PBH Family Vacation for Nine!- January 4-9, 2021

hezell123

Mouseketeer
Joined
Mar 21, 2001
We are a family of 9, spanning 3 generations that will be spending 5 nights at the Portofino Bay Hotel in January of 2020. We fly in on Monday and fly out on Saturday.

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(not pictured include my mom and niece)


Ages range from 15 to 69. My mom, hubs, myself, and 6 young adult children.
OR you could say 4 Hufflepuffs, 3 Ravenclaws, 1 Slytherin, and 1 Gryffindor!

Other Stats:
1 last visited IOA in 2019 on a school trip; the rest of us haven’t been since at least 2008.
3 have never been to Universal at all.
3 visited Universal Hollywood in 2016.
2 have never flown on a plane.
5 last stayed at PBH in 2003 (the rate back then was $129/nt in Sept through an Expedia deal!)
9 have never been to Diagon Alley at USO!

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(some of us circa 2008 from our last Universal vacation!)


We found a great airfare deal. DFW to MCO RT on American for $109 per person. We were able to choose our seats at no cost and we used my mom’s AA credit card. This allows us up to 5 checked bags for free. We will save about $300 in baggage fees! Yay Grammy!

We are spending our entire vacation at UO so decided not to rent a car, or actually, a van as that would be the only option to hold all 9 of us! We have hired Tony Hinds to provide RT transportation from the airport which includes a grocery/liquor store stop.

We have booked a 1 bedroom (2 queen) Villa Suite with club access plus a garden view 2 queen room. Unfortunately, the suite does not have the option of 2 connecting queen rooms so we are hoping to have the extra room as close to the suite as possible. Due to Covid, we wanted a room with a dining room table that we could eat meals if needed.

An interesting note about the club access villa suites. The AP price for a 1 bedroom villa suite with club access for 8 was only $60ish per day more than a villa suite without club access. This seems like quite the deal if you ask me! Also, one of us will not be able to use the club access. I figured it was cheaper to just give one of my picky kids a couple of hundred dollars for breakfast and snacks than to pay an extra $650+to add club access to the extra room. ($204 vs $338 per night).

Things I plan to document that I can’t find information and that might be useful for others.
  1. Are the suites remodeled like the rest of the rooms? If so, what has changed.
  2. What exactly is in that kitchenette! Plates, utensils, how many coffee mugs, glasses, napkins, wine opener, etc. I’ll open up the cabinets and take some pics. How much room is in that upgraded mini-fridge vs the regular ones in the rooms?
  3. What exactly is offered at the club level during the pandemic.
  4. What floor and how far to the club lounge are the villa suites with club access (that are available at booking and not just an add-on at check-in)
  5. Where are good places to put a rollaway in the villa suite? I’m wondering if one will fit in that powder room off to the side of the suite bathroom. Or will one fit in the kitchenette which would offer some privacy?
  6. View out the window. Is there a Juliet balcony, regular balcony, no balcony?

Normally, I’m all about finding the deals, but since we rarely go on vacations with the entire family, we are splurging a bit. We are not normally suite people but do like to stay at the premier hotels for the express pass benefit. We’ve stayed at all 3 but our last stay was in 2008 at RPH. I remember thinking I like Royal Pacific the best of the three but can’t quite remember why! Our only stay at PBH was back in 2003. I mainly remember the long walk from the east wing to the boat launch with a 4, 5, and 6 year old!

Places we hope will be able to seat a party of 9 or worse case, split us into a party of 4 and 5.
*Mythos (lunch)
*Mama Dellas (closed for now)or Bice for our birthday dinner. I’m hoping Bice has their 30% off discount at the time we go or else we will likely need to try something else. Currently, they’ve dropped the discount to 20%. Likely anticipating higher holiday crowds, I assume.
*Three Broomsticks (lunch)
*Big Fire or Toothsome (dinner)

Some issues and questions we have:
  • Seems like many of the CityWalk restaurants are not open Mon-Wed so we need to be aware of places we can have dinner those nights.
  • Parks close early during this time of year, so thinking about bowling at Cabana Bay or mini-golf at CW as options in the evening.
  • The app and the website for park hours is different. Not sure which is accurate?
  • Weather: Is a pool day even possible in January? Are the hot tub/plunge pools open? Is there one in the spa open?
  • Do all 9 of us REALLY need wands? How many is enough for 9 people that are grown?
  • If we buy the discounted promotional tickets, can we easily upgrade those to APs. Is this price based on what we paid or the retail price of the ticket?
  • We arrive on Jan 4th. Will there still be holiday decorations? Holiday Tribute store? Or do they literally take them all down overnight?
  • Will one photo package cover all of us? How many cards do they give for one package?

That's all I've got for now! Any advice or suggestions are always appreciated!
 

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hezell123

Mouseketeer
Joined
Mar 21, 2001
We fly out tomorrow! I just want to make note that PBH called this evening to be sure we knew that the extra queen room would not be connecting to the villa parlor suite. We already knew and honestly was just hoping the room would be close to the suite. So we are very happy that the room will be right next door, even if it is not connecting.
 

schumigirl

It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
Joined
May 15, 2007
We fly out tomorrow! I just want to make note that PBH called this evening to be sure we knew that the extra queen room would not be connecting to the villa parlor suite. We already knew and honestly was just hoping the room would be close to the suite. So we are very happy that the room will be right next door, even if it is not connecting.
Have a safe journey and a wonderful trip.
 

DisneyLifePapioNe

Registered
Joined
Mar 9, 2017
We fly out tomorrow! I just want to make note that PBH called this evening to be sure we knew that the extra queen room would not be connecting to the villa parlor suite. We already knew and honestly was just hoping the room would be close to the suite. So we are very happy that the room will be right next door, even if it is not connecting.
We are here now also!!!

Hope you guys have a great trip this week also, looks like temps should be right around 70’s most of the week!!!

Look forward to reading more from you after the trip!!!
 

WendiDarling

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 16, 2007
Looking forward to your report! Will be at PBH next month for the first time and hoping to eat at some of the places you mentioned too. Hope you're having a great trip!!
 

hezell123

Mouseketeer
Joined
Mar 21, 2001
We just got back today. Unfortunately, I forgot my laptop charger so couldn't post while on our trip. I'll post some of the photos and answers I found to my questions tomorrow. We had a fabulous time at the PBH and Universal. We loved the hotel and thought the club room was more than worth it. I never saw another soul until Friday in our building (West Wing). And absolutely no one on the 5th floor. I think we were the only ones staying on that floor the entire trip! We never needed to get extra towels or text room service. Except my mom did ask for the trash to be picked up on Tuesday that she left outside her room. We checked out on Saturday and it was still in the hallway. No other trash or laundry was in the hallway except for her bag of trash which is another reason to think we were the only ones on the floor. We ate at Big Fire (D), Vivo (D), Sal's Pizza (Late snack), Mythos (L), Lumbard's (L), Leaky Cauldron (L), and a couple of nights of just eating club meals.
 
  • macraven

    Proud Redhead
    Moderator
    Joined
    Apr 21, 2003
    Looking forward to your pictures

    I’ll wait here until you post again

    Hahaha
    (Not many have the time or energy to start posting trip pics the day after they return home)
     

    hezell123

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2001
    • Are the suites remodeled like the rest of the rooms? If so, what has changed.
      I don't think there was any remodeling done to the actual suite/parlor areas. They looked the same as in the videos on youtube. The carpet has not changed. At least this was the case for our rooms in the West Wing. Also of note, the deluxe rooms in the West Wing have not been remodeled. Our rooms had bathtubs and the weird opening from the bathroom to the bedroom.
    • What exactly is in that kitchenette! Plates, utensils, how many coffee mugs, glasses, napkins, wine opener, etc. I’ll open up the cabinets and take some pics. How much room is in that upgraded mini-fridge vs the regular ones in the rooms?
      So there is a fairly large studio fridge in the kitchenette. There is also a separate ice maker. Ours didn't work. It looks rather old so I'm not sure if it's just "decorative" at this point. There is absolutely nothing in those drawers in cabinets. So you will need to bring paper products and utensils unless you can collect them from the club or Sal's.
    • What exactly is offered at the club level during the pandemic.
      For breakfast, there is a breakfast sandwich, potatoes (one morning was hashbrowns). In the evening, there is a salad along with 3 heated options. Ours was stuffed chicken, beef stew, chicken alfredo. I'll include pics in another post.
    • What floor and how far to the club lounge are the villa suites with club access (that are available at booking and not just an add-on at check-in)
      Booking a Club Villa Parlor suite directly doesn't seem to matter as far as location. We had the furthest away villa suite possible! LOL. West Wing Room 3553/3557/3559 (3559 is a deluxe queen next to the queen that's part of the suite)
    • Where are good places to put a rollaway in the villa suite? I’m wondering if one will fit in that powder room off to the side of the suite bathroom. Or will one fit in the kitchenette which would offer some privacy?
      The rollaway easily fits in any of these areas!
    • View out the window. Is there a Juliet balcony, regular balcony, no balcony?
      Our rooms all had balconies! The queen room that is part of the parlor suite has a covered balcony. (see pics!)
     
  • hezell123

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2001
    More questions answered!
    • Seems like many of the CityWalk restaurants are not open Mon-Wed so we need to be aware of places we can have dinner those nights.
      Fortunately, the restaurants opened up on Mon-Wed so this wasn't an issue.
    • Parks close early during this time of year, so thinking about bowling at Cabana Bay or mini-golf at CW as options in the evening.
      We were too exhausted to do mini-golf or bowling! Ha!
    • The app and the website for park hours is different. Not sure which is accurate?
      The app proved to be accurate. The website was completely wrong most days.
    • Weather: Is a pool day even possible in January? Are the hot tub/plunge pools open? Is there one in the spa open?
      We never swam but there were people at the pool.
    • Do all 9 of us REALLY need wands? How many is enough for 9 people that are grown?
      We definitely did not all need wands. There were 3 in our group and it was plenty. This isn't very fun unless you arrive early. Lots of people in lines to do spells. And we went during the week when it's supposedly less busy.
    • If we buy the discounted promotional tickets, can we easily upgrade those to APs. Is this price based on what we paid or the retail price of the ticket?
      We were able to upgrade our discounted promotional tickets we bought at Sams to seasonal APs for $1.07. They gave us the retail price towards the cost of the annual passes.
    • We arrive on Jan 4th. Will there still be holiday decorations? Holiday Tribute store? Or do they literally take them all down overnight?
      There were still decorations at most places on the 4th. By the 5th, I think most were gone!
    • Will one photo package cover all of us? How many cards do they give for one package?
      One package was enough. They gave us as many cards as we wanted. I bought the $99 one year promotional package.
     

    hezell123

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2001
    Did you feel like the club upgrade was worth it?
    For us, it definitely was. We had 9 people and they let us all use the club benefits. We thought the food tasted good except for the veggies at dinner. They were kind of bland. My husband easily drank $80/nt in wine ;)
    I have nothing to compare it to though. I know some people are disappointed it's not the same as pre-covid.
    Most evenings and breakfasts, we were either the only family there or there were only 1 or 2 additional families. Super slow in the club last week! All the concierge staff was super nice. We enjoyed our time there.
     

    hezell123

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2001
    Also want to add, that we tipped $10-$20 per day in the club. Most of this was for drink service. So you'll want to factor this into your "is the club worth it" decision. If it was only 2 of us, we would tip $1 per person for breakfast and $1 per drink in the evening.
     

    bigjon1805

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 18, 2012
    Hezell123, which Sam's club tickets did you have? We are looking to go soon and bridge our tickets. Which pass did you upgrade to and where did you upgrade?
     

    hezell123

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2001
    Hezell123, which Sam's club tickets did you have? We are looking to go soon and bridge our tickets. Which pass did you upgrade to and where did you upgrade?
    We bought the buy 2 get 3 days free promotion, but it ended Jan 6th. I'm pretty sure they have a new promotion now and Sam's will likely sell those. We upgraded at a desk right outside the club lounge. You don't need club access to go there. I think it's some kind of vacation planning desk.
    We upgraded to a seasonal pass. I don't think we got the 3 extra months as the promotion didn't start until after our 1st day using the tickets. But I need to check and make sure that's the case!
     

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