THE BIG 5: Top five reasons why Loews Royal Pacific Resort is my favorite Universal Orlando on-site hotel

THE BIG 5: Top five reasons why Loews Royal Pacific Resort is my favorite Universal Orlando on-site hotel

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.

Dog park at Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

Dog park at Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

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:

Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

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.

Garden Walkway from Royal Pacific to Universal CityWalk.

Garden Walkway from Royal Pacific to Universal CityWalk.

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.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

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…

Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

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.

 

derekburgan

About the author

Derek Burgan is a longtime theme park fan based in Port St. Lucie, FL. There is not a theme park related book he won't read, podcast he won't listen to, or DVD he won't watch. He regularly travels to what he considers his second home, Orlando, while his girlfriend wishes he had the same passion for Hawaii.
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8 comments
Donna
Donna

Thank you for your thorough and enjoyable review of one of my favorite resorts. Have to say the "dog friendly" aspect is the main reason we avoid Disney all together. We have two wonderful well behaved pups that come with us everywhere. I can't sing the Loews onsite hotel praises enough about how wonderful they are treated and regarded while we stay onsite. Maybe Disney should contact Loews (since they have 25 hotels with over 20,000 hotel rooms that don't allow pets, and Universal has no where near this many,)and see how they are able to provide a non allergenic experience for the patrons who don't stay in the "pet friendly" rooms.

annabanana
annabanana

Thank god for this site I thought we might have to vacation with very little information.... I could see the beginning of my OCD planning meltdown.... so thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

DiNap44
DiNap44

My family stayed at RPR & Beach Club at Disney during our 2010 trip & the RPR blew the Beach Club away in all categories. The pool was our favorite & the service was outstanding. Five stars rating.

derekburgan
derekburgan

Jonathan, I think almost all fans of Universal are also fans of Disney whereas - and I'll never comprehend this - there is a relatively big group of Disney fans who will never give Universal, Sea World, Busch Gardens or others the time of day. I think they are doing themselves a disservice. However personally I love both Universal and Disney and just bought my first Disney Annual Pass last week. I mentioned the Pet Friendly thing as a main piece of my Royal Pacific Resort because I have a small Yorkshire Terrier who we like to travel with. Did you happen to see my recent article on Art of Animation? http://www.orlandoinformer.com/2013/the-big-5-top-five-secrets-of-disneys-art-of-animation-resort/ I have a LONG list of articles I would love to do on Disney!

OrlandoInformer
OrlandoInformer

It's no bother. Everyone is always going to have their favorites, and everyone is always going to have individual experiences that shape what they like and don't like at each theme park -- and everything else in life. Thanks for your comments.

Jonathan
Jonathan

Don't get me wrong I like Universal, and in all honesty Universal DID need a site like this (and somehow my most magical theme park moment happened at Universal), but sometimes when you compare the too you feel this bias, like in the parking article, or here mentioning pets. I know Disney doesn't because of allergies but sometimes do we hold it against them, like the fastpass article? It's not like Universal is doing express out of kindness too, Express used to be a lot like fastpass. I should probably stop talking because I am a very big Disney fan, but sometimes I just like to come here and look at the coverage of every ride and it's kind of sad seeing these comparisons. Sorry to bother again

OrlandoInformer
OrlandoInformer

As the site owner, I wouldn't say we necessarily have a bias. Rather, Universal is our focus and indeed we are the world's largest online guide to the resort. Almost by definition our coverage is going to seem biased because we have so much more Universal coverage than Disney coverage.

That being said, I really like Disney, go there frequently, and we do our best to provide some good WDW blog posts from time to time. You see see them here:

http://www.orlandoinformer.com/category/walt-disney-world/

Jonathan
Jonathan

Sometimes I feel this site has a bias towards Universal, which is a shame becaue I like this place

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