First Timers Trip, July 15-22 2018

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by Lstar311, Jul 31, 2018.

  1. Lstar311

    Lstar311 Mouseketeer

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    Hi everyone! I have read so many great trip reports in preparing for our trip that I thought it would be fun to try to write one myself. (And maybe relive the best vacation!)

    So to start with intros we are a family of 4, myself, DH, DS-11, and DD-8. We just moved in January so we weren't really planning on a vacation this year. We were bummed bc the kids dance studio was doing Dance the Universe in June and we originally wanted to go but after buying the house we didn't think it was in the cards. We did decide (in May) after saving a bit that we would be able to afford a trip but at that time it was too late to do the Dance the Universe as payments had already been made.

    We asked the kids where they wanted to go and DS said Disney. I looked into it a bit, we have been to Disney many, many times over the years but after our last trip two years ago it just didn't seem as appealing to DH and myself. I started looking into Universal a bit more and DD and I spent a lot of time online looking at the rides. We still weren't 100% on exactly what we wanted to do, we thought about maybe an offsite hotel and doing a day at Disney, a beach day, a Universal day, or Seaworld. While we were deciding where exactly to go DH found a deal on a flight so we booked it!! We knew we were going to Orlando just not exactly sure where we were going to stay!

    After lots of research and reviews I decided on a package through Costco which included an offsite hotel and 5 day Universal tickets. The hotel looked beautiful and got great reviews, it included a shuttle to and from Universal. We were very excited but I kept on doing research and started thinking that the shuttle might not work for us with the times being more limited than what we were used to with Disney trips. I also started thinking a lot about Express Pass being that we were going in July. The more I thought about it the more I started to think that it may be a better idea to stay onsite. It was hard choosing a hotel, I was between the three that offer Express. I showed the kids the pictures of the resorts and while I think that my DS and I would have loved Hard Rock, DD really loved the look of the spray area of the pool at Royal Pacific and with the price being the lowest of the three I ended up canceling my other reservation and booking Royal Pacific about 10 days before our trip!!

    So, if anyone out there is interested in hearing more about our trip I'll keep adding to the report. I'm not sure how to add pictures or anything yet so I hope its not too boring without them!
     
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  2. Eve & Wall-e

    Eve & Wall-e Mouseketeer

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    Yes, I'm interested in reading more about your trip!
     
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  4. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

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    I'm here! Can't wait to her more! An onsite stay at a deluxe with EP is amazing!!
     
  5. Lstar311

    Lstar311 Mouseketeer

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    For a little more background this was the first real vacation (more than a 2 night trip) that my little family of 4 has taken alone. We have always invited both my mom and mother in law to join us so that they could experience everything with the kids too. This time we went alone even though I felt a little sad not bringing our moms.

    Leading up to the trip we were so excited, I did a lot of reading here and learned so much! I found out about Tony Hinds (who was great!!) so I booked him. I was surprised that he was able to accomodate us on short notice as I had originally had booked a Mears shuttle but after changing the resort I changed the transportation also.

    We knew that we would need lanyards so we went to 5 Below and bought some there as I thought they would be cheaper than in the parks. I also made sure I bought Sea Bands and Dramamine after reading about so many people getting motion sickness. No one in my family has ever had motion sickness but I thought it would be better to be prepared than to have to buy those things there if needed.

    The kids got new pj's for the trip (why did I need to buy them pj's??) and we all picked out fun tropical outfits for the luau at Royal Pacific that I booked for our last night. I also booked the Minion Character breakfast a few days before we left. I booked that too late though because the 9:30 am time was all booked up so my choices were 8 or 11. I am not a morning person at all, no one in my family is but I didn't want to book the 11 when I had already booked the luau for the same night so 8 it was!

    One more important piece of info about us is that none of us were Harry Potter fans prior to booking this trip. (I know, crazy!) It's not my genre and the kids have never expressed an interest. I thought it was important that we had some background on Harry so we watched the first movie about a week and a half before our trip. We liked it a lot so we managed to watch the first 3 movies before we left. Now that we are back we watched the 4th one so we just have a few more to go!
     
  6. schumigirl

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

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    Oh I`m looking forward to reading along with you on this one...…..

    Pictures or no pictures, we love reading about folks trips...…….

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Potter...…..we aren't huge fans, although we have all read the books and seen the movies many times........maybe I am a bigger fan than I thought........:rotfl:but love what they have done there, it is spectacular...….

    RPR is simply the best!!!!!
     
  7. JaxDad

    JaxDad DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for sharing your experience! We've done three short trips to Universal and RPR and loved them all.

    I've also done a trip report on the DIS without pictures. They are still fun to read and fun to write. Plus, as you know, the reports are very helpful to others planning trips. I've found that even the smallest details in trip reports will get questions and PMs from others who are stressing about something or just interested to learn more.
     
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  8. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    I'm looking forward to hearing more about your trip!
    Don't worry about showing pictures.
    I've read many trip reports with no pictures and it was still a great read for us.

    Just telling us about your vacation as a newbie is always exciting for the readers here.
     
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  9. Lstar311

    Lstar311 Mouseketeer

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    Day 1-Sunday

    We all woke up early, the kids didn't even have to be woken up which was unusual for them! We quickly got ready and were off. We had about an hour and 20 min drive to the airport. We decided to stop on the way for breakfast and just did a drive through. We were parking offsite from the airport and getting shuttled over and we didn't know how long that process would take or if we would get lost looking for the parking garage as we had never been there before. We left pretty early so that we would not be late. We were also first time flyers with Spirit and we weren't sure how fast that process would go as we had to tag our luggage ourselves when we got there so we wanted to make sure we had plenty of extra time.

    We found the parking garage easily and as soon as we were getting out of our car the shuttle was already there waiting for us so that went very well. Spirit's check in was much easier than anticipated so we found our gate with plenty of time to spare. We had hours of delays on our last trip to Orlando two years ago with a different airline so we had plenty of things with us to keep us entertained. My daugher and I read her new book together and she face timed one of her friends for a while. My son played on his phone and then did some of his summer math packet. We all got something to eat and were pleasantly suprised that our flight was on time! The plane ride was easy, I sat in between the kids and we played cards for a while. My son and I read aloud from his summer reading book, I am sure the passangers around us were disappointed that they weren't able to hear how the story ended!

    When we arrived at MCO and went to the baggage terminal Tony Hinds was there wating for us with my name held up on his ipad. I had never had a car service pick us up before and I really wanted to take a picture of him holding the ipad but didn't want to embarrass myself by asking him, haha! He was such a nice man, we enjoyed chatting with him on the way to RPR. He stopped at Publix for us and we got a case of water, some other drinks for the room and the parks, my coffee creamer, and some bags of snacks. We went through the entire case of water, I wish I had bought a little more because we ended up buying a few waters from the hotel gift shop. Not a big deal but would have been cheaper at Publix.

    We finally arrived at Royal Pacific and went to check in. We had an afternoon flight so our room was ready right away. We got our room keys, DH got Minions, I got Hulk, DS got Kong and DD got Jurassic. I know she really wanted the minion one but it was not something I was going to ask to change. We also got leis and I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get to take a picture of us with them on when we first got there but I guess we were too excited and I forgot.

    Our room was gorgeous, we were on the 4th floor at the end of the hallway in Tower 1. I was surprised at what a great location we got for booking so last minute. I booked the standard room but we had a view of a lagoon and we could see the roadway a little bit in front of the hotel. I had expected a parking lot view or something so it was definintely nicer than I anticipated. We were also close to the elevator and the pool/lobby. We spent a little bit of time unpacking and then put on our bathing suits to go down to the pool and get some dinner at the Bula Bar.

    The kids were so excited to play ping pong during dinner and I joked with DH that it was like we were on a date. I got the Asian salad and it was soo good, It had manadarin oranges in it and the dressing was delicious. I normally do not like fruit in salad but this was really good. The kids got burgers and DH got a turkey burger. He loved it! After dinner we stayed in the pool area and went swimming. The kids really loved all of the beach balls in the pool. I got so many pictures of them playing with them. I thought that they would have so much fun in the boat/sprinkler area but they said the water coming out of it was cold and they never really played in it. It's funny because I think that was the main appeal to my daugher when we were looking at the hotels. I think we finally went back up to the room for the night around 9:30ish so we wouldn't get up too late for the parks. We are not early risers as I said before and we like to relax a bit in the mornings before doing anything. I am in awe of the people who get up and out to the parks for the Early Hours, that is just wasted on us!
     
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  10. schumigirl

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

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    That is a nice start to your trip......anything with no delays is always good!

    And lovely to hear you liked RPR so much........the pool is fun and Bula Bar food is gorgeous! You made some nice choices there........

    I’m with you.......although we are up fairly early on vacation, we have never once made Early Entry......no need for us.

    You had a nice day........
     
  11. Lstar311

    Lstar311 Mouseketeer

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  12. Lstar311

    Lstar311 Mouseketeer

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    Yes we really lucked out w how smoothly the traveling went. I think we were kind of traumatized from our last trip to.... somewhere else!!

    I am in the middle of your tinsel trip report right now!! Loving it!
     
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  13. schumigirl

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

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    Yes, when travel goes well, it goes really well......but when it goes bad.........nightmare! Oh I did like your comment about not wanting to take Tony’s picture holding up the iPad with your name........I know what you mean.....when we had a limo pick us up at JFK for mum and I couple of years back, I wanted to take a picture and mum was mortified and wouldn’t let me.........lol.......she should know me by now!!!

    Glad you’re enjoying the tinsel one......seems ages away now.........
     
  14. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    Perfect start for a trip

    You make it sound like a very smooth start for the vacation
     
  15. bobbie68

    bobbie68 DIS Veteran

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    :wave2: Glad to be reading a long about your trip! Like the others have said no pics needed. I just started last year doing the reports and love doing it.

    It is always so nice to start a vacation on a good note. The transportation problems can make it or break it. Glad you liked Tony. I found him on these boards years ago. We use him every time we fly.

    Glad you liked RPR so far. It is a beautiful resort! We spent minimal time there once but will put it back on the itinerary!

    It's funny you mentioned the room cards. I didn't put it in my trip report a few weeks ago but at check in there was rumblings with my teens. When I asked them they were a little disappointed about their key card characterso_O...I kindly asked the associate if we could change them and he was more than happy to do it. If it happens again don't worry about asking. I have found great, helpful TM's at Universal.

    The food sounds great that you guys chose.

    I can't wait to read more:thumbsup2
     
  16. Lstar311

    Lstar311 Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for letting me know! I already thought about asking ahead of time next time. I really didn't want to make her reprint the cards and my DD wasn't devastated about it!
     
  17. Lstar311

    Lstar311 Mouseketeer

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    Day 2-Monday-First Park Day!!

    Monday morning we woke up and lazed in the room for a little bit. I made coffee in the keurig, this was one of the best parts of the resort for me. I love having coffee as soon as I wake up and in other hotels going out to get coffee is a bit of a pain so having this in the room really made me happy! I brought my own K cups from home and used the ones that were provided. I had to keep asking star services for extra paper cups though because we were using them to pour drinks for the kids and for my coffee so they went fast. One time when I asked for extra cups they brought me K cups, I must not have clarified what I meant. I have one left, I don't want to use it because its my last piece of RPR!!!

    So after I had coffee we went down to the Orchid Lounge for breakfast. My DD and I got cereal and fruit. My son had pancakes and if you have not been to RP yet I won't spoil how cool the pancake maker is there, I have never seen anything like it! My husband had a bagel and some other pastries, all of the food was good and I thought that the prices were reasonable. We enjoyed the atmosphere in the lounge. I think my husband would have preferred more of a food court because he likes to eat but I liked the lounge a lot.

    We made our way to the boat launch and headed to Universal. We brought an insulated backpack with waters and I was prepared with our ponchos, Sea Bands, and Dramamine. I have never gotten motion sickness before but I read about so many people feeling sick on the rides that I was worried and wanted to be prepared. It turned out that none of us felt sick at all and didn't need anything but we lugged it around all week.

    Once we entered the park the first ride we saw was Minions and we got right in the Express Pass line. I was a little surprised that it did take about 40 min to get through the line even with express but it was the middle of July. None of the other lines took as long as this though. After Minions we went on Jimmy Fallon. I know that this ride doesn't always get the best reviews but we all really liked it. I watch his show occasionally and thought the ride was fun! After that we went to check out Harry Potter and rode Escape From Gringotts. In that line you get your picture taken and we all looked good in it so we got it. One thing I noticed is that they turn the screen off so you really don't have a lot of time to view your picture. This was for all of the rides that take your picture not just Gringotts.

    We decided to take the train over to IOA. We really enjoyed the ride, it was a lot of fun but my daughter didn't see the entrance to track 9 3/4 so we knew we would have to go back on the train another time. We liked the train ride and having the flexibility to go to both parks. Once we were in IOA we found Olivanders and got in line to go inside. My aunt had given the kids money to get wands so that was next on our list. The show at Olivanders was cool, my kids didn't get picked but the boy who did just looked so into the whole thing, you could tell he was a fan. Both kids took a lot of time in having their wands choose them. The store was small so my husband went outside to wait! After they got their wands we tried to do some spells. It was not as easy as I expected it to be. They had a little luck but not too much, so finally someone working there told us that someimes during the day with the sun glare it is harder for the sensors to read the wands so we decided to save the wands for an evening.

    By then we were hungry so we went out to City Walk and headed to Margaritaville. I had been wanting to try a Margaritaville for a year after my husband and I went to Connecticut last summer and didn't have time to try it. I got a crab cake sandwich and it was delicious. The kids got chicken fingers and my husband had pasta with shrimp. Everything was delicious and our server was wonderful.

    We went back to IOA after our lunch. The nice thing about this trip was not being rushed. The kids liked posing on the different bikes and things that are right past the entrance of the park. We also rode Spiderman as it was highly recommended by a friend who had gone a few months ago. We didn't stay in the park much longer as the kids wanted to go back to the resort and swim. My husband ended up with another turkey burger later that evening. We were back in the room by 10 and relaxed for a bit before going to bed.
     
  18. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    What a great first day you had!

    You covered a lot in the parks
     
  19. Eve & Wall-e

    Eve & Wall-e Mouseketeer

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    DH and I are going to Universal and WDW on our upcoming trip late Nov 2018. We've never been to Universal Orlando before (we've been to the one in California) so I'm really enjoying your trip report.
     
  20. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

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    Sounds like a great time so far! The best parts of many of our family vacations are times spent at the pool. Even in Orlando with all the parks, rides, and excitement nothing can beat a little R&R at the pool!
     
  21. schumigirl

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

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    Lol......another Jimmy Fallon fan.........there are a few!!!

    You had such a good day........nice start and had plenty to fill your time in the parks! It is lovely being able to tour the parks in such a relaxing way.......and the RPR pool is lovely........
     

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