View Full Version : Day One - HRH & USF

06-22-2001, 02:59 PM
Cast of characters
Me - 34 year old workaholic in desparate need of a vacation
DH - 37 year old kid at heart who does not like to be on a set schedule during vacation

Our Trip
We booked five nights at the Hard Rock Hotel (June 16-June 21)
Did not rent a car - used transtar and hotel shuttle
Purchased the four park flex ticket (USF, IOA, SeaWorld and Wet & Wild)
Chose five nights beacuse we wanted plenty of time to relax although you can see parks much faster with the express access

We left Chicago at 6:00 am and changed planes in Washington D.C. Our flight got in at 11:15 am. Went to the transtar desk and used the net coupon ($8 savings). It costs us $38 round trip for two. We had a little bit of trouble once we purchased the transtar ticket outside the baggage claim area. You actually have to go to a second transtar desk on the first level. Then they ask you to have a seat in the waiting area. They will come and escort you to the shuttle area when the van is ready. We thought we were suppose to go right to the van area. The lady from the upstairs must have told the lady at the counter downstairs what we looked like beacuse she had a kid run after us. Oh well our first mistake! We waited less than five minutes. The van holds ten people. Ours had six. We stopped at the Sheraton near Sea World first, then Embassy Suites on I-Drive. Drove up I-drive to the hotel. I'm sure this was not the most direct route for us but it gave us a chance to see how built up the area has become. The last time we were in the area was 1993 and we stayed at Clarion which is now the Rosen Center.

Arrived at the hotel around 12:40 pm. I was in heaven. DH had stayed at HRH for a night back in March and knew I would love it. From the minute you walk in the door the music really sets the stage. Checked in but they did not have our room ready yet. Went to the Beach Club for drinks. I could have hung out there all day watching videos. Great bartenders really got us in the spirit. The bar is all open and reminded me a lot of the bars at Sandals Negril where we spent our honeymoon four years ago. We checked into the room around 2:30 and unpacked. We had a garden view, room 1127 on the first floor. The view was just that GARDEN. The only time I get picky about room views are when balconies are involved. DH seemed disappointed at first that we were on the first floor but seemed to like the fact later on that we were close to the pool and Beach Club. Note we had prepaid our room through Expedia and told the front desk we wanted to go on a cash only basis. When I tried to use the phone to call my friend who was also in Orlando to arrange a get together the phone would not even work for a local call. I had to go back to the front desk and have my credit card swiped. They told me it would only be a $150 hold to have phone use. I wish they would have told me this during check in to save me extra trip. Long distance calls were very expensive. $12 for a few minutes to Chicago. The local calls were $1.17 each. Be very careful with room charges. I checked my bill daily on the guest services menu on the tv. I only had one problem when I was charged for something from the minibar. I called guest services and told them I didn't even have a minibar key. They removed it immediately no questions asked.. Our room had two double beds (DH and I actually did the Rob & Laura Petry thing a few nights because we are used to a queen size.) The room also had a comfy chair and ottom and a good size table with two chairs. The room safe was great and easy to use except I almost left my handspring visor in there while packing to leave. It had all my trip notes on it! I found the room very clean except some of drinking glasses looked a little dusty. No complaints about housekeeping. A couple times they did not replace the coffee but all I did was call the concierge and they brought us more packets within an hour. Just remember to check for this the night before, if you are like me and need your coffee asap in the morning. Be sure to check out the Hard Rock Video channels. They had some great tunes.

Once we felt settled in, we decided to check out Citywalk. We stopped in at Magaritaville for drinks and an appetizer. This whole place is great. They have Jimmy Buffett music playing out front and beach chairs to lounge in. I had the last Mango in Paris and a Bahama Mama. The frozen drinks seemed a little weak on the alcohol. DH had a house margarita then switched to a premium one which was much stronger. I could tell right then and there that this would be an expensive trip. Most specialty drinks will run you between $6 - $8 but they are soooo good. We also ordered the peel and shrimp which was very tasty. We finally made our way to USF around five o'clock. It hadn't changed much since our last trip in '93. Don't get me wrong it's still a great park but I guess next to IOA it could use a little bit of an update. We stayed until the park closed at eight. Express access was great. We nick named it "Rock Star Access" since we always call a good parking space "Rock Star Parking." DH did say he felt guilty a few times when we literally cut in front of people in line but I guess I figured we were paying for it anyways with the HRH room price. We rode Terminator, BTTF, MIB and Twister. We completly missed the 3-D glasses in the express line for Terminator but an employee went back and got them for us. For MIB we went in the singles line because it was actually shorter than the express line. DH & I sat behind each other. I got only got around 16,000 and the kid next to me said it was okay since it was my first time. DH got in the 100 thousand range. We went to Richters and loved the french fries. We later discovered that most of the restaurants in USF and IOA use the same fries. This became our favorite snack because it was cheap yet filling. Okay so maybe it wasn't the healthiest meal but I was getting my fruit from all those specialty drinks! I still love BTTF although some say it seems dated. Twister was also great and a nice way to cool off until the fire starts! After the park closed we went for a swim. The HRH pool is so beautiful at night. I do wish it wasn't so shallow but I'm sure it makes the lifeguard's job a little easier. We only got a few minutes in when it closed due to lightning. I just love being outside before a storm rolls in and could have layed at the pool all night. On our way back to the room we stopped at the Sunset Grill to get a drink to go. Saw Scooby-Do and took DH's picture with him.

Up next Day Two - IOA & Margarittaville (Again)

pixie dust gal!
06-23-2001, 08:45 AM
Loved your report!!!!!!!!!

I am glad that right from the start the hotel bar set the mood for you reminding you of your honeymoon and that you loved the hotel. It sounds like you had a perfect first day!:)

06-26-2001, 11:08 PM
Sounds like a great start to your trip. My family and I just got back from Disney World and my biggest regret about the vacation was that we didn't get to visit USF and IOA, too.
I'm making preliminary plans to go there and stay at the Hard Rock next year. So it's time to start building up the vacation fund again.

06-27-2001, 12:45 PM
Everytime I read a report about the HRH, it only makes me more anxious for our trip in November. Thanks for the report. Eric

06-27-2001, 01:34 PM
hey purple chick, great name, my fav color is purple!!!

we are not renting a car either, we've booked tiffany's to pick us up...

did you feel trapped at the hotel???

i have never been without a car before and i hope it doesnt bother me, probably not,
i'll have to try a couple of those margarita's to relax me


06-27-2001, 09:33 PM

I didn't feel trapped at all because there is so much to do there within walking distance especially with Citywalk. Tiffany's will be great if do the grocery stop. The only thing I missed was having some in room refreshments to keep the costs down a litttle.

06-27-2001, 09:35 PM

I just noticed the "Aunt's driveway in a camper" how fun!!!!!

06-28-2001, 11:53 AM
Purple Chick,

At the time we didnt think it was very much fun, (i am the oldest of 5), but back then, with 5 kids and one income, that was the only way we traveled...looking back, i wouldnt have done it any other way...I dont think my aunt's neighbors were thrilled, though.....


06-29-2001, 04:04 PM
Love your trip report so far PurpleChick.