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Old 08-25-2013, 04:51 PM   #1
Eureka
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One Last Fling Before School Starts: Universal, Disney and SeaWorld UPDATED 10/6

Hi all, we just got back from Orlando late last night after 14 long hours in the car. Had a great time, it was one last fling before the kids start school on Monday. I am hoping to start my trip/dining report this week. I'll give you the basics here.

"We" is me, DH, DS12, and DS10. DS12 is starting 7th grade and DS10 will be in fifth grade. This was our third trip to Disney as a family; we also went in August 2008 and April 2011. It was our first time to Universal and SeaWorld, although DH and I both went to SeaWorld as kids. We stayed at Loews Royal Pacific at Universal and Pop Century at Disney. We had previously stayed at All Star Movies and wanted to try somewhere different. We were chosen to test the MagicBands during our stay.



We are not big thrill-seekers and you will never catch us on the Riptide Rocket, the Manta, Kracken or any of those coasters. DS10 is getting into some of the bigger headliners like Tower of Terror, and DH will go with him (he likes some of them but not all). DS12 and I are not fond of heights and passed on a few rides. I am even more of a chicken than the rest of my family and sat out on a few that all of the guys did.

We drove down to NC and stayed overnight with my aunt and uncle on August 16 so we could head to Orlando bright and early the morning of the 17th, which incidentally was our 16th wedding anniversary. I had put our anniversary on all of our ADRs...would we get any special treats? Stay tuned to find out, lol.

I have never done a trip report before, so bear with me. I don't know how to link to different posts/chapters or whatever. We had a great time so I want to share some of it with you all

Last edited by Eureka; 10-06-2013 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 08-25-2013, 05:48 PM   #2
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:23 AM   #3
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Arrival at RPR

Left 7:07am Saturday morning (August 17 -- our 16th wedding anniversary), driving through periods of rain all the way down. Got to Loews Royal Pacific Resort just before 5pm. Beautiful place with a tropical theme, lots of dark wood and palm trees. The lobby is huge, high ceiling, glass doors, and open with fountains and statues. I loved the theming and casual feel. I told DH that I wanted to move here -- not to Florida, but to the hotel.







We had a garden view room in Tower 2. We have never stayed anything but value at Disney, but I have read that the Universal resorts are on par with deluxe at Disney, and I believe it. We had plenty of space in the room and the lobby was very spacious with lots of seating on the perimeter. Wifi is free only in the public areas; you need to pay to use it in your room, so I did head down to the lobby in the early mornings to check my email.



We brought up our bags, changed our clothes and were ready to think about dinner. We really didn't expect to be here so early, so it was a plus to not be eating fast food on the road. It was still raining, so we ate at the Islands Dining Room in the hotel. DH and DS12 are carnivores through and through; they also enjoy all kinds of seafood. DS10 doesn't really like seafood too much and is not a huge meat eater, but loves pasta, rice and fresh fruit. I don't eat a lot of red meat, but like pasta, chicken fish, crab and lobster (but not other types of shellfish). I also have GERD and have had a really bad flare this past year, so I have cut out a lot of stuff, including red sauce, anything citrus or otherwise acidic, and have cut way back on chocolate and fatty foods in general. I did allow myself some treats this week but just can't eat the same way I used to at Disney (we used to do the deluxe dining plan). We went OOP on this trip and spent a lot of money on food (we generally want our own meals even though we'll share tastes with each other) but I have not analyzed receipts yet.

DS12 had steak, DH had a seafood noodle soup/stew and DS10 and I had the make your own stir fry buffet they have on weekend nights. Everyone enjoyed their dinners, although DS10 has since decided "it wasn't that good" -- his catch phrase for not liking something much-- and we split two desserts, one with coconut and vanilla mousse and one with chocolate and bananas. (DS12 and I hate bananas, so we concentrated on the "good" one). I hadn't yet decided to take pictures of the food, so none of this meal. Overall, the food was fine, but it didn't compare to some of the other meals we had during the week.

The weather looked threatening so instead of exploring City Walk like we had hoped, we decided to call it a night. Put a baseball game on the TV and got ready for our first day of touring in the morning. Next up, we get early admission to see Harry Potter!

Last edited by Eureka; 08-26-2013 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:23 AM   #4
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Following along.
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:35 PM   #5
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Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Sunday morning we were up early and ready to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Since we were staying onsite, we got the extra hour at 8am. The walk from the hotel to Islands of Adventure took less than 10 minutes.







We had to walk through Seuss Landing



and The Lost Continent





to get to Harry Potter and I liked being able to take pictures with hardly anyone else in the park. Finally we got to the snow-covered village of Hogsmeade.







The boys never stop rubbing it in that because I only read the first book years ago, I won't get most of the references there, but the level of detail was amazing even to my untrained eye. The Hogwarts castle is part of the whole experience of the Forbidden Journey ride, with talking portraits on the walls and lots of dark and mysterious details on the walls and in the curio cabinets. Hard to get good pictures because it was so dark.







The ride itself was amazing, on a track that moves in all sorts of ways and 3D simulators taking us flying through the air and into quidditch matches. I was not fond of being tipped backwards though, and sweated buckets the whole time!

This was the longest line we had to wait on for just about the entire week. From start to finish, it took about 40 minutes to get through the entire attraction (that included walking through the park to get there). A lot of it was going through the castle, which I think everyone has to do at least once.

That was the only ride in WWoHP we wanted to do, so afterwards we went to do some other rides before the park got too crowded -- those Express pass privileges were great, too -- but we planned on going back to Hogsmeade for lunch.

Last edited by Eureka; 08-26-2013 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:51 AM   #6
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Water rides at IoA

After Forbidden Journey, we decided to tackle the water rides: Jurassic Park, Dudley Dooright's Ripshaw Falls, and Popeye and Bluto's Bilge Rats.



We had watched the Jurassic Park movie with the boys this past spring and it was fun to see how the storyline was mirrored, with the dinosaurs taking over the control room. The ride was fun but the end had a little more of a drop than DS12 and I were expecting.

We did, however, see how much higher the drop was for the Ripshaw Falls because it's partly outside, and he and I decided to opt out. (Now that we are home, he regretting that decision and wishes he had done it). DS10 loved it.



We all got soaked on the Popeye ride -- water running down our legs, clothing drenched. It's a lot like Kali River Rapids but a little wilder and longer. I liked this one, still tame by Universal standards. By then it was only 10:30, we had walked onto rides without even needing our Express Passes so far, and we discussed our plans for the rest of the morning. DS10 wanted to go on Ripshaw Falls again, so he and DH did that and we took a quick detour back to the hotel to change. We loved how close Citywalk, both parks and the resorts are to each other.

We walked back to the park and it was just 11 am. At this point, we were ready for lunch since we had only had dry cereal and apples in the room. We'd been planning for months to go to Three Broomsticks for lunch. That will be up next.

Last edited by Eureka; 09-08-2013 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:39 AM   #7
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I love WWoHP when DH and I went there in 2010. We can't wait to go back and see it again!!!
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:52 AM   #8
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Lunch at Three Broomsticks

We went back over to Hogsmeade for lunch at Three Broomsticks.



The place is large, cavernous and dark, which made it hard to get pictures. The few I took didn't come out at all. It's a quick service; you order, go to another station to get your food and then head to the dining area where there are team members to direct you to a section of seating. They were very efficient and it didn't take long to get our food. Or maybe it was just because we were there early.

DS12 had fish and chips, but he dug in before I could get a picture. DH and DS10 had the chicken and ribs combo



and I had the rotisserie chicken meal.



We also got a (personal size) apple pie and a couple of chocolate trifles, which apparently I did not get pictures of. As you can see, the meals were huge!

And of course butter beer (frozen pictured here).



I liked the frozen the best, everyone else liked the regular better. Tasted like a very sweet cross between cream soda and butterscotch with a marshmallow "head." It wasn't going to quench anyone's thirst because of the sweetness, but it was fun to try.

I didn't try the fish and chips, but DS liked them. DH said the ribs were the best part of his meal, but he wasn't thrilled with the quality of any of the food really. My chicken was pretty tender and the potatoes were tender, onion-y and not too greasy. The corn looked kind of sad and I had plenty without it, so I left it on the plate. The apple pie was pretty large, had a good crumb topping and was served warm. I think there were raisins in it too. I liked it. The trifle was chocolate cake, whipped cream and strawberries. This is right up DS10's alley and I think he ate one himself. DS12 doesn't like strawberries and I think he was thinking it would be something else, so he didn't eat any. I ate some of his, but was stuffed already so left most of it.

Overall, The food was decent but nothing special, but the ambience was great.

After lunch, we wandered in the village and did a little shopping. DS12 got a t shirt, I picked up some pins for my mom, and we went looking for a baseball cap for DS10. Unfortunately, there were all adult sizes and way too big for him. The line for Ollivanders was very long and the kids weren't too interested in getting wands so we passed on it.

Last edited by Eureka; 08-29-2013 at 08:32 AM.
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:27 PM   #9
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:36 PM   #10
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you did a great job on the pictures !!
would love to see more


btw, the employees at the darkside at TM's.
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macraven View Post
you did a great job on the pictures !!
would love to see more

btw, the employees at the darkside at TM's.
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Oh, I have plenty more Each night I wrote up what we did that day, so most of my report is written. It's just a question of finding all the corresponding pictures! I took 300+ pics of the trip, but most of them have us in them. (I am not big on posting images of my kids online).
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:24 PM   #12
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Awesome trip report. We are going in January. Plus it is great listening to another Marylander.
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by smga1 View Post
Awesome trip report. We are going in January. Plus it is great listening to another Marylander.
Hey, a shoutout to Maryland Are you driving or flying? We ended up driving home all in one day...I will get to that....very long day!
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:50 PM   #14
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Can't wait to read more! Looks so fun!
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:15 AM   #15
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Toon Lagoon/Marvel Island/Seuss Landing

We made our way to the Marvel area for The Spiderman ride. On the way we went through Toon Lagoon; it was like walking through the comics. This section reminded me a lot of Six Flags.



We took some pictures under these huge thought bubbles they had. I got my picture under this one:



I decided to sit Spiderman out, thinking it would be kind of like the parts of Forbidden Journey that I didn't like (being tipped backwards). Turns out that was not the case, more on that later. The guys used the Express Pass and met me back outside within 15-20 minutes. They loved it.

Seuss Landing was next - the kids are a little old for most of the rides there, but we wanted to check some out anyway. We went on the Seuss Trolley Train, a leisurely ride on high tracks that gives a great view of the park. Timing was great because it had just started raining and the trolley car has a roof. We also went on The Cat and the Hat, which takes you through the book, very similar to Disney's Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride, but with a few more spins and turns. These were not wild at all, but fun.





Now it was about 1:30, and we had gotten a lot of what we'd wanted to do in Islands of Adventure done for the time being. We left the park and stopped at City Walk for a cold drink. Ended up hanging out there for about half an hour. We were all exhausted but wanted to pop into Universal Studios and take a look around before taking a break. Stay tuned!
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