Updated: January 1, 2017

Universal Studios Orlando Trip Report and Review

We were thrilled to spend a few days (pre-Thanksgiving) at the Universal Studios Orlando Resort. Visiting the second iteration of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley at the Universal Studios Theme Park was our primary objective.

Islands of Adventure in Orlando

Islands of Adventure

A few year ago, we visited the Hogsmeade area at Islands Of Adventure. At that time, we were impressed and delighted by the first phase of the Harry Potter themed lands. Family vacations to Europe, a Southwest USA road trip, and of course, Walt Disney World excursions had delayed a return to Universal. We were anxious to experience the second phase of the Harry Potter attractions. Guess what? The wait was worth it!

Loews Royal Pacific

Outstanding and beyond my expectations pretty much sums up my impressions of not only Diagon Alley, but the overall experience of our second stay on Universal property. Since I was pleased with our prior stay at the Loews Royal Pacific resort, we chose to stay a second time for a variety of factors: the ability to have the Universal Express Pass included as part of our guest experience at the hotel, the extremely convenient location, and the charm we found there a few years ago.

Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Studios Orlando

Loews Royal Pacific

The Royal Pacific has recently undergone refurbishment, and based on some chatter in the Theme Park blogosphere, maybe to mixed reviews. For me, the renovation was more than adequate with clean and comfortable rooms. Certainly, the modern/contemporary decor can be construed as somewhat mismatched to the Pacific Island theme. Although not comparable to the theming at many Walt Disney World resorts, it’s still a nice room in a well-designed and pleasant resort. I would not only recommend the Loews Royal Pacific to others, I would certainly consider staying there again. Twice charmed at this point!

CityWalk at Universal Studios Orlando

CityWalk at Universal Studios Orlando

The convenience of being able to obtain an Express Pass shortly after checking in might only be second to the incredibly pleasant walk along a beautifully landscaped waterway towards the Theme Parks. In about 10 minutes, the entrance to CityWalk interrupts the path, and then it’s only a short jaunt to Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios, with Islands of Adventure being first along the left-hand side.


The shopping and dining area called CityWalk is cool, but for me, pales in comparison to even the pre-Disney Springs (aka Downtown Disney) area at Walt Disney World. CityWalk is long on food and drink options, but significantly short on charm, with one new exception, the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen.

Instant Data for CityWalk Universal Studios. Opening 1999.

Up Next: steampunk theming and Diagon Alley rocks it

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Michael's travels to Disneyland and Walt Disney World sparked his interest in Walt Disney. He’s also a lifelong fan of Star Wars. Michael is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with 25 years in the behavioral mental health field and special education. One of Michael’s passions is teaching graduate level courses for Lipscomb University in Nashville.

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