Immerse yourself in luxury with
one or two soothing spa treatments at Portofino Bay's
Mandara Spa. Choose from a
variety of massage, face, anti-aging, and body treatments
including Indonesian four hands massage and Javanese Lulur.
Follow this with an afternoon lazing beside one of the resort's
three luxurious pools.
Cara Goldsbury is the
The Luxury Guide to Walt Disney
World: How to Get the Most Out of the Best Disney Has to Offer,
available at 800-247-6553,
Amazon.com, or your local bookstore. For more
information visit her online at
22 Mar 2004
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to
Cara Goldsbury as original writer.