BACK AGAIN?? 10 NIGHTS SAPPHIRE FALLS.....MAY 18 TRIP REPORT

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by schumigirl, May 26, 2018.

  1. schumigirl

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

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    To another trip report from Carole n Tom.............

    I do say from Tom too as he is a self assigned "photographer" for these trip reports....and he does a good job too and all without complaining........although maybe slightly on occasion as he starts to eat and I pounce on him and realise we haven't taken a picture yet...........oh dear!! He really is the most wonderful guy and I`m so lucky with him........pictures are important as they do recount and preserve our memories form all our trips over the years. It`s so much easier now they are digital.......I have thousands of regular pictures all in boxes and in order from our life together and so many memories.......we did go through them all a few years ago and got rid of all the unnecessary ones.....and it did thin the piles down massively.......

    I do have to say this year we didn't take as many pictures as we usually do.......we still took a lot.....but it`s nice not to see everything through a lens..........although as I said it`s mainly Tom who takes the pictures.......bless him....he has the patience of a saint and indulges to all my whims and desires I have regarding our trips.........thankfully it`s always things we both want to do.

    You may have guessed by now we are slightly addicted to RPR, Universal Theme Parks, Orlando and Florida itself...........I wouldn't say its a bad addiction of course, but an addiction all the same.........::yes:: Thankfully it`s one we share.........I couldn't imagine our trips if we didn't both love the place so much.........

    The thread title is self explanatory.......I really don't come up with fancy or clever trip report names........plain and simple suits us........but this line was said so often to us during our stay from staff members......there are a few who don't know us well, but do know our faces.............yep, Back Again........

    Anyone who has read the trips before will know who we are.........but as said we are Carole and Tom......been very happily married for almost 26 years. We had our wonderful trip last year celebrating our Silver wedding Anniversary, my 50th Birthday and Tom celebrating a very early retirement which is the reason we can now travel so frequently..........and what a trip we had..........

    Then in December we had a very short, but fabulous week in December with the light of our life......our adult son Kyle........he is simply the most fabulous son you could wish for :hug:.......he is enjoying his career immensely in finance and we love the fact he still wants to take the occasional trip to Orlando with us........again, we had another wonderful visit to RP with him. We have already booked another December trip this year with 10 nights at RP and Kyle has taken the vacation time off again, we decided to stay a little longer as 7 nights just wasn't enough last year.........that was all booked and sorted before we even left last year with him. We are very organized..........:laughing:

    This year we have 5 visits to Orlando booked with a 5 night stay in July in NYC before an extra 7 nights at Sapphire Falls........some say we are crazy especially as we fly from the UK.......it is a long flight, usually around 9 hours and with the time you have to be at the airport before hand and waiting around it does make a long day......but so worth it. We soon get over any tiredness we may feel from the flights........as I said, it`s so worth it..........

    As we usually stay slightly longer, especially our September trips which are 19 nights, we don't always focus on the parks all day every day. We are very lucky to have the gift of time and do enjoy getting around to places we may not have seen. We do still love the Universal Orlando Theme Parks though and always spend some time even on short trips.........

    So this trip is the 2nd of five trips this year.........we have already enjoyed 10 nights in March which we very much enjoyed the Mardi Gras experiences........a new one for us........we have already booked 14 nights for next March too and planning again to stay at Sapphire........we guessed we would love it before we stayed here.

    We do know the hotel well as we have enjoyed many visits over to StrongWater Bar while staying at RP........it`s a fun bar!!!! But we did like the hotel. We were very fortunate to be given a private tour of the whole hotel just after it opened and were immediately struck by how pretty and warm it felt......it has a huge lobby but still manages to feel nice without being cavernous.

    So, introductions and a small back story of us I`ll end this first post before I ramble on too long......I have been known to bang on a lot..........

    If you are reading along, Thank you........I do hope you enjoy it........we didn't do a whole lot this trip but still managed to be busy most of the time, at the same time we felt so relaxed and enjoyed our time at Sapphire Falls so much...........

    More to come.............:wave2:


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  2. I-4Bound

    I-4Bound Mouseketeer

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    Yay! I have been checking the boards for the past few days hoping I would see you had started this report. Looking forward to reading along! We leave 2 weeks from today! Getting so excited!
     
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  4. disneyAndi14

    disneyAndi14 DIS Veteran

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    Yay! I’m in! I love all your great reports filled with awesome info of UO and surrounding towns, oh and of course delicious food!

    I have to finish your Mardi Gras report! Darn work gets in the way:rotfl:
     
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  5. Owlpost23

    Owlpost23 DIS Veteran

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    What a treat to find another trip report from you,Carole! Looking forward to hearing about your newest adventures!
     
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  6. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    Yessss! So happy to see another report!! Can't wait to read about the next lovely vacation!
     
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  7. schumigirl

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

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    :welcome: Andrea.........you made it first!!!!!

    2 weeks today you`ll be there!!!! That has come around so quickly......I`m sure you`ll all have a fabulous time there........

    Yes, I should have started this earlier, been home 5 days now, but ended up so busy with one thing and another.....but, started now and as always try and finish it as quickly as possible.........but, glad to have you along and hope you enjoy it.......:wave2:

    :welcome: Caroline...........lol.......you`re so busy though, you are allowed to catch up late.....:rotfl: your trip report must take up your time too.....it`s fabulous by the way!!!! Disney is still an amazing place to visit and your pictures show it well.........

    Hope you enjoy this one......it seemed quite slow paced while we were there, but reading back we didn't have a lot doing nothing time.......or maybe we did and the rum clouded my view.......:thumbsup2

    Glad you`re here..........:wave2:
     
  8. schumigirl

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

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    :welcome: along to the lovely Owlpost23..........I`m so glad you made it here again for this one too........hope it`s a fun read for you........:wave2:



    :welcome: to Stargazer9........I still love that username so much!!!! We are very much a stargazing family.........

    But, glad to have you along and hope you enjoy it too.......thanks for reading along again.........:wave2:
     
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  9. jump00

    jump00 Mouseketeer

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    :flower1:Woo hoo!!! Can't wait!!!
     
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  10. ckmiles

    ckmiles Mouseketeer

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    :yay: Woohoo! Im so excited to read all about your recent trip! And hear about all the great food and drinks!
     
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  11. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

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    I'm here Carole!! You've inspired me to attempt a TR! I'm nowhere near as exciting and don't write as eloquently, but you're teaching me!!

    We are loving Sapphire Falls!! Looking forward to seeing more pictures from you! You rock as a photographer!
     
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  12. J'aime Paris

    J'aime Paris Living happily ever after

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    Reading along as usual:flower1:
     
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  13. schumigirl

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

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    PRE TRIP.........

    As everyone who reads this knows, I never, ever write a Pre trip report.........I much prefer to surprise..........and certainly surprise myself enough that's for sure :laughing:.......I think with us never really planning anything, the thought of deciding ahead of time what we`ll do on a certain day doesn't fill me with joy.......so we don't. We do however where possible arrange to meet friends, whether it be friends from the boards or TM friends who we have known a long time. That`s about the only thing we ever plan.

    It may not suit everyone but it suits us down to the ground..........:thumbsup2

    So this trip was booked last year when we went on a booking fiesta........I think we sorted 3 trips in the space of an hour or so, over one or two glasses of wine of course............doesn't take us long to book flights........people always ask about cost of flights from the UK to Orlando and it varies. We book as soon as we know our dates, so probably not the best or cheapest way to book, but it`s more about convenience for us........what it costs when we book is what it costs. However this flight was our cheapest of the year.......we paid $1,400 with Thomas Cook, our second choice company for flights after Virgin Atlantic, thought that was decent. We booked last November and did manage to pick the seats we wanted too. We usually book exit row if there`s no Premium available but these were already gone, so we chose seats as near the front as possible. The plane we were on although not having Premium had very decent legroom, we had been on it before on our trip to NYC last September. So we were happy. You can probably do it cheaper than we do it, and I`m sure many do, but as I said, we prefer the convenience of just having it booked with dates that suit.

    Car hire again is something that in the UK with who we book with, once you pay there are no reductions if price comes down. I have American friends who talk of the cost of car rental coming down and they pay the reduced rate.......nope......once we`ve paid, that the price you`re stuck with. Again, we got the standard SUV and it cost us roughly $500 for 10 nights which we thought was a real bargain. We have paid so much more for the same standard before. We booked direct with Alamo who are our first choice for car rental.

    Airport hotel was again the Radisson at Manchester Airport. This is somewhere we always stay when flying from here. It would be just as easy for us to fly from Gatwick or Heathrow distance wise, but we like the flights from Manchester and it`s not a bad drive up there. We again booked the Executive Lounge which is nice for relaxing in. You get free wine, beers and hard liquor from 5pm till 9pm and snack items, we never found the snacks to be up to much, but the lounge is nice.

    We had decided on Sapphire Falls this trip for a few reasons. One reason is simply it is a beautiful hotel.

    We had as I mentioned been given a tour when it opened and always planned to stay at some point. But, for one reason or another we had never got around to it........one reason was the Presidential Suite for our last 4 nights at RPR one year.......that was amazing!!!! Biggest shower ever. But, when we decided to have so many trips this year, we knew we`d stay at least once here. So it was arranged for us to stay for 10 nights.

    In between our Christmas trip and this one we had our 10 nights for Mardi Gras.......which was amazing!!!

    But, on the way home from our March trip we got talking to both the Virgin Check in Supervisor and a TSA officer who both mentioned we should apply for Global Entry. We had always been given TSA Pre Check on our boarding cards the last few years without asking for it......never quite sure why it was there, but never questioned it.......so when we got home I began to look into it.


    It certainly seems to be advantageous if you are a frequent flyer into the USA........avoiding those long lines at immigration as 3 or 4 jumbo jets can arrive at the same time you know how long lines can be. So this would be wonderful for us.

    When you come from the UK you travel on and ESTA, if you don't have that you don't travel unless you have a Visa.........so I went on the website and discovered we had to first apply to the UK Government and get clearance from them.......this took a few days and a cost of around $55 each. Once you have confirmation you are given a code and can apply to the quite scary American Border website......this costs $100 each and the really scary thing about this is, if you are refused for any reason your ESTA becomes invalid and you have to go for a Visa, which can take time. And we only had 7 weeks till we were off again.......

    But, we very carefully and meticulously put in both applications.......some of the questions were slightly confusing, of course that may have just been me....... But we went ahead and submitted them. You are told it can take up to 2 weeks for a reply........most people have a reply in 10 days.

    Of course the Easter Weekend came slap bang in the middle of this.......so it was nerve wracking enough to wait, although we really had no reason to worry as we had been assured since we already had been given Pre check it wouldn't be a problem. But, I`m a worrier.......always have been, always will be :).......so, on Day 11 since the application had gone in I was beside myself with worry and began looking at flights to Dublin to the American Embassy in case we needed a Visa........on the afternoon of April 24th Tom`s phone tinged to say he had a message.......yep, it was the text to say check your application as there had been a change.......oh my goodness....how nerve wracking was it till we opened his account........and it had been Conditionally Approved........the next step was either make an appointment at one of the few places in the UK you could do it, or turn up at any of the participating airports of which MCO had recently been added and complete the application there.

    So, then we waited for my phone to go.........I set myself a few tasks to keep busy, yes I was that nervous :blush:........and within an hour I got my text......logged in and again, Conditionally approved. I almost burst into tears I was so relieved........Tom of course had no such doubts and had been constantly reassuring me all the time........but you know that stomach churning feeling of......what if.........so now I could really start looking forward to our trip without worry. Well, without worrying about that......as I said I am a natural worrier.........although at the same time I`m very pragmatic and realize at the end of the day.......there`s not much point in worrying.......poor Tom......he really has a lot to put up with.

    Kyle didn't apply as he only has the one trip this year, so we didn't think it would be worth it for him........so in December depending on lines, we may stand with him or just go through and wait for him at the other side.......he`s not bothered as he`s done it so many times.


    But, we now just had to wait the few weeks till our time to fly came around.................and I`m not the most patient of folks as Tom will attest to :o........but he often reminded me, very kindly I have to say, we used to have to wait a year between trips......very true

    So with that.........

    TRAVEL DAY coming up...........




     
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  14. schumigirl

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

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    A very warm :welcome: jump00..........

    So nice to have you read along again..........hope it`s fun for you!!!! :wave2:

    :welcome: along too ck...........we certainly did have some good food and drinks.......as my ever tightening clothes can attest to!!!!! Oh dear....that rum will get me every time...........

    Hope you enjoy it..........:wave2:
     
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  15. schumigirl

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

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    :welcome: Patty.........glad you took some time out of your trip to join in..........I have to say Tom is really the picture taker out of the two of us.......I will take credit for pointing certain things out though........sssshhhhhh don't tell him I said that........:rotfl:

    Sapphire Falls is a gem of a hotel.......I`m enjoying your live trip report a lot!!!! Enjoy the rest of your trip..........:wave2:

    :welcome: yay!!!! Glad you`re here too........lovely to see you post again........

    Hope you too enjoy this one........nice to have you along for the read.........:wave2:
     
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  16. erinch

    erinch Parsing the same ee cummings poem for 20 years

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    I’m in! What fun!
     
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  17. roxysmum123

    roxysmum123 DIS Veteran

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    I love your trip reports! I'm so glad to catch this one right at the beginning - looking forward to living vicariously through you lovely people!
     
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  18. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    I never got the memo the trippie started......I must be the step child here
    reading along now.
     
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  19. schumigirl

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

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    :welcome: Along...........erinch..........hope you enjoy this read too.......nice to have you here.......:)

    A very warm :welcome: roxysmum123...........Thank you so much for the lovely comment.......I appreciate ones like that........:D

    I do hope you enjoy the trip report.........and glad to have you here............:wave2:
     
  20. schumigirl

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

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    :welcome: To macraven.........my email must have took the snail mail route..........:snail::D

    It wouldn’t be the same without you.........always enjoy your lovely comments.........you already know most of the trip.......so I hope it’s still fun to read for you..........:wave2:
     
  21. jocelyn6

    jocelyn6 Mouseketeer

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    Yay! Another Carole and Tom adventure! Looking forward to following along!:dogdance:
     
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