Graduation Trip - June 17-23 2018 - Portofino Bay

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by Stargazer9, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    Hi All!

    This Sunday we head off for a long planned and anticipated trip to Universal to celebrate my DD's high school graduation. party:

    We are booked into a Garden View room at Portofino Bay. I started out with a standard room at RPR and when annual pass rates came out, actually found a cheaper Bay View Room at Portofino Bay. Last week, on a whim, called and found a cheaper Garden View Room at Portofino Bay. Score!

    It is the three of us... DD (17), DS (21) and me! It's our third trip to the dark side. Our normal "home" is RPR but I couldn't resist the lower rates at Portofino Bay, so this will be a new experience for us.

    I love to plan trips... All three of us have really been looking forward to getting away and enjoying some (ok a lot! :beach: ) of Florida sun and some much deserved down time. I run an import company and it's really, really hard for me to get away....

    And two days ago... I started to get sick.... head cold... and now I'm pretty miserable... oy.... I'm devouring handfuls of cold remedy, but.. really... why... ugh... :crazy2:

    Regardless, I'm determined to enjoy myself... or just rest... or something.

    I'll try to post while I'm there as I'm the worst at following up on TR writing... :rolleyes:
     
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  2. iivye

    iivye Mouseketeer

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    I'm following along. We have only ever stayed at RPR but I also have a Nov trip booked at Portofino Bay so I'm interested to see what you thoughts are on the resort. Sorry you got sick right before the trip.
     
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  4. schumigirl

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

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    Yay!!

    Your trip is about to start! That came around so quickly.......

    Oh I hope with everything, you get better and can have an amazing trip! And will look forward to reading that you are so much better and your trip is fabulous!!!
     
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  5. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    Thanks for the comments!!

    Tomorrow is the big day.... I'm about a 5 out of 10 on the "feeling crappy" scale. :sick: I've just decided that it is what it is and fun will be had regardless. Which is funny, since this isn't at all my normal reaction to these things... but what can ya do??

    We are traveling from Newark, NJ tomorrow on United. I chose an afternoon flight, even though we "lose" a day in travel, since I have older kids and sleep is super important.. :cat: It also makes for a more relaxed start to the trip and this trip is all about relaxed.

    It seems strange to some that I'd choose a theme park vacation for relaxing.. but for some reason Universal doesn't stress me out. And I love staying onsite and using the water taxis to get around... and of course express pass... wouldn't have it any other way....

    We are all fully aware that it's going to be hot as blazes.... 2 years ago we did Disney this same week and we only survived by doing midday breaks at the hotel. And at Universal, it will be even easier to get back to hotel. This week works best for us as it corresponds to the week break between quarters at my son's (and now also daughter's!) university (Drexel). Now, by fully aware, that means the kids should know this, right? Ha, they will complain and whine, just you wait. :rolleyes1

    Several months ago I reached out to Tony Hinds to provide our airport to hotel transportation. I took the suggestion from the reviews on these boards.. Not renting a car, not planning on doing any "off campus" travel. I initially emailed Tony but didn't hear back. I called him and got him right away. I'm not sure if email is the best way to reach him. So, since it had been awhile, I called him up yesterday, just to confirm. He's super personable,remembered us and knew our flight number ... so I'm already impressed... will let you know how pickup goes tomorrow. BTW, I'm paying him cash, and he asked for it all up front. I think I'll tip separately by trip though in case of different drivers.

    Should arrive into MCO around 5:30 pm tomorrow. We have a grocery stop planned on way to PB. Pick up some snacks and stuff. :drinking1 Once on site, I want to try to go and upgrade my annual pass, activate all our passes, and get the photo pass activated. I ended up buying the photo pass year long deal for annual pass holders. Wasn't a bad deal and I'm planning a return trip for January...

    Anywhoo, hope I'm not boring anyone with all this, kind of fun to put it down... should probably go figure out how to upload a photo...lol...
     
  6. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    :crazy:[​IMG]

    Sorry, testing the image upload... perhaps more research necessary...
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  7. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    [​IMG]

    Errrr.... sorry for huge picture... this is us in 2009, DD was 9 and DS 12...
     
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  8. GracieKam

    GracieKam Earning My Ears

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    How exciting! A couple of the times we have went to Florida has been during the super hot summer months too. It turned out fine—lots of water and a slower pace :) Can’t wait to read along about your trip!
     
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  9. schumigirl

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

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    Not boring at all!!!!

    It`s lovely to read your plans and thoughts.....and nice picture!!!

    Still sending good thoughts you feel so much better.
     
  10. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    [​IMG]

    Please enjoy this blurry picture of my college roommate and I from a 2011 trip... rocking the fanny packs!!
     
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  11. wilma-bride

    wilma-bride <<This space intentionally blank>> Moderator

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    How exciting, hope you have tons of fun
     
  12. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    Arrived about 30 mins ago into MCO. Nice flight, uneventful... Been waiting for luggage, they can't unload planes... lightning in area... Ugh....
    I'm about a 4 on the feeling crappy meter. I actually prefer sitting on a luggage carousel, feeling a bit crappy to feeling good, and at work....so there's that.... :laughing:
     
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  13. schumigirl

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

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    Glad you arrived safely, hope you feel a whole lot better this morning......
     
  14. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

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    Yay! You're there!! Can't wait to read all about your adventures! We arrive this Friday! Just for a couple of days before we drive to FT. Lauderdale- but we'll get a little park time in!
     
  15. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    Fun is being had! Once we (finally) got our luggage, our driver Ron took us to Portofino Bay, with a quick stop at Publix for snacks and drinks... Portofino Bay is super impressive. First impressions really good. We got my request for West Wing which is closer to the boat launch. Ended up on second floor looking at the back side of the beach pool. Great location!!
     
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  16. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    Once we were situated, we hightailed it to the park to get our passes activated and also the photo pass. Took a bit longer than I'd like, but I was glad we'd done it then.... the next morning the lines were soooo much longer.

    All activated, we entered IOA just at 9 (park closed at 10) and went directly to Hogsmeade. Had our first (cold) butterbeer! And rode FJ. Such a great ride, we really enjoyed it...

    By the time we were off the ride, the park was closed and we slowly made our way to the exit...
     
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  17. Lynne G

    Lynne G DIS Veteran

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    Yay, live reporting. So glad you made it and are enjoying the parks and PB. I hope you are feeling much better.
     
  18. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

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    Good news about the room location! I think the last hour or so is the best time of the day to do rides! Lines aren't long at all!! Can't wait to hear about your next day!
     
  19. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead Moderator

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    Hope all is fine for you

    Would love to hear more from you
     
  20. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    We are back! I actually started the week keeping notes... that petered out... but I have a pretty good idea of what we did (at least the first part of the week!).

    We really had a fabulous time. We absolutely loved PB. The resort is really gorgeous and even though a little bit farther away from the parks (we've only been to RPR), it was no issue at all. There were a couple of time periods when it was threatening to storm and the water taxis were not running and we walked. It was very doable.

    Loved the pizza at Sal's. Highly recommend!

    It was very very hot and humid this week, and also quite crowded which we definitely expected. And yes, my (big) kids were whiners, lol. I definitely took advantage of the early entry, it was a great way to have reasonable temperatures and crowds. And, my kids didn't want to get up early, so I did the mornings alone. Which was really awesome :thumbsup2. I went to Ollivander's and got myself a wand and wandered about casting spells and being a total Harry Potter geek.

    Had a bunch of frozen butterbeer, yum... and treated myself to a beer at the Hogs Head one morning at 10:00 am! Vacation!!

    We spent the afternoon's at the PB pools. Loved the villa pool! And the pool drinks! :drinking1

    One afternoon, it was rainy and we went to the movies and watched The Incredibles 2 in Imax. It was great fun and a super way to spend a rainy afternoon.

    Every evening we went back to the parks and over the course of the 5 days worked our way through all the the rides. We didn't end up seeing many of the shows, I'd have liked to have seen more of them. Caught a couple of the shows in WWoHP, they were really good. Saw a bit of the 5 pm parade, it was cute.

    We made sure to see the Horror Makeup show, love that one and the kids didn't really remember it from before, so it was fun.

    The kids badgered me into riding Rip Ride Rockit and it was a real head banger for me. Oy, my poor head. The next night we did Hulk and I loved that one, would do it again for sure.

    I had wanted to do the Raptor Encounter but our timing was off and the kids threatened to mutiny if I made them wait...

    We were there for 5+ days, but I'd have liked more time. There were definitely more things to see and I really enjoyed just moseying around looking at all the little details (in the mornings... in the afternoon/evenings it was a sea of sweaty peeps)... We saw a couple of epic meltdowns...mainly by adults, oy...

    I'll post more.. sorry for the mishmash of info/thoughts....
     
  21. Stargazer9

    Stargazer9 Loves Universal and Disney

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    [​IMG]

    And here we are from this trip... I did the photo pass 1 year of downloads for annual passholders. It was $79.99 and is good for one year. While for sure there aren't as many photographers as at Disney, they were definitely there. I thought it was worth it as we got a bunch of nice photos and a whole slew of hilarious ride photos...

    [​IMG]

    Hilarious!!!
     
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