Welcome, Foolish Muggles! IoA/US/MK/SW *July 2013 Trip Report Link*

natebenma

Beach Club Dee
Joined
Jul 19, 2008
Followed MM here also. Can't wait to hear your report!
:welcome:

Hi Dee! Followed you here from the Y/BC thread. Can't wait to read all about it! :goodvibes
Thanks!

Can't wait to read your report. We are planning on spending a day at IOA on our upcoming December trip, still debating on adding Universal. We (myself and my mother) are mostly going to see Harry Potter world and are dragging my husband and 2 daughters along for the day.
Are you going in early December or during vacation week?

Another person following Marlton Mom's directions over here!!! :laughing:

Looking forward to your report - we too are planning a day on the "dark side". Especially after seeing the last movie, my kids cannot imagine a trip to Orlando without going to see WWoHP...
Even my husband, who is a major muggle, appreciated how impressive WWoHP is!

Next installment coming right up!
 

natebenma

Beach Club Dee
Joined
Jul 19, 2008
When I left off, we were all getting a good night’s rest for the long day ahead. The morning was uneventful, car service arrived at 4:45 and we were off to the airport. We had checked in on-line, so went right to the place where you hand over the luggage.

Next we headed to security. We hand over our boarding passes and drivers’ licenses. The TSA guy is kidding around with us and then he says to my husband “Your license is expired”. I say “You’re joking!” (forgetting that TSA guys probably don’t make a whole lot of jokes with travelers). The license Mark handed over had indeed expired. He keeps the old one in his wallet- some places ask you to leave a license as a “return guarantee” when you borrow something. He found his actual license and handed that over.

PHEW!!!

Through the gate, and into line for breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. Last DD iced coffee before the trip. Why are there no Dunkin’s in Orlando???





Flight took off- this was probably one of the best flights we have been on. Nobody’s ears popped. Smooth flight. Mark and I got to sit together, in the seats in front of the boys. The boys were super on the flight. Ben was drawing pictures of the 50 states in a notebook. He is currently on a geography kick. Loves to watch “How the States Got their Shapes” and he is collecting quarters from the 50 states. Nate was reading a little bit. He hates to read. I can’t get him to read what he needs to for school, never mind for pleasure. But the night before our trip, he asked if he could read Stephen King’s Cell. I am a major SK fan, but Cell was one of my least favorite of his books and it was fairly gory (A “Pulse” causes cellphone users to become flesh-eating zombies). But Nate was asking to read!!! Go for it!

My reading material was the book Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips. It is about the Greek Gods living in modern day London. Hilarious, but a bit raunchy. Reminded me a lot of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.


We arrived at MCO at 10 am, and got on the little monorail thingy. Yay, first ride of the day!





When we arrived in baggage claim, our driver was there with my name on a sign.

Our two checked suitcases were already on the carousel.

Off we went and we arrived at Portofino Bay Resort by 10:45!!!









We were third in line at the check-in desk. I had requested a balcony room, but there are only two in the Villa (Concierge) Wing, and they were both occupied when we arrived. There was a room ready when we checked in at 10:45 am.




Not-so-great view of scrubby bushes:






















Next up: All about the Portofino
 

jenneth79

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 14, 2011
So excited to read your TR!:thumbsup2 Perhaps it's a guilty pleasure, because we still haven't convinced ourselves it's worth going to see WWHP just yet....

And I think you've made DisBoards history with the first Follower comprised of a family of inanimate objects!:goodvibes

Which reminds me, I need to chat with the Noodles about September.... hmm....
 
  • natebenma

    Beach Club Dee
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2008
    So excited to read your TR!:thumbsup2 Perhaps it's a guilty pleasure, because we still haven't convinced ourselves it's worth going to see WWHP just yet....

    And I think you've made DisBoards history with the first Follower comprised of a family of inanimate objects!:goodvibes

    Which reminds me, I need to chat with the Noodles about September.... hmm....
    :welcome:

    I was going to use the word inanimate, but I didn't know if that was PC and I was afraid Paul would be offended, so I used the term non-human instead. The members of the Noodle family are definitely animated!
     

    mickeystoontown

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 2, 2006
    I'm all caught up now. Glad to read that everything has gone smoothly so far and I'm hoping that the rest of the trip is that way as well. I agree with you that the view wasn't the greatest but the room looks very nice.
     

    natebenma

    Beach Club Dee
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2008
    I'm all caught up now. Glad to read that everything has gone smoothly so far and I'm hoping that the rest of the trip is that way as well. I agree with you that the view wasn't the greatest but the room looks very nice.
    Yay! I was hoping you would show up!

    Definitely a "meh" view, but that really wasn't important. It would have been more of an impact if I had gotten a room with a balcony (although the balcony rooms probably have decent views). It was also different for this trip because I have a big girl phone now that I can use to check e-mails and send texts and keep up with the BC/YC thread in the early morning or late night hours, so I wasn't as concerned with having a place to go with my coffee and a book as I have been on past trips.
     
  • aprilisis

    <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/" targ
    Joined
    Jun 4, 2001
    The Portofino looks really nice! I love the room decor.
    Don't you just love it when you have a hassle-free trip? Did you fly from Logan? That airport is SO much better than it was in the 90's. After they constructed the tunnel, the traffic going to and coming from the airport is MUCH better, too!
     

    natebenma

    Beach Club Dee
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2008
    The Portofino looks really nice! I love the room decor.
    Don't you just love it when you have a hassle-free trip? Did you fly from Logan? That airport is SO much better than it was in the 90's. After they constructed the tunnel, the traffic going to and coming from the airport is MUCH better, too!
    The trip was mostly hassle-free. There was some conflict at the end, but we are a LONNGGGGG way from that.

    Yes, we usually fly out of Logan, but I prefer Manchester NH when the flights work out. Really easy to get into and out of and parking is obscenely reasonable.
     

    natebenma

    Beach Club Dee
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2008
    OK, I'm going to get all of the Portofino stuff out of the way.
    I am also posting this on the Universal Trip Reports board, and if you want more of my details about the resort, follow this link: http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=41890438&postcount=7


    The Portofino Bay Hotel is a beautiful, quiet, romantic hotel based on a luxurious resort in Italy.







    Confession time: I have never longed to visit Italy.
    Maybe that's weird, but my husband and I are beach folk at heart and we will take the tropics over Europe any day of the week.

    For those of you who have followed me over from the Beach/Yacht Club forum and are wondering if I have a new favorite resort in Orlando...
    No Way! This was a very nice resort, and the theme park perks are amazing, but my heart still belongs to the Beach Club. :love:

    To be honest, I think one of the other Universal resorts (The Hard Rock Hotel or the Royal Pacific) would have been a better match for our family. The Portofino was not exactly our style- we don't do fancy! But I think this was the only place that had club level rooms available when we booked.



    One of the decorative features of the Portofino are a number of Trompe l’oeil (trick of the eye) paintings throughout the resort. Here are a few:






    Pools:

    I tried two of the three pools. The main pool was fun. Temperature was refreshing, cool but not cold. There is a sandy beach, lots of afternoon activity, a fun pool slide in the fort, music in the evening. I never had trouble finding seats.















    The villa pool is quieter and I found the water to be a little warmer than I care for.






    Kids areas:






    Other activities- Bocce and pool:






    I loved that they had water coolers and cups at the pools and all over the resort. They also had a basket of sunscreen where you pick up your towels. I think it is complimentary, but we didn’t need to check.


    Transportation:- see the link above


    Concierge

    Here is a link to my post I on the Universal Resorts sub-forum with lots of pictures from the Concierge Lounge.
    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2760502

    Our stays at the Beach Club have hooked us on Concierge. Especially in the mornings. Unfortunately, the Portofino Club Lounge does not start serving breakfast until 7 am, which was when you can (and should) enter the Wizarding World. We were able to ask for a couple of boxes of cereal and bananas the afternoon before we had early park days. We also purchased pastry from Sal’s Deli and Marketplace. We were able to enjoy the CL breakfast offerings on our Magic Kingdom and Sea World mornings.

    The food selections were great, and everything seemed to be plentiful and replenished when it got low, but the service in the lounge does not compare to the service we have experienced at Disney’s BC Club Level. The couple of times we had an issue, the Concierge Staff was not able to resolve the problem so we had to go to the front desk.

    The first issue we had was trying to convert our Universal admission vouchers, which were printed on regular 8 1/2 by 11 paper , to a durable ticket that would not be destroyed if it got wet. Which is a very real possibility with some of the rides at Islands of Adventure. They couldn’t do that at CL, but to be fair, the ticketing desk couldn’t do it either. We needed to go to Guest Services at the park to get this done.

    The other thing that happened was strange. On our first afternoon at Universal Studios, our room key, which I thought was linked to our credit card to make purchases in the park, was rejected. We had already used it a couple of times for lunch and some souvenirs but the third time we presented it, it was denied. The CL staff was not able to help with this. When we checked with the front desk, they told us we had a $100/day limit on our room charges. Wait, What??? Do these people (who work at a resort) not realize that $100 does not go very far in a theme park? The woman at the desk told us they would increase our daily limit, but she wouldn’t tell us by how much. She said “It will be enough”

    Next up: The Adventure Begins at Universal Studios: 3-D 4-D OD D’OH!
    Sorry folks, it's not Harry Potter yet!

    .
     
  • aprilisis

    <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/" targ
    Joined
    Jun 4, 2001
    Great update! That main pool area looks really cool. Should I even dare ask how you think it compares to Stormalong Bay? :lmao: That stinks that concierge lounge opens at 7. You would think they might know that resort guests will be taking advantage of the extra hour in the parks in the morning & open it at least a half an hour before that- maybe even an hour. I can't wait to hear what you thought about WWoHP!
    I've never flown out of Manchester- but I fly out of TF Green a lot. I'm in Worcester, so it is a little closer.
     

    Queila

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 3, 2009
    Signing up!
    :thumbsup2
    Welcome back Dee! :) Wow... just got back and you are already 4 pages in.

    Portofino looks like a really nice hotel but I ca totally see why your heart will forever belong to the Beach Club.

    Cannot wait to read more.
    Q
     

    JanetMom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 8, 2006
    Hello Dee

    I'm signing up for your trip report. Can't wait to hear more! Selfishly, I'm pleased to hear that you like the CL at BC better (even if CL doesn't come with a Ginzu knife set:) )

    Looking forward to the next update!
     

    tortoni

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 11, 2003
    Hi Dee, tuning in and loving the report so far. It's been years since we have stayed at Portofino but I really like that resort. Front entrance looks so different though. Can't wait for your HP review.

    Toni
     

    WsPrincess

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2011
    I know what you mean about the Cell. I didn't mind it but it was not my favorite SK book. I think it is great he is reading though.

    The resort looks very nice but I think it would be too fancy for us too. Can't wait to read more :cool1:
     

    natebenma

    Beach Club Dee
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2008
    joining in love the pictures :)
    Thank you! I love taking pictures! So happy you are joining us.

    Great update! That main pool area looks really cool. Should I even dare ask how you think it compares to Stormalong Bay? :lmao: That stinks that concierge lounge opens at 7. You would think they might know that resort guests will be taking advantage of the extra hour in the parks in the morning & open it at least a half an hour before that- maybe even an hour. I can't wait to hear what you thought about WWoHP!
    I've never flown out of Manchester- but I fly out of TF Green a lot. I'm in Worcester, so it is a little closer.
    The pool was nice, but much much much much smaller than SAB. Also not as deep. I think there was one spot that was over my head and that was it. I like the deep sections of the lazy river at SAB.

    The fort slide was fun! The slide was not enclosed. I wouldn't say I'm claustrophobic, but I like open slides better.

    I did not do sufficient research about CL before we booked it so I didn't learn until later that it would not be possible to sit down for breakfast on the days before we visited WWoHP. :sad2:


    Signing up!
    :thumbsup2
    Welcome back Dee! :) Wow... just got back and you are already 4 pages in.

    Portofino looks like a really nice hotel but I ca totally see why your heart will forever belong to the Beach Club.

    Cannot wait to read more.
    Q
    :wave2: Hi Queila! I'm psyched that you are here!

    I hope to someday read that your lovely family is planning a stay at the Beach Club!

    Hello Dee

    I'm signing up for your trip report. Can't wait to hear more! Selfishly, I'm pleased to hear that you like the CL at BC better (even if CL doesn't come with a Ginzu knife set:) )

    Looking forward to the next update!
    My husband and I don't really drink a lot, but the BC CL has complimentary evening cordials. We enjoyed a glass of Amaretto out on the balcony once or twice during our BC stays.

    I think you could pay a pour for mixed drinks at the Portofino lounge.

    The BC CL CMs definitely had a greater range of services that they could offer.

    No Ginsu knife, but :thumbsup2 for saltwater taffy!

    You will love it!

    Hi Dee, tuning in and loving the report so far. It's been years since we have stayed at Portofino but I really like that resort. Front entrance looks so different though. Can't wait for your HP review.

    Toni
    :welcome:

    The resort was definitely breathtaking everywhere we looked. There will be plenty of Harry. Eventually! :rotfl:
     

    natebenma

    Beach Club Dee
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2008
    I know what you mean about the Cell. I didn't mind it but it was not my favorite SK book. I think it is great he is reading though.

    The resort looks very nice but I think it would be too fancy for us too. Can't wait to read more :cool1:
    Oh, don't get me started on SK!

    What is your favorite? Have you read Eyes of the Dragon? :love: Or the Gunslinger series? The Stand was amazing!

    Didn't really enjoy Tommyknockers.
     

    DrMomof3

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 9, 2010
    The hotel looks lovely but I also think I would choose Hard Rock for my family. The pool does look nice! Now if only my kids would grow tall enough for the rides.... :lmao:

    Amanda
     

    saintstickets

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 30, 2009
    Man, what is it with you people and food porn!!! I have to laugh because when my food comes I'm so tired from taking a million other pictures I can't even imagine stopping to snap a pix while the plate is still pristine.

    I think the only thing I would be good for would be taking pictures of demolished dishes with captions like " This used to be ____ and it was so good I wish I had taken a picture of it!"

    ~ Marlton Mom
    Take a pic of the "before" and "after" and let the pics be your review of how you liked the dish! Food porn at its best! :rotfl2:
     



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