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Old 10-27-2012, 01:27 AM   #1
mauisam
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Chicago
Posts: 22

October Universal/WDW/DCL TR Part the First

Part the first…Hard Rock Hotel, Harry Potter & HHN

It seems that I'll be posting this in 3 separate Trip Report forums. The Universal portion here. Look for Part the Second in WDW TR and the DCL..well, you get the picture. It was upper 80's and clear all week. Small rain shower on Cruise but it was almost nothing.
Cast
Universal Starters:
Pa - Sam JR, Disney Fanatic, Planner. Your humble corespondent.
Ma – Janice. Donald Fan
Sammy (12). Music lover. Wheelchair rider, Developmentally Delayed (Think 18 month old physically and mentally)
John (12), Potter Fan. Musical Performer, Sax Player, Video Game Enthusiast
We are tacking a Universal trip to the beginning of the family WDW/DCL vacation.

AKL Starters:
Mom – Lisa, Disney Freak
Mommy – Diane, Dog Lover
Evan (9), the Cautions one
Tony (7), the Adventurous one.
LDET are tacking a few days at the AKL before the trip. They are visiting AK and enjoying the pool and lodge before the family converges into our band of 10.

OKW Starters
Grandma – Judy, Sam’s Mom. Her 70th Birthday is reason for trip. DVC member. An extremely casual fan. i.e. Short Park Visits. Plenty of shopping and spas, tho!
Grandpa – Tom, Lisa’s Dad. Tries to keep up. Makes friends with everyone.
GM & GP are arriving on Sunday for the WDW and then DCL portions of the trip.

Friday 10-12
• 4:30 wakeup for 8am flight was tough but it was nice getting to Orlando before noon. American Air moved us to the front of coach so we didn't have to carry Sammy too far into the plane. He played with his music toy the entire flight. Sorry to the other passengers, but he can be loud. Trust us, the music is less maddening that the yelling.
• Afternoon Pool Time at Hard Rock Hotel. It feels like you’re a rock-star. Would love to spend a day with one of the cabanas (and an open bar . Had a Blue Moon Thirsty-Two Ouncer in a souvenir cup. With 2 orange slices, refreshing! This was a nice base for Dad’s planned HHN tonight.
• Hotel guest get early entry to HHN. Great perk!
• Walked thru 4 houses (Alice, HoH, P&T, Wlkn Dd) with little to no wait. Gothic was cool in an old cathedral. (Guys overhead gave me a genuine scare). Not a Silent Hill expert but this was a good house. Most unusual make-up and that’s saying something @HHN.
• I visited all 7, but I was not rushing between houses. I’d have a meatball sandwich or watch the lagoon show or just grab a beer & watch the hordes scare the passersby. The hordes were awesome! Great fun to sit and watch.
• Speaking of the crowds…I was surprised by the pleasant demeanor in general. I’ve been to Cubs games or Jimmy Buffet concerts where drunks ruined things. Heck, the local beer tent at our town October Fest can be too rowdy for my mother or my kids. Considering the sheer number of bars and beer vendors I was amazed that there were no issues. I expected to see some folks escorted out. On the contrary, I spoke to many friendly guests in line or on the streets.
• This was probably due in part to the Universal staff. Saw many Security persons and cops. There were also regular Staff throughout the houses just keeping an eye on things
• Wanted to do Walking Dead in the dark but line at 10pm was 90 minutes. Too long. One last beer and back to room by 11. Did not see either show but consider the night well worth it.
• Ended a loooong day (see above 4:30 wake- up)

Saturday 10-13
• Early Entry Day to WWoHP. Tough after Dad’s late night, but time marches on.
• Kitchen buffet in HRH. Nice variety: V8, love to see that! Biscuits & Gravy, nice to find on a buffet. Too rich for an entire breakfast, but a few bites @ a buffet, very satisfying! All ate our fill. A short boat ride and we’re at the IOA gates at 8am.
• John and Pa walked right on FJ while Mom & Sammy enjoyed the shops. Now to see if the weight loss has worked. In 2010, I needed to use the ‘fat-guy’ seat and needed a team member to ‘lean in’ to get it to latch. Well, I fit like a charm! No more ‘fg’ seat! We had butter beer then John & Pa discovered the joy of the single rider line. As the times increased to 45 minutes by late morning, we walked on every time, only a couch or 2 separated us.
• New Spiderman film looks great. Did they add more water effects? Pa Only: Single line Hulk. Did some shopping and made reservations for 11:45 Mythos.
• Tried to ride Cat in the Hat with Sammy but we were told he’d need to hold on and support himself & could not ride in his chair. John rode by himself and while we waited a manager came up and apologized. She asked if there was anything else she could do. She seemed genuinely be concerned. It was nice. I was just glad that the first guy asked about Sammy. I had forgotten how much it spun. He would’ve been thrown all around.
• This reminds me of another above and beyond from a Universal Hotel person. When the boys were 7, after a DCL trip we arrived late at Royal Pacific. Sammy needed to eat, and we didn't have a car. John & I went to the hotel store to look for some yogurt or canned fruit as Sammy was in quite a picky period. The lady was closing up but waited for us we mentioned what we needed. They had nothing. We were going to have to order Room Service. We headed to the arcade and before we finished the lady found us and gave us some Dannon she got from the employee cafeteria. She wouldn't even take any money. I was floored!
• Mythos was an excellent Lunch! Special Pizza, steak with blue cheese. Short Ribs, Pasta of day Chicken. Risotto & Tomato Soup. All excellent! Great service!
• Back to WWoHP (singles line) Then Blutos Barge. Got Soaked! Dried on way back to room
• Jimmy Buffet’s 4 Dinner. Always a favorite. John & I played the Haunted Mini Golf at city walk. Fun! There were a few fun groups behind us and it made the round very enjoyable. Too tired for night swimming.

Sunday 10-14
• Universal is a short walk from our room. Single Rider line for RRRC. Did not need the lean-in to get latched.
• Mummy and other rides. Sammy could not ride ET. A manager there took Mom & John right on the ride. Nice touch but they need to update their ride vehicles
• Sammy & John sat for a caricature. Super-cute!
• Shrek & Despicle Me were fun for all.
• Mom & boys had lunch while Pa Single Rode RRRc Again.
• Picked up car & Bags at HRH and checked in at OKW About 3pm.
• Room Ready! Mom went grocery shopping while the boys relaxed.
• Met Grandma & Grandpa at OKW. GM left IPAD on plane, Bummer. She needs one. Plans an Apple Store visit Monday Morn.
• Head out to Boma to Meet Lisa, Diane & The boys.
• Boma was good. We ate well but not too much.

Final Thoughts on Part the First
• HRH Great Hotel. Kitchen has a good Breakfast Buffet. Early Entry to WWHP and HHN was an awesome benefit.
• HHN was totally worth the $35 price. First time visitor and will return.
• Universal is not as wheelchair accessible as WDW is. See Part the Second.
• Crowds were not too bad. Did not really need the Express Pass too much. It was 60-90 minutes for the houses @HHN but that was after 10pm, I got thru all 7.
• Dollar Rental Car express was great! Walked out and got into our van. We even switched vans to better work with the Wheel Chair.
• Only Issue was no working Internet at HRH. We are really dependent on our WiFi. Worked with tech support all weekend and it never worked. Grrr.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:22 PM   #2
auroraarielella
Mouseketeer
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 399

It sounds like your HRH portion was good.

I am usually a Disney vacationer, and I leave for HRH this weekend. How does check in work with hotel, park tickets, and express pass? Is it all done at check in, or do you have to do it seperately? (We booked a package thru Universal.)

Also, does the hotel have all the usual amenities? Hair dryers, pool towels, etc? Is the Kerig equipped for tea? Anything else you would tell a "first time" visitor to HRH and Universal?
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1973-Contemporary - Wing; 1976-Contemporary - Tower; 1981-Contemporary - Wing; 1990-Carribean Beach - Trinidad South; 2003-All-Star Movies-Toy Story; 2003-All-Star Movies-Mighty Ducks; 2005-Beach Club Villas; 2008-Boardwalk Villas/Carribean Beach Resort - Aruba; 2010- Boardwalk Villas; 2012 - Hard Rock Hotel; 2013 - Boardwalk Villas; 2015 - Boardwalk Villas/Hard Rock Hotel (in planning).
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