3/31-4/3 HRH/USF Trip Report--Arrival and Day One Part One


Feb 18, 2000
Our family:
Me, Mom, 40, chief trip planner
DH, 51, get-us-going-in-the-morning chief
DD, 14
DD, 11
Sister-in-law, 50, staying at PBH
Niece, 12

After some stressful aiport experiences, the four of us arrived at the HRH Saturday afternoon in a huge rain and thunderstorm. I had checked the weather so I was mentally prepared. We would meet up with s-in-law and niece later. I sent the family to explore the lobby and shop while I waited in line for check-in (it was about 3 p.m. so there was a line). The girls loved the music and I thought the lobby looked great with an understated, contemporary elegance. I did not tell the family that I had acquired a Loews membership with hopes of an upgrade as I did not want to get their hopes up. We were reserved with an Adventure package garden room using the Discover card discount of three days admission to parks for the price of two. (More on this later). The clerk who checked me in was a young, pleasant-natured guy. I handed him our reservation information and then my Loews card and asked if it would be possible for an upgrade to the club level. I think it helped that the hotel was full and the only rooms available were on the club level so don't be afraid to ask if you are there when it is really busy. He punched the computer and said the upgrade was available but we would have to wait for the room to be ready. Of course, this was fine with me. He gave us keys that would allow us on the club floor and told us to check back in about an hour. I made a point to return later when there was only a short line. We turned our luggage in to bell service and asked if we could retrieve our bathing suits later if we needed them and they said that was no problem. We decided to explore the pool area as it had stopped raining but there was no swimming as there was still lightning on the horizon. We sat in the snack bar area and just soaked it all in. The pool area is wonderful--lots of lounge chairs, thick and comfy towels, a beachlike area with sand, ping pong, pool table. When the lifeguards gave the all-clear, DH was one of the first people in the line for the slide. The girls and I decided to wait until it was sunny. We checked back at the desk at 4:30 and our room was ready. Our room was the standard size (the same, I believe, as what we had reserved) with two double beds, bathroom with sink, and vanity area with sink. With the DDs, I'm finding two bathrooms are almost a must, but having two sinks helped. I needed to talk with the concierge about a reservation we had at Emeril's and she made the call for us. The concierge service was very good--if they couldn't answer a question, they would call someone who could. We were particularly impressed with Ian, who was usually in charge of the food, and Zoe, who was always working. By 5:15 or so the tables in the concierge lounge were pretty much taken so we took our appetizers and drinks back to our room, which worked out fine. It was great to have a CD player in the room as DD could play her music. The concierge level also had a library of CDs that could be checked out to your room. We called the rest of the family in PBH and decided to meet in the lobby and explore CityWalk. My sister-in-law did not have the same package as us so she bought her park passes from guest services and was able to get the third day free deal with her Discover card. When my sister-in-law and her daughter checked in to PBH they were given a room with just one king bed. She called down and they moved her to a villa room, which they said was an upgrade. I didn't see their room until another day, but it had two double beds with heavy wooden headboards and frames that raised the beds high off the ground--very plush. Their bathroom was huge with lots of tile and two sinks in a large vanity, tub and shower. At CityWalk, we decided to have a light dinner and go to a movie. It was great to walk out the back of the hotel and walk to everything. We ate at the Latin Quarter, the food was average, and the entertainment was fun. They had dancers who were teaching people how to salsa. We hit the movie, which was just right as we were all pretty worn out. We got back to our hotel and picked up a couple cookies from the lounge and found our beds had been turned down and each had a HRH magnet on the pillow as a gift.

Sunday morning was early entry at Universal Studios and we decided to give it a try. I wanted to make sure the girls (and I!) got breakfast before we left and was a little nervous about food running out so my husband brought some pastries in our room while we got ready. There was no need to worry--there was plenty of food so we all had a good breakfast. Items included pastries, doughnuts, fruit, cereal, bagels, cream cheese, orange juice and coffee. We got to US and hooked up with the rest of our family at about 8:15. There was hardly anyone there! We headed straight and Twister wasn't open yet so we decided to go to MIB at the back of the park as we knew it was popular. By the way, we had never been to Universal or IOA so it was all new to us. We loved MIB! We rode it three times in a row without needing the express line. My first score was 109,000 thanks to some of the tips on this board. I didn't figure out the big bonus until later rides. DH had to work hard to get a higher score than me! The key is to listen to what is being said and shoot where they say to shoot. But it is hard to hear in there! We then went to BTTF. I love virtual rides--I think they require amazing imagination and creativity to put together. I loved the pre-ride theatrics and the ride itself. I felt fine on the ride, but I was a little wobbly when I got off! One thing I liked was the fact that the whole ride was designed to entertain rather than herd you through. We then worked our way back to Jaws (fun but we only did it once) and Earthquake. I am a movie buff so I enjoy getting backstage info. DH was chosen to do stunt and DD and niece were shoppers in the reinactment. It was fun to watch but another ride we only did once, same with Twister. We saw the Blues Brothers sing and liked the change of pace. I really appreciate live entertainment as we live in a small town and rarely see it! We enjoyed the sets of Kongfrontation and I was quite taken with the fact that our cars were hanging rather than on a track. It was eery to look ahead and look like we were floating on air. We did this ride once. We wanted to try almost everything at least once and then come back to them if we really liked them. We then hit the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue and really liked this show. It was a great combination of humor, music, and pyrotechnics. We saw this twice with two different casts and liked the first one better, though I'm not sure if it was because it was first. I recommend seeing it twice as there are lots of jokes. We then went straight to the Wild West Show. I recommend that you do these shows with some time in between! It was quite a mind warp to go from monsters to the west. The best part of the Wild West Show are the stunts--the dialogue is good but not great. At this point it was about 1:00 and the park was more populated but still very manageable. In fact, we went back through Amity on a different day at a much busier time and I enjoyed it more because of the crowds! It felt like I was truly in a Cape Cod town in the middle of the season with street performers and wacky bartenders. By the way, it was a beautiful sunny 80 degree day. We had seen on the weather that it was supposed to rain but it must have worn out on Saturday. So don't worry about weather reports. We had lunch at the Monster Cafe--salads, chicken, pizza, apple pie--all average theme park food. We didn't do any sitdown dining at the parks as we were more interested in seeing everything. We decided to hit Terminator 2 and then head back to the hotel for a rest. I really like shows that combine live action and movie action--I thought the combination was well done here. I'll stop now and continue with IOA in the evening next.

Hard Rock Hotel 4/01
Wyndham Palace 7/00
Port Orleans & DCL 12/00
Disneyland Paris 4/99
AllStar Sports 2/98

[This message was edited by Ariel'sMom on 04-05-01 at 12:07 PM.]
WOW Ariel'sMom, it sounds like we just missed each other on Sunday! Great report, keep them coming. :D

Thanks for the report. Sounds like you had a great time. Thanks also for getting the report up so quickly. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of the trip.
I love reading all reports on HRH. We are staying their in August. It all sounds so great. I think about it all the time. Thanks for making me visualize it.

The pool sounds terrific. Thanks for the great report. We are hoping to get a upgrade too! If not, that is ok, but it would be nice.



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