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Old 07-17-2011, 11:23 AM   #1
natebenma
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Welcome, Foolish Muggles! IoA/US/MK/SW *July 2013 Trip Report Link*

Who? Dee, Mark, Nate (13), Ben (10)



If you want to know more about us, I have a detailed introduction in the TR I wrote last year. Here’s the link.

3rd Annual We are "NEVER" going to Disney in the summer again TR, http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2524240
July 10-17, 2010 Beach Club; July 11-18, 2009 Beach Club;August 2008 All Star Music Fayecation

Otherwise, we will just get acquainted as we travel together.


What? Summer Vacation to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Magic Kingdom and Sea World














Where: Portofino Bay Resort at Universal




When: Monday July 11- Friday July 15, 2011

Here’s the July page from our home calendar




Why???

For the past 3 years, we have taken a vacation to Disney World during the summer. We didn’t mean to go every year. Really! But our trip in 2008 was impacted by Tropical Storm Faye and also by a stomach issue (maybe dehydration) for Nate. In 2009, we had a “do over”, staying at the Beach Club courtesy of Disney’s 4/3 deal. When we received a PIN discount in January 2010, we booked another trip back to the Beach Club for last July.

But after 3 trips 3 years in a row to Disney, Mark and I decided we would take a break. We were also afraid to push our luck. We had such amazing trips in 2009 and 2010, great weather, manageable crowds so we feared it could be difficult to live up to these great memories. Plus Nate goes to Disney in May 2012 with his 8th grade class. We are in negotiations about whether I will accompany him as chaperone. He mostly doesn't want me there, but then he remembers that Mom “pones” (kicks butt) and thinks it might not be a bad idea to bring me along. I am thinking of being a quasi-chaperone- I will stay at the Beach Club, instead of the AllStars with the students and meet the kids at the parks when they go.

We decided after last year’s trip that we were going to skip Disney this year. We were ok with this decision. I swear! We planned a 5 day/4 night trip to “The Other Orlando”- Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Sea World.

I am a huge Harry Potter fan! Nate was really into HP. We had two fabulous HP themed BD parties for him. I wanted to get him to the Wizarding World of HP before we totally lose him to teenhood. It is happening much faster than I ever believed possible! My younger son is just starting to get into the books and is really enjoying them.

But once this trip was booked (my family called it "Mom's trip") all everyone talked about is how much they want to go to Disney. And I tell them "We weren't going to go to Disney" and they answer "But we're going to ORLANDO now", so that means Disney.

And my husband was the worst one of the bunch!!!

So Mark and I decided to surprise the boys with a day at the Magic Kingdom.

Go back up and check the sticker on Wednesday. Is that Hogwarts or Cinderella’s Castle?

Did we pull off the surprise? You’ll have to stay tuned to see!

Pretrip Prelims:
We purchased all of our theme park tickets in advance.
We were going to purchase 4 day park-to-park tickets ("hoppers") from Undercover Tourist: $146.95 per adult. The 4 day ticket is just $4 more than the 2 day, so it is worth it to us to get the flexibility. I checked with our local AAA, and the same ticket was $145 pp, so I purchased these. I used my Disney Visa to purchase Universal tickets. Is that wrong???

SeaWorld is currently running a promotion on their website- Adults pay kids prices ($71.99), for a single day, but the tickets are valid for the buy one day, get the next day free offer, so it is really a two day ticket. So we ordered these through the website the Saturday night before our trip. I made the mistake that night of Googling “Sea World Discounts”, and someone mentioned that AAA had 2 day tickets, $70 per person and it included a lunch voucher!!! But since AAA was closed the next day and we had a 6 am flight on Monday, I didn’t have a chance to see if my local AAA office has these tickets. I will check this week and edit in the answer.

[ETA: just called our local branch of AAA: they are selling tickets for $80 per person- so I am happy with the deal I got!]

Once Mark and I decided we were going to the Magic Kingdom, I started charging up my Disney Visa like crazy! We pay off our balance each month, so we don’t incur interest penalties. In the spring, we received a 5x points bonus offer for purchases at grocery stores and gas stations. SWEET!!! By the time we left for the trip, we had $165 to apply to the purchase of admission tickets. Every little bit helps!

I think that covers the pre-trip details. Bags are packed and the alarm is going off at 4 am for a 4:45 car service pickup to the airport. Get some sleep!

Oh, yeah, one more thing- you will discover that we tour the parks pretty aggressively, so lace up your sneakers and Let’s Go!

Next up: Arrival Day- Ciao Baby!

Last edited by natebenma; 07-22-2013 at 03:47 PM. Reason: forgot the Sea World photos! Sea World ticket info.
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Old 07-17-2011, 11:23 AM   #2
natebenma
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Here's a preview of chapters.

It is going to take us a little while to get to Hogwarts...


Introduction


Day 1: Arrival, Portofino, Universal Studios

Arrival - Ciao, Baby! http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...8&postcount=42


All about the Portofino http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...5&postcount=50

Sal's Marketplace and Deli- this photo post does not appear in this trip report, but here is the link: http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...9&postcount=28

Chillin' at the Pool- http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=439


The Adventure Begins (at Universal Studios, not WWoHP) http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...4&postcount=65

3-D 4-D OD D'OH!
We Dine with the Fishes and Headed for Disaster- I want my Mummy! http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...3&postcount=77



*Contest * Entrance Exam for Hogwarts. Can you pass this O.W.L. ???

Answer Key to O.W.L.



Day 2: Islands of Adventure/Sea World/City Walk

Finally, Hogwarts! The Early Bird Catches the Snitch
http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=128
http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=129


When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth and You're Gonna Get Wet, eh? http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=154

You're Gonna Get Wetter, "A-gah-gah-gah-gah-gah-gah!" (Popeye's laugh) and Olive, My Love (apologies to Led Zeppelin):
http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=155

Stuck at Platform 9 3/4 (where I am the victim of a time-turner) and I get some much needed magic! http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=173

I give that meal 3 Broomsticks http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=174

Rude Rude Fountain http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=176

Oh, the Places we Didn't Go!

Marvel Superhero Island, some shopping, relaxing at the resort http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=216

************************************************** *********************

A Whale of a Tail, Part 1
A Whale of a Tail, Part 2

Dinner Panda-monium http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=266


Day 3: Open to the Close (almost): What can my family do in 12 1/2 hours at the Magic Kingdom?


Surprise! Hey, Who put a big honkin' castle in the middle of Sea World? http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=291

Morning at MK http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=302

Columbia Harbor House http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=320
I got a pocket, got a pocket full of FP

Awesome Afternoon at MK http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=335

The Monorail is TOO a ride ( Disney Domination DNA) http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=351

Dinner at Kona Cafe http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=371

Disney after Dark: Psst! Anyone wanna buy a locker??? http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=393

Day 4: Sea World- "The Sea-quel" Islands of Adventure/Universal Studios/Chasing Harry to IoA (again)

Praying Manta doesn't Bring up Breakfast and We Found Atlantis! http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=422
The rest of our day at Sea World http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=426
The rest of our day at Sea World, continued: http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=427

************************************************** ***************
Playing at the Portofino pool http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=439

************************************************** ***************

Back to Islands of Adventure:

Hulk, Picture Spot and Rip Saw Falls http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=455

When Dinosaurs FINALLY Ruled the Earth http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=474

Is there a Gringotts branch around here? The boys want MORE butterbeer! http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=510

A meal of Mythocal (pro) portions/ Tempura Shrimp Sushi Throwdown! http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=524

************************************************** ****************

Back to the Studios: http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=549

************************************************** ***************

Back to IoA: Chasing Harry and Major Muggle Mistake! http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=563


Day 5: Last Day-Islands of Aventure/Universal Studios/The Long Way Home

IoA:

Olivander's Waiting Experience http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=577
More Wizarding World of Harry Potter: http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=578

A few last things at Islands of Adventure http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=606
Portofino for breakfast and checkout

Horror at the Studios (or not) http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=618

A Not-So-Magical Express to the Airport http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=629
(Lunch at Sal's Deli and Marketplace)

I wish we could use Floo Powder to Get Home http://www.disboards.com/showpost.ph...&postcount=653


Top 10 Universal Tips


************************************************** ****************


Anniversary Getaway- Puerto Rico, March 4/5 to March 8:
pages 47-55


25 years

Why Puerto Rico? Why Midnight?

To Sleep or Not to Sleep, THAT'S our tranport and Check Out the Check in Annoyance (and rapture)

Room 5302

Let's Take a Walk

Let's Take a Walk (Continued)

Palomino Island- A Near Miss and a Casualty

Is Our New Home Ready Yet, Lunch/Dinner and an Unexpected Visitor

Tuesday March 6:

Tour Guide, Is it going to Rain in the Rainforest Today? Part 1


Tour Guide, Where is the Fountain of Youth? Part 2


Most Popular Fruit

Lunch, Palomino Island, Tour of Las Casitas Villas, Stingray Cafe



Wednesday March 7:

Shopping and Palomino Island


Coqui Water Park and last night dinner at Bella Vista

Thursday March 8:

Whatever happened to that bottle of champagne, bus ride to San Juan and Would You Rather?


************************************************** ****************


Atlantis- Comfort Suites April 15-20, 2012
Pages 58-73


Preview Pictures, page 56:

Around Atlantis and The Digs Aquarium

Atlantis Waterpark

Snorkeling in the Ruins and Snorkeling in the wild

Atlantis- February 2009

Arrival Day/Comfort Suites Paradise Island


CS Room 291

Aquaventure Waterpark

Best."Lazy" River. EVER! Part 1

Best."Lazy" River. EVER! Part 2



The Power Tower

The Power Tower-The Drop and The Falls

The Power Tower-The Surge

The Power Tower- The Abyss


The Mayan Temple, Part 1

The Mayan Temple, Part 2

The Rest of the Waterpark: Pools/Hot Tubs/Kiddie Area


Finally, Food Porn!


Let's Take a Walk Around Atlantis

The Royal Towers Lobby and The Dig, Part I

The Dig, Part II

More of The Dig and the Ruins Lagoon

Fins to the Left! Predator and Ray Lagoons

Fins to the Right! Predator Tunnel

Paradise Lagoon

Under the Sea, Part 1

Under the Sea, Part 2

Snorkel The Ruins:

Snorkeling The Ruins
Pictures 1
Pictures 2

Atlantis Beaches

Marina Village

Tour of Nassau, Part 1
Tour of Nassau, Part 2: Fort Charlotte and Fort Stanley
Tour of Nassau, Part 3


************************************************** ****************


Mexico- Barcelo Maya Colonial: February 16-22, 2013
Pages 74-XX


Introductions
Donna Saves the Day! (Arrival)
What did Nate Do? (Activities)
How Many Times Did My 14 year Almost Get Served (Drink Porn)
What Two Important Things Bit the Dust? Under the Sea (Snorkeling)
Where Cameras Go To Die: Under the Sea, Part II
Bonus Nature Track: The Land and Soarin'
Time to Xplor (and Soar)!
Xplor, Part II
Pier Pressure/One Ring To Fail Them All
Fantasia: A Touch of Disney South of the Border, Part 1
Fantasia: A Touch of Disney South of the Border, Part 2: Pictures

************************************************** ***************************
Pre Trip Report, July 2013, Universal/Islands of Adventue: Hard Rock Hotel, Disney: Beach Club Resort

Pre-Trip Report: "What's New?"


Underwater Camera Discussion (Panasonic Lumix, Fuji XP60)
Purchase
General Info/Tips for Underwater Cameras
Pictures

.

Last edited by natebenma; 05-30-2014 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 07-17-2011, 11:37 AM   #3
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Hi Dee! Welcome home again! We're so excited to read your trip report - great start!
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Old 07-17-2011, 11:43 AM   #4
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Yeah! You're first! So glad to have you along!
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Old 07-17-2011, 11:45 AM   #5
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So looking forward to reading your trip report
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Old 07-17-2011, 12:46 PM   #6
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Looking forward to your trip report. We are not only going to Orlando next May and not visiting WDW, we are staying at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge! I wonder if they'll kick us out if they find out? Our plan is to go to Seaworld, Discovery Cove (swim with the dolphins), IoA (strictly for Harry Potter) and then Kennedy Space Center. It will seem so strange to stay at VWL and not go to a WDW theme park but we gotta use those DVC points! Can't wait for your TR and get ideas what to do, where to go and places to eat!
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:11 PM   #7
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Love your trip reports Dee! Thanks for the email!!! Looking forward to hearing all about WWOHP and more!
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Old 07-17-2011, 03:44 PM   #8
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I am so excited to hear all about your trip!!!

Amanda
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Old 07-17-2011, 05:33 PM   #9
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Checking in with anticipation!
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Old 07-17-2011, 05:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bean bunny View Post
So looking forward to reading your trip report
Hi! Glad you are joining in! Hope the report does not disappoint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saintstickets View Post
Looking forward to your trip report. We are not only going to Orlando next May and not visiting WDW, we are staying at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge! I wonder if they'll kick us out if they find out? Our plan is to go to Seaworld, Discovery Cove (swim with the dolphins), IoA (strictly for Harry Potter) and then Kennedy Space Center. It will seem so strange to stay at VWL and not go to a WDW theme park but we gotta use those DVC points! Can't wait for your TR and get ideas what to do, where to go and places to eat!

Yes, there will be lots and lots of tips, and lots of food suggestions and pictures. Food porn is my specialty!

So I am guessing you will have a car to get around. We don't like to drive while on vacation, so we had huge transportation expenses. Free transportation around the parks, and especially the Magical Express, was one thing I really missed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kldmom2000 View Post
Love your trip reports Dee! Thanks for the email!!! Looking forward to hearing all about WWOHP and more!
I look forward to sharing with you! We all had a great time, but Nate especially LOVED Universal! BTW- I'm jealous of your upcoming trip! Please give all my friends my best wishes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrMomof3 View Post
I am so excited to hear all about your trip!!!

Amanda
Hi Amanda! I'm glad you are here. It's almost like you got an engraved invitation or something.
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Old 07-17-2011, 05:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MickeyT View Post
Checking in with anticipation!
Nice to see you here, Mike! Thanks for helping to hold down the BC fort while I was away. I'm going over there now to do some updating!
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Old 07-17-2011, 06:11 PM   #12
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I think I've read two of your other trip reports. I'm looking forward to reading this one as well.
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Old 07-17-2011, 06:11 PM   #13
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Marlton Mom checking in! I'm all belted up and ready for take off. So far, so good on the trip report.

I like how you tell us all your money saving secrets on park tickets and the like. How did you choose your transportation company from MCO to Portafino?

Are you using All Ears, the Dis Boards or Mouse Savers for tips and info?

Where else are you getting your discount info??

Spill it GF!..... The economy is bad and Mommy needs another trip!

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Old 07-17-2011, 06:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natebenma View Post
Hi! Glad you are joining in! Hope the report does not disappoint.


Yes, there will be lots and lots of tips, and lots of food suggestions and pictures. Food porn is my specialty!

So I am guessing you will have a car to get around. We don't like to drive while on vacation, so we had huge transportation expenses. Free transportation around the parks, and especially the Magical Express, was one thing I really missed.
Yes, we normally drive in when it is DW, DD, DDbf and myself. It is a 10 hour drive for us. If we fly, by the time we drive to the airport, arrive early for TSA checks and any layovers, we only save about 2 hours travel time. DS & DSgf fly in and use ME or we pick them up at the airport.

I'm sure the TR will not disappoint. Can't wait for the tips, suggestions and oh yes...LOVE food porn!
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DL - 1967 | WDW - 1973 (Orlando) | WDW - 1980 (Kissimmee) | WDW - 1985 (Kissimmee) | WDW - 1997 (Contemporary) | WDW - 2007 (Old Key West)
DVC - May2010 - OKW | Nov-Dec2010 - AKV/BWV | May2012 - BLT/VWL | Sep2012 - Aulani (30th anniversary) | Dec2012 - Aulani (DD honeymoon) | Oct2013 - BCV | Jun2014 - BWV | Oct2014 - DCL/BCV | Aug2015 - DCL Alaska | Dec2015 - BWV

The "Don't mess with the CMs/take less photos TR" Jun14 @ BWV
Oct13-BCV - MNSSHP, F&W, Wild Africa Trek
Sep12-Aulani - Sharks, horses, a submarine scooter, luau & Mickey
May12-BLT/VWL - Don't tell Mickey! It's NOT a bug's life! That's a dolphin's WHAT? Where's the ER? Is that a body? Seaworld, Discovery Cove, IoA, Space Center
Nov/Dec10-AKV/BWV - Backstage Magic Tour; V&A; Lots of pics and video
May10-OKW - DDP cost analysis; Wishes Dessert Party; Fantasmic
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Old 07-17-2011, 06:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saintstickets View Post
I'm sure the TR will not disappoint. Can't wait for the tips, suggestions and oh yes...LOVE food porn!
Man, what is it with you people and food porn!!! I have to laugh because when my food comes I'm so tired from taking a million other pictures I can't even imagine stopping to snap a pix while the plate is still pristine.

I think the only thing I would be good for would be taking pictures of demolished dishes with captions like " This used to be ____ and it was so good I wish I had taken a picture of it!"

~ Marlton Mom
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