Bucket List NYE at WDW with Platinum Plan - new 2/28 bonus post, wrap up, and COMPLETE

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Reviews' started by pepperandchips, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    Welcome to another pepperandchips dining report! :mickeybarAs always, I am your friendly (and sometimes a little punchy) narrator - Melinda. I hail from Hotlanta and I love Animal Kingdom, magical Disney food and drank, and am generally addicted to all things WDW.

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    I travel with my roommate, love interest, partner in crime, and better half, "R". He's a public school educator so I don't want to have my reports connected with his name for search engines to crawl upon. Anyhow, I'm the Disney nut and he's the supportive partner.

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    We generally try to eat fairly healthily at home (much to my chagrin) - limited meat at home with a lower carb, whole eating type of approach (admittedly with plenty of cheats and lots of eye rolling over leftovers). R's kryptonite is dessert while mine is cheese. So of course, with all that said, it makes total sense that this dining report covers a vacation where the main focus was the PLATINUM DINING PLAN :scared1:... amirite?!

    So how did this happen that we booked the platinum dining plan? Well I'll tell you: I lost my marbles. :rolleyes2 I started planning this blowout New Year's celebration at WDW thinking we could always postpone or cancel the package, and then midway through the year Disney announced it was only offering three dining plans in 2017, none of which included tours or Victoria & Albert's (spoiler alert). So I knew it was now or never - Platinum NYE 2k16 or bust.

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    Due to the insanely high price of the package, we wanted to make the most of our entitlements while spending the least amount of money out of pocket, which involved some creative planning and some of my new(ish) DVC points. That is why you are about to read about a super crazy split stay - we stayed at Universal for a night, the Villas at Wilderness Lodge for a night (now the Boulder Ridge Villas), Wilderness Lodge for three nights, and Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House Villas for a night. A total of 7 days, 6 nights of beautiful, insane, Disneyness (and Universalness).

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    Thanks for reading through all that, and here's a treat to show my appreciation... the following is a list of where we dined:

    - Margaritaville Citywalk Lunch
    - Red Oven Pizzeria Citywalk Dinner

    - Assorted Universal snack locations
    - Roaring Forks & Trout Pass Pool Bar (Same meal) Lunch
    - Territory Lounge Dinner

    - Le Cellier Lunch
    - Victoria & Albert's (!!!) Dinner
    - Tiffins Lunch
    - California Grill Dinner
    - Wilderness Lodge in-room dining Breakfast
    - The Boathouse Lupper

    - Flying Fish Dinner
    - Narcoossee's Brunch
    - Jiko Dinner
    - Sanaa Lunch

    Plus a bunch of Disney snacks and drinks. And how did we use 9 dining credits and 6 snack credits each over 3 nights?! Plus I think I can offer the math! If that's not enticement enough... there will be plenty of pictures.

    So join me, won't you? For a Bucket List NYE at WDW! :wave:

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    (Or in the Dining Report)
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2017
  2. nco91590

    nco91590 DIS Veteran

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    OOOH! This is fun!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm in :)
     
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  3. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    Yay! A first friend at the party!!! Welcome :flower3:
     
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  5. ThreeBoyMama

    ThreeBoyMama Mouseketeer

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    Woohoooo! Cannot wait to hear about this trip, especially V&A! :)
     
  6. nicoleakr

    nicoleakr DIS Veteran

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    Joining in can't wait!
     
  7. dnllmz

    dnllmz Mouseketeer

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    Following along!
     
  8. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    :offtopic: YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS!!!!

    I was having a pretty bad day today. I wasted 2.5 hours earlier on a task that should have taken 5 minutes, it took me forever to find what I needed in the grocery store and then when I finally got home I accidentally dropped a pint glass and it smashed into a million smithereens and I was feeling pretty grumpy. AND THEN I got an email from DVC that my waitlisted nights for the Grand Californian for this summer matched! I was led to believe I had a snowball's chance in hell of that working and I got two of the three nights I need!!! I am beyond elated and I just had to share with you all. I have the third one waitlisted now so cross your fingers for me!

    Yay! SO glad to have you here. I can't wait to write about V&A's except I know it will make me want to go back. And my bank account will say... HECK NO. Spoiler: it was amazing, but the wine was even better... Wonder if you could get the wine pairings without getting the meal :cool2: hahaha

    Welcome! So glad to have your company here!

    :wave2: so glad to have you reading along with my reviews!
     
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  9. ThreeBoyMama

    ThreeBoyMama Mouseketeer

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    LOL! "I'll have the wine. With the wine." I dunno, seems reasonable to me. ::yes::
     
  10. nicoleakr

    nicoleakr DIS Veteran

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    Following can't wait
     
  11. ariane37

    ariane37 Dis veteran

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    Holy crap, I didn't know you did the PLATINUM plan! This report might be too rich for me.......but I'll try to endure it anyway ;)
    Looking forward to reading all about it, especially V&A and how you spent NYE in general!
     
  12. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    Welcome!!! Very glad to have you. I can't wait either haha

    Oh friend, trust me that the platinum plan was too rich for me also! I diligently bought disney GCs from target every pay period for what felt like a decade, added them to my DVA and used the "bonus" from the DVA too! I really wanted to do tours though so the platinum plan it was. I'll try not to gush too much about the tours since the platinum plan went bye bye ;)
     
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  13. nco91590

    nco91590 DIS Veteran

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  14. princess aleya

    princess aleya DIS Veteran

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    I'm looking forward to reading your report!
     
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  15. Raeven

    Raeven Happiest Haunt

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    Following along! Can't wait to see how your Platinum NYE went!
     
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  16. ShelbyWagon

    ShelbyWagon Mouseketeer

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    Sounds amazing! I can't wait for your V&A report. That's on our list for our 5th anniversary trip that we're planning on going all out for. Every time I see an open reservation pop up, I have a really hard time not booking it! Must be patient...it's only 3 years away LOL!
     
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  17. princessemsmom

    princessemsmom Mouseketeer

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    This sounds like a great trip! I cannot wait to read all about it.
     
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  18. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    So many friends already! Thank you all for joining me. Please do not leave after the first real post as I am about to get real intense with some quick Universal reviews before moving back to the Mouse. (Or if you leave, please come back!!!)

    Yay! Thank you for joining in.
    Ah! @Raeven I am so glad to have you here. I love your reviews and am glad to have you along for the ride.
    Oh man I am so excited to write about our experience! It will be novel-worthy since they give you a souvenir menu to take home with all the beautiful details of each course. I should never have gone to V&A's, now I am spoiled and it's pretty far outside my normal vacation budget... Excited to have you here on my DR though!
    Yay! Thanks for coming along for the very yummy ride!!!
     
  19. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    December 27, 2016: FOOD is Universal

    Okay, Disney friends. I have to ask for your patience while I slog through a couple of Universal posts. :tiptoe: I hope these reviews are helpful to some folks as the Wizarding World continues to flourish and is a popular place for families (and Disney fans!) to visit. Our friends over on the Universal boards here on the Dis are super helpful but maybe you will indulge my quick dining reviews of Universal here on the Dining Reviews board :drinking1 and possibly even enjoy it. haha.

    On December 27th, we woke up at midnight and got on the road headed for Orlando. We arrived at the Loew's Royal Pacific Resort around 6:30 in the morning and waited in a bit of a line to check in. Upon giving my name, the team member on the desk informed me that my reservation was actually for December 27, 2017, which meant I was checking in a full year early. She figured this was a glitch and asked me to pull up my reservation, so I did, and it also said 2017 :scared: but fortunately she told us she could book us in a standard room for one night. About that time, she called her supervisor for assistance, who apparently told her she could not book us into one of the rooms showing in inventory :scared1: as they were full. At this point I basically went full meltdown. I'd been planning this for months, had driven through the night, knew this was the busiest week of the year for theme parks (so I was relying on express pass) and was there trying to get in the park for 7:00 early entry. :sad: I asked her to find out if there was a room available at one of the other resorts and eventually we ended up being accomodated at Hard Rock Hotel. It was like pulling teeth to get the help and despite having amazing experiences at the Loew's Portofino Bay and at our previous visit to the Loew's Royal Pacific Resort, this team member soured my opinion of RPR a bit with her attitude and all-but-refusal to help us. I mean, really, we're trying to give you a whole bunch of money, how hard is it to help? :confused:

    And that, my friends, is how the bucket list really started... because the only room they had available at the Hard Rock was a "rock royalty" CLUB LEVEL room. We scuttled over to Hard Rock as quickly as possible, checked in, and printed our express passes. The Universal Loew's hotels now text you when your room is ready, so we left our bags in the car and made for the gates of Universal Studios. Of course this had eaten about an hour of our precious time and we were headed into the turnstiles at 7:35, having lost a good bit of the early entry benefit due to the booking error.

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    Oh but how sweet a sight this was!

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    We hit Gringott's at 7:45 and despite having the switchbacks open in the back outside, the wait and ride probably "only" took about 50 minutes. By 8:40, I had this baby in hand!!!!

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    Chocolate raspberry and salted caramel blondie ice cream scoops from Florean Fortescue's in Diagon Alley (I don't have the receipt but this was $6something even with our AP discount). I think this is the only time I have had ice cream before 9:00 am and also the only time I've been the only party inside Florean Fortescue's. We love the salted caramel blondie ice cream, and the heavenly feeling of enjoying that salty sweet goodness while simply taking in the sights of Diagon Alley is the experience that had called us back to Universal for a quick stay ahead of our Disney trip.

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    I mean, how bad the morning have been when the sight of this dragon accompanies your sweet morning snack? (ignore the massive crowd, just like I did :crazy2:) R wanted to get the chocolate raspberry scoop which is why we did, but I would have been fine with two scoops of salted caramel blondie. So so good.

    We hung around in Knockturn Alley for a bit while enjoying our sugar high before we took Hogwarts Express (no wait) to Islands of Adventure.

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    We rode the new Skull Island Reign of Kong attraction (this didn't do much for me, but it has an Express Pass line so it wasn't much of a commitment to see something new) and one of our favorite simple attractions - Dr. Doom's fear fall (a tower drop ride, basically) which gives you a beautiful view of the parks. The Hulk coaster was back open after an extended refurb, but I felt like I needed something more on my stomach before conquering all of those inversions, so we dipped inside Croissant Moon Bakery for my other favorite Universal breakfast:

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    The amazing (and amazingly green) pistachio muffin. I had to borrow these pictures from my previous trips since I neglected to take pictures of our snack this time. I love these - they have a lovely almond flavor, and despite being an unnatural hue are a delicate and moist pastry option. I have to have one of these on every visit!

    We got in line for Hulk but basically as soon as we got in line the attraction went down, and having already gotten our "room ready" text, we decided to bail. Again we had some issues when our room door wouldn't open with our keys and we had to visit the Club lounge for assistance - the staff there acted a bit put out that I'd requested the help so Loew's was really on my ... ****tinonion soup list (see previous DR for joke). Anyway, we finally got into our room (note: handle opens up, not down :confused:)

    Cutting our losses and in need of libations, we moseyed over to Citywalk for lunch. Well, we moseyed via boat transport. The gorgeous day combined with a dining review we'd heard on the Dis Universal podcast took us out of our usual routine and we decided to give Margaritaville a whirl.

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    We arrived around 1:15 and there was no wait, though the outside patio was hoppin'. We had a good (if overextended) server who, upon consultation, informed us we'd made great drink selections:

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    I had the Perfect Margarita "Margaritaville Gold and Silver Tequilas, triple sec, orange curaçao and lime juice served on the rocks... for margarita aficionados only" while R had the Uptown Margarita "Margaritaville Gold tequila, Cointreau® orange liqueur, our house margarita blend topped with a Gran Gala® float. Excellent on the rocks". Mine is the one in the coupe and R's is in the pint glass. These were excellent and quite potent. I have lost the receipt for this meal but the price wasn't "egads" high - I think both margaritas were in the $10-11 range and... I have to say it because they've been getting so much press here on the Dining Reviews board recently... I think they're better than the margaritas at La Cava. :duck:BACK ME UP, @ThreeBoyMama

    Anyway, beverages in hand, we quickly selected two yummy appetizers that were big enough to serve as our meals.

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    Traditional wings "Served with fresh veggie chips and your choice of sauce" and we chose them "Clipper - Buffalo style" the online menu reflects a price of $11.99 for these. I believe there were 8 or 10 good sized wings. Maybe not the best ever value but they had great flavor, and we'd seen them on a neighboring table and they sold themselves.

    As well as the...

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    Volcano Nachos "Tortilla chips layered with chili, cheese, pico de gallo, fresh guacamole, sour cream and jalapeños" (menu online says $15.99). Now, these were what we'd heard such rave reviews about since they sauce each layer of nachos with toppings, so that you don't get naked chips at the bottom of the pile. That would be indecent after all! :rolleyes1 The picture absolutely does not do these things justice. They were MASSIVE!!! And really quite good. Outside of a Mexican restaurant, I kind of expect "bar nachos" and these were great on the bar nacho scale. Maybe middling on the Mexican restaurant scale but they sure hit the spot!!!

    By now you have surely noticed the empty margarita glasses, but we were feeling the happy effects of tequila, and not wanting to go to sleep for the night after lunch, decided to switch to the great "slow down my buzz" invention - cerveza.

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    We each had a Florida Swamp Ape IPA. We enjoyed them, but despite really liking beer I am not great at describing them. Not too hoppy and pretty well balanced is about all I can manage. It was wet and cold and went with nachos and wings. We paid the tab and hit the road, soaking up the Florida sunshine.

    Back at the HRH, we had the traditional afternoon nap, preceded only by scavenging in the Club Lounge where we picked up the afternoon offerings of packaged cookies and chips and canned soda and bottled water. Obviously pre-packaged snacks was not what I was hoping for but the unlimited Diet Coke cans were appreciated.

    Refreshed from our nap, we hit the Club Lounge again for their evening appetizers. Color me cynical but I was unimpressed:

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    Barbecue chicken skewers, crudites, and deep fried mac-n-cheese balls

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    The chicken skewers tasted like the chicken had not been seasoned prior to being shellacked in bottled barbecue sauce and the mac-n-cheese bites just tasted like... fried. I ended up muching on a couple of cheese cubes and loading up on veggies and house white wine. R had a couple of coronas. I guess I have been spoiled by my friend schumigirl's RPR club lounge photos and the offerings I've seen from the Wilderness Lodge club because I was underwhelmed and there was nary a magic cookie bar to be found!

    ANYWAY I better wrap this post up before you all fall asleep. We found the shortcut to the parks through the HRH parking lot and waited for the front row of the Hulk coaster.

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    The Hulk was fun but nothing can top the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket for me, so we trotted over there and happened to get the front row of RRR by chance and it was melt your face off amazing as always. We caught the holiday parade after screaming our heads off.

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    (SANTA! I know him!)

    It was a cute parade but obviously not Disney. We rode the Mummy (probably more than once, as I love that ride) and shockingly were getting hungry again by this point so we decided to call it a night at 8:50 to find dinner at Citywalk. We wanted something to take back to the room so we meandered over to the Red Oven Pizza company where we ordered the Prosciutto & Arugula Pizza "Fresh Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon and Oregano" ($14) and Arugula Salad "Prosciutto, Organic First Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fresh Lemon, Cured Tomatoes and Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano" ($11).

    I failed at photos since the food took FOREVER to come out (they said 15 minutes... haha no) but I yoinked one from the internet for you lovely people:

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    thanks tripadvisor!

    Anyway, to add insult to the injury of waiting all night on mediocre take out, the restaurant neglected to give us silverware for our salad so I had to trot down to the bar at the HRH to ask for silverware. The bartender was exceptionally nice (HRH: +1) but then we found out the HRH sells no bottles of wine in its gift shop (HRH: -1) after visiting for shaving cream, so we were forced to dip into our "room booze" brought from home and we had some drinks in the room before hitting the hay.
     
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  20. Raeven

    Raeven Happiest Haunt

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    I don't mind Universal reviews! I even have some in my USO TRs.

    Oh wow that mix up sounds awful :sad2:

    Your ice cream at Florean's sounds so good! I've only tried the Butterbeer.

    Margaritaville is awesome! We eat there (almost) every time we go. The margaritas, burgers, and fries are so good! I would agree the margaritas are better than La Cava too. The prices aren't bad there either. I can never convince Josh to get nachos, but I like how it's layered. It would be indecent to have naked nachos!

    I've never really thought about staying CL, and those snacks make me think I made the right choice...:crazy2:

    At least it was easy to get some silverware :rotfl: related ish story when I was youger and worked in the mall if someone forgot silverware we'd ask at sbarro in the food court for some, and the guy would hide the utensils and not give us any.
     
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  21. pepperandchips

    pepperandchips [melinda]

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    December 28th dawned bright and EARLY EARLY EARLY for us as we wanted to make the most of Early Entry this day (our last at Universal, don't despair). We were at the entrance of Islands of Adventure at 6:55 and were treated to a nearly empty Hogsmeade Village as we sailed through on our way to queue up for Forbidden Journey.

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    This was a first for me - the queue extended all the way out through the entry "gates" and doubled back across the bridge toward Jurassic Park before snaking in to the usual queue. The inside queue was moving well, so I think this hang up was caused by folks needing lockers. Fortunately we were traveling with no bags so we were in the clear.

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    After our wild tour of Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it was time to hit up the main attraction: snacks.

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    A butterbeer was necessary, of course.

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    The traditional chilled (not frozen) butterbeer is my favorite. It's like a butterscotch cream soda and is so sweet that one between the two of us was perfect.

    We grabbed some sweets from Honeyduke's and headed to the patio behind the Three Broomsticks to enjoy them along with this view:

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    We had a cauldron cake - chocolate cupcake filled with a creamy chocolate mousse and topped with a dark chocolate handle. This is decadent, chocolatey, and a great treat.

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    No, this is not a calzone, it is the delicious pumpkin pasty! Kind of like a hand pie (is that a southern term?), the pastry dough enrobes a spiced pumpkin filling. I really like this snack because it's not too sweet but it does have that perfect pumpkin flavor. (as you may notice, I lifted these photos from my stash from previous trips as well, that person in the background is not R or a stranger)

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    (inside)

    After the delicious snack, I feel certain we did some attractions but I don't recall what they were. We decided to take a break to get checked out of our room so we went back to HRH and had some breakfast in the Club Lounge.

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    Breakfast was much better than the paltry offerings the day before - lots of donuts, pastry, fruit, oatmeal, eggs of a couple sorts, some hot items that apparently did not look appetizing to me since I didn't try them, yogurt, toast, bagels, etc.

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    The fruit (a few blueberries and strawberries in a giant bowl of honeydew... typical) and blueberry donuts were my favorite. Still, the coffee was good and it was a pretty decent spread. We packed our things and stowed the bags in the car, moving it closer to the back of the lot near the theme parks entrances and headed back in for more fun.

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    Here we got our first taste of the insane crowd levels this week. This was IOA entry around 11:00 AM, and the day was really warming up so this was pretty unpleasant. :crazy2: We rode the Hulk again, this time not bothering to wait for the front, and it was just as awesome closer to the back.

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    R wanted to ride the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train ride, and we requested and got the Sneetches side (versus the ABCs which I don't like as well). You first get to go through Circus McGurkus and then are treated to some lovely views of the park, like the one above which shows the constant stream of folks pouring in and out.

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    The Hulk! And some rando's shoulder!!!

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    CASTLE PIC! (Whatdya mean it's the wrong castle?!)

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    "That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether they had one, or not, upon thars."

    And with that, we decided our starless bellies needed some pool time and traipsed out of Universal to head to the WILDERNESS LODGE!!!

    Author's post-script: After we returned home, I got a survey from Loew's about our hotel experience and I wrote an honest but negative review of what had happened during our stay. They ended up refunding me the difference between Club Level and a standard room of the same type, so I really appreciated the gesture to "make it right". Do I think the hassle was worth "free" club level? No, but I did get a room for about the same price as what I'd reserved and sincere apologies. I wanted to include this because I don't think the service we got at Hard Rock's Club was typical of what they offer - the club was full to bursting any time there was food out, and the staff was constantly having to refresh things and clean up. It left no time for any kind of guest interaction. And I am a member of a RED RED REDNECK family (my dad is a four-wheelin, deep-sea fishin, card carryin member of the NRA) and there were for sure some big rednecks in that club - I'm talking fresh out of the pool, no shoes, wearing a bathing suit, touching communal food with their bare hands, leaving messes, sprawling out on the floor type behavior. So while our experience wasn't one I'd be willing to pay for in the future, I am sure it was strongly related to the time of year and capacity at the hotel, not the service that Hard Rock usually provides. The room itself was lovely and comfortable and I would definitely stay there again if the price was right.

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    Next up: our first (partial) Disney day
     
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