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Old 01-18-2009, 05:00 PM   #1
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Sans Friends - Royal Pacific, Islands of Adventure, Hard Rock Cafe and Margaritaville

Friday, 7th November (AKA the day we attempt, quite valiantly I should add, to pickle our livers).

Today is the day which will see us move to Universal’s Royal Pacific and, despite having trouble getting off to sleep last night, I’m once more awake before 6am. We’re packed and checking out of the BoardWalk at around 9am. There seem to be a lot of folks doing the same thing. Conversely, at RPR, we arrive to an empty check-in desk and our room is ready. It’s on the ground floor, and I’m not sure that’s the best option, but we’re not about to turn down an available room. We’ve made the decision to self-park (an outrageous $15 plus tax per night, as opposed to a scandalous $22 plus tax, plus tip for valet), so Matt returns to the car for the overnight bag we’ve packed whilst I scope out the room. It’s actually very nice, having recently been refurbished, and the ground floor location affords a rather appropriate glimpse of dense tropical foliage through the sheer inner curtains. Compared with the room we’ve just vacated at BoardWalk Villas, everything’s looking fresh and clean. We’re impressed, too, with the capsule-style coffee maker, complete with its Emeril Lagasse coffee varieties. More importantly, it’s just a 20 pace canter to Jake’s Bar.













We make the short journey, via the pool area, from our room to the path which connects the resort with CityWalk.



We decline the services of The Orlando Rickshaw Company, eager to transport us in double-quick time. This is a new development since our last stay in January this year. Although we’re not big walkers at home, it’s all part of the experience here in Orlando and we seldom take transport unless it’s either essential, or we’re on our last legs. There are a couple of exceptions (when the transportation is an adventure in itself), but this isn’t one of them. In any event no amount of frantic pedaling is going to beat Matt on foot when there’s a bar within sniffing distance.





As we approach the convergence with CityWalk, we encounter a new security point before getting our first peep of what could very well become our home for the next couple of days – Margaritaville (cue heavenly choir of angels). After mopping the drool from Matt’s chin, we pass on by.



Following our sun-drenched jaunt around World Showcase yesterday, I’m sporting a neon tan and prudence suggests that my choice of sleeveless top this morning is possibly not my best ever. I spend some time looking for something more suitable in Fresh Produce and Island Traders without success. I end up buying a t-shirt in Margaritaville. I know I won’t wear it at home, but at least my shoulders are protected from what promises to be another blistering day.

We’ve chosen to hit Islands of Adventure today, but don’t intend to do much other than stroll around and put away a few drinks. Without giving it any thought whatsoever, we automatically opt for a clockwise rotation. Spiderman is one of our favourite rides in all of Orlando and with our FOTL privileges, it’s incomprehensible that we’d pass it by. We’re the only people in the Express Line and, as we approach the loading area we find that there’s no-one at all in the Single Rider line and very few in the Standby line. We depart the ride commenting that, despite its age, this ride still has the wow factor.

We continue on our way, stopping to browse the wares of a few of the shops, until we reach the area between Jurassic Park and the Lost Continent where we’re momentarily disorientated by the new layout. A new path and bridge has been put in, along with lots of lush and beautifully manicured vegetation. We take some time to make the slight detour around the front of the Discovery Center before crossing the new bridge. From here, there’s a tantalizing view of the old bridge and the area which will become The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Along with Port of Entry, I’ve always considered the Lost Continent to be the best amongst an outstanding line-up of themed “Islands” at this park, so I have very high hopes for the new one.

















As we enter Seuss Landing we make the decision to take a spin on the Trolley Ride, but quickly realise it’s broken down. This is another cleverly themed area, but in contrast to the immaculate Jurassic Park, the faded paint here is a sorry sight.







Continued below.
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October 1992 ~ Enclave Suites, I-Drive May 1996 ~ Omni Rosen, I-Drive October 1998 ~ Villa-Clear Creek August 2000 ~ Beach Club/Villa-Sunset Lakes July 2001 ~ Animal Kingdom Lodge/Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns Christmas 2001 ~ Villa-Formosa Gardens October 2002 ~ Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns May 2003 ~ Portofino Bay/Villa-Cumbrian Lakes January 2004 ~ Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes/Villa-Formosa Gardens July 2004 ~ Grand Floridian/Portofino Bay/Villa-Formosa Gardens December 2004 ~ Villa-Rolling Hills/Disney Wonder Cruise/BoardWalk Grand Villa/Contemporary April 2005 ~ Washington DC, Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, Charleston, Savannah, Royal Pacific Resort/Villa-Acadia Estates January 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/Royal Pacific Resort April 2006 ~ Celebration Hotel/NCL Jewel Cruise/Hotel Victor, Miami/Beach Cottage-Disney's Vero Beach October 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/BoardWalk Villa/Rosen Shingle Creek August 2007 ~ Saratoga Springs//Reunion Grande January 2008 ~ Saratoga Springs/Beach Club Villas/Reunion Resort November 2008 ~ BoardWalk Villas/Royal Pacific Resort/Saratoga Springs March 2011 ~ Celebrity Cruise/Veness Towers, a stone's throw from the Magic Kingdom November 2012 ~ Bay Lake Tower/Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota/Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, Jupiter/Saratoga Springs September 2013 ~ Kidani Village/Saratoga Springs May 2014 ~ Beach Club Villas/Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek/Bay Lake TowerJanuary 2015 ~ Four Seasons Golden Oak/Bay Lake Tower
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Old 01-18-2009, 05:01 PM   #2
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Whether through pre-meditated design or sentient perception, without uttering a word to one another, we find ourselves at the Backwater Bar. Having done a full circuit of IoA without consuming an alcoholic beverage, it’s fair to say there’s a certain element of inevitability at play. Safely ensconced at the bar, we both go for firsts this trip – a Bud for Matt and a margarita for me.









It's been quiet here this morning and these are the wait times as we make our way back through Port of Entry.















Having plumped for Hard Rock Café as our lunchtime watering hole, we head out of the park. It’s absolutely dead everywhere and we wonder whether the new Simpsons ride is drawing everyone to Universal Studios. I may have mentioned this before (so feel free to tune out briefly), but whilst I love the lack of crowds, I can’t help feeling concern for the local economy and the eventual effect that will have on us as visitors.

The HRC is equally quiet and, as usual, we opt to sit at the bar. This place has a strange lure for us. The food isn’t great (although it’s not awful, either) and it certainly isn’t our favourite restaurant, but it holds the distinct accolade of being the only one we’ve visited on every trip (that is, this incarnation and its predecessor). I can’t quite put my finger on what keeps drawing us back, although it is, of course, the original theme restaurant with the most amazing collection of rock memorabilia. I suppose we just never tire of its “coolness” and of perusing the exhibits. Oh, and getting beered up.



Barbie is our bartender. She’s always our bartender. It amazes me just how many places we see the same servers each trip. Do these people never go home? Barbie is a lady of more mature years, but one who clearly has no concept of that. She looks exactly as you’d expect a woman of a certain age and with that name to look. She’s slightly brash and direct in her manner, too and always seems a tad wary of us as Brits, but softens and warms as we chat. Matt orders a Hurricane and I opt for a Rum Runner whilst we scrutinise the menu. I don’t know why I bother because I always go for the Legendary Burger. Matt fancies the Pulled Pork Sandwich and, after some deliberation, elects to have it with the original vinegar dressing. Clearly in the mood for a bender, Matt then downs a Bull Blaster (Jeigermeister with Red Bull), swiftly followed by a Yeungling.







Over the past couple of years, Matt has developed a taste for the odd cigar and we head next to Cigarz to browse the humidor. He chooses a Rocky Patel Renaissance and we retreat into the bar at the back where we both have a Maker’s Mark on the rocks whilst watching President Elect Obama make his first public address. This place is rustic and dark and, I imagine, quite atmospheric at night, but seems (and feels) strangely cold against the backdrop of the afternoon sun outside.







As soon as Matt has finished his cigar, we head back to the Royal Pacific, once again rejecting the advances of the rickshaw guy. [Over the two days, I become irritated at having to constantly leap out of his way as he announces his imminent arrival with the “jing jing” of his bell. The boat is a perfectly good option for those who don’t want to walk and, for those who do, the path should be a tranquil and rickshaw-free environment. Petition, anyone?]



Another new addition since our last stay is a short cut which takes you to the front of the hotel, together with a notice that there’s no access via the pool area after 9pm. An image of a drunken group using a lounger to climb locked gates at 2am pops into my head. What kind of hooligans would do that? We inspect the new route and, as it leads us to the lobby, feel obliged to stop off in the lobby lounge for a quick one (Sam Adams and Royal Mai Tai respectively). A new sushi bar has appeared in the corner since we were last here. Pesky things! You can’t turn your back for a second…







Continued below.
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October 1992 ~ Enclave Suites, I-Drive May 1996 ~ Omni Rosen, I-Drive October 1998 ~ Villa-Clear Creek August 2000 ~ Beach Club/Villa-Sunset Lakes July 2001 ~ Animal Kingdom Lodge/Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns Christmas 2001 ~ Villa-Formosa Gardens October 2002 ~ Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns May 2003 ~ Portofino Bay/Villa-Cumbrian Lakes January 2004 ~ Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes/Villa-Formosa Gardens July 2004 ~ Grand Floridian/Portofino Bay/Villa-Formosa Gardens December 2004 ~ Villa-Rolling Hills/Disney Wonder Cruise/BoardWalk Grand Villa/Contemporary April 2005 ~ Washington DC, Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, Charleston, Savannah, Royal Pacific Resort/Villa-Acadia Estates January 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/Royal Pacific Resort April 2006 ~ Celebration Hotel/NCL Jewel Cruise/Hotel Victor, Miami/Beach Cottage-Disney's Vero Beach October 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/BoardWalk Villa/Rosen Shingle Creek August 2007 ~ Saratoga Springs//Reunion Grande January 2008 ~ Saratoga Springs/Beach Club Villas/Reunion Resort November 2008 ~ BoardWalk Villas/Royal Pacific Resort/Saratoga Springs March 2011 ~ Celebrity Cruise/Veness Towers, a stone's throw from the Magic Kingdom November 2012 ~ Bay Lake Tower/Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota/Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, Jupiter/Saratoga Springs September 2013 ~ Kidani Village/Saratoga Springs May 2014 ~ Beach Club Villas/Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek/Bay Lake TowerJanuary 2015 ~ Four Seasons Golden Oak/Bay Lake Tower
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Old 01-18-2009, 05:02 PM   #3
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Following my twice daily bath ritual, I start to get the bloating sensation. Tonight is not an option and I summon all my powers of mind over matter. Luckily it’s nowhere near as bad as yesterday evening and it subsides as I slowly get ready for the evening’s activities. We’re on our way out of the door for the positively balmy walk to Margaritaville shortly after 7pm.

A band is playing on the Porch of Indecision as we arrive and there’s quite a queue for tables. Our destination is the Volcano Bar where we find all the seats are taken. Experience tells us that patience and alertness are key, so we order drinks and linger. After my cocktails earlier in the day, I have a yen for a glass of wine (Mondavi chardonnay) and Matt starts with a Lone Palm. Within a couple of minutes, a couple vacates a spot right in front of the blender and we’re in like Flynn. (And we only had to elbow them in the back of the head twice.)







Matt wastes no time in moving on to the margaritas and starts with the first one on the menu, the Uptown Top Shelf. I spot his game immediately and briefly ponder whether I’m capable of lifting a 200lb dead weight.



Since having them here in January, I’ve been craving the wings. They’re something I’ve never liked before, but those here are fall-off-the-bone tender with a crispy skin. They have two types on the menu – Buffalo and Jamaica Mistaka (in a habañero-honey sauce). Matt is convinced that the ones I liked are the Jamaica Mistaka and, in fact, he’s so insistent that, despite the fact I know that when we got home in January I went through several different buffalo sauce recipes in a bid to get them right, he manages to sway me. Needless to say, when they come, they’re the wrong ones and, for the third time this week, he gets a plate of wings to himself. Our plans to order another appetizer to share vaporise as more liquid nourishment is consumed.

As Matt moves on to Desdemona’s Raspberry Rita (skipping the Big Rita in the souvenir glass), I hit on the idea of progressing through margaritas made with the different tequilas on offer. I’ll start with Sammy Hagar’s favourite, the Cabo Wabo, please, barman.







The evening wears on and we become increasingly more merry, singing along with the BuffettMeister. I proceed through Tres Generaciones and 1800 Cuervo whilst Matt continues on his journey through the menu (so last year!). As he orders his 3rd frozen fruit variant (and about 5th in total), I ask what’s with all the girly drinks and challenge him to try a proper one. Greg, our bartender agrees, avowing to make him one which will “put him on his ****”. Clearly, he’s never met Matt before, but nonetheless it’s very good, so I get one, too.











Sometime during all this the band starts up and a girl sitting on the opposite side of the bar drags me onto the dance floor. From this point on, everything’s a bit of a blur (note to self: must stop doing the hippy hippy shake to every track). According to the napkins which Matt used to record the evening’s intake this is the drinks tally:

Matt

Lone Palm, Uptown Top Shelf, Desdemona’s Raspberry Rita, Italian Margarita, Ruby Red Rita, Patron Rita, Greg’s Ultimate x2, another Lone Palm and a Corona. He finishes up with bourbon to go.

Deb

Mondavi chardonnay, Cabo Wabo margarita, Tres Generaciones margarita, 1800 Cuervo margarita, another Tres Generaciones and Greg’s Ultimate. Oh, and the complimentary bottle of water Greg decided I was in need of.

Check settled and Greg handsomely tipped, we stumble back to the room (where’s Mr Ding-a-Ling when you need him?) propping ourselves up as we go. Matt’s forced to leave his half-drunk glass of bourbon at the security checkpoint. We remember to use the newly constructed drunkards’ path, stopping only to let down the tires on the rickshaw and disable the ruddy bell.

Goodness knows what time it is, but we fall straight into bed and are both asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

Postscript: Another lovely day with highs in the 80s. The drink count may well have reached a similar figure.

Those depicted in this report are skilled and experienced Parrotheads. Do not try this at home.
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October 1992 ~ Enclave Suites, I-Drive May 1996 ~ Omni Rosen, I-Drive October 1998 ~ Villa-Clear Creek August 2000 ~ Beach Club/Villa-Sunset Lakes July 2001 ~ Animal Kingdom Lodge/Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns Christmas 2001 ~ Villa-Formosa Gardens October 2002 ~ Hard Rock Hotel/Villa-Formosa Gdns May 2003 ~ Portofino Bay/Villa-Cumbrian Lakes January 2004 ~ Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes/Villa-Formosa Gardens July 2004 ~ Grand Floridian/Portofino Bay/Villa-Formosa Gardens December 2004 ~ Villa-Rolling Hills/Disney Wonder Cruise/BoardWalk Grand Villa/Contemporary April 2005 ~ Washington DC, Shenandoah, Blue Ridge Parkway, Charleston, Savannah, Royal Pacific Resort/Villa-Acadia Estates January 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/Royal Pacific Resort April 2006 ~ Celebration Hotel/NCL Jewel Cruise/Hotel Victor, Miami/Beach Cottage-Disney's Vero Beach October 2006 ~ Reunion Resort/BoardWalk Villa/Rosen Shingle Creek August 2007 ~ Saratoga Springs//Reunion Grande January 2008 ~ Saratoga Springs/Beach Club Villas/Reunion Resort November 2008 ~ BoardWalk Villas/Royal Pacific Resort/Saratoga Springs March 2011 ~ Celebrity Cruise/Veness Towers, a stone's throw from the Magic Kingdom November 2012 ~ Bay Lake Tower/Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota/Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, Jupiter/Saratoga Springs September 2013 ~ Kidani Village/Saratoga Springs May 2014 ~ Beach Club Villas/Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek/Bay Lake TowerJanuary 2015 ~ Four Seasons Golden Oak/Bay Lake Tower

Last edited by UKDEB; 07-23-2009 at 06:43 AM.
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Old 01-19-2009, 01:39 AM   #4
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phew you packed a lot into today !! love the wait times on those rides, and the weather looks great as well.
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Old 01-19-2009, 02:15 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UKDEB View Post
Those depicted in this report are skilled and experienced Parrotheads. Do not try this at home.
Good of you to include this disclaimer/warning following the list of drinks that could be taken by some as a challenge.

Debbie, you managed another wonderful report of a wonderful day. Reading it I realized that I was with Scott the last time I ate at Margaritaville and rode Spiderman (2000). Only one trip to FL since has included a visit to City Walk and only for the purpose of eating at Emeril's. The five trips since have been with various folks from here and there who had other plans. That "sans friends" of yours has its points.

Again I'd like to say I appreciate your including personal pictures and not the park, hotel or restaurant stock pamphlet shots. This trip report stars you, so it's you we should see. You and Matt look so bright eyed, right through the last documented drink of the day. How do you do that? It must be a trick for the camera. As you know I have trouble keeping my eyes open for a picture without a drop of alcohol in my system!
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Old 01-19-2009, 03:56 AM   #6
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A busy day of drinking No way could I manage what to drink the amount you did
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Old 01-19-2009, 05:53 AM   #7
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Wow, that's an impressive amount of drinkypoos that you both got through (though I'm more impressed with your count than Matt's 'girly' beverages )

Fab pics Deb
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Old 01-19-2009, 06:10 AM   #8
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Another lovely day - and I can't believe how much you drank - or rather yes I can!!!!

Love the image of you elbowing people in the head to get a seat in Margaritaville - what is it with you two and alcohol

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Old 01-19-2009, 06:54 AM   #9
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What a great day - and night. I'm incredibly proud of you for managing to remember the events of the evening, including drinks count. I suspect I'd have had difficulty remembering the way home after all that lot
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Old 01-19-2009, 07:10 AM   #10
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No queues and lots of drinks, sounds like a perfect day.
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Old 01-19-2009, 10:29 AM   #11
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Great day guys, love the pics
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Old 01-19-2009, 11:17 AM   #12
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what a wonderful day you had, great pictures yet again, I really hope that one day we will be able to delight in the pleasure of Margaritaville together
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Old 01-19-2009, 11:20 AM   #13
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Methinks a bad head will be forthcoming tomorrow!

An impressive tally to be sure.

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Old 01-19-2009, 01:03 PM   #14
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What an absolutely brilliant day and yes your room does look so much better than the last one.

Its great you can get so many photos of you both when its just the two of you.


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Old 01-19-2009, 01:28 PM   #15
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Lovely day. I know what you mean about the rickshaw lot. It wasn't so bad in December but in July you keep having to move out of the way all of the time. The rooms are a lot brighter and I love the new coffee machines too.
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