A favorite of young families and solo travelers alike, the Royal Pacific is the least expensive and most relaxing of Universal’s Deluxe hotels. You may be tempted, as we were initially, to write off the Royal Pacific, which opened in 2002, as a knockoff of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. There are indeed similarities, but the Royal Pacific is attractive enough, and has enough strengths of its own, for us to recommend that you try a stay here to compare for yourself.
The South Seas–inspired theming is both relaxing and structured. Guests enter the lobby from a walkway two stories above an artificial stream that surrounds the resort. Once you’re inside, the lobby’s dark teakwood accents contrast nicely with the enormous amount of light coming in from the windows and three-story A-frame roof. Palms line the walkway through the lobby, which surrounds an enormous outdoor fountain.
The Royal Pacific’s 1,000 guest rooms are spread among three Y-shaped wings attached to the resort’s main building. Standard rooms are 335 square feet (about the size of a room at Disney’s Moderate resorts) and feature one king or two queen beds. The beds, fitted with 300-thread-count sheets, are very comfortable.
The rooms and hallways of Royal Pacific’s first tower were refurbished in early 2015 (and the remainder were made over in 2016) with modern monochrome wall treatments and carpets, accented with boldly colored floral graphics. Rooms include a 32-inch flat-panel LCD TV, a refrigerator, a coffeemaker, and an alarm clock with a 30-pin iPhone docking port. Other amenities include a small desk with two chairs, a comfortable reading chair, a chest of drawers, and a large closet.
As at the Hard Rock, rooms at the Royal Pacific have a dressing area with sink, separated from the rest of the room by a wall. Adjacent to the dressing area is the bathroom, with a tub, shower, and toilet. While they’re acceptable, the bathroom and dressing areas at the Royal Pacific are our least favorite in the Universal resorts.
The Royal Pacific was one of the first Orlando hotels to offer themed rooms for kids with its Jurassic Park Kids Suite. Each two-room suite has a door connecting the kid’s room to the main hotel room, but only the main room has a door out to the hallway. The kid’s room has two twin beds with light-up raptor slash marks on the headboards, while the rest of the room is fully themed to the Jurassic Park film, including on-set photos.
Some standard-view rooms look out over the Royal Pacific’s green landscape, while others see the parking lot or nearby roads. Water-view rooms facing the pool or lagoon are also available, many of which have a great look at Hogwarts Castle. Guests in north- and west-facing rooms in Tower 1 are closest to the attractions at Islands of Adventure and can hear the roar from IOA’s Incredible Hulk Coaster throughout the day and night. East-facing rooms in Towers 1 and 2 are exposed to traffic noise from Universal Boulevard and, more distantly, I-4. Quietest are south-facing pool-view rooms in Tower 1 and south-facing rooms in Tower 3.
Like the Hard Rock, the Royal Pacific’s zero-entry pool includes a sand beach, volleyball court, play area for kids, hot tub, and cabanas for rent, plus a poolside bar and grill. Designed to look like a cross between a tropical island and cruise-ship pool (complete with faux exhaust tower and observation deck), the swimming complex pool is huge; it does not, however, have a waterslide. Lounge chairs line most of the walkway around the pool, and portable folding umbrellas provide shade where the palm trees and lush green plants can’t. A free torch-lighting ceremony with Polynesian dance, music, and fire juggling is held by the pool around sunset on select nights (usually Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday during the summer). For the full island experience, the Wantilan Luau is held every Saturday night year-round, plus select Tuesdays seasonally.
The Royal Pacific includes a 5,000-square-foot fitness facility, with free weights and machines, treadmills, stair-climbers, elliptical machines, and exercise bikes, plus separate lockers, dressing areas, and sauna rooms for men and women. In 2015 the Royal Pacific expanded its convention facilities to 141,000 square feet, to be connected to the new Sapphire Falls Resort by an air-conditioned bridge. A business center and video arcade round out the on-site amenities.
On-site dining includes two full-service restaurants, three bars, and a luau. Of the table-service restaurants, only the Islands Dining Room is open daily for breakfast. Its buffet is stocked with the usual eggs, bacon, pancakes, and French toast. At dinner, Islands has better-than-average international cuisine, with character dining three nights a week. Another breakfast option is the grab-and-go Continental-style breakfast in the Orchid Court Lounge near the hotel lobby. Jake’s American Bar hosts a character breakfast on Sundays and serves a casual sit-down menu all day, along with late-night bar snacks. Emeril’s Tchoup Chop is the final table-service option; it serves Asian-inspired food and is open for lunch and dinner (reservations recommended through opentable.com). Several casual bar areas—including Jake’s American Bar, the Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar, and the poolside Bula Bar & Grille with neighboring ice-cream stand—are located in the resort.
Though nice, the rooms alone aren’t worth the rates, but adding in Universal Express Unlimited and a short walk to the parks makes it the best deal among Universal’s Deluxe hotels.
For a review of all Universal Orlando Resorts, check out the The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando by Seth Kubersky.