Welcome to THE BIG 5, a definitive top five list of various Orlando related, uh, stuff. THE BIG 5 is wide ranging, and will run the gamut from the top five reasons CityWalk is better than Downtown Disney, to the top five Extreme Eats at Universal Studios, to the top five roller coasters in Orlando, and everything in between.
To view all of THE BIG 5 posts so far, click here.
This week’s list is the top five reasons to stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando. For many the top two reasons to stay at any of the three deluxe on-site Universal hotels (including the Royal Pacific, the Hard Rock Hotel, and Portofino Bay) is early admission to the Universal theme parks and the unlimited Express Pass access for each person staying in the room. However, all three of these hotels are among the best in Orlando, and each have their unique traits that separate them from each other. Today we’ll take a look at my personal favorite of the collection, Royal Pacific Resort.
#5 – The resort is pet-friendly
Walt Disney World has 25 hotels with over 20,000 hotel rooms. But whether you’re staying in a two bedroom suite with a Savanna view at the Animal Kingdom Lodge or a standard room with a view of the parking lot at All-Star Movies, every single one of those rooms has one thing in common: no pets allowed. For many people pets are part of the family, and at the Royal Pacific Resort there are pet-friendly rooms in which guests are allowed up to two pets in a standard room. There is a cleaning fee of $50 per night, but that fee caps out at $150 maximum for stays three days or longer.
Royal Pacific also has a fantastic “pet resort” next to the hotel where you can do more than just walk your dog.
Besides being themed, there is also an elaborate play area where your pet can run around and interact with several obstacles and toys. See the photo gallery at the bottom of the post!
#4 – South Pacific theming
While the Hard Rock and Portofino Bay both offer exceptional theming, for my money the laid back South Pacific theme of Royal Pacific ranks among the best of any resort in Florida. I believe that the theming of this resort is as good as Disney’s Polynesian, but you are only paying what Disney would charge for a moderate resort.
When I go on vacation I spend enough time running around from attraction to attraction, so it’s nice to step back into a resort that is based around tranquility. The landscaping is gorgeous. The Asian-inspired artwork and décor throughout the resort is wonderful. It’s just an absolutely beautiful resort that is the closest place I have stayed that replicates the experience I had staying in Maui, Hawaii years ago.
#3 – Jurassic Park Kid’s Suites
Ultra-themed rooms have started to pop up throughout Orlando. There are the Royal Guest rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort dedicated to the Disney princesses. There are pirate themed rooms at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. The Art of Animation Resort focuses on four of Disney’s most popular animated films. Universal’s own Portofino Bay announced it was converting all 18 of it’s kids suites over to a Despicable Me theme this August. But Royal Pacific had themed kid’s rooms in place long before the others in the form of the Jurassic Park kid’s suites:
Walking into a Jurassic Park kid’s suite gave me the same feeling as when I first stepped into the T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney. When I was growing up, both are exactly where I would have wanted to spend every waking minute of my life. The “raptor” beds have a light up component for the slash marks. There is Jurassic Park paraphernalia across the room. Unlike the Art of Animation rooms – where the master bedroom is closed off onto itself and the “kid’s” room has a door to the hallway – the Jurassic Park children’s room opens only into the main room and has no door to the hallway.
#2 – Proximity to the parks
While there are always water taxis that runs continuously from Royal Pacific to Universal CityWalk and the theme parks, I almost always take the Garden Walkway and enjoy the nice serene walk over.
I enjoy the fact that I can leave my hotel room and be at the front gate of Islands of Adventure in about 10 minutes. I also like that I can look out my window and just about “feel” the parks because they are so close. There’s something to be said about waiting for an elevator and getting a perfect view of Hogwarts Castle in the morning. That’s how to start your day right!
#1 – The Pool
There’s pretty much one golden rule when it comes to bringing your kids to Orlando on vacation: no matter how many attractions you go on, no matter how many shows you see, no matter how many dining experiences you have, one thing they love to do more than almost anything else is play in the pool. Luckily Royal Pacific has one of the best family pools in Orlando.
Besides the huge lagoon-style pool itself, there is the giant Royal Bali Sea interactive play element for the kids, and the adults get a white sand beach and two hot tubs to relax in. The Bula Bar & Grille is a lounge and eatery that includes service throughout the pool area (save your glass and you can discounted mixed drinks when coming back). There are always a lot of poolside activities going on, and since having an unlimited Express Pass will really speed up the time it takes you to tour the theme parks, plan on spending some quality time at this incredible pool area.
Insider tip: you gotta try the Shipwrecked Nachos!
Honorable mention – dining experiences
If there was one shortcoming at Universal Orlando, it’s the overall lack of character dining. However, there is a character dining experience at the Islands Dining Room two nights a week (usually Wednesday and Saturday) from 6:30pm – 9:30pm. The characters you can meet include The Simpsons and Scooby Doo and Shaggy.
If you’re looking for a slightly more “grown up” dining experience, head to the Orchid Court Lounge across from the lobby…
Their sushi bar is open nightly from 5:00pm to 8:00pm and features a wide selection, from Spicy Tuna rolls, Cucumber rolls, and Eel rolls to other items such as Miso soup and steamed edamame.
Finally, get a chance to experience an evening of authentic Polynesian food and entertainment at the Wantilan Luau, a weekly Hawaiian dinner show hosted by Royal Pacific and featuring an all-you-can-eat buffet of Polynesian specialties, live Hawaiian music and traditional hula dancing. This is offered Saturday nights year-round plus Tuesdays throughout the summer, and the price includes unlimited mai tais!
(Can you believe I didn’t even mention the monthly Beer Dinner at Jake’s American Bar, the weekly WOK Experience at Islands Dining Room, or the Bula Ice Cream Shop by the pool? Yeah, there are a lot of options — in fact, the next Beer Dinner is tomorrow night.)
That’s it for this edition of the BIG 5! We’ll see you again real soon.
If you’d like to learn more about this hotel, be sure to visit the Royal Pacific Resort page in the OI Universal Center — you’ll find complete resort information and over 300 full-screen photos of the property.
Dog park at Royal Pacific Resort – photo gallery
Click any image to view it full-screen. When the full-screen image is open, click to the right or use the right arrow on your keyboard to advance through the gallery.
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