View Full Version : HRH & 4 park flex - 7/23 - 7/27 - Part I

07-30-2001, 02:06 PM
Part I - Arrival, Universal, Hard Rock Cafe & JPIII

The players:

Me - 38 yr old Accountant
Wife - 38 yr old Teacher
#1 Son - 13 years old
#2 Son - 10 years old

We left Birmingham, AL on Sunday night at about 6:00 pm (Central time)with an overnite stay in Tallahassee, FL. We found a room with two double beds at a very nice Shoney's Inn and got a rate of $49 because we checked in after 11:00 pm (eastern). On Monday morning we were off by 8:30 am after loading up with gas, Krispy Kreme Donuts, and a stop at a drugstore for some items we forgot to pack.

We arrived at the Hard Rock Hotel at about 12:30 pm and attempted to check in. After a short wait in line, they began the check in process, however, the computers failed and they were unable to generate the temporory room keys that we needed for FOTL until our permanent room was ready. No matter, we simply stored our luggage and ate lunch at the poolside grill and upon returning they had a room ready for us. By 2:00 we were headed to Universal Studios to give our FOTL access a spin.

We started with Terminater II - 3D and successfully entered the Express Line, however there was no ride attendant inside the queue area and much confusion. However, on this attraction at this time, FOTL was of little importance and we saw the show. Very impressive, but I have the following comments: There is always some yahoo who insists on not moving to the end of the row even though all the seats give nearly the same view of the 3D action. I had read about this attraction in the Unofficial Guide to Beyond Disney, and the author rated T II - 3D as the single best theme park attraction anywhere in the world. It was pretty good but the buildup was too much. That said, T II 3D was one of the highlights of the trip. We ended up seeing this once more later in the week

Our intention was to enjoy 5 - 6 attractions before 5:00 so we skipped ET and moved to Back to the Future. The express line is very useful here and we began the process of being spoiled. Back to the Future is an excellent motion simulation ride and did not shake us nearly as much as I had read on this board. We later learned that this was because we were in the front seat. When we rode in the back seat we were tossed around pretty good. The kids were very high on this and we found ourselves experiencing this 5 more times during the week. Each time there was more to discover that you may have missed if you only ride it once. BTTF was definately one of the highlights.

Men in Black was next and the kids were anxious to get a high score having been armed with tips from this board. The first time through, however, it is tough to translate the tips into successful scoring. The express line works very well on this ride, but if you aren't staying on site or able to get an express pass, the single rider line is even faster than the express line. We ended up going back to MIB 8 more times during the week getting high scores of 405,000; 401,000 and 365,000 for the 13 yr old, 10 yr old and me respectively. If anyone is interested in tips I would be happy to pass along what we learned. MIB was a favorite of the three boys in the family.

Next was Jaws. The express line was very valuable here as well, however the ride was a dissappointment. Perhaps we were expecting too much or we didn't have a very good guide. Don't get me wrong, some of the special effects and shark encounters were pretty good, we all just believed that they could have done more with this attraction. We rode this once more, at night this time, and only reinforced our original view.

We ended up with Twister. The express line was almost of no value both time we went to Twister. I was impressed with the special effects, but the wife and kids are claustrophobic and didn't like the two rooms that you are crowded for video pre-shows prior to the actual virtual tornado scene.

By this time it was 5:00 so the boys and I explored City Walk while my wife went back to HRH to begin the process of getting ready for dinner. Our package included: 4 nights at the HRH, a free meal for everyone at the HR Cafe, movie tickets for everyone at the Cineplex, no cover charges for the adults at Citywalk, and a souvenier drink and cup for each of the boys. As well as unlimited access to USF, IOA, Sea World and Wet N Wild. FOTL was only applicable at USF and IOA.

We began the evening with the "free" meal at HR Cafe adding to what was covered by ordering adult beverages and an appetizer. We finished up the evening by seeing Jurasic Park ||| at the Cineplex.

We brought breakfast foods, an even our toaster with us and kept Sunny Delight's and soft drinks in a littler bag cooler in the room. We never opened the mini bar except to view the contents when we first arrived.

Many people in the hotel obviously had a need for ice. Virtually every night there were guests roaming the halls with empty ice buckets looking for ice on every floor. The one ice machine per floor cannot keep up with the demand and conservation was not on the minds of the vacationers. Our room was near the ice machine on our floor and we could hear when someone was successful in getting it to cough up some ice. Others weren't so lucky as heard complaints throughout the week.

Next : Sea World, more Universal and lots of Brazilians.

07-30-2001, 08:47 PM
glad you had a great time! Can't wait till I go back!

07-31-2001, 07:28 AM
Thanks for the report Beancounter!
What did you think of the HRH? Did it live up to your expectations?

07-31-2001, 02:08 PM
The Hotel is very nice and well maintained. The landscaping had to cost a large fortune. The staff was very courteous and outgoing. I rarely walked by a staff member without hearing a "Good evening, sir" or "How you doing today, sir" comment.

I mentioned previously about the ice shortage. There is only one ice machine per floor, and they cannot keep up with the demand in the evening. Every night around 11:00 you will find guests roaming the halls with their empty ice buckets. Not sure how they will address this in the future but the staff is aware of the issue.

There is only one bank of elevators (6 elevators) and there are several staircases. To get from your room to anywhere (the parks, the pool, your car, etc) is a sizable trip. We experimented with the different staircases looking for the quick way out to the parks, but finally decided the elevator was the fastest. It is a very large hotel with several wings.

I was surprised at how dead the hotel and lobby were after 10:00 each night. The poolside bar closes at 10:00 and there is no lobby bar. I suppose the nightlife people are at City Walk, but aside from ice hunters, the Hotel is surprisingly calm at this time except for the restaurant on the first floor. There is also a gameroom on the first floor.

The lobby gift shop is very well stocked with Hard Rock clothes and merchandise along with food and sundries. Sometimes they even sell Hard Rock merchandise from other sites in case you wanted something that says Hard Rock - Istanbul.

Storing luggage is no problem, however, be advised that when they fill a cart up with your stuff to store it will be off loaded into a storage room with shelves until you request it again. We stored our luggage upon arrival and the morning of checkout. On the last day when we returned from the parks they brought our luggage to us minus one suitcase. We had so much stuff it did not fit on just one shelf, so I went with them into the storage area to identify the missing suitcase. The message here is to account for all your stuff.

The pool is great! Our 4 park flex ticket included Wet N Wild, but we did not go, instead opting for the pool. The deepest part of the pool is 4ft, 6 inches. At one side of the pool is a pretty nice water slide and the poolside bar and grill. There is also a beach area with sand, and the music can be heard underwater very clearly on one side of the pool and not at all on the water slide area. There is towel service at the pool.

There are laundry facilities on each floor, a CD player in the room, a safe in a very large closet. The TV has HBO and a good variety of cable stations.

We did not eat any meals at either of the restaurants in the hotel but they have a pretty good looking (and smelling) breakfast menu that was tempting.

All in all, it was a great place to stay. If I had it to do over again I would definately stay there again, but more so because of the FOTL access than anything else. FOTL is the only thing that justifies the cost, IMO, but then again, I'm a beancounter.

08-01-2001, 11:56 AM
Thanks for the in-depth review of the HRH Beancounter!

08-08-2001, 04:05 PM
Beancounter, I enjoyed reading your reports so far. I have a few questions for you. Where did you park once you arrived at the HRH? Is there even parking at the hotel? Did you have to pay to park? Is there valet service? Is it free? Thanks!

08-08-2001, 04:53 PM
THere is parking at the hotel. Valet is $10 a day and self parking is $5. Nothing is free!