A full review including what to do and what to expect at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Resort in Orlando Florida.
Orlando is known for theme parks and up to beat attractions but what if you don't want to do that?
What if you want to skip the parks and enjoy some relaxation time?
"Where in Orlando would you go?", I asked myself.
While there are many awesome resorts in Orlando that includes attractions and great experiences, we were looking for a place where we were close to all the attractions in case we changed our minds about relaxing but somewhere that felt like it was away from everything.
We also needed a space that is big enough to accommodate our family of six and that narrows our options to basically only a few.
The Margaritaville Orlando resort cottages were looking very promising and we found them at a decent price on expedia.com so we decided to give it try and test it out.
We spent two nights and three days at the resort and we will be sharing everything that you should know and things we wish we knew as well as tips for visiting and how to get the most bang for your buck during your stay at the Margaritaville Orlando Resort.
Everything you should know before visiting the Margaritaville Orlando Resort
1 - How you book your trip matters
I was surprised to find out that Airbnb's do not have access to the pool and other amenities that are available for guests that book directly through Margaritaville or other websites and agencies.
2 - Construction is still going on
As of June 2022, the Margaritaville Orlando Resort is far from being finished. There is quite a lot to do still and they are at full force so do expect to hear and see construction going on during your stay.
From what I can tell it looks like they are building a whole other entertainment area with a kid friendly pool with a water playground, a stage, and a restaurant.
Also, more rooms and cottages are being built so when everything is complete this place will be able to house quite a few guests to say the least.
3 - Distance to parks
The resort sits about 12 - 15 minutes away from Disney Parks and 20 - 22 minutes from Universal Studios and Sea World depending on the traffic, of course.
4 - Is it Pet Friendly ?
The resort is in fact one of the few that is pet friendly and you will see several doggie stations throughout the resort with a bag and trash so you can pick up after your pet.
5 - Extra for cabanas
If you were checking out the pictures and saw the cabanas near the pool and can't wait to relax in one of them, make sure you call and reserve them in advance.
The cabanas at the Fins up pool is not free and comes at an extra cost that I believe it varies and it depends on the time of your visit, so make sure you call ahead to find out.
Each cabana offers lounge chairs, beach chairs, a small refrigerator stocked with water and soda, a television and a fan.
7 - Are the cottages worth it?
We stayed in a two bedroom, two bathroom cottage and it was plenty of room for our family of six. You can see the entire tour of the cottage in this youtube video.
The cottage came with everything we needed for our family of six with the exception of food. Even water was available as the refrigerator dispenses filtered water and ice.
From our perspective the cabanas are totally worth it and here's why we believe that from our personal experience which may be different than yours:
- We can buy food and cook our own meals which in the end is very cost effective for us because eating out in Orlando, three times a day, for our entire family would cost at least a good $250 - $350 a DAY!
- It is near everything we wanted to do. Time is of the essence when you are traveling so last thing you want to do, in my opinion, is to stay somewhere far and get into the chance of encountering heavy traffic.
8 - Parking
Unlike Disney Resorts, Margaritaville does not charge you for parking. Whether you are staying at the hotel or the cottages, your parking is totally free, as it should be!
Now, if you want the VIP treatment you can opt for the valet service at an extra charge for $35.
10 - Is it Kid Friendly?
This question was literally one of my main worries as we have four children to keep entertained. It's tough work but we manage it (most of the time).
The kids had a great time at Margaritaville resort and I am sure they would have loved even more if the children's pool was done but we'll be back once it is.
The fins up pool has a very shallow area just like a beach so it's perfect for little kids and even babies to enjoy in their floaties.
We forgot to bring the floats for the two middle kids and thankfully the Sundries Sea Shack had them for $4 each.
Besides the pool, there is also a playground area and activities designated just for children.
11 - Is it affordable?
I would say yes but I also know that affordability varies from person to person so with that in mind I will also add that the time of the year you visit will also make a whole lot of difference in how much you pay for your stay.
Try this, conduct your search for the month of March or July and then do it for September and see the difference.
If you can manage to travel during low season and days or a week after a major holiday then you may be able to get a much better deal on your booking prices.
I have used Expedia.com to find good deals and then matched that with Rakuten to earn a percentage back of whatever I spent. It's not a lot of money but that cash back can be put towards gas, eating out or saving it for the next trip.
Sign up with Rakuten here and we'll both get $30 on the first time you use it.
12 - Shuttles to park
Shuttles are available to and from the parks and the fee is already included in your $36 resort fee so make sure you take advantage of that.
Reservations are required and can be made via their third party company website maingatetaxi.com or the concierge desk in the lobby.
Here are the times of the shuttle departures from Margaritaville:
Hollywood Studios - 11:20 am and 12:15 pm
Animal Kingdom - 9:00 am and 12:15pm
Sea World - 8:00 am
Universal Studios - 8:00 am
Time of return from parks to Margaritaville
Hollywood Studios - 5:55pm and 7:50pm
Animal Kingdom - 6:30pm
Sea World - 6:00 pm and 8:40pm
Universal Studios - 6:15pm
13 - Grocery and Amazon Delivery
If you are flying in and don't want to pay for the extra cost for a luggage filled with items you will only be using while in Florida, a great option is to get those items delivered to your hotel or cottage.
And if you are staying at one of the cottages you can also get groceries delivered directly to you.
Grocery stores are always full and the lines are always long in Orlando so don't waste your precious time doing that, let someone else do it for you and pay for the convenience.
If you have Amazon Prime you can get your groceries from Whole Foods delivered to you at no extra cost if you order $35 or more and if you aren't a member yet, take advantage of free 30 days membership and use it during your trip.
14 - Proximity to stores and restaurants
Just outside of the Margaritaville Orlando Resort is the Promenade, a plaza with a handful of bars and restaurants, gift shop, and so much more.
It's perfect for guests who aren't driving as they can walk there.
Now, if you want to do a more extensive shopping, there is also a target just around the corner.
15 - Room Service
If you are staying at the hotel side of the resort then you will have access to daily room service at no extra charge. However, keep in mind that is not the case for the cottages.
If you want room service for the cottages then you will have to pay an extra charge which it will vary depending on your needs and the size of the cottage as well.
16 - Resort Fee
At the time of our visit the resort fee was $36 per day. It was suppose to include a welcome drink upon your arrival but I didn't get mine and I didn't see any of the other guests getting one.
It also included loungers and towels for the pool, a concierge service and shuttle transportation to parks.
Things to do while staying at the Margaritaville Orlando Resort
1- Resort Restaurant's Entertainment
Catch live music at one of the two restaurants available at the resort:
Salty Rim - Wednesday through Sunday from 4pm to 8pm
Euphoria Lounger - Tuesday through Sunday from 7pm to 11pm
2 - Pool Games & Challenges
Daily from 12pm to 4 pm. Check out their daily planner for the activities planned for the week that you visit.
3 - H20 Water Park
Although the H20 water park is not included with your stay, it is one of the activities that you will be able to enjoy within walking distance from the resort.
The park opens from 10:30 am until 5pm daily.
If you happen to live in Florida and travel often to Orlando, be on the look out for their annual pass promotion. When we went in June of 2022 the passes were $60 per person and you could use it any day of 2022.
The passes are regularly $99.99 per person. General admission tickets are $59.99, $52.20 for hotel guests, and $49.99 for seniors and children under 48".
4 - Explore the Resort Culinary
Salty Rim - The restaurant is open from Sun - Thursday from 11:00 am to 8pm but the kitchen closes at 6pm. On Fridays and Saturdays they open at the same time but the kitchen closes an hour later at 7:00pm.
Euphoria - If you are an early riser and like to have your breakfast just as early, the Euphoria is where you'll get to enjoy a hot breakfast which is not included with your stay.
The restaurant is open for breakfast Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 11 am and from 8:00 am to 12:00pm on Saturday's and Sunday's
Dinner is available daily from 5pm to 11pm and the lobby bar is open from 11am to 11pm.
5 - Shopping at Margaritaville
Did you forget something for your trip or maybe want a quick snack? The Provisions near the lobby has an array of food, drinks, fresh coffee and other vacation must haves available for guests to purchase.
Let me warn you though, the prices are pretty hefty. The price for a small bottled water was $3, thankfully we were driving and we went down the road to target and spent the same amount to get a case of 12 bottles.
But if you aren't driving and you need the item right away, the Provisions is a great convenience. They are open from 7am to 9pm on Sunday though Thursday and from 7am to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Now, if you are looking for souvenirs to take back home or maybe a shirt to remind you of your vacation to Margaritaville Orlando Resort, the retail store in the main lobby is open from 9 am to 9pm from Monday through Saturday and they closet at 7pm on Sundays.
6 - Shopping within walking distance of Margaritaville
If you want more than what the retail store inside the resort has to offer, then you are going to love that just outside of Margaritaville Orlando Resort is the Sunset Walk, a plaza filled with things to do, places to eat and shopping to do.
Here's a couple of stores you may want to check out:
US Gift Factory
7 - Explore the culinary within walking distance of Margaritaville
The sunset plaza also offers an extensive list of restaurants to choose from. From burgers to exquisite cuisines, you will not run out of options and there's something for everyone.
Here they are:
8 - Events within walking distance of the Margaritaville Orlando resort
Still at the Sunset Walk plaza you will find the Promenade where you can watch live events from Wednesday through Sunday. Check out their website for a full agenda of events.
9 - Go to the movies
At the Studio Movie Grill you can eat, drink and watch a movie all at the same time with their full bar and in theater dinning.
Last I heard they have $5 any movie every Tuesday and Thursday, that's a sweet deal!
10 - Sunset Walk Human Sling Shot
This one is for the thrill seekers that want to experience the adrenaline of reaching 100 mph in a matter of 2 seconds.
Check out their website for pricing and packages.
11 - Chill at the pool
As of June 2022 there are two pools you can choose from:
The fins up pool is open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm and it's kid friendly.
The License to chill pool is open from 8 am until Dusk and it's geared more towards adults although kids are still allowed to chill.
12 - Take beautiful pictures
The Margaritaville Orlando Resort is filled with picturesque spots. From the minute you walk in and see the gigantic Sandal to the beautiful outdoor wall paintings, I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Here are my favorite spots for pictures at the resort:
The red Sandal
Staircase going down from the lobby to outdoor amenities
The conferences room hallway
Wall Murals walking from beach club to license to chill pool
Outdoor sitting of Provisions.
Found other spots? Don't keep it to yourself, share the knowledge! Take a picture and tag me on Instagram @jujugurgel.
13 - Take a stroll on a bike
You can rent single bikes but you are going to need to download the hopr app so you can pay for it. The pricing depends on how long you want to rent it for.
Now, there's also the single bench and double bench tandem surrey bikes that allows you to bring in more people on the fun and ride together.
14 - Get fit
The fitness center is available 24 hours to guest who have access to those amenities. Sorry Airbnb's.
15 - Get a massage
Down for some real relaxation time? Check out the St. Somewhere Spa that offers massages, body therapies, skin treatments, facials, salon services, vitamin well services and more.
Although walk-ins are welcome I would recommend you call in advance to book any services you'd like to have done especially if you are visiting during high season.
16 - Play Arcade Games
At the resort you will find a small arcade room and if that isn't enough for you then head over to Game time just outside of the resort at the Sunset Walk and have over 100 arcade games at your fingertips.
17 - Get dessert
In the mood for something sweet? Cold stone Creamery has delicious ice cream and it's located over at the Sunset Walk plaza.
And if you want something sweet but a little healthier, head over to Bahama Bucks for smoothies, acai bowls and the like.
18 - Make Frozen treats
If you are staying over at one of the cabanas, then you can make your own frozen treats with the Margaritaville Frozen drink blender. It's not going to be Coldstone material but the kids will love it just the same.
We made our grown up frozen pina colada that you can get the recipe right here and for the kiddos we made them orange juice icees. Easy, simple and quenching.
19 - Get your nails done
Didn't have the time to get your nails done before coming on vacation? Don't worry because Sunset Walk has a nail salon too. Check out Avalon Nails to book an appointment.
20 - Take your pet to Barkaritaville
Barkaritaville is Margaritaville's resort way of including your pet in the fun. There are two dog parks; one for small and the other for large dogs.
It's right in front of a pond so you can enjoy the view as your pet enjoys the park.
21 - Get your hair braided
You can get your hair braided over at the fins up beach club. Price varies and it's only available at certain times of the day.
22 - Airbrush tattoos
Don't have any hair to braid? Well, how about an airbrush or henna tattoo? Also available at the fins up beach club.
23 - Wildlife experience with Gatorland
Every Saturday at 3 pm guests get the chance to learn and get an educational experience presented by Gatorland.
24 - Craft Creations
Want to get crafty? Check out their activity weekly planner to find out what craft classes are available for the week you are visiting.
25 - Play Volleyball
Grab a volleyball and head over to the white sand volleyball court located near the fins up beach club.