Sapphire Falls, Portofino, or Royal Pacific???

Discussion in 'Universal Orlando Resorts & Hotels' started by NickiK, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. NickiK

    NickiK Earning My Ears

    Sep 13, 2017
    We are traveling to Universal for our first ever visit from Feb 7-13. We are a family of four--our two kids are 8 yr old twins. We definitely want to stay on property. I understand that express passes come with some, but not all, properties. As such, I thought we would book Royal Pacific. But then I found a great offer on where Portofino would cost the same as I was about to pay for Royal Pacific on the universal site. But, in further researching the costco options, sapphire falls (which I know does NOT include express passes) would be about $500 cheaper (or $100 per night).

    I am curious, first, which property is best for my kids. All three appear to have nice pools. One concern I have about Portofino is that it's too upscale. I'd like a nice place to stay, but with both quick dining and sit-down options. For point of reference, we stayed at Pop Century in Disney a few years ago and grew tired of just having the food court, although it would be nice as an option.

    I am also wondering if express passes are worth $500. We plan to spend about 3 days in the parks. From the census calendars that I reviewed, our dates don't look particularly busy.

    So, TIA for any advice or thoughts from you, the experts. :)
  2. mjhtvchick

    mjhtvchick DIS Veteran

    Apr 10, 2012

    I had a very similar struggle when booking our 2018 trip - we ultimately decided that the EPs were worth it and booked the Hard Rock over Sapphire Falls (RPR and PBR were both more expensive for our dates). We have visited Universal several times, both with and without EPs. During our last trip in 2015 (when we did NOT have EPs), we really noticed the difference and actually passed up going on a few rides because the wait was longer than we could justify.

    From a purely $ perspective, $500 for EPs is super-cheap - they run about $85 per person per day if you were to purchase them at the park - for your family for three days this would be $1020!

    Having said all of that, if this is your first trip and you have the luxury of time (you could even add another park day for $10 each), since you have never had them before, you probably won't miss them. I can promise you one thing, once you have them, you will not want to go without on a future trip!

    Taking EPs out of the equation and just looking at the resorts, I feel like Sapphire Falls is probably more "child-friendly" in decor and dining options but there are many who love PBR, particularly for the larger room size when staying with a family.

    I don't know if I have made your decision any easier - I struggled for weeks before my husband said "Just book something!!" ;)
  3. Avatar


  4. jperrot1

    jperrot1 Fantasmic

    Sep 2, 2011
    Based on what you have said, I suggest RPH for this stay. It has a fun theme. The pool will be enjoyed by the boys. You also have many food options. Not to put another wrench in the engine, but I would consider RPH Club Level. You would get breakfast every morning included right down the hall from your room (usually). It might be worth it, but price the cost difference out.
  5. Arden01

    Arden01 Mouseketeer

    Mar 23, 2014
    We adored Portofino Bay and my kids loved the beach pool. They had a lot of poolside activities for kids. My kids also loved the grounds and sitting on the vespas located around the harbor. I didn't feel it was too upscale. The express passes were great and we rode several of the HP rides back to back using them. Also, a side note, the staff was amazing. When we checked in, I mentioned the trip was an early birthday present for my twin daughters. Later that night, a bell services person delivered two "Happy Birthday" cupcakes to our room. A total and delightful surprise.
  6. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

    Apr 21, 2003

    If you only plan to do 3 days in the parks, and if those days include the weekend, stay at RPR.
    The express pass would be a plus .

    Mardi Gras will happen on the weekend and the studios will be busy.

    If this is going to be a once in a lifetime vacation, go with the deluxe hotel.
  7. Sepo

    Sepo 11-3-2016 12:47 a.m.

    Apr 30, 2014
    There's a decent podcast from this site on those comparisons as well. I'll try to find it.
  8. cleopenn

    cleopenn Mouseketeer

    Jul 28, 2008
    We felt the same way. It definitely is not "too upscale" and there were tons of little kids all over the place.

    We liked all the restaurants and the quality and seating availability was such a nice change from Disney (we don't do quick service, not my thing on vacation).

    We were just delighted with Portofino Bay. I waffled between the Hard Rock and Portofino so I get your struggles OP :)

    I can't speak to doing the park without EPs but I can say we would not have wanted to do without them.
  9. mommypenguin29

    mommypenguin29 Mouseketeer

    Feb 10, 2011
    This was me for the past few months! We are going over the weekend before Thanksgiving and then off to visit family! I first booked offsite since we will have a car and such...the more I researched the more I wanted to stay onsite with express that is what we switched too...yes it is costing us about $600 more for 3 nights and 3 days at the park, but the Express Passes, convenience of walking to the park, and such is worth it to me! It will be much more relaxed vacation for me - when mom is relaxed things go much better in my house:)
  10. agavegirl1

    agavegirl1 DIS Veteran

    Feb 23, 2012
    We are booked for next year at Portofino. I've done all three premium hotels and wanted DH to experience HRH. However, he checked out all three on the website as well as a split stay with Sapphire. He then vetoed my idea because he loves Portofino. It reminds him of our trip to Italy.
  11. Phil from PA

    Phil from PA Mouseketeer

    Mar 17, 2000
    I would check the pricing using the promotional code of APH on this website and looking at the pricing. If you save enough money you might just be better off buying one seasonal annual pass for your trip to save you cash.

    BTW, I think this is the best link for booking rooms. Enter the promo code at the bottom.

Share This Page