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Old 05-17-2009, 09:57 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: West Chester, PA
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Better Late Than Never Trip Report . . . I Hope * Final Days Added *


Letís just say Iím writing this trip report because Iím racked with guilt. Guilt because last year I wrote a pre-trip report for our October 2008 trip promising to come back with an actual trip report and I never did. Guilt because Iím now 35 days away from taking a family trip in June and thinking about writing another pre-trip report. Guilt because Iíve been reading everyone elseís reports, knowing I have my own non-started one eating away at my soul. And finally guilt because Iím Italian Catholic and thatís what we do best, see the whole soul thingy in the previous sentence.

If you are at all interested in how this trip came about feel free to check out this link for aforementioned pre-trip report. http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1937263

So here is my way, way, way late trip report. Iím going to supply pictures mainly to remind me of everything we did since my memory ainít what it used to be. I hope you enjoy.


DH Ė 50 nervous traveler; non-doer of spinney or simulator rides but otherwise thrill ride junkie
Me Ė 49 self appointed soother of above mentioned nervous traveler; directionally challenged map turner; full tilt thrill ride junkie

The weekend leading up to our Monday departure was hectic. I did lots of cooking to put together meals that DS(16) could heat up after school/soccer/work and not have to trouble my MIL with cooking for him at crazy times because of his busy teenager schedule. DH did a 6 hour round trip car ride on Sunday to take oldest DS(19) back to college after his mini fall break. So by the end of the weekend we were chomping at the bit to start this vacation.

Last edited by re121258; 06-09-2009 at 01:00 AM.
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Old 05-17-2009, 10:17 PM   #2
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Day 1

Day 1 Ė Monday October 20, 2008

We had a 9am flight out of Philly on Southwest, so after DS left for school at 7am we loaded the car and headed to the airport. I love flying Southwest because to me the seating concept makes great sense but apparently there are plenty of people who have forgotten their alphabet and/or how to count. Thatís all Iím going to say on the subject.

The plane was a little late taking off but the pilot must have really been booking it because we landed 15 minutes early. Off the plane, quick stop to refresh ourselves and then off to baggage claim. We had booked MH Transportation car service to take us to the resort and there they were at baggage claim waiting for us, holding our name upside down. DH went for a cigarette and I chatted with the MH guy whose name I canít remember. Nice, talkative guy which was good because I think our luggage was the last to be unloaded from the plane. He did tell me that he didnít actually work for MH but sub-contracted with them. His car was immaculate and I didnít have to do the NYC cabbie armrest grip at any time during the ride which was good.

As you can see everything is going smoothly but my nervous traveler is still having kittens and I know that will continue until we are in the room. This is an anniversary trip. We have been married 28 years. Trust me. I know. Anyway, we arrive at the Portofino and head to check in. We had booked a King club room on an AP rate. DH really, really wanted a balcony just as we had had on our 2004 trip. We knew the chances were slim but lo and behold they had a queen bed with balcony available, so we took that. We make our way around to our room (#2663) and it turns it was right next door to the room we had in 2004. So the pictures of our view look amazing the same as the ones we took in 2004.

Unpack and off to the studios for lunch and some rides. Now, please note we are walkers. We walk for exercise and pleasure all the time. So off we go on the walking path to the Studios.

I had read about the shortcut through the HRH parking lot, so I convinced DH to give it a try. Fool. Remember 28 years of marriage. He should have know better. Iím directionally challenged and even with written directions I get lost, so the chances of us successfully completing the shortcut from my memory is about 1 in a million. Needless to say we wondered around the HRH parking lot for a while and then around the lobby of the HRH and then around the pool of the HRH and then finally we found the walking path from the HRH to the Studios. So what should have been a 15 minute walk turned into a 40 minute tour of the HRH hotel and parking lot. The place looked great and I canít wait for our stay in June 2009. Need to look at the positives of this little experience.

We finally arrived at the gates of the Studios and headed to the automated machines to pick up our APs (Power Pass for DH, Preferred for me). Drat! They spelled my first name wrong. Itís Marie with an Ďeí not Maria with an Ďaí. Only my Italian relatives are allowed to call me Maria. Oh well. I will survive.

Look Ma! No people. Needless to say, crowds were almost non-existent.

I had heard great things about Louieís pizza here on DIS so that is where we headed straight away. We were famished, especially DH, since nervous traveler had not eaten at all yet that day because of his nervousness. Let me tell you the pizza here is as good as they say. Plus I was thrilled I remembered to give my AAA card at the check out for the discount. I usually forget that kind of stuff.

Thatís DH practically running into Louieís to get some food.

After lunch we headed to Fishermanís Wharf to ride Jaws. I know some people find Jaws to be a tired ride but I love the whole campiness of it. It reminds me somewhat of the Jungle Cruise only with a man eating shark. As we board the boat, two younger parentless kids, a boy around 10 and a girl around 8, probably a brother and sister, get in the row and then we follow, first DH and then me. At the first appearance of the shark, the boy lets out a loud yelp and then both kids are practically in DHís lap. By the end of the ride they were both practically in mine. We laughed about this for the remainder of the trip and it made our ride on Jaws very memorable.

We worked our way around and headed to MIB. I wonít even talk about the lockers. The lockers are evil. As usual I wiped the floor with DH on the ride. Me. The non-video game playing middle-aged mom handily beat the original Missile Command champion. Though at this point he still hadnít figured out the whole Ďpush the red buttoní thingy. Geez!

Now here is where we made a fatal mistake. DH doesnít do spinney rides or simulators but DH is a HUGE Simpsonís fan. At lunch he took a couple of Bromine hoping this would help and allow him to ride without consequences. No such luck. He had to spend the entire ride after the first 20 seconds looking at the floor while I laughed and laughed at the ride, not at him. He wasnít feeling so great when he got off the ride so we decided to just walk around for a bit and forego anymore rides that day.

Look how happy he was before the ride.

Another thing I had heard much about here was the Horror Makeup show. Now DH doesnít like shows but he was feeling crappy so the thought of sitting in a nice cool theater won him over. I have to say this show wasnít our cup of tea but weíre glad we tried it.

We then checked out the electric chairs outside of the Monsterís Cafť.

We caught some of the Blues Brothers show.

Next we decided a cool treat would be good so DH got a milkshake at Ben & Jerryís and I got a dish of gelato from Louieís. I love the painted faÁades on the buildings next to Louieís.

After our break we decided to head back to the Portofino since DH since was still feeling out of sorts from the Simpsons. On the way, we ran into Doc Brown and Marilyn.

I stopped and offered to take a picture of a family in front of Melís. After which the dad insisted on taking our picture at Melís. I mean he really insisted. Like he practically wrestled the camera from my hand.

Once again we decided to walk back to the hotel. No more shortcuts were attempted again on the trip. I love these shots I took on the walking path back.

After a rest we headed down to the club to check out the appetizers. I didnít take any pictures so I donít remember exactly what was there. There was beer, wine, water and soda to drink. As far as food, there were about 5 or 6 different offerings, with a mix of hot and cold. Some we liked and some we didnít. It was enjoyable. We then took a stroll around the resort to find the fitness center so we would be prepared in the morning. Actually it was so DH could show me how to get there and not get lost. It didnít help. I got lost anyway.

We took the boat, one of only two times, to Citywalk. We had a late dinner at Bubba Gump which we really enjoyed. Dinner for the two of us came to $55 before tip. Then we headed over to the Nascar Sports Grille to watch some of the Monday Night Football game. It was two for one on the beers. DH doesnít drink much so I finished the two beers here plus one that I had had at dinner which meant I was very sleepy by this point. The walk back to the hotel was a blessing in disguise in the working off the beer department. We hung out on our balcony for a bit before turning in for the night.

Day 2 coming soon. I hope this isnít too wordy.
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Old 05-18-2009, 02:09 AM   #3
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Enjoying your report keep it coming.
Me-; Son- ; Niece- ; Mace-(Shih Tzu)
2009~POP & RPH 2008~H.G.V.C/POP 2005~H.G.V.C seaworld 2000~Offsite 1998~Offsite 1976~Offsite
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Old 05-18-2009, 07:17 AM   #4
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More please!!
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Old 05-18-2009, 11:43 PM   #5
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Day 2

Day 2 Ė Tuesday October 21, 2008

I should mention we are not early bird, gung-ho, be at the gates 30 minutes before rope drop type people. When on vacation we like to ease into the day, so vacationing at Universal in October was just perfect. Good weather and light crowds made everyday a relaxing pleasure.

We woke up to another beautiful day.

Our first stop of the day was the club lounge for some breakfast. Bagel with cream cheese & jelly, a cold glass of milk (love it when itís cold) and some fresh fruit for me. DH had yogurt, granola, fresh fruit and some OJ. Neither of us are big breakfast people, so this was fine for us. Next we headed to the fitness center with DH leading the way since I had no clue which way to go even though he had shown me the day before. Iím hopeless I tell you, hopeless. After spending an hour getting some blood really pumping through our hearts we headed back to the room for showers and to get ready for the day.

We were heading to IOA today and as per usual we decided to walk. Of course we had to stop for the required picture at the big spinney Universal sign.

Before we knew it we were entering the gates at IOA.

DH decided his healthy breakfast just wasnít going to cut it, so we had to stop for a danish at Crescent Moon bakery. I then proceeded to torture DH by making him pose in the nearby rickshaw.

Usually when we tour IOA we turn left at the end of Port of Entry and work our way clockwise around the park. Today however I suggested we be a couple of crazy kids and turn right into Seuss Landing. The boldness of that action is just so shocking, I'm still speechless about it today. Of course DH had to stop for a cigarette break, so I spent the time taking pictures.

There is this little cutie.

And from this location you can get a nice shot of Me Ship, The Olive.

The Jurassic Park building.

And the water side of Mythos.

Cigarette break over we push on to Seuss Landing. As a kid Dr Seuss was one of my favorites. I remember Santa leaving The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish under the Christmas tree when I was six years old. I read those books over and over again for years.

First up was The Cat in the Hat and even though DH has problems with spinney this one doesnít give him any trouble.

Next I managed to convince DH to ride One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, promising him if we listed to the directions we wouldnít get wet. Well, considering I was doing the steering, you guessed it. We were pretty much nice and wet when we got off the ride.

Next up was the Caro-Seuss-el for me. DH decided to sit this one out and attempt to take pictures, which is not his forte but he didnít do too bad.

Finally we made our way to High in the Sky Trolley Ride. This wasnít open the last time we were here, so it was a fun little diversion. Loved the views you can get from up there.

On our way out of Seuss Landing we ran into everyoneís favorite cat. DH had some trouble getting the camera to work, so the whole time he was fiddling with it Cat was purring in my ear. Hmm!

Leaving our literary friends behind us we shifted worlds, moving into the mysterious land of The Lost Continent.

We decided to visit the world of the sea king, Poseidonís Fury. This isnít an attraction I would stand in a long line for but since it was a walk on we ventured in. I have to report the water tunnel was working and we got a kick out of the whole spectacle.

By this time, the bagel I had had for breakfast was long forgotten, so we headed to Mythos for some lunch.

We didnít have a ressie but it didnít matter, we were seated right away. This is the third time we have eaten in this restaurant and every time we have been seated at the same table. Go figure. We really enjoyed our lunch.

For starters we shared a grilled flatbread. Very yum!

DH had the Caesar Salad with grilled scallops.

I had the Crab Sliders, which was a special that day. We were stuffed by the end of the meal and didnít have any room for dessert. The total cost before tip was $36.

We continued our way counter-clockwise around the park, stopping to listen to the Mystic Fountain for a while before pushing on toward Dueling Dragons. I have to say I really miss the two dragon statues at the entrance to the ride. Hopefully they will be replaced with something just as cool when HP opens. Now the change in the entrance to the ride really threw me off. I know youíre surprised that I had a real hard time getting my bearings since my sense of direction is so succinct. But I just gave in and mindlessly followed DH to the lockers, to the ride and back. I have to mention in attempting to get our stuff from the locker was the only time we encountered some, shall we say troublesome people of the non English speaking variety who kept pushing their way in front of people, including us, to use the lockers. The concept of waiting in line appeared to be foreign to them. But we managed okay.

On our way around we decided to skip the rides in Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon today because we didnít feel like getting wet. Our next stop was Marvel Island.

I love how the vibe changes so quickly and how the music sets the scene as you enter Marvel. Our first stop was my favorite of all favorite rides anywhere: Spiderman. We managed to get the front row of the car which I personally think makes it a better experience.

After Spidey I talked DH into Dr. Doom. Now there is nothing wrong with the Doc. Itís a fun little ride but I despise how long it takes to get loaded. I find myself standing there taping my feet and Iím not normally an impatient person. Maybe because itís such a short ride for such a long wait that I much more intolerant than normal.

By this point we were both starting to lose some steam but I wanted to ride Hulk. DH wasnít in the mood, so he went off to have a cigarette break and I headed to the big green monster. I love this coaster, as long as I remember to keep my head pressed back against the seat. If I donít I usually end up with a headache.

After this we walked back to the resort to relax and freshen up since we had reservations for Tchoup Chop later that evening. We were calling this our anniversary dinner and were really looking forward to eating there again. The last time was in 2004 when we did the chefís tasting menu at the counter which was a ton of fun especially after the sake. This time we had made a regular ressie through Open Table. We took the boat over from the Portofino but then walked over to the Royal Pacific. We had some trouble finding the restaurant and wondered around for a while. Seems to be a theme this trip. Eventually we made our way to the right place and were seated right away at a cozy table for two. The bill came to $95 for 1 shared appetizer, 2 dinners, 1 shared dessert, 1 sake tasting and 1 froo froo drink. We enjoyed our diner but preferred the tasting menu from the previous trip.

After diner we walked back over to CityWalk and sat in the chairs outside of Margaritaville sipping more froo froo drinks, listening to the music from the back porch and people watching. Eventually we walked back to Portofino and turned in for the night.

Tomorrow . . . Pool day and HHN
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Old 05-19-2009, 10:22 PM   #6
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Enjoying the trip report and waiting for more!
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Old 05-22-2009, 01:18 AM   #7
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Day 3

Day 3 Ė Wednesday October 22, 2008

Tonight we were going to HHN so we decided to keep the day extra relaxing. Once again we started with breakfast at the club and then some time in the fitness center. The day was cloudy which I think makes for a great pool day, since you donít broil in the sun. So after showers we headed to the quiet pool to read, relax and possibly try more froo froo drinks.

We basically had the place to ourselves. Eventually a total of maybe a half-a-dozen people showed up to relax around the pool. We napped and did manage a couple of froo froo drinks. Before lunch no less. Heck, it's vacation.

DH hates laying in the sun, so between the clouds and the umbrella this was a perfect pool day for him.

I like the a little more sun on my pool days.

You didnít really think I was going to post a picture of me in a bathing suit. Did you?

We had an early lunch at Salís. Two paninis, a bottle of water and a soda came to $26. In hindsight we should have just shared one Panini. The sandwiches were quite tasty and on the large size. We went back to the pool for a bit before heading to the room to change for the Studios.

We decided to take the boat over and while waiting for it to come I took some pictures.

Our plan was to arrive at the Studios at about 2:30pm, ride a couple of rides and then head to Finneganís for an early dinner. We had purchased the Stay and Scream option of the HHN ticket, as well as HHN Express Passes. We pretty much stuck to this. We were able to ride The Mummy and Disaster before deciding to try for a table at Finneganís.

So at about 4pm, we headed to Finneganís where they were checking for HHN tickets before letting people in. We were able to snag a table for two in the bar area. DH ordered a Potato/Onion Webb and Bangers and Mash ($26 before tip).

I was feeling a little anxious about the whole HHN thingy; I hate being scared but DH loves this stuff and well weíve been married 28 years so here I was waiting to be scared. So I spent the time sipping a pint and nibbling on the Webb.

The camera I had on me sucks in nighttime shots, so I donít have any. But I did take some shots of the decorations during our Studioís visit a couple of days ago.

After awhile we went outside to wait for them to release us into the event. Once released we followed the crowd to the first house, used our express passes and went in. The pattern became DH went first with me clutching his hand and following closely behind. Very closely. In the beginning we didnít really need the express passes but we used them anyway because we didnít plan to repeat any houses. We then proceeded clockwise around the park taking in each of the houses and scare zones. We took in the Bill and Ted show, which we enjoyed. The express passes came in very handy as the night progressed. In the end our favorite house was Dead Exposure and our favorite scare zone was Fractured Tales. Though DH really loved the zombies wondering around I think it was near Men in Black. He is a zombie fanatic; gets together with friends to watch zombie movies. Who knew there were so many zombie movies? Unfortunately we couldn't get the camera to work in such low light, so no zombie pictures.

We finished up around 10pm and by this time I was quite famished. We left Studios but not before picking up a bag of blood for DH's office. We then headed over to the Nascar Grill again figuring we could get a bite to eat and watch some of the World Series. We are from Philadelphia after all. It was late, the place was pretty empty though we did manage to find some fellow Phillie fans. Unfortunately the food was not to good; we had chili and coconut shrimp ($21 before tip) but it served its purpose. Afterwards we walked back to the Portofino.

All in all it was a good day. I had my pants scared off me much to my husbandís delight and the Phillies won the first game of the Series.

Next up Day 4, our last full day.
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Old 05-25-2009, 05:30 PM   #8
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i just love italian catholic guilt..........

you are doing a super job on the trip report.

i don't care what year the trip was in, you word everything so well.

btw, what is the color and company for the nail polish?
it looks smashing!

looking forward to more of your trippie........

life is what happens to you on your way to achieving your dreams...........

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Old 06-09-2009, 12:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by macraven View Post
btw, what is the color and company for the nail polish?
it looks smashing!

Loreal 'Trust Fund Baby'
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Old 06-09-2009, 12:59 AM   #10
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Sorry for the delay between Day 3 and 4, lots of stuff going on at home.

Day 4 Ė Wednesday October 23, 2008

Today is our last full day. The plan was to head back to both parks and hit our favorites plus the water rides at IOA. As had become our pattern we started with breakfast at the club and then some time at the fitness center. The day was very overcast but still warm. A good day for a walk over to IOA from the hotel.

We made a quick stop in Marvel to ride Spiderman before heading back to the front of the park and guest services. Since we were flying Southwest Airlines we wanted to check in right at the 24 hour mark in order to get section A boarding. The TM in guest services that helped us was great. He was able to get us checked in easily but had a problem with printing the boarding pass. Even though I told him not to worry about the actual printing since that part wasnít totally necessary, he wouldnít give up and with some help he was finally able to get the passes printed okay. With that piece of business taken care of we made our way around to Jurassic Park.

We decided to start with Jurassic Park since itís usually the least wet. We did run into this fellow before arriving at the River Adventure.

Just like most of the rides during this week we were able to walk right on using our hotel Express perk. Since we ended up in the middle of the boat we only got mildly wet.

We now double backed to Toon Lagoon, first stopping on the bridge to have some fun shooting the water cannons at unsuspecting flume riders. I love how the colors pop in this area. Great for taking pictures.

Our first stop was to be Dudley. This is such a fun log flume with great splashes and dips and drops before the big one at the end.

We came off Dudley fairly wet but there were still many dry places on our clothes. In order to remedy the situation we headed to Popeye. This is such a blast of a river ride. The absolute best I have ever been on. I donít see how you can come off this ride dry. Our fellow barge riders consisted of a nice family with two young boys. These kids laughed non-stop from the first splash till they exited the ride. At this point we figured it was best to head back to the hotel to change because drying off was not going to happen on this overcast day. We did receive some really strange looks walking back.

After a quick change we headed over to the Hard Rock Cafť for a late lunch. I need to stop here and mention how stupid and annoying I find the picture they pressure you into taking is. It may just be me but there is no way Iím going to buy this. Anyway, we had a great lunch here. Iím a huge music fan, so I get a kick out of looking at all the memorabilia, watching the videos and grooving to the music. We both had burgers and drinks, for a total of $32. Afterwards, we stopped in the HRC store for a couple of t-shirts for the boys.

Onto the Studios to catch what we missed earlier this trip Terminator, Twister, ET and Shrek and to repeat Mummy and MIB. On the way we ran into some interesting characters as well as Lucy.

After our lap around the park we headed back to the hotel to relax and figure out what we wanted to do for dinner.

After a nice nap, we freshened up and decided to head to City Walk for dinner. After much debate we decided on Margaritaville. We ordered a couple of froo-froo drinks while we looked over the menu. We didnít feel we were up for the nachos so we split some peel-n-eat shrimp and then for entrees I had the coconut shrimp and DH the triple decker club for a total of $60. We had a nice table were we could see the video screens and sing along to Jimmy, plus we had a view of the volcano bar.

After our huge meal we did some walking around City Walk and over to NBA city. We contemplated going in to watch the Phillies but they were losing at this point and we werenít in the mood. Instead we took a leisurely stroll back to hotel to pack up before turning in for the night.

Day 5 Ė Thursday October 24, 2008

Homeward bound today on a mid-morning flight. Remember I have mister nervous traveler to deal with so while I had breakfast in the club, he fretted about getting to the airport on time. In the end, the towncar picked us up on time, we made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare and our flight boarded and took off on time.

We had a great time on our trip. So much so, we are already counting the days to our family trip in June 09. I hope you enjoyed my little report and forgive me for being so late. Hopefully, I will be more timely with a report for our upcoming trip. Thanks for reading.
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Old 06-09-2009, 11:02 AM   #11
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Great Trip Report, it looks like you guys had allot of fun.

I understand about the HHN thing, it is funny to watch a 110lb girl pick up someone twice her size and weight and place them in front of them. My sister did that with my older brother the last time we were there and even the creature took a step back becuase it was to funny.

I love the pictures, and can't wait to get there in less then 2 weeks!
(Me) (DH) (DD 11) (DD 4)

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Old 06-10-2009, 03:08 PM   #12
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Thank you for writing such a great trip report I'm taking my parents to the Portofino in 2010 and it was great to read about the hotel and see the pictures of the quiet pool (which I have a feeling my dad will love!). My parents are both keen walkers so I'm sure we'll end up walking to the parks a few times (but maybe not taking a shortcut through the HRH parking lot as I think we'd get lost too )

Hope you enjoy your upcoming trip with your family

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Old 06-10-2009, 07:16 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by mjohnson96 View Post
Great Trip Report, it looks like you guys had allot of fun.

I understand about the HHN thing, it is funny to watch a 110lb girl pick up someone twice her size and weight and place them in front of them. My sister did that with my older brother the last time we were there and even the creature took a step back becuase it was to funny.

I love the pictures, and can't wait to get there in less then 2 weeks!
Thanks. Something tells me DH will convince me to do HHN again.

10 days till we leave.
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:18 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by brer_rabbit View Post
Thank you for writing such a great trip report I'm taking my parents to the Portofino in 2010 and it was great to read about the hotel and see the pictures of the quiet pool (which I have a feeling my dad will love!). My parents are both keen walkers so I'm sure we'll end up walking to the parks a few times (but maybe not taking a shortcut through the HRH parking lot as I think we'd get lost too )

Hope you enjoy your upcoming trip with your family
Thanks for reading. I'm sure you and your parents will love PBH. It really is a great hotel. I'm counting down the days till we leave. Only 10 more sleeps.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:22 AM   #15
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I really enjoyed your TR! We will be at PBH club level in 5 days, and I'm looking for any photos available -- you look like you are having a wonderful time!


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