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There’s something special about staying at an onsite hotel at Universal Orlando. The main perk is how close you are to the theme parks and the convenient transportation. But also, I love the theming of a lot of the Universal Orlando hotels.
And that’s true for the most expensive hotels at the Universal Orlando Resort and the cheapest hotels.
The newest value hotels at the Universal Orlando Resort are the Endless Summer Resorts. There are two hotels: Surfside Inn and Dockside Inn. We had already stayed at Surfside Inn and Suites before. You can read more about our experience here. And you can see our video from our stay here:
But we recently stayed at Dockside Inn and Suites for the first time. And we wanted to tell you about our experience!
Lobby & Arrival: First Impressions
Immediately once we walked into the hotel, we were impressed with the lobby. Since our trip was in November, it was decorated for the holidays. I was impressed with the fact the hotel had not one but two Christmas trees.
Another thing I also really liked was the colors and the decor of the lobby. I loved the ocean-like atmosphere of the hotel.
The check-in process was very smooth. The employees were very friendly.
I like how at Universal hotels, they give you keys with your name on them that show pictures from attractions at Universal. My one complaint there though is that you can’t pick what is on your key and it’s random. And I always want one from one of my favorite movies (like Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Kong Skull Island, etc.), and yet I always seem to get the Simpsons without fail. Oh, well! Again, as I said, minor complaint.
One thing I liked about the check-in process is that you could use their carts for your luggage. A lot of other hotels (cough Disney hotels cough) do not provide this. It makes unloading your car a lot easier, especially if you suffer from an overpacking syndrome the way my family does.
Another thing that made loading and unloading easier is the size of the elevators. They were huge! You could easily get on the elevator with your cart along with other people.
I also liked how there was a parking garage right behind the hotel. That made the whole parking, and loading up the car after we were done, a lot easier.
So my family got the two-bedroom suite. We had actually gotten a regular room back when we stayed at Surfside Inn and Suites, but we got a free upgrade to a two-bedroom suite. We loved that so much we opted to do the two-bedroom suite at Dockside Inn.
And as I said, I really liked the suite at Surfside Inn. So much so that I was a bit worried I wouldn’t like Dockside Inn as much in comparison.
But luckily, once I walked into the door, those fears all went away. I absolutely loved our room!
For starters, I loved the decor in the room. I love the surfboard you see when you walk into the room. I loved the pictures up in the room. They were great pictures of surfers and the beach. The use of sunrise in the pictures also made it beautiful.
A really neat thing about the rooms at Dockside Inn is that their two-bedroom suites actually have three queen beds (!). The main room has a kitchen area along with two queen beds. And then the second room has another queen bed.
And the beds are great; I loved the beds in the rooms. They are really comfortable. And I loved how they fit the theming. The blue on the bedspread looked like the ocean. And the headboard gave you impressions of sand.
A cool thing about rooms at Dockside Inn is their great use of space. The rooms are huge as is. But they do small things to give you more room. Like there’s space under the bed to store your stuff. And they have hooks up so you can hang your facemask, purse, lanyard with your key in it, etc.
I also love how they have two sinks outside the bathroom. It is incredibly convenient.
I do have a few complaints about the room, though they aren’t huge. For starters, for a two-bedroom suite, I kind of wish they had a sofa in it. I appreciate they have three queen beds, but it would nice to be able to sit down in a comfortable sofa after a day at the theme parks like you can at the family suite at Universal’s Cabana Bay.
My other complaint would be the light situation. You have to put your key in a slot in order to turn the lights on. On the one hand, this is a great way to save energy. It ensures that you don’t keep the light on all day by accident while you are the park, and this is good for the environment.
But it’s really annoying as a guest to have to remember to put it in when you just want to cut a light on at the end of a long day at the parks.
But neither of these details would be enough to dissuade you from staying here.
Also, we got a room with a pool view and it was great!
So, as I mentioned earlier, a big advantage of staying onsite at Universal Orlando is the bus transportation. We never had to wait very long for a bus. The busses are always coming, and they do a good job loading people on busses.
Now, when I stayed at Surfside Inn in 2019, they dropped us off really close to the entrance of the theme parks. But now, the drop-off for Surfside Inn and Dockside Inn requires a little bit of a walk due to what appears to be construction. It’s not a gigantic walk, but it is something to keep in mind when you are booking your hotel. If you want less of a walk right now, you might want to book a stay at Cabana Bay.
So, dining here is a mixed bag.
Plusses of dining here are that they have a huge food court, the Pier 8 Market. It has a ton of tables.
Like Surfside Inn, they have videos playing of surfers and the beach.
Though I liked the clips much better at Surfside Inn. Pier 8 Market serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and have a larger selection of food than Surfside Inn.
They also have a Starbucks on site which is great in the morning.
They have a poolside bar (the Oasis Beach Bar). There’s also a lounge (the Sunset Lounge) that serves alcoholic beveragees. They have TVs playing sports games, too.
Another plus is that the hotel has a refillable mug system. You can get a souvenir mug themed to the hotel.
Every hour you can refill your mug in a Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine. I really liked that feature. And since the hotel isn’t very large, it’s not very hard to go refill your mug.
They also have a very huge menu list for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the hotel. And the food court is open very late.
But here is the negatives. And it is kind of huge. But I really did not like most of the food I ordered.
I was kind of surprised by this. I absolutely loved all the food I have ordered at other Universal hotels, like Surfside Inn and Cabana Bay. In fact, Cabana Bay had one of the best food courts.
But I had a dessert one night, and I ordered a Key Lime Pie while my sister ordered a slice of chocolate cheesecake. And the Key Lime Pie was just terrible. I had my sister try it, too, and she agreed that it was awful. We threw it away and then shared the cheesecake.
And I could have written that off as a one-time mistake. But then the next morning, I ordered chocolate chip pancakes. And they weren’t any good, either. The parts with chocolate were better. But the actual pancakes were dry and just, I’m sorry, not very good. They were honestly the worse pancakes I have ever ordered before. Luckily, my dad had ordered French Toast and shared it with me.
So the next day, I made sure I ate breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron in Universal Studios. And that was delicious. I was actually able to reserve my breakfast and pay for it ahead of time at the hotel at guest relations. So my advice to you is if you stay here, don’t bother eating a lot of your meals here. There is better food to be had elsewhere at the Universal Orlando Resort.
Pool & Recreation
Dockside Inn and Suites have two different pools. Though only one of the pools was open when we were there. Luckily for us, it was the pool that we had a view of from our room!
The pool also has a beach area with sand. They also had fun activities like table tennis you could play at the pool.
There are other onsite recreation and amenities at the hotel, like a fitness center and a really great arcade.
The theme parks will keep you and your family entertained. But if you want a break from the parks, it’s great they have all these amenities. They can also be great if you want something for the older kids to do while the younger kids nap. And it can be great if you say have a 4-day ticket to the parks but you’re going to be there 5 days.
So our stay wasn’t as perfect as I had hoped (namely, the food at the restaurant was the main drawback). But overall, we absolutely loved our stay here. The combination of the room space, the comfortable queen beds, the fun theme, and the ease of the Universal bus system makes this a hotel we highly recommend. Especially given the great price for the hotel. And you can get the hotel at an even cheaper rate if you keep reading.
Dockside Inn Discount Pricing
So as I mentioned earlier, Dockside Inn & Suites is one of the Universal Orlando value hotels. So the price is already cheaper than other hotels.