Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators.
Clean, comfortable, newly renovated hotel near Universal Studios and SeaWorld
Largely renovated in 2009, the Crowne Plaza is a practical, if bland, midpriced hotel. The guest rooms are clean, modern (all have new, 32-inch flat-screen TVs), and perfectly comfortable with their pillow-top mattresses, seven superfluous pillows, 250-thread-count sheets, and the Crowne's signature "sleep kits" that include lavender spray and an eyemask. The service is efficient, but not doting. And while the lobby might lack the elegance of the Westin (some of the couches are showing and stains), there's plenty of seating for guests to use the free Wi-Fi. The main features of the hotel include an outdoor courtyard, a largepool and Jacuzzi, a 24-hour business center, a dingy arcade, a bright but older fitness center (the cardio equipment lacks the personal TV monitors found at most newer hotel gyms), and 7,000 square feet of convention space.
Despite its convenient location near Universal Studios and SeaWorld and a few family-minded features (children 10 and under eat free), the hotel largely caters to business travelers. Though the hotel offers a free shuttle service to Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Disney World (contracted by an outside company), it runs very infrequently and several guests complained that it was more of a hassle than a convenience.
At 350 square feet, standard rooms are about the average size of a hotel room in Orlando, but the majority of them come with only one king-size bed, as opposed to two queens. I was in a rare corner room with a small kitchenette (just a small fridge and microwave, no stovetop), but typically only rooms with two queens come with that setup.
On balance, the Crowne Plaza is a good, but not exceptional option in Orlando. While the nearby Doubletree (across the street from Universal Studios) has larger rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and a more modern décor, it also has fewer amenities for families. But if you're in town to visit the Orange County Convention Center (about a five-minute drive from the Crowne Plaza), be sure to first compare rates at the Westin, which has better rooms, a better pool, and a much nicer gym.
Renting a car is a must, even with its close proximity to Universal Studios and SeaWorld.
The Crowne Plaza is located on busy Universal Boulevard near some of Orlando's most popular business and theme park hubs. It's a five-minute drive to Universal Studios, five to the Orange County Convention Center (the second largest convention center in the U.S.), 10 to SeaWorld, and 20 to Disney (give or take, depending on traffic). There's a free shuttle to all the parks, including Disney, but it runs infrequently, and renting a car is a must anyway -- the roads are loud, busy, unsightly, and far from pedestrian-friendly.
Spacious rooms and a convenient location for families, but the free shuttles to the parks run infrequently
The Crowne Plaza is located within five minutes of Universal's Islands of Adventure and 10 minutes of SeaWorld -- and offers a selection of family-friendly amenities -- but nothing comparable to what you would find at a genuinely family-friendly resort like the Hard Rock or the Loew's Royal Pacific, both of which are located inside Universal.
Located five minutes from Universal Studios and the Orange County Convention Center, the 400-room Crowne Plaza is a convenient and comfortable option for families and business travelers, given that its rooms and pool were both renovated in 2009 and that kids 10 and under eat for free. The nearby Westin, however, has nicer rooms and a better gym and pool.