Universal’s Endless Summer Resort Review
This hotel review covers Surfside Inn & Suites, the newly-opened half of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort in Orlando at Universal Studios Florida & Islands of Adventure. We’ll share room photos, amenities info, pros & cons, and how these budget accommodations stack up to Walt Disney World Values & Moderates.
While we’ll refer to this as Universal’s Endless Summer Resort throughout this review, our stay was in the Surfside Inn and Suites half of the larger Endless Summer complex. The other half is Dockside Inn & Suites, and is also now open at Universal Orlando Resort.
Universal’s big pitch with Endless Summer Resort is that this is a true value hotel, with standard room rates starting under $100 per night for some–but not all–dates. This puts it below all Walt Disney World resorts. In fact, the All Star Resorts have new low prices of $99/night in the off-season, down from $112/night–this rare price decrease could be a sign that Disney is feeling increased competition from Universal at its Value Resorts…
Starting rack rates are interesting, but ultimately pretty meaningless depending upon when you travel. Throughout the summer, we noticed most dates for Universal’s Endless Summer Resort were over $140/night. In fairness, at this same time, the All Stars were $169/night.
Once the summer ended, Endless Summer’s prices dropped. For our Sunday night stay in September, we paid a discounted rate of $74 per night for Surfside Inn & Suites. This made it work out perfectly for us as a place to stay while doing Halloween Horror Nights.
We haven’t seen this good of an AP discount for Value Resorts at Walt Disney World in a while, but the best WDW PIN Code Offers and Priceline Express Deals for WDW you could find for the All Star Resorts do compete with this price-point. As such, our comparison below will pit Universal’s Endless Summer against the All Stars.
Before we get to that, let’s take a look inside our standard room at Universal’s Surfside Inn & Suites:
In the guest rooms, you’ll notice some similarities to the recently redesigned rooms at Pop Century and All Star Movies.
The biggest difference here is the fold-down Murphy bed that doubles as a table is simply a stationary queen bed. Whether that’s a pro or a con is a matter of personal preference. (I’m a fan of that Murphy bed, but I know many others are not.)
I think there’s also more attention to detail with Surfside Inn. The rug, light blue bedspread, artwork, light fixtures, art, throw pillows, and other details all give off a shabby chic beach cottage vibe.
Personally, I find the “Eat. Sleep. Surf” distressed wall art with the sunglasses a bit cringey, but I know this is popular with the style. It’s not the world’s most elaborate theme, but it’s effectively executed and conveyed.
We found the bedding to be comfortable, and the space sufficient for the two of us.
Our room definitely felt noticeably smaller than the one in which we stayed at Cabana Bay, but it still worked fine. Plenty of storage space, and the lounge chair is nice. (I ended up using that for working on my laptop, as the desk chair situation leaves a lot to be desired.)
The bathroom likewise gets the job done, but isn’t going to win any “best hotel bathroom ever” awards.
As with most of the hotel, it favors function over form, and fulfills its role admirably.
As with Cabana Bay, Endless Summer has resort-specific toiletries. It’s a little touch, but it’s appreciated.
Ultimately, we really liked our room at Surfside Inn. There are enough details and little touches that it feels inviting rather than sterile, it has a lot of smart functional design choices, and the color scheme coupled with the large (usable!) window made it light, airy, and welcoming. Value for money-wise, this room is tough to beat.
Surfside Inn and Suites features 750 rooms, 390 of which are two-bedroom suites at Universal’s lowest room rates ever. Dockside Inn and Suites adds another 2,050 guest rooms, including 1,113 two-bedroom suites.
Guests at Endless Summer can use the amenities at each of the sister properties (including pools), and every other Universal Orlando hotel (except pools).
One of the big selling points of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort is its layout. It seems that both Disney and Universal learned a valuable lesson from Disney’s foray into sprawling hotels with clusters of motel-style buildings with exterior hallways: most guests don’t want that.
In recent years, both have moved away from that style and towards more condensed resort footprints, often featuring tower designs and more interior hallways. Personally, I enjoy the larger and lusher grounds with more to explore (a novel concept you can’t find in a lot of places), but I realize I’m in the exception.
Surfside Inn and Suites continues this trend, with two tower wings that connect to the main lobby via interior hallways.
Regardless of where your room is located, it’ll probably take you 5 minutes or less to get to the pool, dining, or bus stops. The trade-off, unfortunately, is that the grounds are not particularly interesting or worth wandering.
On the upside, the basic slate of amenities certainly gets the job done, offering guests what they’re most likely to want or need.
There’s a lobby Starbucks, inexpensive food court, game room, fitness center, and pool.
Save for the pool, all of these options are pretty solid. The pool at Surfside Inn is very basic, and is simply a large surfboard or fish-shaped (depending upon your perspective) design with chairs around it.
Definitely lacking as compared to Universal’s other exceptional pools, but about on par with the All Star Resorts at Walt Disney World.
The biggest perk for Universal’s Endless Summer Resort on-site guests is early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park.
The downside is that, as with Cabana Bay, Endless Summer Resort guests do not receive unlimited Express Pass. If that’s something you’d otherwise buy, you’ll probably want to move up in resort tiers, as the value/cost of that is tremendous.
Unlike the other resorts at Universal Orlando, Endless Summer Resort is not within walking distance of the parks or CityWalk. It’s a short bus ride, but it’s located across Interstate 4, so you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) walk to the parks.
However, we found the shuttle buses to be incredibly efficient. We never had to wait for a bus to arrive (although they did sit for ~5 minutes waiting for guests and for the next bus behind the idling one to show up), and the commute time is around 7 minutes.
Although it’s a very basic value resort, Universal’s Endless Summer does have some nice touches.
For one, it has resort-specific mugs. (I’m a big fan of this little detail, so I probably place disproportionate weight on it.)
The food court is also well-designed and has a mellow vibe to it.
The space inside the seating area is cleverly broken up. It’ll never be a cacophonous nightmare while you’re just trying to recover after a long night at CityWalk or Halloween Horror Nights.
Being the cheapest hotel option at Universal Orlando, it should be unsurprising that Endless Summer Resort has the least going for it. If price is the bottom line for you, Surfside Inn and Suites is likely a good option.
It gets the job done, offering solid value for money.
Personally, I’d much rather save and/or splurge and book Cabana Bay instead (read our comprehensive Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Review).
For me, the advantages there in pools, amenities, theme, and proximity to the parks (I love being able to walk) make it worth the added cost. If I’m on vacation, those are things I simply don’t want to give up–Surfside Inn is just a bit too “normal” and barebones for me–but your mileage may vary on that.
As for how Universal’s Endless Summer compares to Walt Disney World’s All Star Resorts, there’s not much of a comparison aside from pricing. Which you’ll prefer really comes down to what you’re after and which theme parks are your priority. If you’re only visiting WDW and don’t plan on renting a car, that pretty much makes your decision for you.
Same goes if you’re only doing Universal and don’t care about Disney. Vacation priorities being equal or up in the air, each resort will have appeal to different guests. Endless Summer’s decorations are clean and minimal, with a beach-inspired vibe. The All Star’s decorations are largely oversized Disney characters.
The layout of the respective resorts is radically different. The All Stars are sprawling resorts with lush grounds and exterior hallways. These properties have a dingier motel vibe when it comes to the rooms, but there is something to be said for the unique grounds.
By contrast, Surfside Inn and Suites has chic, trendy, and more pleasant rooms. There’s also something to be said for the compact layout of the resort, but it’s ultimately duller. It thus becomes a choice of newer and nicer but more boring, or older and shabbier, but more captivating.
Overall, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort offers unparalleled value for money when it comes to an Orlando theme park-adjacent hotel. So long as you’re comfortable with something that’s light on theme and amenities, it’s a great option that offers suitable rooms, interior hallways, a compact footprint, and convenient access to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. We’d absolutely recommend it, especially to rope drop to park close theme park ‘touring commandos.’ We’d still recommend it to others, but those wanting a more relaxed, resort-heavy vacation experience should probably upgrade to (at least) Cabana Bay.
Planning a trip to Orlando, Florida? Learn more about Universal Orlando Resort in our Islands of Adventure & Universal Studios Florida Planning Guide. Want comprehensive Disney advice? The best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know. For more on hotels, check out our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page.
Have you stayed at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn & Suites? What do you think of it? Interested in staying here? What do you think of Universal’s v. Disney’s Value Resorts? What about on-site perks? Do you agree or disagree with our hotel review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
Please update this review. Prices are around 50% higher now. Thanks.
You absolutely CAN walk to Universal studios from endless summer. If you get on International drive then head north up Universal Blvd, there is a side walk that will walk you right into the bus drop off area of universal. There are escalators right there that take you into city walk which is where the entrances to islands of adventure and universal are. We have done it many times from that resort area. Typically takes us 15 min. The sidewalk does take you on an overpass but you are on a good sidewalk.
We stayed at Sapphire Falls and found it to be just the right combination of price and luxury. The pool was amazing, and although it was busy, the size is so large it was easy to find a private spot to relax. The boats to and from the City Walk landing put us in the perfect spot to choose the studio side or adventure side. Boats ran about every 15 minutes until 2 am. It was a bit pricier in September, but we booked for early November for half the price. I definitely recommend this resort.
Tom have you done a review of the endless summer dockside inn? We’re going this April.
I’m not sure I agree that people shouldn’t walk to the parks. There are walkways and pedestrian crossing points all the way. I did it and it was quick and easy…
It might not be a great experience for families with small kids, but when I read the article, I assumed “shouldn’t” meant “not walkable“ 😉
Disney provides e-gift cards if you opt out of housekeeping. $10 for each night minus 1 ( so for a 2 night stay I got $10). I really apprecuates that option. They still do room checks.
Could you offer recommendations on a split stay with a Disney resort hotel and a Universal hotel?
We want to do a day at universal next trip. We’re thinking to do it on our way back home (after Disney) or before our main Disney stay. Would that be a worthwhile option? It would be nice to know if any of the universal hotels offered airport shuttles too!
universal has an airport shuttle called superstar shuttle. it is not free.
Just recently completed a 3 night stay and while convenient, probably wouldn’t stay there again. I picked the location because it offered the 2 “bedroom” suite at an affordable price and didn’t want to spring for two connecting rooms at a more upscale establishment. It’s not quite a 2 bedroom. It’s an enclosed one bedroom and the 2nd sleeping area is open like a standard hotel room. We stayed in tower 2 and the walls are PAPER THIN….as are there towels…..do you think it would hurt to put a vent in the bathroom (we had that same issue (no vent) staying club level at The Contemporary)….My son wasn’t feeling well and the entire room knew it….The bus service was fast and reliable. There was always a bus waiting to take us to/from the hotel/park and that was great. We were also able to grab quick breakfast sandwiches and head to the park to start our day. The convenience of being able to pick up our tickets in the lobby was extremely helpful. The fitness room was well equipped and usually empty….The game room isn’t free (not that I expected it to be). I didn’t spend time at the pool but whenever I passed it, it was never crowded…We didn’t wander around the property (it’s basic) and the highway was nearby. Ample parking (was able to get a spot on the first level)…. I forgot to mention housekeeping. It’s pretty hit or miss. We were on the 5th floor of a 6 story building and after spending all day at the park, arrived back to our room after 5pm and they had not been to our floor. I phoned down to the lobby and was informed they have til 5:30pm to clean the rooms, gave them my room number and was informed someone would be up shortly. I eventually found the housekeeping cart and grabbed some towels (did I mention they’re paper thin) and headed back and put the do not disturb on our door.
However, the next day they cleaned our room that morning. Maybe they alternate (high to low floors one day and then low to high floors the next day) Who knows….I was just glad they came. Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll try my best to answer.
Hi, do the 2 bedroom rooms all have fridge, microwave, tea/coffee making and do they have any bowls, plates, cutlery? Thanks
We just did five nights at Surfside last week and were pleased with the experience. Our weekday rate was about $80, and the weekend rate was $10-12 more. We booked a standard view, but they gave us a free upgrade to a pool view. We liked the decor, and the beds were quite comfortable. We had two adults and two kids (10 and 13) in the room and felt like we had enough space. There was a problem with our refrigerator the first night, but they sent someone to fix it the next day (which was what I asked for–I didn’t want maintenance coming up to my room at 10:30 that night). I agree that bus service was quite reliable, which was nice. We didn’t eat in the food court, but I did go down looking for a fun snack/treat one night. Unlike Pop (which is where we always stay for Disney trips), there were no fun cupcakes, cookies, etc., just boring-looking cheesecake and brownies. I opted not to bother with any of those. But while I missed Pop’s unique treats, staying at Surfside was an overall good experience for our family.
Personally for me universal value resorts win on amenites. For the fitness minded, would it kill Disney to have fitness centers at thier values? Or even one to be shared with all stars? In addition not all the deluxe have them either.
Have you stayed at sapphire falls yet?
Glad they didn’t do this value resort “on the cheap,” but I would definitely spring for $20-50 more to stay at Sapphire Falls for proximity and that true “vacation feel.” You cannot beat location with the resorts on the garden walk path and they definitely have a destination resort feeling to them.
Look at that glorious finished ceiling in the dining area!
I’m glad to hear more of Tom’s take on towers versus 3/5-floor buildings. While I don’t think I agree, the lack of a “resort” feel is something to consider. I’ll have to take a look back at other Universal Resort reviews to see how the more expensive hotels pulled it off.
(Looking online, I think prices at the All-Stars have stayed the same; maybe you’re comparing $99 before tax to $112 after tax?)
Fantastic review, as always! While I can’t always comment, the posts are always appreciated.
Disney screwed up big time with those cheap looking motel-style buildings at Pop Century/All Stars. There’s no way to make them look good. Cool oversized statues and lush landscaping can only go so far. At Universal, they have a section of motel-style, exterior hallway buildings at Cabana Bay and they look fabulous – some of the most well designed 60s style buildings anywhere. Good job, Universal!
Disney is too busy spending its money on those horrendous room checks. Had one and ten minutes later a second room check walked in on my son sleeping. All the construction too. There is not one place you can just rest and relax in disney anymore. Constant construction and building or landscaping maintenance . As season passholders after our last trip im too exhausted.
Key words: unparalleled value for money. Disney should embed that into their ethos at this point in the game.
Next up for Disney: automated check in service and automated hostess and waiting staff.
They technically have the option for automated check in now. Plus the option of no cleaning done for an upcharge
There Diminishing Guest Experience is proving very Effective at Convincing me to Spend My Money Elsewhere!