Our US/RCCL/WDW Trip Summary

Mikamarii

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Hi all,
I'm not big on trip reports but I figured some may find our experiences useful so I'll do a summary of each part of our trip. I wasn't sure where to post as we have three different parts so figured since were canadian here is a good place!

There are 4 of us. DS is 7 and DD is 5. We are big disney fans (proposed in disney, honeymooned in Disney and dvc members).quick side bar. We sold our Dvc after being members for almost a decade. We didnt have to sell. We ended up looking at our finances and what we wanted to do and figured with the weak dollar we could make a decent profit and expand our travel experiences. We ended up making about 150% what we paid for after exchange rate so made out pretty well. So as of checkout of this trip we are no longer dvc members!!

This trip planning started september 2018. We were on our third dcl cruise (and hadn't sold our dvc)and love them. While on board we booked back to back cruises. When we got home realized our eyes were bigger than our wallet and cancelled one. As trip planning continued we cancelled the other and booked rccl instead (abt 5k cheaper for same room type and time frame) we then sold dvc and figured it was our last trip to florida for a long time so added universal to the trip. I'm not a Harry Potter fan but wife is and shes been reading the books to the kids. I've watched some of the movies so have an idea what is going on.

So the trip is 4 nights universal, 7 nights east caribbean on harmony of seas, and 9 nights at BLT with 10 park days.

Were at our last universal day now so I'll post tonight my summary for this part!

Edit: I apologize for spelling and grammar errors. Doing this on my phone and spell check is finicky.

Edit:
 
Last edited:

Mikamarii

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
So a couple disclaimers. I try not to complain on vacation. I get things are expensive but doesnt meant I have to like spending 6$ on a churro! I do my best to stay positive but the thing that drives me the most batty are people! Most of my complaints about people. I'm not perfect but I do try to take the consideration of others In to account. Also dont want to offend anyone. We like things that others dont. Others like things that we dont. To each their own. I just report our experiences. Lastly, I try not to compare to disney but it's so hard not to. For the purposes of the Boards it's easier to compare to give people planning ideas and what to expect.

When we left home it was -25 with lots of snow so we were eager to just get off the ground. A little delayed as they de-iced the wings. A little late but on our way.

Made it to MCO no problems. First major complaint. The baggage claim. Why oh why do people crowd the belt? Step back, watch for your bag, when it comes step forward and grab it. Step back and wait for your next one. Repeat.

We've never rented a car in Florida. Always used magical express. It was such a pain to drag around car seats and renting them was expensive. ME=free and convenient. This time our first stop wasnt WDW so we needed an option. It is also much easier now that kids are older. Boosters much easier than car seats. Enter Tony Hinds. We read about him on these boards and booked him to Universal. So worth it he was waiting for us at baggage claim with our name on a sign. Helped us with our bags and was parked near by. Very nice fella and would definitely recommend him and use him again. It was a much quicker process than a shuttle as he was there waiting, didnt have to wait for others, and took us straight to hotel.

We stayed on site at Royal Pacific. Very nice hotel. Kinda reminds me of poly. We dont care much about rooms. Its most a place to stay. For us it's about convenience. In this case it was close to universal and offered express passes.

The parks are great. The rides are much different than disney as they are more extreme. Our kids are tall and could ride almost everything. Nothing they didnt like (except the mummy...apparently too scary 🙄)

(We hadn't been to Uni in 9 years. Never wanted to take the kids too young as they wouldn't have been able to do much. Tickets aren't cheap so we waited until they were older.)

If you haven't been to Uni prepare yourself for screen rides. The technology is amazing and makes it pretty much limitless to what they can do. BUT man do they make me nauseated! I just cant do them. I rode every ride because, heck, I paid for it but it did a number on my stomach. I thought the easiest was gringotts because the screen part wasn't too crazy and there was lots of movement away from the screen. The worst was the Simpson's.

Speaking of the Simpson's I grew up with them. Love them. Visiting Springfield was high on my list. Love love love the queue of the Simpson's ride. Brings me back. The ride is also funny but just makes me feel so sick.

I was also looking forward to eating a krusty burger. I wasn't expecting the world but the food was terrible. I'm not one to complain about food but it was bad. So bad I didnt want to go back and it sucked a combo was 17$.I also wanted a duff beer and drink at moes. They had to pour my bottle in a plastic glass. I get they cant have glass in the parks but was so hoping to drink from the bottle!

Speaking of food i do suggest the dining plan** We've never gotten it at disney because we dont want it every day. It's too much food. But the quick service at Uni can be bought on a daily basis. We bought 2 of the 3 days.
** I think it's only worth it if you plan to get at least 1 butter beer. It was 26$/per for the plan. Most lunches are 15ish plus 3-4$ a drink. That's 19-20ish for a meal. Butter beer is 8$. once you add the butter beer you are even or ahead. We were told the plan says 1 snack and 1 drink in addition to quick service meal BUT you can get 2 snacks or 2 drinks. Doesnt have to be one of each. So getting 2 butter beers makes it a great deal!

Overall we werent too happy with the food offerings. The selection seemed limited and expensive and wasn't that great. I dont expect gourmet food at a theme park but 17+ for a meal was pricey for what we got. We do find the selection and quality at disney better. But that's just us. The biggest thing the kids wanted to do (for food) was 3 broomsticks and leaky cauldron. So eating there made the dining plan worth it for 2 days.

Hagrids!! Amazing. Worth the wait to do it at least once. We rope dropped twice. Was there between 8 and 830am (park opened at 9) was off Hagrids before 0930 both times. We also waited twice when times were low. Once was 60 min posted and we were off within 40min. 2nd time was 90min and off within 65min. This ride seemed to bring out the worst in people. Before opening some were getting mad at cast members that they werent allowed in early as hotel guests, after all it says early entry! 🙄🙄🙄. The worst though was watching people sprint to the front and pushing past people. It was sad. We weren't the first, we walked at our normal pace, and were still off within 20 min. We've done rope drops before at disney but this one seemed extra bad for how people acted.

Lockers. For the love of Pete just send one person. You dont need to send granny and cousin joe to stand around while your party of 6 tries to find a locker. The place is small and cramped. Give your bag to one person and send that person. Everyone else will appreciate it.

Our favourite place to eat was Toothsome Chocoloate Emporium. It was more in line with our expectations. Atmosphere was fun, portions were good, food was yummy, and wasn't crazy expensive (15$ for burger and fries at a sit down restaurant isnt bad). Desserts were amazing and the croutons on the salad were some of the best we've ever had. We ate there twice for dinner and really liked it.

We were in Uni for 3 park days. We found it to be a little much. We did have express pass which I highly recommend staying at an onsite hotel for. Even though wait times werent long it shaved 10 min here and there which adds up. Sometimes wait times creeped over 60 min so it was nice to have the express then! I dont think we would pay for express but I'd definitely stay at one of the 3 onsites for it. The closeness and express are worth it to us We were done by 3pm on the third day. I think a lot of it was because the screens did a number on us. The rides were great but didnt feel the need to do multiple times (except for a couple). We definitely enjoyed our time here but for us we wouldn't come to florida just for universal. It's a side trip. again, it's not bad, just didnt have the same feel for us.

Next up our 7 day RC cruise. It's our first RC cruise after completing three on DCL. We have done one on celebrity but that was without kids! We rented a car (avis on site ot our hotel) for a one day rental to get to port. We figured this was easiest as we can go on our own time and we can get some last minute things and have breakfast before driving out.

We didnt get an internet package so I'll try to give a summary when we get to BLT!
 
Last edited:

tinkerone

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 3, 2007
We used to do B2B on DCL, 14 days of bliss. Then we discovered RCCL and found two weeks on there was half the cost of DCL. We also discovered we really enjoyed RCCL. It was Oasis of the seas. Then we went to Symphony of the seas. We went back and did a sailing on the Fantasy three months ago and found we missed RCCL so we have another B2B on Symphony in October.
We also switched from WDW to mostly Universal and found that refreshing as well. Again, half the cost.
We still love WDW and will for sure be back but for now something new is fun. Have a great time with your vacation.
 
Last edited:
  • Frozen2014

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 12, 2014
    Great report so far. How wonderful to do parks and 7 night cruise. We love Disney World, but for cruises , love Royal. Looking forward to hearing more.
     

    starvenger

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 8, 2015
    Love the report!

    I get things are expensive but doesnt meant I have to like spending 6$ on a churro!
    Does anyone like paying for overpriced park food? I shudder every time my kids want to eat some rock-solid Canada's Wonderland chicken strips.

    Lastly, I try not to compare to disney but it's so hard not to.
    464519

    I was also looking forward to eating a krusty burger. I wasn't expecting the world but the food was terrible. I'm not one to complain about food but it was bad.
    Well, at least they're on brand with it.

    BTW, whenever I hear about a terrible burger, I think of this guy:
    464520


    If you haven't been to Uni prepare yourself for screen rides. The technology is amazing and makes it pretty much limitless to what they can do. BUT man do they make me nauseated! I just cant do them. I rode every ride because, heck, I paid for it but it did a number on my stomach. I thought the easiest was gringotts because the screen part wasn't too crazy and there was lots of movement away from the screen. The worst was the Simpson's.
    The thing about the Simpsons is that the vehicle moves in concert with the screen, so it's probably more likely to make you sick. I went on the Simpson's for the "first" time in 2018 (in quotes because I'd done BTTF a few times) - thought it was great but I completely get where you're coming from.

    I think maybe half of the USF attractions are these motion screen rides, and honestly it starts to make them feel a bit too generic. I think I actually prefer Islands of Adventure because of that.

    Look forward to your review of Harmony! Hopefully it doesn't feel too big for you.

    Also, have one or two breakfasts at Johnny Rockets. You'll thank me later. :)
     

    isabellea

    Combining beach and Disney!
    Joined
    Jan 22, 2014
    The timing of your report is just perfect!!

    We booked a DCL cruise for our 20th anniversary on the Fantasy (Western Caribbean) for August 2020 when they became available last year but then a month ago we decided it was too expensive. So we decided to go to California but then DH decided he doesn't want to redo the trip we did in 2018 for our 20th. We then almost booked a cruise on RCCL Harmony (CocoCay, San Juan, St Kitts) using airmiles. Then, we almost booked a cruise in the Mediterranean on RCCL Explorer (again using airmiles) but we're afraid the kids will get easily bored visiting Europe, especially the youngest who whines whenever we have to walk for more than 20 minutes. So we are back to our initial booking on DCL for now unless we find another wonderful family destination that can accommodate my dietary restrictions and please both my husband and our kids.
     
  • prairiesarah

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 4, 2012
    I'd definitely agree with many of your comments about USO. We went in March 2017 and while we definitely enjoyed seeing the Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade and more importantly meeting Scooby Doo and Shaggy (best character interaction we've ever had) none of us are rushing back. I think I only rode about 5 rides while we were there - the Suess trolley, the water rides and the mini coaster in Hogsmeade. I couldn't do anything else because motion simulators make me so sick - thankfully my DH took one for the team and went with DS on most. We didn't eat too much in the parks but did really really enjoy Breadbox in CityWalk - seriously had the best vegetarian sandwich I've ever had and also liked Sal's at Portofino Bay. The Big Pink donut in Springfield was pretty fantastic and I'm not a donut person usually. I have a hard time paying for sit down meals at the parks (WDW included) when the prices are high to begin with then take into consideration the extra 30% +/- in exchange rate.
     

    bababear_50

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 5, 2007
    I like quite a few of the restaurants on the City Walk.
    I love the main lobby at RPR,,and the gym/spa.
    1578857173911.png
     

    mort1331

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 15, 2012
    We used to do B2B on DCL, 14 days of bliss. Then we discovered RCCL and found two weeks on there was half the cost of DCL. We also discovered we really enjoyed RCCL. It was Oasis of the seas. Then we went to Symphony of the seas. We went back and did a sailing on the Fantasy three months ago and found we missed RCCL so we have another B2B on Symphony in October.
    We also switched from WDW to mostly Universal and found that refreshing as well. Again, half the cost.
    We still love WDW and will for sure be back but for now something new is fun. Have a great time with your vacation.
    Uni half the cost? I have never been, but just looking at the prices only a few dollars different that I see. I can be wrong as my wife tells me daily.
     

    tinkerone

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 3, 2007
    Uni half the cost? I have never been, but just looking at the prices only a few dollars different that I see. I can be wrong as my wife tells me daily.
    What we have been doing is purchasing an Annual pass for myself and an AM ticket for DH. The Preferred Annual Pass that I get is only $360 (think of the cost of an AP at WDW). That gives you discounts on food and merchandise of 10% and 20%. We book our rooms using the Annual Pass discount mostly. Right now we can get a room at Cabana Bay (our favourite resort because of the theming) for $99 a night for the first week of Feb. I tried to get the rate for Pop Century, again our favourite resort because of theming, but they don't have a room only rate for that time period. We stayed at Endless Summer in October for less than $90 a night, not our favorite but would not rule it out for a future stay. We have also priced hotels in UO deluxe category and they are less expensive than the deluxe at WDW.
    Also, the restaurants in city walk are way way less expensive than the restaurants at Disney Spring and, IMO, just as good. Add to that the AP discounts on food and beverage and it's a good deal.
    Yes, we always spend way less at UO than WDW but keep in mind, UO is not for everyone. It's good for a change but it's not WDW. Also, as to the AP's, There are more parks at WDW which is part of the reason for the huge price difference but we really only get to Orlando once or twice a year so it really isn't that cost effective for us. YMMV. :flower3:
     
  • damo

    Proud Redhead
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2001
    Universal vacations for us are much better value. We upgraded the Universal Air Miles ticket to an AP for $10. Last trip, in December we got a deluxe hotel for $219/night using the AP rate. That includes unlimited express pass where you can go into the express line anytime you want. We can walk to both parks.

    At WDW we stayed at the mod Caribbean Beach for $270/night. We couldn't walk to anything.

    There are some amazing restaurants at Universal that don't break the bank. One of our favourites is Cowfish at Citywalk (which is located between the two parks) but there are lots of others.

    I never ride Simpsons. It makes me ill. However, I always take half a bonine and it seems to make me be able to ride everything except Simpsons.

    Our 2 year old Grand-daughter loves Universal. She adores all the playgrounds and although there is only a smattering of rides for her, she really likes being able to run around in the play areas. She has a tough time at WDW with their lack of safe exercise space for toddlers.
     

    Mikamarii

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 30, 2018
    Back from the Harmony. One word WOW....ok before I begin Its hard to cover everything so any specifics just ask while fresh in my head. 2nd...we’re aren’t Disney apologists...we love disney and all things being equal will pick disney over other options. But....we’re also realists and know that Disney isn’t perfect and other things can be as good or better. More importantly we aren’t loaded. We love vacationing and just can’t afford to do exclusively disney anymore.

    Our cruise recap....3 DCL (2 fantasy, 1 magic) and 1 Celebrity.

    We are quickly becoming a cruise family. I absolutely LOVE cruising. THere something for everyone and experiences range from lazy beach days to fancy formal nights. Plus get to see some exotic places. We’ve seen some amazing parts of the world through cruising. Cruising isn’t for everyone. But if you have considered it as an option I suggest you explore more and give it consideration. They are so amazing.

    Ok, back on track. Getting to port we rented a car. Avis was onsite and the rental process was easy. Drive to Port was easy, drop off was easy, and shuttle to ship was easy. Only complaint about AVIS is they charged us about 25% more than our quoted price which made me really angry (mileage surcharge for using less than 75 miles even though our rental included 150!). I’ve emailed them but nothing back. Not happy but won’t ruin our time.

    Embarkation. Amazingly simple. Arrived at port at 1130 and on the ship within 30 min. There was no delay or lines at any point during the process.

    Rooms. We had a Guaranteed ocean view (no balcony). Was really worried about being on deck 3 as we had always had high decks but it was perfect. No different to us than being on any other deck. Room was spacious. Enough for the four of us. Plenty of storage space (use packing cubes people!!) Only complaint (minor one) was DCL has the curtain separating the main bed and sofa bed. Harmony did not. I know people bring magnets and shower curtains but that’s an extra thing to pack.

    Service. Absolutely incredible. People who have only sailed DCL or go to DIsney love that Disney touch/magic. I get, it but Disney isn’t the only company that can give 5* service. Strip away the music and hidden mickeys and the employees are the same. To us there was no difference in service levels on any of the cruises we have been on. All been top notch. So my advice here, if that was a concern of yours to not stray away from DCL then hopefully this gives you some confidence to try out RCCL.

    The harmony was a much bigger ship than Fantasy. When we boarded there were several signs and announcements saying the ship was sold out. We were worried about crowd levels but at no time did we every wait for anything more than a few minutes and at no point did we feel suffocated by people. THey do such a great job of spreading out the activities. If there is something you really want to do then make a ressie but even still there were lots of people showing up to shows 10 min before and getting a seat.

    Our kids loved the ship. So much for them to do. I thought the pool/splash park had so much more for the kids than the DCL ships. Daughter loved the carousel and son loved the rock climbing wall. Both absolutely loved the kids club. Both said they liked it more than DCL (disclaimer...this trip was recent so of course it gets the win For them). Its safe to say that both clubs are great with kids. On the 1st sea day we dropped them off at 3. Went back at 5 and they wanted to stay for dinner. Went back at 7 and they wanted to stay more. Ended up spending 6+ hrs that day in the club. The remaining sea days they begged to go all day again so they were there from 2 to 930. Our mornings were family activities then at 2 they went to kids club and mom and dad had some quiet time and quiet dinner time :D!

    Food. Awesome. All of our cruises have had excellent food in both main dining and buffet. Buffets are all the same to us and we don’t do the upgrade restaurants. We had no complaints on the food.

    Shows. Again, incredible. The aqua theatre is a world class venue and hard to believe they can do these performances on a moving ship. Same with the skating shows. Whole family loved them.

    We were kind of concerned with the drink packages (ie would there be lots of drunks). While there were a couple times some got loud by the pool I thought overall it wasn’t noticeable. We didn’t get a drink packages as we aren’t huge drinkers (a beer or margarita by the pool is great!!) But I think there is definitely value in it if you like to have a few every day and being able to use it at cococay really adds value to it. A couple nights there was some loud raucous outside the stateroom but I don’t know if that was other kids or drunk adults. It was kind of annoying but that can happen anywhere. SIde story...on our first night there was loud banging at our door at like 1am. I got out of bed in my undies and answered. Some 14 year old kid had the wrong room. He apologized...I was furious but making a scene wouldn’t change anything so I went back to bed.

    We liked the Royal App. I know removing paper navigators was a huge topic on the DCL board. This was our first cruise being able to use an app but we really liked it And have no more use for a paper itinerary.

    Cococay....AMAzing. Castaway Cay is awesome as well as it is an island paradise. Cococay offers the same getaway but there are so many more things to do (and many of them free). We ended up hanging out at the inside lagoon most of the day as it was very very windy and the trees blocked most of that where we were. Afternoon we went to the freshwater pool to help rinse much of the sand and seawater out of our bathing seats. Food was awesome. Lots and lots of beach chairs (and the whole island isn’t even open. If there is a specific spot you want get off early to get it but if you just want a chair anywhere you will definitely get one. Hopefully RCCL adds a kids club to the island like they do on Castaway. Coco is beautiful and because of the extra options we loved it more.

    Our only somewhat complaint of the ship was we felt the first couple of days there was lots of up selling (Drink packages, ship tours, dining packages). A couple times during dinner they stopped dinner for a few minutes to announce the kitchen tour. The tour sounded awesome but it interrupted the atmosphere. After day 3 or so it really died down though. Its a minor complaint but a complaint nonetheless.

    Disembarkation was very easy as well. We did self carry luggage to maximize time at disney. We were ready to go at 7 and off the ship and at National car rental by 730. We were actually checked in at BLT and at the MK by 930-945. We had a bit of wait at guest services to activate our Cdn tickets but overall it was very quick and easy getting off the ship, getting a car, and getting to WDW.

    We only have the car for the one night as we never really considered having a car at WDW as it seemed an unnecessary expense. Tonight we did dinner at Texas Roadhouse and shopping at Target. We loved the restaurant. It was so good and so cheap!!! I never knew how many things there were to do just outside of WDW. So many places to eat!

    So that’s it in a nutshell. Anything you want to know ask. We truly loved the experience. So much we booked a 9night Southern Caribbean cruise next January (no kids) for our 10th wedding anniversary. We loved our DCL cruises but we discussed it throughout the ship and I don’t see us booking another. Mainly just because of the price. This cruise was 5K less than our DCL cruise and we had an amazing time. I recommend anyone to look at cruising as a vacation option and look outside DCL for options if they are getting a little pricey for you.

    So now we are on night 1 of 9 at BLT. Today at MK was super busy because of MLK day but we knew that going in. We have Disney After hours tomorrow and Moonlight Magic Tuesday night. Our biggest goal for this trip is Rise of the Resistance and Smugglers Run!!
     

    Mikamarii

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 30, 2018
    Glad you had a great time on Harmony!

    Did you see a 10 drink card offered at all?
    No we didnt. I was actually thinking about that the entire time as that would be perfect for us. I forgot to ask but it was never offered or advertised (that we saw)
     

    Connect

    Disney News and Updates

    Get Daily Email Updates


    Top