March '19 Mother Daughter Mini Break - Cabana Bay, Harry Potter Here We Come!

Travelgrrl

Disneybounder
Joined
Mar 30, 2014
We found the Cabana Bay bus stop (hint: it's the exit door kind of to the rear of the foodcourt dining area, go to the right and to the LAST bus stop. I think the nearer ones are for Seaworld or whatever.) You pass a row of vintage cars, and we took photos of them later in the week!

On the bus near us were a family all in Harry Potter t-shirts; Mom, Dad, and two little girls. I had some Harry Potter badges I had sent away for (12 for $3, and I had two dozen for the trip), and I cupped one in my hand and showed it to the Mom, asking her quietly if the girls could have one. She said yes and I handed them each one, and slipped the parents a couple of Platform 9 3/4's tickets for the King's Cross Station.

My daughter was eye rolling big time, until we got to the parks and the Dad said: "Thank you for being kind to my family", and she about burst into tears. Haha! My daughter also noticed that the Mom was expecting and was wearing a t-shirt that said "Wizard in Training" pointing to her belly!

Security, walkways, Citywalk. We already had pastry so we didn't stop at Voodoo Donuts, though I had to take a photo in the donut throne:

donut throne.jpeg

That looks blurry for some reason?

We took the obligatory shots by the globe and our tickets worked at the turnstile, no problem! We were IN!!! We wandered down to Central Park (Minions has a long wait time, as it did all trip) where I had an invigorating smoke while we watched Marilyn Monroe and her dancers do her thing. I looked for Spike but didn't see him! :sad2:

Then off to the Mummy! My daughter asked if it had a lot of roller coaster, and I could only remember the fire and the bugs, so we entered the queue. After we passed about a thousand warning signs, she was freaked out so I took pity on her and showed her where she could ask to exit while I rode. A few minutes later, I met her in the gift shop and we were both happy.

One last stop before the Wizarding World: Jaws! The first time I went to Universal was in 2009 when I took my daughter and her friend. At that time the old Jaws ride was still in operation and we rode it (awesome ride) and posed by -and IN- the shark. That's "Bruce" to true aficionados of the film!

So we did that, again.

bruce.jpeg

Next up: Knight Bus, M-A-G-I-C, Kreacher, Celestina and a subterranean date with a dragon!
 

Travelgrrl

Disneybounder
Joined
Mar 30, 2014
We wandered from San Francisco to London, first stopping by the phone booth, where my daughter was old enough to know how to use a rotary phone and got the message from the Ministry of Magic right away. When I came with some younger kids in 2017, they had NO idea how to use a rotary phone! o_O

We saw the Knight Bus, but my daughter wasn't keen on the shrunken head character, so only I met Alec, the Conductor. The sun shining on me made it look like a celestial event:

1 Knight.jpeg

Well, I'm getting really frustrated with my photos. I don't like to host them on other sites, and would rather insert them. Almost all of my photos have been too large to post, but sending them through my usual photo enlarger, even tweaking them to be as large and high quality as possible, still makes them look blurry. Sorry!

I never knew there was a way to see inside the Knight Bus, until I read it recently on these boards. So I asked Alec and he told us to just go behind the bus. Sure enough, there's an entrance on the other side that allows you to step into the bus and see the beds! There's a grating but I managed to squeeze my lens through it to get an unobstructed shot. Always fun to see something new!

2 knight.jpeg

Blurry again, but you get the idea. We also spied Kreacher at Grimmauld Place. (It occurred to me while I was there that the street was in effect named after, or in accordance with, Sirius Black and his animagi form, the black dog, or the "Grim". And I think "auld" means "old", so Sirius (the dog star) lives on "Old Dog" street. Or am I overthinking this?!) :mic:
 
  • Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    You got great pics of the beds on the bus !!
    Thanks for sharing them
    I don't know why I can't get my photos to fit; I've never had that problem on this site. If they're too large, I resize them (keeping the quality as high as possible) but this time, they end up blurry as heck. I guess just trust me that the originals are nice and sharp?
     

    Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    We were ready to enter Diagon Alley for the first time. My daughter had been to Universal in 2009, but had never seen, or researched, the Wizarding World. So she had ZERO idea of what was in store. The phone booth, Grimmauld Place, and the Knight Bus (and the music store window with the "Swimming With Bow Legged Women" album by the Quint trio - a sweet little Jaws reference!) were just an appetizer for what was in store.

    So she literally didn't know when we were entering DA. I got my phone ready to record her reaction - only I'm terrible at using the video feature, always turning it "off" when I want it to be "on" and vice versa. So I start recording when we step into Diagon Alley and the look of delight and wonder on her face was something to behold! She said: "Mom, this is so..." and who knows what it was, because the video cuts off there. I got a few moments of pavement, her lit up face and half a sentence! Suffice to say that she was gobsmacked.

    We came in on the little side alley area, which seems much larger (?) and more filled out than before. There's the new shop Globus Mundi, but it's more than that. It just seems like a whole new space to explore. We saw Celestina Warbeck! My daughter was amazed that the detailing went as far as to have Mrs. Weasley's favorite songstress performing.

    We went on Gringotts! We just had fanny packs so were able to avoid the whole locker snafu, which I would HIGHLY recommend. We didn't have Express and the line was listed as 25 minutes, and we waited about 20, just enough time to enjoy the queue. The ride was great as always, and my daughter enjoyed it without the kind of trepidation she brought to The Mummy.

    By now we were ready for lunch, and got right in at the Leaky Cauldron. We were cheek by jowl with other tables, which is actually pretty typical of the real Europe (or sometimes the UK), where space is at a premium. I had the half Ploughman's Lunch, and my daughter had Bangers and salad. She also ordered the Fishy Green Ale, which is a kind of boba drink. We couldn't decide if we liked it - kind of yes, kind of no. I had never had a bubble drink , and I liked it, but the drink itself was awfully sugary.

    After our late lunch, we just ambled out of the park via the Simpsons area, took some photos, and were picked up by a waiting Cabana Bay bus. My girl was ready to sun and swim!
     
  • bobbie68

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 14, 2009
    Hi enjoying your report!! It sounds like you are enjoying CB. My family does love that resort when we don't need week long ep. I hear you on the video, I tend to hit buttons I shouldn't or don't want to in the most in opportune time. It sounds like a great trip so far, yes CB as one of my favorite pool areas with that lazy river.
     

    Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    We were soon checked in, and since we had prepaid, only a penny was charged against my card.
    Do you mind if I ask did you pay with debit/credit card? This is my only nightmare about our upcoming trip, I've got everything pre-paid and will turn off room charging at the hotel, but I can't seem to get away with the "incidental charges" business every time I check into a hotel. I've even said turn off room charging and in this case, have totally paid for the room. I always still seem to get charged.
     

    Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    Do you mind if I ask did you pay with debit/credit card? This is my only nightmare about our upcoming trip, I've got everything pre-paid and will turn off room charging at the hotel, but I can't seem to get away with the "incidental charges" business every time I check into a hotel. I've even said turn off room charging and in this case, have totally paid for the room. I always still seem to get charged.
    I used a regular debit card, and the clerk made a point of telling me that since i had prepaid and wasn't asking for charging privileges on the room key, it would only be one penny's interaction with my card. That ended up being true. Hope this helps!
     
  • Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    Though rain had been forecast, this was a beautiful day for touring. It was high 70's and a nice little breeze. By the time we came down to the pool, it was late afternoon but still warm. I had brought inflatable noodles for the Lazy River but didn't bring them down as we still had two more days, we'd get an earlier start at the parks and pool those days, and warm weather was forecast.

    We sunned!

    IMG_4962.JPG
     

    Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    The buildings are a terrific backdrop!

    cont.jpeg

    We both just adored the theme of the resort.

    We did go swimming, but despite earlier reports that the pools were heated, it didn't feel like it, and was a bit chilly. Therefore I didn't rue the fact I hadn't brought down my noodles.

    We had a nice break, then went back to our room (super quick from the pool), and got ready for an evening in the parks. For some reason, USF went from a closing time of 8 PM to 6 PM in the days before we got there. So our plan was to hit up the Wizarding World in that park, take the train over to IOA, and then hang out there until their closing time of 7 PM. The best laid plans!

    Next up: Beads, a big leg, and a forbidden journey!
     

    Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    I used a regular debit card, and the clerk made a point of telling me that since i had prepaid and wasn't asking for charging privileges on the room key, it would only be one penny's interaction with my card. That ended up being true. Hope this helps!
    yes it does, thank you.
     

    Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    Refreshed, we made our way back to the parks, using the handy bus. With one exception, we never waited more than a few minutes for a bus to or from Cabana Bay, and the ride was 10 minutes or so. You get dropped off and picked up right underneath the escalators from the security plaza!

    We hadn't had dinner yet, and my daughter remembered turkey legs at the Simpsons area, so we were going to head that way. But no sooner than we entered, I could see that barricades were alongside the street (no crowds yet, though!) and asked a cast member if the Mardi Gras parade was starting soon. He said: "Yes, it'll be beginning in three... two... one..." and just then the music started up! It was terrific, how he timed his answer. So we grabbed prime standing spots on the curb and soon were enjoying the delights of floats like this:

    float.jpeg

    And this:

    float 2.jpeg

    And oddly and disproportionately, this!

    float3.jpeg

    Universal's Mardi Gras floats are made by the Kern Studio in New Orleans, who have been the traditional float maker for New Orleans' most famous krewes. So they're the real deal!
     

    Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    Also appearing in the parade were dancers dressed as flowers and bees, lobsters and alligators. We were inches from them so it really added to the immediacy of it! And the beads!

    The beads, beads, BEADS!

    We got so many beads. The first few floats had the same colored ones (the traditional gold, green and purple) that I vowed to not holler "Throw Me Something, Mister!" for the rest of the parade. Believe me, I need not have hollered. Beads were flying from every float, thick and fast, of every hue. They were all the plain strands, but I have to give universal credit that each float had a different assortment so we ended up with dozens of strands, most just 2 or 3 or each color.

    Also, I took some beads to the face. Right in the old snotlocker! The woman who threw them (FLUNG THEM is more like it, and she couldn't have been more than 4 or 5 feet away from me) managed to crack me across my face and glasses with a strand. My daughter said the woman was mortified (and no doubt tossed her beads a little more gently for the rest of the parade), but was heartened when I came up laughing from having joy literally tossed in my face!

    Here I am, dripping with beads!

    beads.jpg

    Sigh. Blurry. You can kind of make out the confetti that ended the parade. FUN!
     

    Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    The confetti was actually pretty magical. The parade ended with a bang! not a whimper, in the immortal words of T S Eliot. We started walking towards the Wizarding World (we were roughly near Schwab's when we took pictures) and the confetti was softly fluttering and swirling in the breeze and it was lovely.

    Then, we were stymied! The parade was still passing out of the park, and unless we waited until it had passed, we couldn't get to the other side, and the train to IOA. And 6 PM was fast approaching. Instead, we headed out of the park and across the cut through by Toothsome's, and were in IOA before we knew it!

    At the gate I asked the attendant if he knew if there were turkey legs available, and he said "Yes, somewhere in the park", then thought a bit and grabbed a cheat sheet that was stashed at the turnstile and pointed to a juice cart right in Port of Entry. That was nice!

    So my daughter got her turkey leg, which was half the size of her, and still managed to demolish in no time flat. I had a gigantic corn dog, a little mushy but it was quick and hot and soon covered with mustard, so I was happy!

    We got to Hogsmeade at dusk, and entered the line for Forbidden Journey. This was the one time we had to mess with lockers (because I was carrying about 20 lbs of beads!) and it was the typical cluster-you-know-what. (Especially on the way out when our locker, and many others' wouldn't work at all and an attendant had to help. Sigh.) We did have to wait about 20 minutes in line, but my daughter really enjoyed the portraits and rooms in the castle.

    And what a ride! I love it, and she loved it! This Christmas I gave her father (my ex husband, who is an astronomy professor) a vintage armillary sphere, and in one of the physical sets you whip through one in the Astronomy Tower! Very cool.

    When we emerged, the castle light show was happening, and we saw most of it. A lovely end to the night.

    Next up: Buses and Ubers, Oh My!
     

    Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    Sorry I took a few days off. Life happened!

    When we left that first night, USF had closed at 6, and we stayed at IOA until their closing time of 7, and left with a sea of people. I don't think I had ever experienced this at Universal, though I have at Disney. The kind of crowd where you grab your child in a death grip, watch your step so you're not rammed by a stroller, and are carried along by a sea of humanity and just hope you can wend your way to your transportation home.

    We made it to Universal's pick up point, as a bus was pulling away. No big deal, we figured, as buses at the resort routinely pulled up as another was leaving. Surely they'd have as many handy at closing time? Then: crickets. 10 minutes go by, and no bus. And the thing was, the line was messy - there was a clearly defined queue, but then at the front there was an open circle thingy that really allowed people halfway through the line to jam in. Now I'll calmly stand in a line forever as long as everyone is taking their turn, but put me in a line where people are cutting, and steam is coming out of my ears.

    Long story short, we got out of the line, and took a Uber. It took the guy awhile to get onto the grounds and into the circle drive, but once he was there, it was a quick ten minute, $10 ride. Worth it!

    When we took the bus the rest of our trip, I checked and the crazy open circle thingy was still present in the line. Also, the entire time we were waiting for the Uber, there was only one Cabana Bay bus picking up people. During the daytime, there would have been multiple buses in that time. However, perhaps they have a hard time running the gauntlet of the circle drive to get to the stop, too?
     

    Travelgrrl

    Disneybounder
    Joined
    Mar 30, 2014
    The next morning, Tuesday, we had planned to get up early, take advantage of early entry, do the parks all morning, come back for a swim, and do the parks and have a nice dinner that night. Well. One of those things happened.

    When I woke up, it was rainy, and not just "a quick Florida sprinkle that'll be gone in 10 minutes" raining, but straight up hard steady raining. I let my daughter sleep, found a sheltered spot to have a cup of watery room coffee and a smoke, then made my way to the food court to get pastries and coffee. When I got to the line, people were stepping out of line right and left, and the cashier was saying "No cash, no debit cards, only credit cards". When I tried to clarify: "No CASH?" she said "The system isn't working." which I totally understand, but then she added: "It's not our fault. It's Technology!", as if "technology" was some sort of amorphous being.

    Not having had a proper cup of joe yet, I was a little irritable, and said "I know it's not YOUR fault, it's the resort's fault", to which she said: "Oh no, it's just... technology!"

    technology.jpg

    I was about ready to explain how 'technology' is only as good as the amount of money, staff and resources a business invests in, but demurred. I went back to the room, and by then my daughter was up so we both went back to the food court for a proper breakfast: I had a Belgian waffle with link sausage, and she had a bacon, egg and cheese croissant. Both good and not expensive. Also coffee. Yummy, yummy coffee.
     

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