Portofino in February!

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by bumbershoot, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    Hello there. OK so that's a bad title for a trip report ("portofino in February", in case I change it later) but it's all I could think of at the moment.

    I just want to get this started. I've had two other trips to Universal and haven't done a report on those, but want to do so for this one.

    I'm Molly, still a relative Universal (and WDW) newbie. I travel with husband-Robert and our son Eamon, who is coming up quickly on being 8.

    For our first Orlando trip as a family, we wanted to give both WDW and Universal a really good, solid try. And we did! And we discovered that Universal is SO awesome. :) So much so that if they created a "villa" option like DVC, we'd sell DVC and buy into Universal. (we bought into DVC before even going to WDW, because we knew we would love WDW and knew, from our Disneyland habits, that it would be cheaper in the LONG run)

    Our previous stays were a few nights at Royal Pacific then a few nights at Portofino. We switched from RPR b/c the rooms are a bit bigger and because DH has always wanted to visit Italy. :)

    This most recent visit in February 2012 was at Portofino and was for 6 nights. It wasn't absolutely perfect, but it was pretty close!


    I'll come back later to continue this. It'll be mainly pretty (IMO) pictures and a little bit of talk. And, probably, a lot of parentheses. :)
     
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  3. Carol17

    Carol17 Mouseketeer

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    Sounds good!:thumbsup2
     
  4. macraven

    macraven <font color=red>Proud Redhead<br><marquee><font co

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    bring on the pictures!!!!!!
     
  5. Mikkimús

    Mikkimús Mouseketeer

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    im ready, and excited popcorn::
     
  6. DisneyMomma81

    DisneyMomma81 DIS Veteran

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  7. JessicaR

    JessicaR <font color=blue>DIS Veteran<br><font color=green>

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    Can't wait for more! Love to see pictures too. :)
     
  8. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    Sorry about that. I'm in a flakey mode recently, and I'm not quite sure why.


    To give an overview, we were arriving from Disneyland. Bi-coastal trip, no WDW. Well, we almost did a WDW park, but we refrained. It's so expensive to do ONE day!

    So we flew out of Anaheim on Feb 9 got in late late late on that day. We were delayed twice, I believe, once at John Wayne Airport, and once at SFO. So it was late. Got in, got bags, got rental car.

    We had laundry to do and I didn't want to cart it over to Hard Rock and pay money for it, so we used DVC points for one night in a 1bedroom at the Boardwalk. You can see just how close we were to Epcot. Painful, but most everything we really wanted to do there involved more money. School bread in Norway, slushies in France...you get the picture. I wanted to snag a family on their way in, give them money and a mug or two, and have them get us food and drinkies, but they'd probably just take the loot and run. So we didn't even do that.

    The laundry thing didn't work out so great, since the dryer wasn't working. Front desk didn't care. Maintenance didn't care. Hubby had to babysit the clothes in the dryer in the laundry room the next day, instead of lazing at the (scary clown) pool, which was a bummer. But I once had ALL of my clothes stolen from an apartment dryer and I can't have that happen again.

    Anyway, finally the clothes were done and he snuck them into the car (I would have put them with bell services but I was at the pool) and came and joined us. Now the East Coast part of our vacation began!

    I will simply gloss over this first day b/c it wasn't AT Universal, but I didn't put it in my Disneyland report and I'm not doing a day resort report. So bear with me.

    We had fun, it stormed over us while we swam, which made the lifeguards laugh at us. I had a boozy beverage, hubby had a non-boozy beverage (he barely drinks at all), Eamon played for HOURS with the CMs that create games out at the pool. I hate clowns, but I love that clown slide; it's the only slide I like.


    At long, long last the weak-ish sun got to us, hunger got to us, and the magnetic pull of Universal finally finally got to us. If it hadn't been for the laundry and the delayed arrival the night before we probably wouldn't have stayed so long at the pool and would have played at Portofino and a Universal park that day, but that's not how it went. It was still a good day.

    We got cleaned up and headed to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner. After that we went to Portofino and checked in.



    We had booked a 2Q standard room, I believe, and b/c of "blue" (?) status with the Loews club I knew we would likely be upgraded. We were, to a water view room, which ended up being a pool view. The pool was the "quiet" pool, and we were on the 1st floor, which a patio that connected to the next door people, so....we never really used the patio.

    To get to our room it seemed that we passed the club, which kept making us wonder if we were actually upgraded to club level, but the probability of that seemed so low that we never wanted to embarrass ourselves by asking. Figured that our cheery check-in employee would have let us know if we were!


    The room was lovely and large-ish, and we slept very comfortably.


    One picture as a preview.


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  9. Iheoma

    Iheoma Mouseketeer

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    I can't wait to read more!!popcorn::
     
  10. wookiebeck

    wookiebeck Fan of both WDW and USO

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    Thanks! Can't wait for more as I am doing PBH in August!!!
     
  11. briarrose

    briarrose Mouseketeer

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    Waiting for more. We'll be staying there for the 4th of July.
     
  12. SharonK0527

    SharonK0527 Mouseketeer

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    Looking forward to more! :goodvibes
     
  13. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    Sorry about the delay, again! We got the opportunity to travel with hubby on a work trip, since it was a relatively local, driving, trip, and I had no interest in being online! I'll get back to it ASAP.
     
  14. schumigirl

    schumigirl It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts

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    Great start, looking forward to more ::yes::
     
  15. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    Hello, my name is Molly, and I'm a founding member of "put it off" anonymous. Or procrastinators anonymous. Or avoidance-techniques anonymous. Or even flakes anonymous?

    Whatever you want to call it, that's me.



    So right now I have water, a place to sit and type, my Passporter with info in it, and my old computer with the pictures on it to give me more of a hint on what order the photo bucket pictures go in (or really, the pictures between the photobucket-worthy pictures, to give me context). Hubby and son are watching Finding Nemo (which I don't want to watch), it's a lazy day, and really, there's now nothing standing in my way between my head and the report!

    OK, fixed a problem with the old computer (never EVER spill a beer on your laptop) and I'm actually prepared. Next post!
     
  16. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    Going back to the 10th of Feb, we had spent the day at Boardwalk's pool, had dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, and checked into Portofino. We've now forgotten if we did actually get to a park, but there are no pictures and no receipts, so we'll pretend like we know we didn't. :)



    On the 11th, however, we did! Woke up BRIGHT and early, I had my two cups of Emeril coffee from the Keurig (so convenient), and headed on out. Took the boat, which is how I got that picture.

    Then we got this one. The Kid insists on posing almost every time we go to a Universal park; hope springs eternal that not only will he be tall enough for EVERYTHING, but that his parents will also be willing to let him go on everything.


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    Every time we enter the Port of Entry, I am stunned all over again. I remember reading someone's opinion of Universal, saying that there's nothing to see, the theming is dull, and so on, and I just have to imagine they had their eyes closed while entering IOA.


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    And those are just from a few minutes, slowly walking in, using my "looks like a "real" camera but is just a point and shoot" camera.

    It's SO beautiful, and has this understated energy of adventure. Whatever Universal calls their "imagineers", they really speak to me!
     
  17. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    We were on a mission to Wizarding World, so we took the shortcut. As we went along...


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    I want this garbage can.

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    Pretty...

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    Our first two times to Universal, I was so overwhelmed that I had a hard time envisioning the place as a whole. Before this trip, I'd read an explanation of the "islands" concept of IOA, and realized that each "land" is like an island, all around the lagoon. it only makes sense that you can see islands from other islands, like Jurassic Park can be seen along the way there.


    Even their small cafe tables are beautiful!

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    Finally, the magic place.

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    I hadn't really *seen* the "spell limits" sign before. I had seen it, I photographed it, I'm sure I even commented on it...but it hadn't sunk in, so I laughed like it was brand new, when I saw that. :)


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    DS had his wizard robes with him, and put them on. He got them during our September trip, and learned his lesson that they will make you boiling hot, so he didn't tell himself he'd wear them ALL the time this time. He also realized how much attention he gets while wearing the robes (not even adding in the wand and Scabbers (who he calls Max, since it's not really Scabbers anymore)), and he can only take that in small doses.

    So this is the only picture I got of him in costume.

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    Poor hubby still can't do Forbidden Journey (though now that we've joined Weight Watchers, not only does he know why, but he's also taking action so that changes!), but E and I went on it, and it didn't make me sick this time. yay!


    As early as I would allow it, we got magical beverages. We went inside Hogshead this time, since you can get a lower price on the cold (not frozen) Butterbeer if you have your souvenir Butterbeer mug with you. Caught a picture of the signs they put on the tables. Until you actually touch it, you don't realize it isn't a permanent sign, it's done so well.

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    Fake drinks without the flash.
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    Fake drinks with the flash. I can't decide which picture I like better, so you can choose your own favorite look.
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    I went crazy taking pictures in Honeydukes. We don't eat most of their candy (pretty much only the chocolate, since all the other stuff has corn syrup, which DH and DS cannot have) but it sure is pretty.

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    The bonbons have, basically, pop rocks inside of them. Or so a TM said.

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    Pretty.
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    Are these in the books?
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    These are my favoritest-ever-scrumdillyumptious treats. Wouldn't want to eat Hagrid's version, but these ones are good. Like scones with savory spices in them.

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    Haven't tried these.

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  18. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    This trip, we finally managed to stop ourselves from rushing to Jurassic, and went back to experience Poseidon's Fury. E was not happy with this, but we reminded him that he had, in fact, liked Sindbad's stunt show, and he would probably like this.

    Bwa ha ha, yeah, WRONG.


    Sure does appear to be lovely from the outside, though!

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    This is a weird attraction. First, you wait. In a darkish, somewhat creepy, large, room. Then the show starts, and you're moved into another room that's even darker and creepier. And an actor TM comes out to introduce the leader of the expedition, who, it turns out, has disappeared while looking for something. Then the creepiness grows.

    If you, or anyone in your party, is at ALL sensitive, either don't bring them in, or get them earplugs. Because it's hard to cover ears and eyes at the same time. At some point during the beginning part, the lights go out, and I think there's a noise, and at that point Eamon nearly leapt into my arms. You saw how tall he is. I'm barely a foot taller than him anymore, and while I do, for fun, carry him sometimes or give him piggyback rides (all just for fun and silliness) (and a bit for weight lifting, LOL), to have him LEAP onto me isn't so easy for me!

    From there it only gets worse. You move from room to room, and it's rather cheesy with at least one well known character actor (I only remember one at this point) in the projected-movie parts of the ride. Some of the effects are cool, and I will experience the attraction again just to see them, like the water tunnel, but it's all loud and dark and scary on top of the neat effects.

    I just asked Robert for clarification on Eamon's reaction to that first scene, and as soon as I said "Poseidon", E said "ugh, I HATE Poseidon's Fury".

    You've been warned! At minimum, bring ear protection for anyone in your group who is sensitive. Turning down the noise helps to turn down the scariness, at least with Eamon. (and me)
     
  19. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    My camera's time is all off from the times shown on our receipts, so I'm having a hard time going in order. I think what we did was do Poseidon's Fury first, then headed into Wizarding World, but that doesn't go along with our usual "must use Early Entrance" plan, so who knows?


    We had a very early lunch at Three Broomsticks. I ordered my usual potato leek soup, as it's vegetarian and delicious. On this day, however, it was very much NOT delicious.

    The sad and pathetic thing about me is that, since my pregnancy with Eamon (which was filled with more food aversions than cravings), even a bad smell wafting by while I'm eating can absolutely ruin my meal. And if it's my actual food that is bad? It's really sad.

    They have TMs there, helping you get seated and wandering around to help, and on that day the TM I chatted with happened to also be vegetarian. My first question about the soup was if they had made it non-veggie, and she said NO, that it's definitely vegetarian. She went back to talk to the cooks, and they confirmed. Honestly the soup tasted like they had used the old sink water instead of normal water or veggie stock. It was hideous.

    I think she had either tasted or smelled it when she went back to ask, and she agreed that there was *something very wrong* with it. She offered to get me anything else I wanted. I wanted nothing else I could think of from the menu. She actually suggested I make a little combination of sides, since that's what she usually does when she eats there (and since she loves the potato leek soup, that's what she does often when on her lunch). So I got some vegetables and potatoes, and that's what I ate. I appreciated her so much.


    As we were sitting there, taking our time eating, there was a family next to us who spilled something chocolately all over *brand new* wizarding robes. Worse, it was Hufflepuff wizarding robes. Why is that worse? Because the stain would show up so much more on that bright yellow, rather than the burgundy, deep green, or deep blue of the other robes.

    The young man who had spilled was fighting back tears, you could tell it was absolutely brand new, and I was so sad. It was a very big spill, it went all over the bench and the floor. I ran over and grabbed some napkins to help them out. I also snagged that same TM, to point her in their direction, because I just felt like she could do something about it, something they would never ask for. And...she did. She ended up taking them out of the restaurant and over to the shop to get new robes. I tell you, I teared up when I realized what she was doing for them. I also put in a HUGE thanks at guest relations for her and her manager (who stopped by to make sure my replacement food was decent and was SO nice).

    That family left, and another family sat down at that table. And quickly discovered the spill, which we had TRIED to tell another TM about, but that TM didn't clean up quite enough. The mother of the new family got the spill all over the legs of her shorts, because her legs were against the "down" part of the bench, if that makes any sense. She was not exactly happy. I let them know (YES YES YES I'm a total busybody!) about the spill, and the same manager that had known about my soup situation went over to help them out (he also knew about the spill and was aghast to find it wasn't totally cleaned up, but really, who knew there was SO MUCH of a spill? it covered quite a lot of ground). As we talked, the lady at the table heard us talking about the soup, tasted hers, and agreed that it was terrible. So she was taken care of, too, food wise.

    The rest of our stay, we avoided the Three Broomsticks, because the horrid soup messed with my head that much.

    But that was OK, because we got to discover the veggie burgers at Richter's instead! (now on future trips, assuming the soup is fixed, I'm imagining both the soup and the veggie burger at the same meal...mmmmmm)


    So that was my busybody lunch with the fabulous TM and her manager.
     
  20. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    After that, we headed to Seuss.


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    After the carousel ride, there's a little place where you can hear the story of the Lorax. I was well outside the ride and used my zoom, and had NO idea what he was doing here.

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    We rode Cat in the Hat, and they rode this ride.

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    And that's the last picture I have of the 11th.

    I have a receipt from later that afternoon at Whole Foods (which is really close to Universal!), but other than that, who knows what happened? :)


    Ah, it's so fun to reconstruct trips like this, 3 months later, isn't it?
     
  21. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

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    Feb 12th.



    On this day, we headed east. My family (aunt, her daughter/my cousin, and cousin's family) lives in/near Daytona, and they have all just moved into a nice big house together. They aren't ready to be Universal people (yet), and their WDW passes had expired, so we decided that visiting them would be super-awesome!

    We headed on out for a drive we'd never taken. On the way we stopped for Panera. This is before I started studying their nutritional information and putting it into the context of Weight Watchers. That day I had one bear claw, which is the equivalent to half of my daily allotted points. And it was NOT worth it. Yeehaw.


    It was a lovely visit and a decent drive, and we had tasty pizza for dinner and fun conversation all day! We stayed far later than we had anticipated, and it got VERY cold while we were there (otherwise I would have forced them to take me to a beach!), so I was shivering in my shorts. At last our nice visit was done with, the kids were sad, but we all said goodbye and we headed on back to our resort.
     

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