A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a few days at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando. If you regularly keep up with me on social media, you already know that I spend many long weekends in the Orlando area. I’ve been a frequent visitor to Universal Orlando Resort for as long as I can remember – way before I ever resided in the Sunshine State – so you can imagine that I was pretty excited to have an excuse to be there around the holidays. It had been a good seven years since my last stay at Loews Royal Pacific, though, and I was so impressed by the recent renovations made to the property. The Loews Royal Pacific captures the essence of a South Seas vacation – without having to sail halfway around the globe. The South Pacific feel and travel theme carries through the resort, which is complete with a lagoon, shimmering reflection pool, and sandy-white beach. And since it’s located on the grounds of Universal Orlando, you can easily walk or take a ferry to the parks, and all guests receive exclusive theme-park benefits, including early access to the parks and complimentary Express Passes to get you to the front of the lines. Keep reading for a glimpse of how I spend a few days at Universal Orlando.
Things to Do:
- The obvious choice in terms of things to do is to head to the theme parks. I’m partial to “the old park,” as I like to call it – Universal Studios Florida. This park is home The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley; old favorite rides like Minion Mayhem, E.T. Adventure, Revenge of the Mummy, and Men in Black Alien Attack; and the recently opened Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.
- Once you’ve enjoyed all that Universal Studios Florida has to offer, you can either walk to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, or take the Hogwarts Express over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade. Islands of Adventure offers intense thrill rides like The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall, as well as a few water rides, Jurassic Park’s River Adventure, and the newly opened Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
- There’s also the all-new water park, Volcano Bay, which I haven’t yet had the chance to visit.
- Beyond the parks, the bustling Universal CityWalk offers shopping, dining, and bars galore. CityWalk is also home to a movie theater and mini golf course.
Where to Eat:
Thanks to five on-site hotels and the hip CityWalk area, Universal Orlando Resort is home to an array of world-class dining options. Here’s a rundown of my favorites:
- For an upscale dining experience, look no further than Bice at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. Bice Ristorante offers Northern Italian cuisine and superb service in an elegant atmosphere. Fresh pasta is rolled daily to create the authentic menu of exquisite dishes, from seafood fettuccini to veal scaloppini and beyond.
- Another more upscale option, Emeril’s Orlando occupies a warehouse-esque space right in the center of CityWalk and features an open kitchen and chef’s food bar. My favorite thing on the menu is the barbeque shrimp appetizer served in a delectable sauce with rosemary biscuits.
- Enjoy a steak at renowned New York City steakhouse The Palm, which has an outpost conveniently located in the Hard Rock Hotel. The caricatures of celebrities on the walls are a nod to the original Palm restaurant’s roots in the newspaper district of Manhattan, where famous cartoonists would often exchange drawings for their meals.
- The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is my favorite spot for a fun lunch (get the bento box which is a sushi and mini burger combo) or a casual dinner.
- Jake’s American Bar at the Royal Pacific is another great spot for a casual meal. Jake’s pays homage to the fabled South Seas explorer, Jake McNally, whose seaplane floats in the lagoon. Enjoy island cocktails, Jake’s American Red Lager, the B-1 Bomber Burger, and Roast Beef on Pretzel Bun.
- It may sound cheesy, but Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville on CityWalk is also a longtime favorite of mine. It’s a great spot to listen to live music and enjoy some nachos while awaiting the eruption of the margarita-filled volcano at The Volcano Bar.
GET THE LOOKS:
I received a complimentary stay in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.