How many photos of Hogwarts have you taken?? - June 8-11 TR

nouvellefleur

Earning My Ears
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
So we’ve just returned from a 4 day trip to Universal Orlando and I thought I’d try my hand at a first-timer’s trip report. :)

Here’s the rundown:

Park Dates: June 8-11 (Thursday-Sunday)
Onsite Hotel: Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Express Pass: Nope!
Focus: Harry Potter
The People: me, K, C, and R (and J, in spirit), all in our early to mid 30s and die-hard Harry Potter fans


It all started years ago when K said she wanted the gang to get back together and meet up in Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for her 30th birthday. We all went to college together but now we’re spread across several states from the Midwest to the East Coast, with some husbands and babies in the mix. Between jobs and the aforementioned babies, it took us a few years to get everything planned but at last everything was set - June 2017 was going to finally be The Year We Went To Hogwarts.

Well, then my sister J got pregnant (a dearly wished for near-miracle, thank you Science) and had to drop out. We were down to four, but, with her blessing, we pressed on.

I did a ton of research for the trip. So. Much. Google. My preferred MO for a vacation is to do as much research as possible before leaving and soak my brain full with preferences, tips, hints, tricks, and Must Dos. But I don’t do itineraries. I let the minutiae percolate in the background, go with the flow and let the day unfold. Then, e.g., if it’s lunchtime and we’re wondering where to eat, I can pull out some options from the percolator and submit them for consideration. It’s a little weird to try to describe, but I’ve learned that it’s the best way for me to balance over-planning vs under-planning, knowing where the good places to eat are vs staying spontaneous. It does mean that I obsess about a trip before I actually go, however.

In any case, I've totally messed this TR up from the start by somehow accidentally posting with like half a title. So just in case we're stuck with this situation - here we go!

When you get invited on a Harry Potter vacation with me, you get a notification via the Owl Post Forwarding Service.

 
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nouvellefleur

Earning My Ears
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Editing ninja-like as I've now learned how to edit things on Disboards. It's almost like I'm a technologically competent adult...


Wednesday June 7th - Travel Day


The four of us were flying in from all across the country and meeting in Orlando, but we managed to get our flights to mostly line up with arrivals ranging from 5pm to 7pm. I actually connected with friend C in Minneapolis, as our flights had coincidentally aligned from that point on. It took us nearly 30 minutes to find each other in MSP, but we finally managed to connect and celebrated with an 11am prosecco and cheeseboard like the terribly classy adults that we are.



A thunderstorm in Orlando delayed our flight by around an hour, so we then decided to continue our celebrations with more prosecco... and french fries.



The thunderstorm in Orlando delayed everyone else too, so I wasn’t too fussed which is really a nice change from my usual travel mentality. The prosecco may have helped with that. We all managed to arrive in Orlando within 45 minutes of each other. We convened at the luggage carousel, sorted out the over-packers (*raises hand sadly*) from the light packers, and called for the airport shuttle.

We were trying to plan this trip on as much of a budget as possible, so we decided to grab a $100/night airport-adjacent hotel on our first night. I used booking.com to reserve a queen suite at the Comfort Suites Orlando Airport.

I only mention the website because after making the reservation, I heard several horror anecdotes from travelers who used Booking.com to book a one night hotel stay (like us, for airport access purposes before or after a theme park or cruise vacation); when they arrived, the hotel claimed that the reservation had been canceled or the hotel was overbooked, that even though the traveler had called to confirm the reservation it didn’t matter, they were totally screwed and had nowhere to stay.

These horror anecdotes made me a little nervous, especially when the travelers swore on a stack of bibles that they’d done everything right, including calling and confirming the reservation.

Well, all I can say is, I had no troubles at all. The front desk checked us in with a smile. The Comfort Suites Orlando Airport was reasonably clean, reasonably updated, and in a good location. The airport shuttle arrived in under 30 minutes with a driver who was pleasant and drove safely. The queen suite had two very comfortable queen beds and a sofa bed. The water pressure in the shower was pretty dreadful (we were on the 5th floor), but the room was spacious. All in all, I would recommend this for a single night pre- or post-vacation stay - if you're okay with ordering delivery, you have a car to drive 1-2 miles to a restaurant, or you're okay with taking an Uber/taxi 1-2 miles to a restaurant. There's no food in the immediate walking vicinity.

We woke up absurdly early, grabbed some bagels at the free breakfast station (which, like most free hotel breakfasts is nothing to write home about, but if you stick with a bagel and an apple at least you won’t leave hungry), and requested an Uber to take us to Cabana Bay.

Next Up: Hitting the Parks!
 
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schumigirl

It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
Joined
May 15, 2007
You had me at Prosecco.........:D

Sounds an excellent trip.......looking forward to reading along with you......
 
  • nouvellefleur

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2017
    Thursday June 8th - First Park Day

    Our Uber got us to Cabana Bay bright and early. Since not everyone overpacked like me and R, our accidental ordering of a normal size Uber vs an Uber XL was not a totally dreadful mistake. But it was still pretty tight. Four people plus luggage really calls for the UberXL.

    Upon checking in to CBBR at around 7am, we were all pleasantly surprised that our room was already available and we didn’t need to utilize the luggage services. Yay! I didn't take a lot of photos of the resort and no photos of the room since they're pretty well documented out there. But here's a photo from our first night while hanging at the pool:



    As per the internet’s suggestions, we had reserved a Courtyard Suite and requested the Castaway building for its prime location (we were under the delusion that we might utilize the garden walkway from CBBR to CityWalk… spoiler alert: that was overly ambitious). We wound up in Thunderbird on the 2nd floor which worked out fabulously.

    Our view was of the parking lot, with a few glimpses of the backsides of buildings and rides. Room 2219 isn’t high up enough or to the left enough to get a view of Hogwarts, but I really appreciated the 2nd floor location - we only needed to use the elevator when moving our luggage around. The walk to and from the Bayliner Diner and the shuttle buses felt like it took forever when we were tired, but I timed it one night and it was only five minutes which, really, that’s not so bad, just suck it up.

    There’s a lot of Courtyard suite reviews out there, but here’s my two cents:

    It was pretty much perfect for us. The soundproofing was overall excellent. I really liked that the Do Not Disturb sign was a magnet (such a cute touch). We didn’t utilize the fridge and microwave as much as we thought we would, but they were nice to have. I did wish that the toilet and shower rooms would have had fans however, and that the mirror in the sink area was larger. We all managed to get ready in a relatively timely manner in the mornings, but there was quite a lot of maneuvering for mirror space.

    In college, the four of us lived with each other in dorm rooms and while studying abroad in London in a variety of different roommate combinations. We didn’t kill each other then but of course there was some young adult strife. As adults, with that experience under our collective belt, I think we all went in a little nervous and were all really happy at how well we were able to cohabit and function on our first big group, single hotel room vacation.

    We pretty much threw our stuff into the room, reminded each other about sunglasses, ponchos, water bottles, and room keys - and then we pretty much flew to the shuttles, through CityWalk, and into our dreams: Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure!

    ===

    Early Entry was at Islands of Adventure the entire length of our stay. It would have been more convenient if it was both parks - we ended up riding the Hogwarts Express from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley roughly 800 times - but EE at both parks would have implied a higher expected crowd level, so ah well.

    I don’t know if words can really explain my feeling of walking into Hogsmeade for the first time, let alone seeing Hogwarts for the first time. I took over 400 photos in four days, not to mention 20-odd videos (primarily for my absent sister who was home with her newborn, my first nephew), most of them in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. I didn’t cry, but I can’t deny that my voice caught several times as I was narrating some of those videos.



    We spent all morning in Hogsmeade, riding Forbidden Journey (survived by the grace of scopolamine), Flight of the Hippogriff (loved, idc if it is a kids coaster), and Dragon Challenge (Chinese Fireball side). We popped into the Ollivander’s line and waited barely 15 minutes - and of course the show was delightful. We were so bright eyed and bushy tailed, it was so amazing how much we got done this first morning.



    I also took the opportunity to send my new nephew his first postcard via Owl Post:



    We had a very early lunch / second breakfast at 10:45 at the Three Broomsticks. I believe all of us got the Cornish pasties, haha. They certainly weren’t like any Cornish pasty I’ve ever had before (and I’ve lived in both London and Edinburgh for a short time, so I've had a few), but they were very tasty and a very nice light but filling option. I love food and reading food reviews and writing food reviews... but most of the time I don't remember to take a picture of my meal until after I've already taken a bite or two...





    We spent much of the afternoon in Diagon Alley exploring, taking pictures, and riding Gringotts. It was raining steadily by this time.



    We went back to Cabana Bay for naps at 2pm and had an early dinner/late lunch at around 4pm - the bacon cheeseburger with fries was acceptable though a bit on the bland side. Eating at CBBR at 4pm was great - it was practically empty and the lines went so fast. We ate at more “normal” times after today and the lines could get quite long at peak dinner hour.



    We went back to Universal Studios, puttered around Diagon Alley some more and took about a thousand more pictures because the sun was out. We rode Men in Black on our way out. I loved walking through Springfield but none of us really grew up with it and none of us were that excited by the rides, so we mostly just walked through on our way in and out of the park.







    We wanted to try something different, so we took the ferry boat to Sapphire Falls and then the garden path to CBBR. It was honestly very hard to find the garden path from SF to CBBR, even though I thought I’d researched it well before leaving. Some of our party were a bit less enthused about being “lost” than others... Finally back at CBBR (and it didn't take that long), we (well, three out of four of us) had a drink by the pool and some french fries. I can’t handle sweet cocktails when it’s hot out but the bartender made me a very nice highball. We got into bed around 11pm and immediately passed out.
     

    nouvellefleur

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2017
    Friday June 9th

    Since we had booked Universal’s Harry Potter vacation package, we had a Shutterbutton’s studio appointment planned for this morning. We knew that between the heat, humidity, and chances of rain, it would be best to make our appointment earlier rather than later so we scheduled for 9:30am.

    I don’t consider myself an early bird by any means, but apparently I’m more of an early bird than some of my friends when it comes to vacation days haha. I staggered out of bed, got dressed, and we made coffee… well, sort of. The room coffee at CBBR is not fantastic and, horror of horrors, they only provide powdered creamer. But I choked it down and chivvied everyone downstairs to the Bayliner for breakfast.

    I think we all got the bacon egg & cheese croissant sandwiches. We did a lot of twinning when it came to meal ordering. The croissants were a little greasy and a little bland but good value for the price and they didn’t sit too heavily in the flatout incredible heat and humidity.



    We hit Early Entry right about as it opened, security was a breeze, the ticket turnstiles were a breeze, everything was a breeze. We never made it to the parks early enough to have to stand around waiting to get into EE, but Hogsmeade was never horrifically crowded during the EE hours and we started caring less and less about making the most of EE as the trip went on and we got more and more tired and footsore.





    Hilariously, all four of us had curled or straightened our hair this morning, hoping it would stay attractive until 9:30. I knew I was fighting a losing battle by the time we got off the shuttles. So we said screw it, rode the Hippogriff twice and the Dragon Challenge once, and then took the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley to see the nice wizards at Shutterbuttons.

    Shutterbuttons was so much fun. Our photographer’s camera was giving him some grief, and K had accidentally worn a green shirt - but luckily it was the wrong shade of green, so everything turned out okay and she wasn’t just a floating head. The purchasing options were very confusing. I’m still not entirely sure how they work. All I can say for certain is that our Shutterbuttons session booked through the Universal HP package did indeed come with one “free” copy of the dvd. We also bought a single copy each of our wizarding duel photos, which I believe were $20 each?

    We took the Hogwarts Express back to IoA, knowing that you must take the train both ways and hoping we might be able to get into the Raptor Encounter this afternoon. The Raptor Encounter line was insaaaaaaane so we had lunch instead - gyros and kebabs at the Fire Eater’s Grill and Doc Sugrue’s Kebab House. I love a gyro, and this was a pretty decent one considering it came from a theme park. It really needed some hot sauce though and I hadn't thought to pack any.



    Our collective feet hurt so bad by this point and it was very hot and sunny, so we went back to CBBR and spent the rest of the afternoon at the lazy river. The Hideaway Bar wasn’t as well set up as the Atomic Tonic, I think. The Atomic Tonic had a nice “Order Here” sign which kept everything nice and orderly. The Hideaway Bar embraced the typical “everyone crowd around the bar and try to catch the dude’s eye” method.

    We gave into the inevitable and bought inner tubes. $9 for the tire-like tube, sigh. I’d thought about bringing a tube, but the prices for a tube out here in New York weren’t that different than the resort price and I was already overpacked. The lazy river is quite nice… as long as it’s not currently dominated by horseplaying children. I have nothing against kids, but I did get kicked a few times towards the end when the lazy river was pretty much bumper-to-bumper with tubes.

    Since we spent our nap time in the pool today and everyone was still tired and getting very hungry, we decided not to worry too much about getting back to the park and instead get a little dressed up and go have a nice dinner on the CityWalk. I hopefully asked everyone if Cowfish sounded good, and yesssss it was unanimous - we were going to eat at the one place I really wanted to try.

    We got to Cowfish at 6pm and there was no wait. Certain of our party were getting that hangry look behind the eyes, so that was perfect. We ordered some cocktails - I got the Buffalos & Bacon which was good, though a little on the sweet side. I saved the candied bacon for my “dessert” haha which worked out so well.

    We got the crab rangoon dip for an appetizer which was excellent. Everyone loved it. The fried wontons were warm and only lightly greasy. The light drizzle of the sweet plum sauce was perfect.



    For entrees, I couldn’t decide so K and I decided to split a fusion roll (Mark’s roll) and a burgushi roll (Taste Explosion roll), while C got the sashimi and the King’s roll, and R got a bento box. As far as freshness and flavor went, everything was delicious. C is a bit of a foodie and approved of the quality of the sashimi. The only downside to Cowfish’s rolls is that their rolling technique leaves something to be desired.The rolls had a tendency to fall apart when you tried to pick them up, and most of the rolls were far too large to eat in a single bite so then they’d fall apart when you tried to bite them in half. It was delicious and I’d definitely go again, but I wish the rolls were a bit more tightly constructed. I hoped to go back and try one of their burgers but sadly never got the chance.









    It was about 7pm when we finished so we moseyed over to IOA and the Hog’s Head. We had a pint of the Dragon Scale (quite nice) and took a bunch of pics in front of Hogwarts in the beautiful sunset light.





    Another day fading, we realized with dismay that we only had two more days of vacation.
     
  • Kivara

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 14, 2015
    I'm loving your trip report! It's a shame your sister missed out on the trip, but what an amazing reason to miss out...BIG congrats to her!

    I loved Cowfish as well (and had the same problem with my roll falling apart...I almost resorted to using a spoon...GASP!)

    Sounds like you guys are a fun group...can't wait to read more!
     

    nouvellefleur

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2017
    Uhhhh hey guys! I never finished posting my trip report, even though it was all already written up! Shortly after I started posting it up, I decided to quit my job and move halfway across the country to be closer to my sister, brother-in-law, and new nephew. No regrets at all, except that in the rush I totally forgot about finishing my trip report. So if this thread isn't locked, I'll finish it up. Here we go!

    Saturday June 10

    We had a breakfast reservation at the Leaky Cauldron so we decided not to try too hard to hit EE. I once again staggered out of bed before everyone else because today I was determined to get down to Starbucks and get some real espresso. At 7:50am the line at Starbucks was practically nonexistent - I think I hit the golden moment where the real EE people had already been by and the other lazy people weren’t yet moving around. By 8:30 when we walked by toward the shuttles the line was very long.

    We made the line for the shuttles at 8:30-8:40 and, for the first time, there weren’t two shuttle buses waiting. A shuttle bus pulled away just as we walked up and, to be fair, I think we only waited a few minutes because my timestamps show that we made it to CityWalk security by 8:50am. The lines were a bit longer than previous days, but really not bad at all. The UO ticket turnstiles were also not bad at all. The trick to getting through the park gates really seems to be heading to the very far left, or sometimes the far right, where there are often completely empty lanes. It was so weird - sometimes there were completely empty lanes with employees just waiting for people to walk through. There's something about the human brain that just automatically makes you stand in a line I guess.

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    Breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron was definitely my favorite of the entire week. R and I got the egg, leek, and mushroom pasty while K and C got the full English breakfast. The pasty's crust was a lot like a buttermilk biscuit and was accompanied by a fabulous amount of fresh, ripe fruit. The full English was a bit hit or miss; it wasn’t quite authentic enough for C (who has also lived in Scotland for a time and knows what a full English should taste like). The black sausage was a bit dry though very aromatic.

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    I had decided to live dangerously today and leave off my scopolamine patch because it was making me just so thirsty. I wish I hadn’t. It took awhile for it to really hit me, and I really thought I was going to get away with it, but it was ultimately a very, very bad decision. :(

    We wanted to try to get out of the Harry Potter bubble and do some of the real rollercoasters today. First we rode the Mummy - which I looooooved. My only real ride regret from the trip is that I didn’t get to ride the Mummy multiple more times.

    When we went to the Rip Ride Rocket, this passel of Midwestern girls were given quite a surprise - C had smiled and said good morning to one of the line guys and he stopped us and told us to exit the line immediately. He told us to go back to the entrance and tell the Express Pass Line guards that Elex said to let us go through. I don’t know how miserable people were acting in the RRR line that morning, but apparently it was pretty miserable, because he said our good attitude deserved a trip through Express.

    I haven’t been on a real rollercoaster in years and I was pretty nervous for the RRR. I screamed like a ninny the entire time but in a good way. My photo was amazing (think, hands clutching my hair because I was about to lose my hair scarf + massive screaming face) but my strict budget meant that I couldn’t justify spending the money on it. I slightly regret that, but my god those photos are expensive.

    We rode the Jurassic River Adventure and then, it was so hot, we thought it would be a great idea to get soaked on Bluto’s River Barges. Well it was kind of a good idea? But being 100% soaked in street clothes is pretty miserable so we went back to CBBR for a late lunch and a nap. It was about 2pm and we were feeling pretty pleased with everything we had accomplished so far.

    The tomato mozzarella panini with pasta salad was pretty good. C got the veggie pasta bake which was overbaked and accompanied by a dry garlic breadstick. K got the lobster roll and really enjoyed it.

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    Here is when I started to have some difficulty. I’m still not sure if it was the heat and dehydration, if some gross water got into my mouth on Bluto’s Barges, if it was something I ate, or if it was the lack of scopolamine, but I spent the rest of the trip feeling vaguely nauseous, undergoing some intestinal distress, and occasionally yakking.

    It had been raining a bit during the early afternoon. I was feeling a bit weird in the stomach but still had no idea what was to come. The rides had just started up again after the rain closures so the wait for the Hulk was only 15 minutes. R and C hit the single rider line while K kept me company because I’d begun to realize something was dreadfully wrong. R and C had a great time on the Hulk while I hung out in the bathroom, miserably genuflecting before the porcelain god.

    Next up Kong! I survived but didn't enjoy myself. The Raptor Encounter was closed by the time we got over there, so we went over to UO, rode Men in Black, and then decided to go back to the Leaky Cauldron for dinner.

    Nothing sounded good to me there and I considered not eating, but I was really quite hungry underneath the nausea. (unsurprising considering how much my stomach had been emptied) While everyone ordered, I spoke to the exit witch who said it would be just fine if I got a jacket potato from London and brought it in to eat with my friends. I thought that was quite nice of her, and the loaded jacket potato was just what I needed to feel almost human again.

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    R got the Guinness stew and liked it but it was on the salty side.
    C got the mini pie selections and was impressed at the amount of seafood in the fishermans pie. She also got the Cranachan for dessert and really enjoyed it, though everyone else was saving themselves for Florean Fortescue’s.
    K got the banger sandwich and really enjoyed it.

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    I lived dangerously and got ice cream. I couldn’t finish it, but the chili chocolate + the Early Grey and lavender was such a good combination. The chili chocolate is rich and creamy with a slow burn. Florean Fortescue’s serves right up until 9pm.

    R and C ran to Gringotts to get in line before 9pm and ride one last time. K kept me company and we took so many pictures because Diagon Alley was finally emptying out. We were in Diagon Alley until probably about 9:30pm just taking pictures and admiring the atmosphere. It was fantastic and, dare I say it, magical. The security guards were very cool about letting people linger on the way out. We got some really great photos at this time. The Kings Cross porters photobombed us on the way out and then took a picture with us, and were just delightful to interact with.

    I think we finally emerged from CityWalk and hit the shuttles around 9:50. We went straight to bed as soon as we got back to our room.

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  • nouvellefleur

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2017
    June 11 Sunday

    Our final day! Our feet were finally not aching constantly but we were pretty tired so we decided not to hit EE this morning. We got up (I made the Starbucks run again) and made it to the shuttles by 8:13am where there were three buses waiting. We went straight to Hogsmeade as per usual and straight to the Dragon Challenge to ride the Hungarian Horntail. I think the Chinese Fireball was my favorite. The Hungarian Horntail felt noticeably slower though it was still fairly smooth, at least in the first - fourth rows.

    We were pretty hungry so we went into the Three Broomsticks at 9am, before our 9:30am reservation. I had the American breakfast which was.. okay. If you could only choose one breakfast location, I’d definitely go with the Leaky Cauldron. The eggs were better there and they have the breakfast pasty with all that gorgeous fruit.

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    After breakfast we spent some time making sure we had done all of the spells in Hogsmeade and then quickly meandered over to the Raptor Encounter because I was determined that we were going to get in there before we left, and the app said that it opened at 10am that day.

    They had begun letting people into line at the Raptor Encounter and we got into the first group by getting there at 9:57am. It. Was. Fantastic.

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    I honestly don’t remember what we did after. I think the Jurassic River Adventure again? I know we went back to CBBR for a nap. We had to lure C out of the hotel room by telling her we’d made a late lunch reservation at Mythos. Luckily we hadn’t because when we walked into the park the wait for the Hulk was at 5 minutes. R and C ran over to do that because you can’t pass up that kind of opportunity. I was feeling a bit icky but not actively sick so I sat out with K.

    We got to Mythos at around 3pm and had a 15 minute wait. The bread was steaming hot. The spanakopita dip was sooooo good. I honestly wanted to just eat that for my lunch. The signature burger was overcooked but they did bring me more of the special sauce to dip my fries in, so I was reasonably happy. K and C loved their lamb burgers, and R demolished her risotto and wouldn’t share. It was very chilly in there and soon became downright freezing as a huge thunderstorm rolled in just as we were finishing eating.

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    The downpour was astonishing! Our waiter was a lovely guy who said not to feel like we had to rush out of there and back into the rain and there was no hurry. When we took him at his word and decided to order a round of drinks and hopefully wait out the worst of the rain, he took back our checks and re-ran them. We spent probably 45 minutes just watching the waterfall dump out of the sky.

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    When the rain had lightened up a bit, we decided to venture out of the cold and free up the table for the mass of drenched people in the entry. C wanted to ride Forbidden Journey again and like an idiot I agreed to go on it with her. Ugh. Surprise, it made me feel pretty sick.

    We had a restorative drink at the Hog’s Head. I had a Stella. K had a firewhiskey and Strongbow. C had the wizarding version of a black and tan (the name escapes me). I was still feeling the effects of Forbidden Journey so I waved everyone on for one last Flight of the Hippogriff, even though it broke my heart. Gosh I do love the Flight of the Hippogriff though. I did pull myself together for the final ride to Diagon Alley and one last trip through Gringotts.

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    We made a reservation for Antojitos for 9:45pm for our last dinner. The best thing I can say about the dinner is that the waitress spoke to the bartender and they made me a delicious margarita that wasn’t too sweet (as most restaurant margaritas are just way too sweet for me, I'm picky). I had the Budin, kind of a layered tortilla thing with pork, corn, cheese, guac, etc. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy it. The flavor profile was really odd; the cheese was sweet? I love Mexican food, and not just American-ized Mexican food, I swear. Perhaps it can be chalked up to my iffy stomach but I don’t entirely think so. K enjoyed her ranchera enchiladas, R enjoyed her nachos. C’s pork mojo torta was okay but dry. It wasn’t that busy in there but they must have been understaffed because our waitress was obviously overburdened. She forgot our waters for ages. The bartender had made C’s horchata wrong which wasn’t resolved until she brought us the check. It was taken off the check but C spent the entire dinner without her drink or a replacement drink, wondering what was going on.

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    It was a bit of a bummer of a dinner to end our night on, but oh well that’s life. We sadly made our way back to the shuttles. Everyone packed their bags and got ready to leave. Everyone else (R, K, and C) were leaving bright and early the next morning to fly home. Me? Well, I didn’t want to go home so I didn’t. I was going to take an extra relaxation day off before going back to work anyway so I had decided to spend the money for once and stay at CBBR for an extra day and just hit the pool.
     

    nouvellefleur

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2017
    June 12 Monday

    I woke up feeling terrific, but also in a bit of a somber mood. I hadn’t realized until the night before that it was the one year anniversary of the Orlando Pulse shooting. I don’t feel like it’s my place to sentimentalize someone else’s tragedy, so that's all I'll say.

    I waved my friends off to their Ubers and taxis, and wished them safe flights home, and then prepared to enjoy one last relaxing day on my own before going back to work. ;__;

    I leisurely repacked and made my way to the front desk to re-check-in at around 10am. I hadn’t bothered to put in any room requests but a standard tower room was available on a high floor and I said that sounded just fine. Americana room 6739 - wow, they’re not joking when they say the tower hallways stretch on forever. This room had a view of Hogwarts! But unfortunately someone somewhere had made a mistake and housecleaning hadn’t yet made it to the room. I called the front desk from the room phone and they moved me to one floor down. They had a staff member meet me at the room with a new key so I wouldn’t have to wheel my luggage all the way back to the lobby and back, which I really appreciated.

    Sadly Americana room 6631 has no Hogwarts view due to how the tower zigzags.

    I spent some time luxuriating in the room’s air conditioning, watching tv, and trying to repack my suitcase a little. When the sun went behind the clouds, I grabbed my swimsuit and trekked over to Royal Pacific for a light lunch and swimming.

    Y’all aren’t kidding about the Bula Bar nachos - they’re delicious! And huge! It was embarrassing to get them but I figured no one knows who I am and anyway it’s not like I ate the entire thing. I hadn't actually believed the reports of how big they are, to be honest. I had actually budgeted for $15 nachos in because I’ve heard so much about them, haha. The waitstaff was very absent, however, which was a bit frustrating. I waited for ages for someone so I could order and ultimately ordered from the bartender. Then, when I wanted a water and a second beer, I had to order from the bartender again. Perhaps the waitstaff assumed I would just keep ordering from the bartender? But it would have been nice to be checked on.

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    The RP pool was so nice and relaxing, and much less populated than the CBBR pool. I’d love to splurge and stay at RP someday. It was so beautiful and peaceful. At one point, a girl came around with a tray of pina colada samples which was a very nice touch.

    416661

    416662
    (a random pic of Volcano Bay from the CBBR tower elevator bank)

    I only spent around 2 hours at the pool. It was looking more and more like rain and I didn’t want to walk back wet, so I meandered back to my faraway Tower and spent the rest of the evening just relaxing, reading, and watching tv while it rained. In a moment of laziness I tried to order pizza for the room… but the delivery line wasn’t working. I tried multiple times and got disconnected multiples times. I finally gave up, walked the 8000 miles to the Bayliner, and grabbed some pepperoni pizza. And at last I forgot to take a picture of my food.

    I was in bed pretty early as I was feeling a bit nauseous and intestinally challenged again (you’ll note that I was obviously way too confident about how I was feeling - I woke up feeling fantastic, and proceeded to eat and drink like a teenager and not an anxious, motionsickness-prone young woman in her early 30s). I watched some of the Pulse memorial service, cried a little, then decided it would be okay to end the day on a happy note with an episode of So You Think You Can Dance. (You didn’t realize this trip report would also include tv reviews did you? I also watched some Snapped on Oxygen oh the shaaaame.

    It stresses me out a little to schedule an Uber too far in advance, so I did that before going to sleep. I was early out to the roundabout, and actually so was my Uber, though I had to sit there for 10 minutes before Uber gave me the text notification to identify who I was looking for. The drive at 8am was not nearly as bad as I’d thought it might be. I’d given myself lots of time in case of rush hour traffic etc, but it took under 30 minutes.

    Orlando Airport security is busy but they definitely work hard at keeping the lines moving. The TSA didn’t make anyone take their shoes off, which definitely helps the speed. I made it through in about 15 minutes I think, and had oodles of times to get to my terminal, get a coffee and a bagel, and chill out before my flight.

    This was the first time I’d ever flown JetBlue and wow. It was fantastic. When I had checked in the day before I made a last minute decision to take the $35 upgrade so I could get an aisle seat. I wouldn’t have, but I was still somewhat uncertain about my stomach and wanted to be able to get to a bathroom quickly if I needed to. Oh my god was it worth it. I ate my free Cheez-its and drank my full can of seltzer in true comfort. My Delta flight had a better free movie selection, but oh who cares? :)

    I rolled into Albany at 2:30 feeling fine and was shocked to find it just as hot and sunny as the place I’d left! Alas, though, I was home and due back at work the next morning.
     

    nouvellefleur

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2017
    Some Final Thoughts:

    The CBBR Courtyard rooms are definitely more soundproof than the Tower rooms.

    I timed the walk from the Bayliner to both the Tower and Courtyard rooms. They were both between 5 and 7 minutes, depending on how tired I was. However, the walk through the Americana tower definitely feels much longer, I suspect because you’re walking through an endless featureless hallway instead of an open walkway next to a pool. I heard multiple families complaining about that tower walk as we passed each other.

    I was pleasantly surprised about getting through security and the park turnstiles every morning. I had been so worried that it would be incredibly crowded every morning, but it was never bad. It never took us above 5-7 minutes to get through CityWalk security (if indeed it took even that long!) and we were typically able to get through the turnstiles even faster.

    It’s a lot easier if you know beforehand if you have a wonky finger for the print scanning. I have bad luck with my index fingers (honestly no clue why, but they’re dreadful), so I knew I’d need to go with my right middle finger. I’d lay it down on the scanner before they told me so I could get a nice firm wiggle-on-down full contact.

    Since we didn’t have EP or Photo Pass, none of used lanyards. I used a business card case to hold my room key for EE and my park to park ticket. Halfway through the trip, I ditched my wallet in the hotel room and added a small amount of cash, my card, and driver’s license to lighten up my bag. It’s a nice waterproof metal business card holder, and it kept everything contained and nice and handy to get through the lines quickly.

    The Coke Freestyle machine at the Bayliner Diner allowed us to get water without buying the resort cup. C thought it tasted better than the fountain drinks water, but I didn’t taste a noticeable difference. Both tasted better than the water fountain water.

    I love food but I’m also fairly forgiving when it comes to food. The Bayliner Diner was generally okay. Nothing we had was worth writing home about, but everything was acceptable and came in generous portions. Several of the meals are really a splittable size.

    Food Hightlights: Cowfish, the spanakopita dip at Mythos, the breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron, Florean Fortescue’s ice creams.

    I know we went through Poseidon’s Fury but I don’t know when because I didn’t write it down. It was wonderfully, hilariously cheesy. We loved it. That water tunnel is amazing.

    Celestina and the Tales of Beedle the Bard were fantastic shows. The Triwizard Rally was pretty fun, but we just couldn’t seem to catch the frog choir.

    I have a few regrets that there are some things I didn’t get to ride or try, but I don’t believe in dwelling on the disappointments. A few things could have gone better, but we had such an amazing time. I feel really lucky that I was able to go on this trip. The WWoHP areas are truly amazing. Photos, video, and word of mouth really can’t prepare you for walking into Diagon Alley for the first time.

    I rediscovered my unfinished trip report because my sister has finally agreed to try to schedule a visit for Winter 2020. Wish me luck! Hopefully we'll be able to visit in a year and a half or so.

    Thanks for reading along, however belatedly!
     

    macraven

    Proud Redhead
    Moderator
    Joined
    Apr 21, 2003
    Thanks for returning here and sharing the ending of your report

    Hope you do return next year for more park fun!
     

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