Review: Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando

Loews Royal Pacific Resort is a premier hotel within walking or boat distance of Universal Studios Florida & Islands of Adventure, with unlimited front-of-line Express Pass at rides in both theme parks. This review features room photos, amenities info, pros & cons, and how these luxury accommodations compare to Walt Disney World Deluxe Resorts.

Themed to the South Seas, Royal Pacific has a sense of adventure, and is another transportive resort at Universal Orlando. It evokes a bygone era, and feels like an luxurious resort you’d find in the South Pacific catering to affluent world travelers. Ironically enough, the kind of place where Lillian and Walt Disney might’ve stayed during their globe-trotting adventures.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort has a lot of selling points, but this grand and beautifully-executed theme is one thing that makes it particularly appealing to theme park fans. The hotel toes the line between rugged exploration and refined opulence, with lush and overgrown grounds fitting perfectly beside the sophisticated Orchid Court Lounge and its reflection pool lined with statues of imperial elephants.

This being a Disney blog, it makes sense to start with a comparison, and the obvious one is between Royal Pacific and Polynesian Village Resort at Walt Disney World. Fans often draw parallels between the two, which makes sense given that Royal Pacific’s own site calls it a “Polynesian paradise” and both offer takes on a tropical oasis that celebrate the spirit of the South Pacific.

Not to be contrarian, but I think the similarities are mostly marketing descriptions. At its core, Disney’s Polynesian Resort is a love letter to mid-century tiki culture, a tribute to Americana more than the locales listed on its longhouse signs. It might’ve been the type of flagship hotel an American company would’ve built in Waikiki in the 1950s. It’s a richly-themed and fun caricature, but it’s not striving for authenticity. It’s its own thing at this point.

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Loews Royal Pacific Resort strikes a different tone. It takes itself more seriously, and comes across as more authentic. There are rich woods, ornate carvings, and art that would feel at home in Bali or Malaysia. There’s an inherent contrast between the sense of exploration and sophistication that provides tension and intrigue–how did this hotel acquire all of these priceless artifacts? Is there an ancient curse of which I should be aware before going on a late night stroll?

Consequently, Royal Pacific feels a bit like “S.E.A. The Resort.” When Disney acquires it in the inevitable deal for the Marvel rights (it is right behind Super Hero Island, which is obviously not a coincidence–I’m just connecting the dots), don’t be surprised if they add a portrait of Harrison Hightower to the lobby. Joking aside, the point is that Royal Pacific feels more exotic, adventurous, and luxurious than the Poly. It’s a similar idea, but executed in such a different way that it achieves a totally different vibe–like the contrast between Yacht Club and Beach Club at Walt Disney World.

Beyond different interpretations of the South Pacific, the Polynesian and Royal Pacific have a couple things in common. The first is that both have been modernized in recent years. Both have seen their themes diluted to varying degrees as their respective operators have attempted to make them more appealing to contemporary audiences.

In the case of Royal Pacific, this means a lot of timelessness has been replaced by on-trend carpet, wall coverings, light fixtures, and more. It all strikes me as unnecessary and counterproductive, but this is also happening at numerous Walt Disney World hotels, so clearly there’s a market for it. Personally, I think the execution of most of this is ham-fisted, sloppy, and at odds with the underlying theme. But hey, at least it looks more modern and fancier?

Both Royal Pacific and the Poly also have great locations. Loews Royal Pacific Resort is located within a short walk of Universal’s two theme parks. It’s essentially “across the street” from Islands of Adventure on one side and Sapphire Falls on the other, making for an easy walk to that resort and CityWalk.

Yet somehow, Loews Royal Pacific Resort feels fairly isolated from the rest of Universal Orlando (all three of the premier hotels accomplish this). This is despite it being surrounded by roads on all sides, and is accomplished via the layout and thick vegetation. This tranquility is quite impressive, as I can’t think of a hotel at Universal that’s more in the heart of the action.

Also unlike the Poly at Walt Disney World, Loews Royal Pacific Resort is a tower hotel complex, with several large wings flanked by the pool, lagoon, entrance, and convention space. Even though it’s technically smaller than Portofino Bay, the layout of Royal Pacific is less overwhelming. Everything aside from the event space is relatively compact and easily accessible regardless of your room location.

The walk from Royal Pacific to CityWalk is easy and pleasant. It helps that the path is lush and gorgeous–with mature trees, bamboo and palms–all along the waterfront. It’s pretty short–a tad longer than that between Hard Rock Hotel and Universal Studios Florida, but closer than any other hotel at Universal Orlando.

If you’d prefer not to walk, Universal Orlando also provides complimentary water taxis to CityWalk from Royal Pacific. The boats are abundant–you’ll rarely wait more than 10 minutes for one. Whether walking or the water taxi works out to be faster depends on timing and your walking speed.

There’s also free bus transportation that services Volcano Bay water park. In general, we’ve found the bus and boat service significantly better at Universal Orlando than Walt Disney World. Whether it’s by foot, boat, or bus, transportation is typically a breeze at Universal.

Another key perk of Loews Royal Pacific Resort is Unlimited Express Pass in Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida with valid theme park admission. Express Pass is Universal’s front-of-line pass, and the unlimited version is exactly what the name suggests–infinite line skipping! This on-site perk is available every day of your stay, including on check-in and check-out days.

Unlimited Express Pass is included with your stay at Premier Hotels is an incredible deal that allows you to skip the lines at most popular Universal attractions. By contrast, Walt Disney World’s paid Genie+ and Lightning Lanes are not included with Deluxe Resorts–everyone has to pay extra for it.

Unlimited Express Pass has a value of over $100 per person each day, meaning its value could come close to “paying for” the cost of the upgrade. This is especially true at Royal Pacific, which is Universal’s least expensive premier hotel.

Even though Royal Pacific is more expensive than several other on-site hotels at Universal Orlando, it’s arguably the best value for money. If you’d otherwise stay at Sapphire Falls–a hotel we otherwise love–it might make sense to pay the ~$100/night and upgrade to Royal Pacific for the superior hotel, slightly better location, and unlimited Express Pass. If you would otherwise buy Express Pass during your stay, you’ll come out ahead with the upgrade–even before accounting for Royal Pacific’s other advantages.

The next major amenity at Royal Pacific is the pool. This has an array of features: bar & grill, two hot tubs, zero-entry white sand beach, Royal Bali Sea play area, cabanas for rent, poolside activities by day, and dive-in movies by night.

Of the pools at Universal’s premier hotels–Hard Rock Hotel, Portofino Bay, and here–Royal Pacific’s does the least for me. It’s lush and large, but it just strikes me as bland. Perhaps it’d be different if I could play in the Royal Bali Sea area without catching sid-eye from other guests, but I just don’t see anything special about this pool.

Royal Pacific also offers private cabanas for rental. These come completely equipped with a phone, ceiling fan, HD plasma TV, refrigerator with sodas and waters, wireless internet, and more.

On an unrelated note, guests of Royal Pacific also receive Early Park Admission. This is more beneficial at Volcano Bay given the Unlimited Express Pass in the theme parks, but we still took advantage. Getting a head start is nice if you’re up early anyway.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort boasts a formidable restaurant lineup. For table service, there’s Islands Dining Room, a large Indonesian-style dining room. Near that is Jake’s American Bar, which is a casual table service restaurant and bar; this feels like a cross between Indiana Jones and Casablanca. (That might be the best way to describe the resort as a whole–not just this bar.)

There’s also the Tuk Tuk Market in the lobby, which serves Starbucks coffee, sandwiches, sushi, and ice cream. Then there’s the new Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar, serving sushi, sashimi, appetizers and drinks. Finally, the poolside Bula Bar & Grille, which means “Welcome [Bar & Grill]” in Fijian. (Who knew you’d learn something new when you clicked on this blog post?!)

Loews Royal Pacific Resort boasts that its guest rooms are “equal parts Pacific and terrific” with a style that’s island chic–as contemporary as it is laid back. The hotel has 1,000 stylish guestrooms and 51 spacious suites.

Rooms start at 335 square feet each, which is significantly smaller than the other premier hotels at Universal, and also most Deluxe Resorts at Walt Disney World. (It’s slightly larger than most Moderate Resorts, except for Gran Destino Tower.)

Guest rooms at Loews Royal Pacific Resort feature 100% cotton sheets and plenty of pillows. Comfort-wise, the bedding was plush and fantastic. Both Universal and Disney have improved their mattresses in the last several years, so absolutely no complaints there.

Other in-room amenities include a Keurig coffee maker, mini-fridge, free Wi-Fi, work space, dresser, flat screen television, and more.

That that missing from that list is “chair.”

Judging by the stock photos on the Loews website, our room was supposed to have a sitting chair in the corner. The presence of an orphaned side table that was appropriate chair height reinforces this.

Even if we weren’t denied a chair, our favorite feature of any hotel, this room review for Royal Pacific would be fairly middling. In terms of style and spaciousness, these rooms just didn’t do a ton for us. Despite being ~10 feet smaller, I prefer the rooms at Sapphire Falls.

To each their own, but the attempts at trendiness fall flat for me, and there are a lot of discordant elements in this room. The layout and use of space is pretty similar to Sapphire Falls (where our room DID have a side chair) and those newer rooms also feel fresher and have a more cohesive and comfortable style. As with anything, your mileage may vary.

The bathroom is serviceable, but nothing special.

I wrote something similar about Portofino Bay, which is sentiment I now retract after doing subsequent stays at every other Universal resort. Portofino Bay has the best bathrooms of the Universal hotels. It’s not even close.

Sarah shoot a video tour of the room to give you a better sense of its layout.

In short, the guest rooms at Loews Royal Pacific Resort aren’t going to win any awards for style or substance. In fact, they’re my least favorite of the premier hotel rooms at Universal Orlando and arguably not any better than lower tier resorts. Still, they are passable and perfectly comfortable. Your perspective may differ depending upon how much time you’ll spend in the room, your tastes, etc.

Ultimately, our perspective on Loews Royal Pacific Resort mostly comes down to numbers. If you’d take advantage of unlimited Express Pass, the math almost certainly works out in your favor to upgrade to one of the premier hotels from the lower tier hotels. Royal Pacific is typically the least expensive of the premier properties, making it a very attractive option for anyone wanting to focus on Universal’s parks while getting the most bang for their buck.

If you don’t really care about Express Pass or have determined you won’t need that line-skipping service, you can most likely book a stay at Sapphire Falls or Cabana Bay and enjoy amenities and a resort that’s almost on-par with Royal Pacific for significantly less money. I’d argue that the attention to detail and overall opulence is higher at Royal Pacific, but subjectively, I prefer both Sapphire Falls and Cabana Bay. They’re both a decade-plus newer, and Universal/Loews have refined and modernized their hotel product in the intervening years.

At the other end of the spectrum, a strong case can be made for upgrading from Royal Pacific if your budget allows and you’re planning on spending a decent amount of time at the resort. While I think Royal Pacific doesn’t get its due when considered a “Polynesian knock-off” (as discussed above, they’re totally different), I also don’t think it’s nearly as good of a hotel as Portofino Bay.

Loews Royal Pacific is a nice hotel where the Indiana Jones and Rick Blaine might meet up for drinks, but Portofino Bay is so much more. It’s our favorite resort at Universal Orlando and one of our top 10 theme park hotels anywhere in the world. While there are a handful of hotels we really like at Universal, Portofino Bay is far and away our favorite–nothing else comes close. Loews Royal Pacific Resort is a good-to-great hotel offering exceptional value for money, but it’s not elite tier.

Need trip planning tips and comprehensive advice for your visit to Central Florida? Make sure to read our Universal Orlando Planning Guide for everything about Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Also check out our Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Guide for everything about those parks, resorts, restaurants, and so much more. For regular updates, news & rumors, a heads up when discounts are released, and much more, sign up for our FREE email newsletter!


Have you stayed at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando? What do you think of it? Interested in staying here? What do you think of Universal’s v. Walt Disney World’s Deluxe Resorts? What about on-site perks? Does Unlimited Express Pass alone make the Premier Hotels at Universal worth it? Do you agree or disagree with our hotel review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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