For anyone who fondly remembers the eponymous seminal 1966 surfing documentary, the phrase “Endless Summer” conjures images of pristine oceans, epic waves, and limitless freedom. Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, a 2,800-room complex of value-priced rooms that will be completed in 2020, is built along an inland lake that was previously home to the Wet ’n Wild water park, so the only waves it has ever known were man-made. But the resort does offer liberation of a sort, both from the traditional boundaries of Universal’s property and from the limitation that park-owned hotels must always cost more than their off-site competition.
Endless Summer Resort is actually comprised of two sibling hotels, which sit across from each other on Universal Boulevard. Surfside Inn and Suites, located to the south on the land originally occupied by Wet ’n Wild’s attractions, opened in summer 2019 with 750 rooms (360 standard and 390 2-bedroom suites) along the shoreline surrounding a surfboard-shaped pool. Dockside Inn and Suites, situated on the north side of the street in the water park’s former parking lot, will boast a substantial 2,050 rooms (937 standard and 1,113 suites), supported by a separate lobby and two organically shaped pools. Both properties share a similar sunny aesthetic with colorful images of seaside fun etched into the hotels’ multistory cement towers.
Start by taking this video tour of Universal Orlando’s Endless Summer Resort, featuring a family suite at Surfside Inn:
Despite being the first to sport Universal’s Value label, the 313-square-foot standard room with two queen beds is slightly larger than those at the Prime Value locations. They’re also about the size of a Disney Moderate hotel room, but at Disney Value prices: about $100–$145 per night cheaper than a Moderate. That’s quite a savings. And they aren’t cheap from an aesthetic perspective either, as long as you appreciate the shabby chic look popular at vintage beachside hotels. In this modernized reinterpretation of a hippie hangout, the floors and furniture resemble reclaimed driftwood, and the tie-dyed curtains and vibrant wall art recall the Summer of Love.
Thankfully, unlike the Bohemian beach shacks of yore, at Endless Summer all the modern amenities are included: separate vanity and toilet areas, minifridge, convenient soda can holder, 43-inch TV, smart home controls for the temperature, and built-in high-amperage USB-C charging outlets. Room soundproofing is excellent, which is a surprise at this price, and there are plenty of under-shelf hooks on which to hang things, though only a handful of drawers for stowing your clothes. Our biggest nitpick is the poor quality of the soft goods; foam pillows and polyblend bath towels should be outlawed.
A little more than half the rooms at each Endless Summer complex are 440-square-foot suites with three queen beds, one bathroom, and a kitchenette complete with sink, microwave, low-end coffee maker, and a kitschy picnic table for dining alfresco indoors. That’s about 65–80 square feet smaller—and one less bathroom than—Disney’s Family Suites, but a little roomier than the pricier Family Suites at Cabana Bay. We also like that Endless Summer’s suites have a separate private bedroom with a second 49-inch TV for the third bed (as opposed to a pull-out sofa), though we prefer Cabana Bay’s split toilet/shower setup.
Endless Summer’s lobbies, which display colorful surfboard signage and provide wicker swings to lounge on, aren’t as architecturally impressive as those at the upscale hotels, but the whole atmosphere is warmer and cozier than at Aventura or Sapphire Falls.
The pools feature small splash pads for the kids and hold organized family activities like bingo and Hula-Hoop contests, but they are unusually shallow (maximum depth 4 feet) and lack waterslides; unfortunately, Endless Summer guests are forbidden from crashing the pool at the non-Value resorts.
Each hotel also includes a surprisingly well-stocked free fitness room with internet-enabled treadmills that have interactive touch screens, plus a Universal Studios Store and a video arcade. Full-service dining isn’t offered, but cafeteria-style food courts, lobby and pool bars, Starbucks cafés, and pizza delivery are all available.
Because it’s located on the opposite side of International Drive and I-4 from the rest of Universal Orlando, walking to the parks from Endless Summer isn’t practical, especially with preschoolers in tow, so a fleet of free buses is provided, servicing both the parking hub (from which you walk to CityWalk and the theme parks) and a direct route to Volcano Bay. The ride to the parking hub from here is actually slightly shorter than the one from Cabana Bay; travel time is barely 5 minutes each way, and the entire trip (including walking and waiting to depart) takes about 15 minutes, as this video of the drive proves:
At Surfside Inn, Tower 1 is closest to the bus stop; the hotel’s hallways are seemingly endless, and it can be quite a hike to the rooms most distant from the lobby.
Universal advertises Endless Summer’s rates as “starting from $85 per night,” which is based on a 4-night stay during the value season. Even at full rack rate, the hotel’s competitive pricing undercuts many of its independent I-Drive neighbors, whose aging amenities will struggle to compete with Universal’s 800-pound gorilla. While we still think Cabana Bay delivers more value for your dollar, cost-conscious visitors should think long and hard before booking an off-site hotel that doesn’t offer Early Park Admission and easy transportation now that Endless Summer is open.
Check out the upcoming edition of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando by Seth Kubersky for more about Universal Orlando’s hotels. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for our newsletter here.