Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlandoulie4Staying “on property” at Universal Orlando definitely has its perks, but what you might not expect is the high quality of their hotels.  I had the pleasure of staying at Loews Royal Pacific during my last visit and had one of my most enjoyable hotel stays to date in Orlando.

Loews Royal Pacific is a tropical, “South Pacific” themed resort just tenths of a mile away from the entrance of Islands of Adventure.  While you are just walking distance away from Universal Studios, you feel a surprising sense of peace and relaxation in this gorgeous resort hotel. Room types include water view and garden view rooms available with one king bed or two queens at 335 square feet as well as suites, including the popular Jurassic Park kids’ suites. Loews Royal Pacific at Universal OrlandoThese rooms provide an incredibly comfortable night’s rest so you are refreshed and ready for Early Entry to the Wizarding World the next day!

 

If you are looking for recreation and amenities, Royal Pacific offers some of the very best in the area.  The center piece of this resort is the huge lagoon-style pool with two hot tubs and an interactive water play area for little ones.  When you aren’t at the parks, you can take part in poolside activities such as ping pong, hula hoop contests, arts and crafts and poolside “Dive-In Movies” after dark.   If you aren’t too exhausted from enjoying your day in the parks, there is 5,000 square foot fitness center complimentary to guests.

 

Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando

Another huge draw to this resort is the variety of shopping and dining located within the resort.  With two large Universal gift shops located within the hotel, all the souvenirs and items you may have left at home are at your fingertips.  You are also sure to never go hungry with a variety of restaurants located throughout the hotel.  Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, featuring Asian Fusion food, and Islands Dining Room for breakfast with some of my favorite Universal friends are some of the most enjoyable meals I have ever had in the Orlando area and are all very reasonably priced.

 

Loews Royal Pacific at Universal OrlandoWith any Universal Orlando resort stay, guests are treated to exclusive advantages to make the most of your time in the theme parks.  Guests can enjoy complimentary transportation to and from the parks and City Walk via boat, early entry into the Wizarding World and free Universal Express Pass for every member of your party.  Extras like these make this resort an excellent value that your whole family will be sure to enjoy!

 

To book a Universal package or hotel stay at Loews Royal Pacific, please contact your Me & the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

Experience this Deliciousness at Universal’s CityWalk

Toothsome Chocolate EmporiumLooking for a unique experience while visiting Orlando?  So was I – on Valentine’s Day while visiting my daughter. What comes to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day?  Perhaps flowers and candy?  Perhaps chocolate?  Yes, indeed.

The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal’s CityWalk is perfect for a Valentine’s Day celebration.  Let’s be honest – this place is perfect to visit any day of the year!  If I lived closer – I would be sure to visit frequently so I could try practically everything on the menu.

Toothsome Chocolate EmporiumThe Chocolate Emporium is a full service restaurant, bar and confectionary with a steam punk theme.  It is two stories with seating on both levels.  The menu offering is tremendous making it hard to choose just one item.  Their brunch menu is served all day featuring unique crepes, waffles, French toast and quiches.  Also served are soups and salads, sandwiches and burgers, flatbreads, pasta, and entrees such as steaks, pork chops and delicious chicken options as well. Unique milkshakes, sundaes and specialty desserts are offered to fulfill your sweet tooth. (Gluten Free options are available as well.)

Here are just a few of their unique offerings:  Black and Tan Onion Rings (Onion Rings with cocoa ranch dipping sauce.) – Pork Belly Sliders (Caramelized onions, mustard aioli, arugula, chocolate dipped bacon, pretzel bun)

What was on the menu for us you ask?

Toothsome Chocolate EmporiumFor starters, we began with their signature temptation of Warm Chocolate Almond Bread with Salted Carmel butter.  We continued our culinary journey with a ½ pound house-made hamburger patty, Colby andouile queso, cheddar cheese, grain mustard on a pretzel bun, and we upgraded our kettle chips to truffle fries.  Finally, we pondered how we wanted to finish our heavenly visit, and we decided to add a milkshake for dessert.   What did we choose?  The Salted Dulce De Leche {Salted Carmel ice cream, dulce de leche, salted pretzels, fresh whipped cream, and chocolate cigars.}

After all these choices, if you are still craving chocolate, visit the confectionary located on the lower level to enjoy later.  I give this Emporium two thumbs up.

 

See more pictures in the gallery below!

 

Trying to figure out your next Orlando vacation? Contact a Me and The Mouse agent today! We’re specialized in Disney, Universal, and much more! We’d love to help take the stress away from your vacation planning.

 

Traci Perjak

Travel Specialist

 

Are you ready for some Muggle Magic?

Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the most immersive and impressive themed lands ever created.  It is no wonder that this area is very popular and always crowded.  In order to get the most out of the Wizarding World with the least amount of hassle, you must go in with a plan.  By following the steps below, you are sure to experience all that your Muggle heart desires without the aggravation of lines, crowds and excessive waiting.

 

Step 1 – Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Park 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Escape from Gringotts!

Congratulations!  You’ve been accepted into Hogwarts so now you must pick up all of your supplies.  Stepping into Diagon Alley is like stepping into the movie.  Never have I experienced such a feeling of being a part of the story.  You will want to spend some time here experiencing all of its beauty.  Do the attractions in the following order to get the most out of your time here:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
  • Purchase your interactive wand from Ollivanders and if you are lucky, your wand will choose you!  Interact and cast spells all over Diagon Alley. (Read more about the Wand Ceremony, HERE!)
  • Grab breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron before catching the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade.

 

Step 2 – Arrive in Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure Park 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Hogsmeade

You’ve made it to Hogsmeade and now you are ready to become a wizard!  Stepping off the Hogwarts Express, pause and take it all in.  The snow-topped buildings with the awe-inspiring Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will be like heaven for muggles so make sure you get plenty of photos!  Explore Hogsmeade in the following order to make the most of your time:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Compete in the Triwizard tournament in Dragon Challenge (Use your Express Pass)
  • Hop on board a Hippogriff in Flight of the Hippogriff (Use your Express Pass)
  • Interact throughout Hogsmeade with your wand
  • Have lunch at Three Broomsticks (Learn more about Universal’s Dining Plan, HERE!)
  • Grab a Butterbeer from one of the carts: regular, frozen or ice cream. Wizarding World of Harry Potter

 

Other tips and tricks to make the most of your visit to the Wizarding World 

  • Stay at a Universal on-site hotel to get early entry into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  For an even more convenient experience, add Universal Express Pass to your tickets or Unlimited Express Pass free with your stay at one of the three premier Universal resort properties.
  • Make sure you have a Park-To-Park Ticket to be able to ride the Hogwarts Express between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not, you are sure to fall in love with this area of the Universal theme parks.  Take your time, tour with patience and enjoy your journey into this magical world. For more information or to book your Universal Orlando vacation, contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

 

A Universal Orlando Character Dine Review

Character Dining at Universal If you want to see characters on your next Universal Orlando vacation, avoid the long lines for character meet and greets and enjoy breakfast with some of your favorite friends.  Often overlooked is the character breakfast at Islands Dining Room located at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. {Read more about this incredible resort, here.} This breakfast has wonderful character interaction and a wide variety of breakfast foods all for a great value.

Every Sunday morning Islands Dining Room comes alive with characters from The Simpsons, Despicable Me, Hop and more while guests enjoy an all-you-can eat breakfast buffet.  Each character visits your table for photos, autographs and meaningful interactions.  Unlike many other character meals, I found the character breakfast at Islands to be peaceful, low key and very relaxing. Character Dining at Universal

Included in the buffet are many breakfast favorites like scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, waffles, pastries and an omelet station.  While nothing on the buffet is particularly original, I felt the quality, variety and taste were all excellent.  There is truly something for everyone, even the pickiest eaters.

I also really enjoyed the environment and the feel of this restaurant.  Islands is a beautiful, tropically-themed restaurant with views of lush tropical plants and the and  South Pacific-inspired décor.  It is easy to kick back, relax and forget you are just walking distance from the hustle and bustle of City Walk, Universal Studios-Florida and Islands of Adventures. Character Dining at Universal

The character breakfast at Islands Dining Room is offered only on Sundays between 7am-12pm.  At $26.99 per adult and $14.99 per child, this is an excellent value for an all-you-can-eat character breakfast.   During the off season, it is fairly easy to walk up and be seated within 10 minutes, however, reservations are recommended.  To reserve your breakfast at Islands, please contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

Holidays at UniversalWhen you think of Christmas in Orlando, most people immediately think of Cinderella’s Castle decked out in gorgeous lights or the giant gingerbread house on display at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.  Lesser known, but very impressive, are the celebrations and special events at Universal Studios.  With the Macy’s Holiday Parade, Grinchmas and the Manheim Steamroller live in concert, guests are sure to get in the holiday spirit.

During the month of December, the streets of Universal Studios come alive with the floats, balloons, bands and dancers of the Macy’s Holiday Parade.  The parade happens daily at 5pm on the Universal Studios side of the park, kicking off in the New York area.  Spectators will need to reserve a spot no later than 4pm.  The best place to view the parade is New York Street across from the Mummy attraction.  Holidays at Universal

The Manheim Steamroller concert is also a big draw to Universal Orlando during the Christmas Season.  This concert takes place exclusively on weekends at 7pm on Hollywood Street on the Universal Studios park side.  This concert lights up the street with classic Christmas music and stage effects sure to put you in the Christmas Spirit.  To view this concert, it is best to start finding seats no later than 5:30pm.

Holidays at UniversalAt Islands of Adventure, Seuss fans can enjoy the story of Grinchmas.  Located near Circus McGurks, this indoor show blends acting, music and other theatrical elements to tell the story of the beloved Grinch.  The show takes place 6-8 times daily during the holiday season.

 

 

Holidays at UniversalEach of these special holiday events are free with park admissions.  For more information, or to book a Universal holiday vacation, please contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

Want to make your Harry Potter trip a little more magical?

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you may already have your favorite Hogwart’s house picked out. To add to the fun of your visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, I recommend visiting the official site for J.K. Rowling before you arrive at the park (or while standing in line to get in!)  You can learn all about Harry Potter, Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and even get sorted into one of the four Hogwart’s houses!

Let’s get started!

  • Start the fun at www.pottermore.com and select “Begin Your Journey.”
  • If you are viewing the site on your computer, select “Sorting” at the top right. If you are on your smartphone, there is a drop down menu in the upper left corner.
  • You must provide your birth month and year.
    {Important to note: guests must be at least 13 years old to register.}
  • You will need a separate email address for each member of your family to register.
  • Once you complete the registration, jump back to the Sorting area and scroll to “Join Your Hogwart’s House.” Select “Be Sorted and Discover Your House.” Answer all the questions in the Sorting Ceremony (making sure to scroll to view all the possible responses) until you complete each question and are finally “sorted” into your house. Harry Potter Sorting

For true Harry Potter fans, you can also be sorted to reveal your Patronus (an animal that possesses characteristics from your own personality) as well as to select your wand.

Now that you have your house colors, go explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with confidence!


I will tell you that my family got ourselves “sorted” before our first adventure into the world of Harry Potter. For us, it made the visit more magical and fun, especially for my daughter. She was able to pick out a Hufflepuff scarf and a wand, and it definitely was more exciting for her knowing where she “belonged!”

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

* Pottermore.com is not affiliated with Universal Studios, but it is the official site for J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter stories

Let’s face it, packing your luggage for a vacation can be absolutely overwhelming! However, don’t forget to pack your day bag- it’s just as important!

Here are few ideas for what to pack and also how to keep your bag safe while at the parks.

Most of my clients, including myself, carry a backpack to the parks.  It’s handy and has lots of pockets for easy accessibility for things like water, sunscreen, etc.  It’s nice that you can throw it over both shoulders to balance out the weight.  Keep in mind, that security will be looking through your back… including all of the pockets which could slow down your entrance time into the parks!

Disney allows you to bring your bags on all the rides.  At Universal, they offer free lockers that you can store your bag while riding.What to pack in your day bag!

 

Here’s a detailed list of what I pack for the parks:

  • Poncho  (to wear when it rains and on the wet rides)
  • Small umbrella
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm
  • First-Aid Supplies
  • Hats
  • Wet wipes
  • Tissues
  • Cell phone
  • Extra battery charger
  • Bottled water
  • Camera
  • Snacks
  • Gum
  • Glow sticks
  • Magic Bands
  • Autograph book and click pen
  • Extra socks (in case they get wet from the rides)
  • Extra Cash or Credit Card

 

Any questions?  Please contact a Me and The Mouse agent help you plan your next Disney vacation and we’ll help you get your bags ready!

Elizabeth Hollman

Travel Specialist

Loews Sapphire FallsAn exciting, new resort opened on Universal Orlando property in July 2016.  Loews Sapphire Falls is a beautiful resort conveniently located one mile from the entrance of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  Full of lush Caribbean scenery and breathtaking waterfalls, this resort hotel is sure to make you feel like you are in a relaxing tropical paradise, not in the middle of a theme park.

Walking in to the lobby of this resort was very impressive.  The spacious lobby is decked out with a giant beach ball chandelier. You can also see a view of Islands of Adventure from the windows. The check in process was absolutely flawless. The desk staff was extremely friendly and efficient.   It took only 10 minutes from check-in to being in my room!

Loews Sapphire FallsMy room had two queen beds and a standard view. However, I still had a great view of the water surrounding the resort.  Each room comes equipped with a Keurig coffee maker, flat screen television and mini refrigerator. The room was very clean. I loved the decor. The decorations are a stunning sapphire blue, white and tan matching but not overkilling the Caribbean beach theme.  I personally love the separated toilet and shower from the sink and vanity area. This helps families trying to get ready to go to the parks in the morning.

Loews Sapphire FallsOne of my favorite amenities at this resort is the huge pool area.  The 16,000 foot is the largest pool on Universal property, includes a waterslide, hot tub area and plenty of lounge chairs to accommodate the guests.  Around the pool, there are also several outdoor games, ping pong tables, a large screen for movies at the pool and an indoor fitness center.

The Sapphire Falls Resort offers several restaurant options inside.  First, the Dutch Trading Company is the quick service/grab and go option.  You will find quick service food as well as a Coke Freestyle Machine with the option of purchasing a refillable resort mug.  Amatista’s and Strong Water Tavern are also available if you are in the mood for a table service meal. Loews Sapphire Falls
Like all Universal Orlando resort hotels, Sapphire Falls offers benefits for staying on-site.  The complimentary water taxi will take guests direct to the parks and City Walk.   As a guest of Sapphire Falls, you are also eligible for early morning entry into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Overall, I was very impressed with my stay at Sapphire Falls.  It is truly a moderately-priced resort with the feel of a deluxe.  For more information, or to book this resort for your Universal Orlando vacation, contact your Me and the Mouse Travel specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

I’m a Disney purists. I love the history, the films and of course the theme parks! I think no one does it as well as Disney. With that said, two years ago, I had the opportunity to get a private look at Universal Studios and especially Harry Potter areas of the parks. What I found was a bit surprising and amazing. Universal Studios vs Disney

As a child I had visited Universal Hollywood. I grew up watching Nickelodeon on TV and it was great seeing the shows and rides that were featured. I remember the original Back to the Future ride and the backstage tour it was great but on that same trip I also went to Disneyland. To me, Disneyland is the center of all theme parks. It’s where it all started so at the time there was no comparing the two. Disney outmatched Universal – period.

Fast forward a bunch of years. I visit Universal Studios Florida. It’s okay but no Disney World. It has some great roller coasters at Islands of Adventure and some shows but I was like “ehhh it’s ok.” Now fast forward few more years after The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens and what can I say now – WOW! It changed everything. I said something I never thought I would. “I’ve never seen something like this at a Disney park.” It’s beautifully done, well designed and incredible. That is all being said from a person, who at the time, had never seen a Harry Potter movie! Universal Studios vs Disney

The folks at Universal have done a great job transforming that park. It’s a full fledged resort with hotels, great food, shopping and world class rides. I will say their rides, in my opinion, tilt toward older children but it is still a great family destination. I think it’s worth exploring one or two days or even staying at one of their resorts.

What I wanted to point out in this blog is that I’m a person who absolutely loves Disney – my white blood cells are in the shape of Mickey Mouse! Disney will always be the best in my eyes but I also think the park a few miles down the interstate is pretty good. Check it out and see for yourself and for those of you like me let’s just keep it to ourselves and not tell Mickey! 😉

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

P.S. All of the Me and The Mouse agents are specialized in Universal vacations. If you would like to add a day at Universal don’t forget to contact your agent!

At Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, most major attractions have a strict ‘no loose items’ policy – and that encompasses change, wallets, purses of any kind, backpacks, sunglasses, hats, etc. There are a few solutions to this:  asking a party member to hold everything while you enjoy the attraction is one solution, but a better one is to utilize Short-Term LockersUniversal Studios

Various locations throughout the theme parks, strategically located close to attractions with these requirements, will house banks of lockers with a digital kiosk.  Using the kiosk allows you to ‘rent’ a short-term locker by either using a fingerprint and code, or your theme park admission ticket.  You will then be assigned a locker for your belongings, which are roughly big enough for a standard sized backpack.

What’s great about these lockers?  They are FREE for the first hour, typically.  The FREE use of the locker is based off of the current attraction wait time, the time it takes the ride to operate, with a cushion for you to get off the attraction, shop the gift shop, maybe find a restroom – regardless of your plan, there is a good window of time to utilize this FREE service.  

  • Want to use it longer?  No worries!  If you exceed that free time, lockers cost $3 per half hour, up to $20 max per day.   
  • Just missed your window by a few minutes and won’t need your locker any longer?  Contact the nearest Universal Team Member for assistance.

Some tips:

  • Utilize a lanyard to keep your theme park ticket on your person at all times. It can easily be tucked in your shirt.
  • Lockers near Harry Potter attractions are not quite large enough for wand boxes – some larger lockers are available, but are in short supply.
  • HP Forbidden Journey – you will pass through metal detectors, so be sure everything is off your person!
  • Most attractions will allow you to keep a rain poncho on, since it is worn like clothing
  • Lockers are available at Thrill Rides. Other attractions do not require them!

So where exactly can you find these lockers?

Universal Studios Florida Free Short-Term Lockers

  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
  • Revenge of the Mummy
  • MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack
  • Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Islands of Adventure Free Short-Term Lockers

  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  • Dragon Challenge
  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Using the lockers has always made my visits to Universal so much easier.  Free to a minimal fee to ride a few attractions without worrying about my ‘stuff’ is a very positive thing!

If you would like to add an Universal Day to your Disney World trip, contact your agent today!

Amy Sowinski

Travel Specialist