Universal Orlando Resort
Tom Austin
July 22, 2015

This week, Universal Orlando Resort threw down the gauntlet of its ambition (and eternal competition with Walt Disney World Resorts), giving theme park devotees the option to begin booking reservations at the newest on-site hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.

The 1,000-room property, the fifth hotel at Universal Orlando, opens in the summer of 2016 with a waterfall and a 16,000-square-foot pool. (Orlando believes in being Vegas-style big.) As with Disney’s on-site hotels, Universal lobs out all manner of theme park deals, from early admission to complimentary water taxi service, to Universal theme parks and Universal CityWalk. 

Since 2010, Universal Orlando Resort has launched 18 new attractions, including the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Diagon Alley, and TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D. Next year, Universal will put Skull Island: Reign of Kong into the mix; in 2017, it launches the water park Volcano Bay.

Walt Disney did pretty well in life: in July of 1955, he launched Disneyland and established the model for the contemporary onslaught of corporate and entertainment synergy. Then, he looked east, opening Walt Disney World Resort in October of 1971. For the past 25 years, Universal Orlando Resort has been snipping at Disney’s heels, and is evolving into a younger, hip-in-a-theme-park-kind-of-way destination: after all, there’s nothing quite like a Krusty burger with Homer Simpson at Universal’s mock Springfield.   

Tom Austin is based in Miami and covers the Florida beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @TomAustin.

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