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Old 09-11-2011, 03:14 PM   #1
bean bunny
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Royal Pacific Resort - September 2011 (Updated 9/16 - Day 2 - VIP Tour)

Who? Jim (42) and Katie (32)
Where? Royal Pacific
When? Sept 1- 5
Why? We NEED a vacation!
How? Plane and Rental Car

It started with an off handed comment from my husband who was wishing we could squeeze in another trip to Disney and Universal this year. With several family commitments this year I was almost out of vacation days so I didnít think it was possible. Then I thought about Labor Day weekend even though it was only two months away. I was pretty sure I could arrange to be off Thursday and Friday with a combination of a vacation day and getting some projects completed early in the week. The seed continued to grow and I started pricing airlines, checking to see if our dog boarder had room, and thinking about where we should stay.

Just a few days later my husband and I had a nice Friday afternoon off to finally see the last Harry Potter movie and what should appear in our mailbox but Mr. Potter himself complete with a pin code if we stayed at a Loews property at Universal for four nights. We were originally planning to split our time up at the Yacht Club and Royal Pacific Resort but we had been so impressed with the Royal Pacific on our trip in May it wasnít hard at all to decide to make the leap to staying all four nights at the Royal Pacific. I booked it that night and got a fantastic rate of $191 per night on the club level. I was shocked. Weíd recently stayed at the Yacht Club on the concierge floor and it was around $400 a night. With that decision made we booked airfare and began to plan our trip! We have annual passes to Universal and one day left on some old no expiration/park hoppers so we were set on the ticket front. We donít make lots of dining reservations so I wasnít too worried about our last minute trip.

Our rough outline was:

Wednesday - Drop off the dogs at the boarder and check in 24 hours on AirTran to hopefully get a $69 upgrade to Business Class.

Thursday - Depart at 7:30 and arrive in Orlando at 11:00. Pick up luggage and rental car, check in, relax around the resort and spend the evening at Downtown Disney with dinner at Fultonís.

Friday - Islands of Adventure (IOA) and Universal Studios (US) - we had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a private 2 park/1 day VIP tour

Saturday - We planned to play this day by ear

Sunday - Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

Monday - Depart at 12:30 and arrive home at 2:00 and pick up our dogs

Wednesday, August 31st
I was online at exactly 7:30 to check in for our flight. I was thrilled to find two seats together available for upgrade to Business Class for $69 each. Weíd never done this before but we thought this trip would be the perfect chance to try it out. One great benefit of Business Class is the ability to check your bags for free. We had two bags so this made the ďtrueĒ cost of Business Class only $98.

We dropped off our dogs at their boarder where they would no doubt have a wonderful time swimming and frolicking for the next five days with new friends. We stopped at a newstand for airplane reading material and then stopped for a quick dinner before going home to try and go to bed somewhat early. We all know how hard it is to go to sleep the night before vacation! We were somewhat successful and were in bed by 10:00.

Thursday, September 1st
4:15 arrived very early and we were up and at em to get ready and pack last minute items for our trip. We said good bye to our cats (they would be checked on daily by my brother in law) and by 5:15 we were off. We knew we would get there pretty early but our last few trips greeted us with very long security lines so we figured better to be early and wait at the gate then rushing through the airport trying to make our flight! We were second in line at the check in counter and after browsing a few of the airport newsstands we were off to security. We were pleasantly surprised that not only was there not a huge line at security for this section of the terminal but we had no wait at all in the Business Class line (a perk we didnít even know about)! We were still pretty early but it went quickly and before we knew it we were boarding the plane. We were in the first seats of the plane and were offered beverages right away. We took off and had an uneventful flight where I watched Top Chef on my iPad and Jim enjoyed the satellite radio available at each seat and surfing the internet from the air.

We arrived and deplaned quickly. We stopped in the Disney and Universal stores but noticed that we were in different stores than the ones we usually visit. These were much smaller. I am assuming we were just in a different part of the terminal but I was totally confused as for 10+ years weíve come out next to the Disney store in a different part of the airport (a bigger one). We didnít buy anything but I was happy to find that the Disney airport store was featuring park specific merchandise for each of the four parks. Really great stuff like mugs, note pads, and t-shirts.

We headed down for our luggage and after a long wait (is it just me or does it take forever when you canít wait to get going on your vacation?!) Next up was the rental car. We continue to use National even though often we end up with less than clean cars. The perk of being able to pick the car and drive away (we are Emerald Club members) is just too large of a draw for us. We took a bit of time finding a car and settled on a silver Dodge Avenger. As usual there was no line to check out and we were finally on our way! We noticed when we walked out to the rental car area it wasnít as hot as we expected (a nice surprise) and it seemed noticeably cooler than our May trip. Iím happy to report that this car was very clean.

Usually I make sure to pack toll money but often end up leaving it in my carry on safely packed away in the trunk leaving us to scurry around and try to find change when we realize we donít have our stash. This time we had our toll money, directions, and were ready to go when we pulled out.

A short drive later we were pulling up to the Royal Pacific Resort. We parked in self parking and brought over our luggage to check in. Walking across that bridge really put me in the vacation mode. Itís so peaceful and really gives you the experience of crossing over into a different place. I love everything about the lobby at Royal Pacific. The sunlight, the elephant fountain outside, the welcoming couches everywhere, the ice cold air conditioning - a welcome respite many days, the free wi fi and the relaxing atmosphere. We often spend a bit of time just hanging out here - it really is a great spot. I took a deep breath just taking it in when we arrived. We were here!

We went over to check in and waited just a minute before we were helped by a very nice team member. She let us know that our room wasnít yet available but we were welcome to leave our luggage at bell services and go up to the lounge. They would call me when the room was ready. I inquired about getting a theme park view and was assured that I did have one. Jim and I opted to check our luggage and skip the lounge so we could just experience everything when our room was ready.

With our luggage taken care of we were off to the Yacht Club for the vacation tradition of getting Jimís hair cut at Periwig. About a year ago he off handedly decided to get a haircut when we were walking by on our first afternoon at Yacht Club. From there it became a tradition. The prices are pretty reasonable for a resort and heís always been pleased by the hair cut and the service. On the way we stopped at our favorite Orlando fast food Chic-fil-A. We donít have these so itís a nice treat to grab on our trip at some point.

While he was getting a haircut I was sitting in a rocking chair reading. I was making a very concerted effort to relax and enjoy this vacation and leave everything else behind. I was expecting a very busy fall with a huge project and I was using this as a last relaxing break before it began in earnest. I didnít check my email once on this trip or check in with our families. Everyone had our number and if they needed us they could call but we disconnected from all of our responsibilities. This 30 minutes on the porch was another example of this. Many times over the past two months I imagined doing this very thing and it was just as wonderful as I imagined. The weather was very nice! There was quite a bit of cloud cover and storm seemed imminent but this made for very pleasant weather to sit out in.




While I was reading a very nice woman sat down next to me with a baby. We began to talk and she shared that she was a baby nurse and would be staying with this baby in New York until she was one year old where she would then have a nanny until she was 18. This trip was a last minute one when they were impacted by Hurricane Irene. With no power the family decided to come to Disney World. The family (with an older child and her nanny) appeared to be at the parks while she was there at the resort with the baby. She explained the room was being cleaned so she was just hanging out waiting for it to be finished. Both sides of these stories were ones I couldnít imagine! I canít imagine having a baby nurse and a nanny or being far away from my family for a year to be a baby nurse. I was admittedly curious who this family was and what they did to allow for what I perceived to be a huge luxury. It was such an interesting exchange and one of those ďonly in Disney WorldĒ type stories for me. Just a conversation I probably wouldnít have at home. I donít know anyone with a baby nurse!

Jim was now the proud owner of a new haircut and a chocolate milkshake from Beaches and Cream. We stopped in the Yacht Club gift shop (our favorite) but there wasnít much new to purchase. I did stock up on the h2o body lotion that was on sale for 30% off. I like having this on my desk at work; itís a moment in my day where I remember many wonderful trips!

For the first time in several visits to Yacht Club we were ďaccostedĒ by the DVC representative at the desk near the elevators as we walked in. She stopped us and asked if we were having fun which we answered yes of course. She asked then if it was our first trip (keep in mind we were still moving toward the store) and said oh no weíve been many times. She then asked, ďWhy arenít you DVC members then?Ē Well a couple of things wrong there: 1. You assumed we werenít - we arenít but that was never one of her questions. 2. Itís off putting to imply somehow we are doing something wrong. DVC is something weíve thought about and have done one of the presentations before but right now itís not a good fit for us. We are finding we are spending more and more time at Universal resorts and we like the flexibility we have now to stay wherever we want. Maybe one day weíll feel itís the right step for us but not yet. We didnít really answer her and she said we should talk to her when we were done shopping. We walked out the side door of the Yacht Club to try and avoid her and just kept walking as we passed her area. Weíve had conversations with the representative at this desk many times and theyíve never asked us to join DVC but talked generally about vacation, etc.

We set out to go back to the Royal Pacific planning to hang out in the lobby if our room wasnít ready yet. Just a few minutes after getting in the car we got a call that indeed our room was ready with our room number. We parked and noticed the parking lot was very empty. After retrieving our luggage we set out for our first stay in tower three. Inserting the magic key allowed us access to the 7th floor and we set off to find room 3714. We were completely blown away! The view from this room was amazing. We could see a panoramic view of Islands of Adventure from Dudley Do Rightís to Hogwarts to Dr Doomís Fear Fall and so many things in between. Looking down we were right over the pool and could also see the water way connecting the Royal Pacific to the parks. We were stunned! It was such an amazing view.
[IMG][/IMG]

The room was sparkling clean as has been our experience in previous Universal resort stays. We had a King room with a couch Iím assuming folds out? I prefer rooms with the big chair but my husband spent quite a bit of time on the couch looking out at the view!



We relaxed and just took it all in as we waited for the 4:30 concierge offerings. He was sleeping pretty quickly on the couch while I unpacked and put things away. Our plan for tonight involved Downtown Disney and a late dinner at Fultonís which we were very much looking forward to visiting. It began pouring and continued to do so for quite a while. Just watching it come down while we relaxed was great. The first day of vacation is the best - with everything in front of you!





When 4:30 I went down to the concierge lounge to bring back snacks for us to share while we got ready. The options tonight were Mediterranean salad, meatballs, couscous, cut up veggies with dip, cheese and crackers, chips with salsa and sour cream. We were impressed that such substantial food was available. In comparison to the Yacht Club this was a much higher level of quality and quantity. You could realistically make a meal out of these offerings for a lighter dinner. We enjoyed these as a nice appetizer while we got ready for whatever we were doing in the evenings.

It was still lightly raining but we ventured out to Downtown Disney a bit later. We parked on the west side and found the parking lot pretty empty on that side around 6:00 p.m. The rain had ended by this point which was great. Jim and I stopped in all of our favorite stores including D-Street, Curl, and the World of Disney. We made a few small purchases including some sale shirts at Curl and a pair of green corduroy TOMís for me for Fall. We walked through World of Disney and I was really disappointed by the selection of baby items. Iíve never really had a need to check out this area but I wanted to pick up a onesie for someone on my team that was expecting a baby boy. They had very little selection and really nothing for a baby boy especially since heíll be born in the winter and a short sleeve onesie wouldnít be the best. I was hoping to find a mickey silhouette necklace Iíd seen on another trip report but there was nothing there similar to what I was hoping to find. I canít remember the last time we left World of Disney empty handed but today we did. I usually pass by Basin but stopped in today and loaded up! I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I used all of it and then some on lots of fun soaps for fall, Halloween and Christmas! They were so cute! We hit up Team Mickey, Tren-D, Art of DIsney and the Christmas store before we needed to check in for our ADR at Fultonís. We didnít make any other purchases. I found Tren-D had mainly the same things we saw in May on our trip and nothing else caught our eye.





We walked over to Fultonís for our first visit. I was particularly excited about this because I recently confirmed that this was formerly the Empress Lily which I distinctly remember going to a character breakfast at when I was about 5! This is a massive boat from the outside but Iím not sure how much of it is actually usable and how much is a facade. We were seated in the bar area right along the water with a fantastic server. She brought out water and a delicious complimentary crab dip with crackers. We both ordered New York Strip steaks and shared a baked potato. I had a very good Pinot Noir while Jim had root beer. While we were waiting the server also brought out warm, yummy bread with butter. Shortly thereafter huge steaks arrived! It was definitely on my top 5 steaks ever list. It was perfectly cooked, very tender, and melted in your mouth. Just delicious. We were too full for dessert but I wished I had room for the chocolate chip cookie dessert they offered. It looked fantastic. We had a nice leisurely dinner and were just so happy to be back in our favorite vacation destination. Our server was really fantastic and checked on us just enough -- always the mark of a good server! This isnít an inexpensive restaurant but we found the quality was fantastic making it a good value in our eyes. We are already eyeing this as our future ďfirst nightĒ tradition.



Now full we had a long walk back to our car where we commented several times on how tired we were! We peeked into the pop gallery windows and eyed a great souvenir for my brother in law who was kindly checking in on our cats while we were away. We planned to pick it up later in our trip and finished our walk to the car. A quick drive later (Iím always surprised at how close Universal and Disney are by car) we were back at the Royal Pacific Resort. We enjoyed more of that fantastic view as we got ready for bed. We had a big day ahead. This will be the theme of our trip. We likely spent more time than we usually would in our room as we were really intent on relaxing and part of that involved enjoying this view that we may never have again! I really didnít want to come back from this trip as we often do - in need of a vacation where we can just sleep for two days!

We settled into the very comfortable beds for a good night sleep!

Tomorrow - VIP TOUR!
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Sept 2011 Trip Report - Royal Pacific Resort

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Last edited by bean bunny; 09-16-2011 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 09-11-2011, 04:04 PM   #2
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Looking forward to the next installment!
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Old 09-11-2011, 07:00 PM   #3
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Its great to start hearing about your trip. I bet you don't regret for a second your decision to jump on the discount for RPR!!! What a great rate, for club level, no less!

WOW!!! That view is unbelievable!

Can't wait to read more about your trip. The VIP tour sounds very intriguing!

Dee

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Old 09-11-2011, 07:50 PM   #4
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Enjoying your TR and looking forward to more!
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:31 PM   #5
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I`ve bought one of those for this year....it`s in fuscia pink though......You`ll be able to see me from the air
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Fantastic.......looking forward to more
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:47 PM   #6
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Awesome TR so far! You're right - the view from your room at RPR was incredible! Can't wait for the next installment!
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Old 09-12-2011, 06:26 PM   #7
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Looking forward to reading more!
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Old 09-16-2011, 11:17 PM   #8
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Thank you all for your very kind comments! I'm enjoying this and hoping it'll help me remember all the details later. As many of you know, when you go often sometimes they run together a bit!!
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Sept 2011 Trip Report - Royal Pacific Resort

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Old 09-16-2011, 11:42 PM   #9
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Friday, September 2nd

We woke up around 8:00 to a beautiful, sunny day. Each morning, first thing I opened up the curtains so we could enjoy watching the parks come to life.


I got ready first and the walked down to the club lounge to collect some breakfast items. I donít think I mentioned this previously, our room was super close to the lounge! We were just a few doors down, which made is super convenient to stop in. After we had eaten and gotten ready, we were off to Islands of Adventure for our VIP tour.

We always take the walking path between the resort and the parks and find it a beautiful, leisurely walk each morning. I was thrilled to find that the security guard checking bags between the resort and the park was the same wonderful man, Mark Terry, who found my credit card when I lost it on that very path during our May vacation. We thanked him again and he shared that the letter Iíd written about him to his managers had recently made its way to him and he shook our hands and thanked us profusely.

Our VIP tour email had been very explicit about where to go, the blue awning just to the right of the IOA entrance and we found it easily. The tour began at 10:00 and they suggested arriving at 10:00 a.m. which we did. I want to preface this review with the fact that this is a very costly tour ($2,500) and it was a gift we received-- definitely a once in a lifetime experience. (Although I have to say we definitely saw the value and would be very tempted to try this again for the Halloween Horror Nights because I could see how beneficial it would be to not only have that perspective but to visit all the houses in one night.

Iím copying this from my VIP tour review on the general forum. If youíve already read that, skip ahead!

Our tour guide Channing arrived just before 10:00 and since this was a private tour, we were on our way. We received VIP lanyards to allow us access to the areas we were going into and we were out into the parks.

Throughout the day Channing showed us interesting details just inside the park that we'd never noticed even with many trips over the years. He explained his role in our day and asked a couple of questions about what we'd like to experience and our preferences and we were off!

We began our morning at the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman where we were able to go backstage and see the maintenance bay which was quite interesting! They showed us how the car works and it really added to the enjoyment of the ride later. We then went in through a back entrance and were put in the front seat on the next car. (This was a fun perk of the VIP tour, you are always put in the front of the ride vehicle and it's even faster than the front of the line access because you are put on the very next vehicle so you have no wait.) Our guide rode this ride with us and pointed out a couple of things we hadn't noticed before.

Next my husband rode Dr. Doom and our guide already knew that I wasn't a big fan of roller coasters - I find it mostly fun just to be there and enjoy the atmosphere and theming. I have a newer DSLR and I'm still very new to getting good photos but our guide put me in just the right spot to get fantastic photos of my husband on the ride. He came out and told me exactly where he would be and the pictures turned out great!



Next up was the Hulk and we went up the exit ramp of the ride (and we got very good at staying right as we swam upstream throughout the day) I was taken to the Child Swap area to wait in the nice air conditioning while my husband was put on the front seat again to ride.

While my husband was on the Hulk our guide arranged for us to have lunch at Mythos later which we hadn't been to in years!

We walked over to Seuss Landing where we rode Cat in the Hat (I'm just not a fan of this ride - it's so jerky and rough!) He then took us to the Zax Bypass behind Green Eggs and Ham which has a really wonderful story about the creation of the park and was instrumental in getting the approval of Dr. Seuss' wife in agreeing to be part of IOA.

Next up was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. He walked us into Zonkos and pointed out lots of great things inside the store and in windows throughout this area of the park. He toured us through Three Broomsticks and Hogshead Brew, pointing out great connections to the movie.



Next up was a leisurely tour of the castle before my husband rode Forbidden Journey. In this ride as well I waited in the child swap area where they had a Harry Potter movie playing.





We had never ridden Flight of the Hippogriff and he put us right on and we LOVED it. Very fun for a chicken like me 

We walked through the Owlery and then onto Dragon Challenge. He pointed out a great spot for photos of Hogwarts.



We walked through the queue and he pointed out the tapestries that line one room that are virtually unseen until you take a photo with a flash! People in line were in awe as well when they became visible with the light of the camera.







(These pictures aren't the greatest - it's hard to take pictures when you aren't sure where the subject is!)

My husband was then able to ride on each side but he opted for just one today.

Lunch at Mythos was great. There was a line but we were taken right to a table with a great view. This is a great break in the day! The food was really good - we had forgotten how much we enjoyed it so many years before.





Our guide also took a break during this time and we met up one hour later. He took us through a back entrance in Seuss Landing, we crossed a street and magically we were in Universal! I wished we could always use this path to get between the two parks!

Our guide took us into the DAVE School of Engineering. This isn't always an option but on this particular day the School was open and we got a great tour of the classes in session and the stages used for filming. Just earlier that day a show had been filmed for the Golf channel. It was neat seeing how the sets are arranged to look like a house but it's really just a small area! As we were leaving a staff member gave us a DVD of student created films and 3D glasses to watch them. It was great to experience!

Next up was Shrek 4D which I'd never done for some reason and really loved! My husband then rode Rip Ride Rock It and the Mummy which our guide also rode with him. They took a great photo which we had to purchase as a remembrance of our day with a fantastic guide!

We visited the Horror Makeup Show which we'd also never done before. This was really great! I didn't expect it to be so funny and we enjoyed front row seats and were able to go in the theatre 15 minutes before the show started to hear a little more about the show from our guide. I "appeared" in the show a bit which I think our guide had something to do with. It was really a fun time.

Next up was ET where our guide shared interesting things about the ride and the naming process. We rode MIB next and we had a special locker in a back room to keep our things along with a "briefing" on how we might get our best ever score. After the ride we were able to go into the area of the queue with the desks (cant' think of the name of the office in the movie) with the aliens at the reception desk. We couldn't touch anything of course but we could walk around everywhere and look at everything. It was kind of odd being down there with people in the queue line looking down at us wondering what we were doing but definitely a unique opportunity that we'll never have again!

Jaws was our next ride and we had a great tour guide and this was a fun experience. We concluded our tour with Disaster where my husband appeared as a "star" in the movie which was very fun.



Our tour guide offered to take us back to IOA for the water rides but we are always able to get on anything we need to over there with the front of the line pass so we saved him the extra trip back over. He walked us out and we thanked him again for a great day.

We took this opportunity to stroll around City Walk, something we hadnít had a chance to do just yet. We went to the Fossil store where I bought a great watch and what we call the ďsurf storeĒ - official name Quiet Flight. Lately much of my husbandís wardrobe has been purchased there on trips. He didnít make a purchase today but had his eye on a surprising purchase -- a skateboard. Stay tuned to see how that all works out.

We were pretty exhausted from a long day at the parks, this day harkened back to our commando days of long ago and a relaxing night in the room sounded like just what we needed to recharge for tomorrow. We stopped in the club lounge for the evening offerings - chicken mandarin salad, polynesian chicken, cut up veggies with dip, cheese and crackers, chips with salsa and sour cream. We went back to our room and relaxed. We had a great time watching the pool activities and could clearly hear the music from the pool until just about 10:00 p.m. - we didnít mind at all but keep in mind in case you go to bed early. It seemed the music was just on the weekend, but a pool view might not be the best option if you arenít a night owl or think it will bother you.

We spent the evening reading, relaxing and watching t.v. and the pool activities. Later I went down to the Orchid Lounge to bring back sushi. I had a lovely night drinking a glass of pinot noir while watching the chefs make sushi, surfing the internet and people watching. The sushi was fantastic. I wish I remembered everything we ordered but this was my first experience with ďrealĒ sushi and I loved it. Especially the raw items, which totally shocked me! The service was great and I liked the relaxed atmosphere of the area. After a sushi dinner we were off to sleep and dream about this fantastic experience we had. We couldnít wait to see what tomorrow held when we made it back to the parks.

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Sept 2011 Trip Report - Royal Pacific Resort

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Old 09-16-2011, 11:50 PM   #10
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What a wonderful beginning to your trip and such an awesome view.

I can't wait to read about the rest.
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Old 09-17-2011, 11:10 AM   #11
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i always truly enjoy reading trip reports.

yours was great!

the details you put in it make it stand out.
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:19 AM   #12
schumigirl
I`ve bought one of those for this year....it`s in fuscia pink though......You`ll be able to see me from the air
It`s a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
 
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Lovely pictures.....especially the DR Doom one....that is a good one.

You both certainly had a lovely day....agree about the sushi.....it`s divine.

Looking forward to more
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17 Nights At RPR---2013 Trip Report

SEPT 2007 2 WEEKS BUENA VISTA PALACE & HHN
SEPT 2008 2 WEEKS POFQ &HHN
AUG 2009 2 WEEKS RPR
OCT 2010 2 WEEKS RPR & HHN
AUG 2011 2 WEEKS RPR
JULY 2012 17 NIGHTS RPR
APRIL 2013 WEEK IN NEW YORK
SEPT 2013...17 NIGHTS RPR &HHN
MAY 2014.....2 WEEKS IN NEW YORK
SEPTEMBER 2014....18 NIGHTS RPR & HHN
SEPTEMBER/OCT 2015 18 NIGHTS RPR & HHN
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:52 PM   #13
SharonK0527
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Location: Pickerington, Ohio
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Another great update! Sounds like your VIP Tour was a wonderful experience
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:18 PM   #14
RAPstar
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Great pictures!!
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Old 09-20-2011, 07:18 PM   #15
mercydisney
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I love your trip report!! So lucky to get VIP Tour.
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