The Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando is a premium, deluxe, hotel on Universal Studios Orlando property. A stay at the Hard Rock Hotel has you fully equipped with FREE unlimited express passes, early park admission, priority seating at restaurants, a 12,000-square-foot pool, and more!
This hotel will immerse you in rock and roll unlike any other in Orlando. So if you are ready to be treated like a rockstar this is the hotel for you!
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The Ultimate Guide to Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando Resort
My Experience at Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando
I had the opportunity to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort for one night over Thanksgiving week and I must say it was worth the heavy price tag! Like it was the BEST decision.
Not only are you within walking distance of the Universal Parks and CityWalk, but the theming and the pool made it worthwhile.
I visited with a party of 5 and we had a Standard Garden View room, which turned out to be an awesome pool view!
Including tax, we had paid just over $500 for the room due to it being the high season. The Hard Rock Hotel will usually run you around $350-$600 a night depending on when you visit.
We stayed 1 night at the hotel but had 2 days worth of fun at the hotel. Utilizing the pool, walkability, and free included express passes. There was no better way to conquer the Thanksgiving week crowds.
Perks of Staying at the Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando Resort
Free Unlimited Express Passes
Booking a Universal Hotel offers some extreme perks, especially booking one of the higher-end ones. Only 3 hotels offer FREE UNLIMITED EXPRESS PASSES and the Hard Rock is one of them! This means you can skip the lines at every attraction (excluding Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure and Velocicoaster) in the park.
You will receive the express pass every day of your stay, including check-in and check-out.
On my visit, this saved HOURS. Even on Thanksgiving week, we were able to ride every ride we wanted to by mid-afternoon both days we had it!
These Express Passes were being sold in the park for $250 per person per day during Thanksgiving week! (YOWZA!) Usually, the express passes are around $150.
So, this perk alone saved my party of 5 around $2,000!!!
Note: you are responsible for purchasing your own valid park ticket.
Early Park Admission
All Universal Resorts along with the top tier annual passes receive early park admission every day for 1 hour before the official park opens. This is only available at Islands of Adventure to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure and Velocicoaster.
Be warned, sometimes these can also get very crowded. Even during Early Park Admission, Hagrid’s was up to a 150-minute wait and Velocicoaster was 90 minutes. Although this is uncommon, it can happen.
For the BEST experience, (especially on peak season) I would arrive 30 minutes before early admission opens.
At select restaurants in Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk Hard Rock Hotel Guests have access to priority seating. This means you may get seated earlier if there is a long wait or you may receive a better table.
I was not able to utilize this perk as we did not sit down for dining, but any perk is nice to have.
Lobby at Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando Resort
From the start of your Hard Rock vacation, you are greeted with a super cool and unique fountain feature outside of the lobby. This fountain made out of guitars sets the scene just right.
Upon entering the lobby, you are met with classic music jamming through the speakers and a large open entry with plenty of seating.
To the right, you will find check-in.
And to the left, you will find luggage storage and the concierge.
Overall, the lobby is colorful and well-themed with large murals of some of music’s best and lots of fun Hard Rock memorabilia.
You will also find large bathrooms, some dining (which we cover later in the post), and a Hard Rock Giftshop.
To the left inside the lobby, you will find a staircase downstairs. This will lead you to Emack & Bolio’s Marketplace, the water taxi and walkway to the parks, the pool entrance, and the Kitchen.
Standard Room at Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando Resort
Equipped with 650 rooms, 29 being suite-style, this hotel has a smaller room count than its neighboring hotels.
You can choose between a Pool View or a Garden View. We chose Garden View but ended up with a pool view, so you could also get lucky!
The Standard Rooms come with 2 queen beds and you can add 1 cot, accommodating up to 5 guests.
Additionally, all rooms come with a flat-screen TV, Keurig Coffee maker, and mini-fridge.
The bathroom comes with a separate door to section off the shower, toilet, and a small sink with a mirror. Just outside the bathroom is more vanity space and another sink, which was super nice.
Overall, the beds were comfortable, the mirror with heights of popular artists was a hit with the kids, and the room offered what we were looking for.
There is nothing over the top or flashy, it really is a standard hotel room, but it does the trick.
Our favorite part of the hotel was the pool!
This pool was so much fun! Underwater music, an awesome slide, a zero-entry area, a small splash pad, a large hot tub, beach seating, a pool bar, volleyball… should I say more?!
But seriously, this pool was awesome to come back to during a mid-day break from the busy parks. There were lots of kids playing and there was even an on-site DJ!
My brother is a hotel water slide snob. He has been on a lot and has lots of opinions. To my surprise, he loved this slide! It’s fast and pretty long for a pool waterslide.
Although the theming of this slide isn’t Disney level, it was a popular waterslide.
The Hard Rock Hotel is home to 3 different sit-down restaurants and a marketplace to buy quick snacks or Starbucks Coffee.
The Kitchen – Casual American restaurant serving burgers, flatbreads, and other favorites.
Beachclub – Outside poolside restaurant serving a variety of burgers, tacos, and sandwiches.
Palm Restaurant – High-end steakhouse serving seafood, steaks, and Italian pasta.
Emack & Bolio’s Marketplace – quick service offering smoothies, snacks, grab & go breakfast, pizza, ice cream, and more. Everything here is to-go and there is no seating.
Proximity to City Walk/ The Parks
Even though the Hard Rock Hotel is a great hotel on its own, its walkability to city walk and the Universal Parks is what makes it worth the high price tag.
It is so nice to be able to walk everywhere instead of dealing with the parking garage traffic.
There are two ways to get from the Hard Rock to all the action, walk or boat.
Walking from Hard Rock Hotel to Universal Parks
Distance from Hard Rock to CityWalk – 10 minutes
Distance from Hard Rock to Universal Studios Orlando – 8 minutes
Distance from Hard Rock to Islands of Adventure – 15 minutes
In addition to it being a close walk, it also is a lovely and relaxing walk. There are plenty of signs, benches, and gardens along the way. The walkway hugs the canal and has unique views of CityWalk. The walk is also not crowded at all.
Even though the hotel was sold out during my stay, we had no issues with the walkway.
The boat usually takes longer and will only drop you off in front of CityWalk, it is a relaxing and unique way to spend your vacation.
The receptionist in the lobby told us, only take the boat if it is there and ready, if not… walk! And she was right.
There are not a lot of boats and they really can slow you down.
But if you are looking for relaxing transportation and you cannot or do not want to walk the 0.5-1.0 mile, then the boat is a great option.
The Hard Rock Hotel comes with a steep price tag, but also can save you hundreds of dollars and hours of waiting in lines!
The rock-theming, large pool, and stand hotel room offer a pretty standard Orlando hotel experience, but it is the proximity to the parks and all the perks that make a stay here worthwhile.
I would highly recommend staying at the Hard Rock if you are visiting during the busy season and really would utilize the express passes.
If you do not need the express passes and you are visiting in the low season, I would opt for a cheaper Universal Hotel as most are a bit newer and offer an even better theme.
BUT, I loved staying at this hotel. The pool is great, the service was friendly, and the quick walk from our room to the front of the parks were great perks.
For my first Universal Orlando staycation, I would call it a win.
Have you stayed at a Universal Orlando Hotel? If you could stay at any, which would you choose?! Let me know in the comments!
Want more Orlando content? Check out my Disney fireworks guide!