How AmEx Platinum Members Can Maximize Their Hotel Credit at Orlando Theme Parks

The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando offers a particularly good value for Universal theme park fans.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Published
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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The Platinum Card® from American Express offers cardholders an annual $200 statement credit on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts (FHR) or The Hotel Collection (THC) bookings through the American Express Travel Portal. While the credit helps justify the card’s $695 annual fee, it can be annoying to use given the limited list of hotels. Terms apply.

But for theme park fans, there are some good options, especially in Orlando, Florida. About a half-dozen hotels bookable through either FHR or The Hotel Collection are located within five miles of one of Orlando’s Disney World or Universal Resort parks. Those hotels include:

  • Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.

  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando.

  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando.

  • JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa.

  • Waldorf Astoria Orlando.

  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort.

  • Walt Disney World Swan.

  • Walt Disney World Swan Reserve.

Most of the above properties also offer early theme park entry. One even includes a free Universal Express Unlimited Pass to skip the lines at attractions.

The Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando's Harbor Piazza. (Photo by Sally French)

Booking these hotels through AmEx can double up as a good use of the The Platinum Card® from American Express's annual credit and a way to save on a Disney World or Universal vacation. Terms apply.

For Disney fans

With Disney’s version of early entry, guests at certain Orlando hotels can enter the four Walt Disney World theme parks 30 minutes before everyone else. THC and FHR properties that allow early Disney park entry include:

  • Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.

  • Waldorf Astoria Orlando.

  • Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort.

  • Walt Disney World Swan.

  • Walt Disney World Swan Reserve.

If you prioritize walking distance to the parks, choose the Walt Disney World Dolphin, Swan and Swan Reserve. The sibling properties are walkable to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

If you value VIP hotel treatment, consider the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort or Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Both are FHR properties, which entail extra benefits, including complimentary daily breakfast for two and guaranteed late checkout.

The other option in the Disney resort area, the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort, doesn’t offer early theme park entry. Though perhaps that’s a moot point if you’re sleeping in or noshing on the complimentary breakfast anyway.

For Universal fans

The plaza of the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. (Photo by Sally French)

Among the hotels available through FHR and THC, there are usually two that offer early Universal theme park entry:

  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando.

  • Loews Sapphire Falls at Universal Orlando.

The lobby of the Loews Sapphire Falls at Universal Orlando. (Photo by Sally French)

As one of the Premier tier Universal-owned hotels, the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel stands out for an additional benefit when booked through AmEx — a complimentary Universal Express Unlimited Pass for all guests. Holding a Universal Express Unlimited Pass grants you access to a separate (typically shorter) line for some attractions.

Otherwise, it’s sold as an add-on to park tickets. Prices vary by day but typically range from $110 to $350 per person (not including taxes). If you use The Platinum Card® from American Express to book, you’ll get the $200 statement credit back, a $100 property credit and a $110+ Express Unlimited Pass per person in your party. This means you could save at least $400 in total and save time waiting in line at the parks. Terms apply.

Is it worth booking using The Platinum Card® from American Express?

The porte-cochere leading to the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando. (Photo by Sally French)

Despite all the benefits of booking through the American Express Travel portal, there’s a catch. Room rates are sometimes higher than when booked through other third parties or directly through the hotel.

Even with the extra benefits (and the opportunity to use up the $200 annual statement credit when paid with The Platinum Card® from American Express), you might prefer to pay a lower sticker price and forgo those extras. Terms apply.

But at certain hotels, the top benefits aren’t just about saving money — they're about saving time. Early entry at Disney and Universal can mean the difference between getting on the top attractions versus potentially wasting time in line for lackluster rides.

Particularly if you’d otherwise purchase Universal Express Unlimited out of pocket, using The Platinum Card® from American Express to fund a night at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is a no-brainer. Terms apply.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

NerdWallet Rating
5.0
Annual fee

$695

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

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