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kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29


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  • kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

    Good morning,

    The time has now come for kcnole to impart the beauty which was my latest trip to Orlando. Allow me to set the stage for you. This trip was to celebrate my 1 year anniversary with my beautiful wife. One of our gifts was annual passes to Universal Studios Orlando. Now I would have preferred Disney, but I'm not complaining about annual passes to Universal either. Anyhow, we made our plans, we were to come in Saturday morning to the disney property and check in for one night at the Pop Century. We had not yet decided whether we'd pay 130 dollars to visit Epcot or not and decided to make up our minds once we got there. We were then going to head over to Universal on Sunday for two nights at the Royal Pacific Resort and use our newly aquired AP's over there.

    Day 1

    We both left work about an hour early on Friday, dropped by the house to grab the dog and headed off down I-10 from Fort Walton Beach to stop at my mom's house in Live Oak for the night and leave the dog with grandma. We arrived at Live Oak late Friday night and went to sleep. We woke up the next morning, showered, said goodbye to the dog and headed towards I-75 for our arrival in beautiful Orlando.

    Unfortunately we got a little delayed leaving the house so we didn't arrive in Orlando until around 12:30. So we headed over to the Pop Century to check in.

    The room of course wasn't ready yet, which was fine, so we stopped to debate how to proceed. It looked like there was a big storm brewing and getting there as late as we did we decided to skip Epcot (***sad***) and instead just head to Downtown Disney for the afternoon.

    Our first stop was lunch at Wolfgang Puck Express.

    We absolutely love this restaurant. We haven't yet tried the main restaurant but for a quick lunch, you get a great meal for a good price here. The wife had the lasagna while I tried the bar b que chicken quesadilla. Very good. While we were eating, my concerns over the weather proved true as it began to pour.

    We attempted to wait out the rain but it became apparent that this wasn't going to be a quick shower so we decided to just brave the elements and we headed on out checking out the shops at downtown disney marketplace. We eventually found our way over to the World of Disney store with the wonderful pirates displays.

    In addition to the pirates displays we watched the little girls be dressed up like princesses galore for lots and lots of mom and dad's precious money. I decided that I wanted to be a pirate, but who needs Bibidi Bobidi Boutique when you've got kcnole's imagination.

    What rating should pirate movies get?

    What do pirates drive?

    Eventually we headed over to the westside which we'd never visited before. I noticed that Planet Hollywood looks good from a distance but man is it ugly up close. I didn't get any pictures of it, but it was a disapointment. We continued on through the westside where my wife found a churro. She loves these things.

    We continued on through the west side but left mostly unimpressed. Unless we decide to do cirque de solei or disneyquest at some point in the future, we probably won't spend much time over on that side. At this point however our room was ready at the pop so we headed back over to check in. Our last stay had been in the 70's area, this time we got the 50's.

    and found the hidden mickey's in the bathroom.

    We cleaned up a bit and then took the bus down to MGM so that we could head to the boardwalk for dinner. We'd never taken the boats over here before so it was fun. We got off at the Swan and Dolphin area and walked around those hotels for a bit. I had never been too impressed with them from a distance, but they were beautiful up close. Unfortunately all of my pictures of them came out blurry so I won't waste the space here with them. Once we were done checking out the swan and dolphin we crossed the bridge to the boardwalk.

    This looks like it could be a fun little area to stay at and explore, but unfortunately the rains were starting up again and everything was closed down outside. We hurried on across and over to the ESPN club for dinner. While the food was only average and about what you'd expect from an applebee's or something like that, it was still a fun little restaurant with its own radio broadcast during our stay and sports everywhere. We'll probably go back sometime for lunch here.

    All in all we had a good first day to our vacation. It was nice to get away from work and come back home as I call Disney. I had really wanted to visit Epcot this day but the weather and our travel didn't cooperate and I didn't much feel like spending that much money for just a few hours in the park dodging rain all day. We'll be back though.

    Day 2 will be along shortly.
    Last edited by kcnole; 09-04-2006, 10:53 AM.

  • #2
    Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

    Really cool trip reprt so far...Im looking forward to the rest

    Disneyland: 1998, 2005

    Disneyland Paris: 1992, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011


    • #3
      Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

      looks like you had a fun first day, even though it rained!



      • #4
        Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

        cool trip report, helps before I go next week!

        Im bored, lets go to Disneyland.


        • #5
          Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

          Originally posted by Goofster View Post
          cool trip report, helps before I go next week!
          Awesome!! You will have a blast! :cgrin:

          Nice pictures kcnole. Love the Boardwalk and Wolfgang Puck is a lot of fun. But more pictures, please!

          :clap: And Happy Anniversary!! :yea:


          • #6
            Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

            Great so far! More Pics please !!!


            • #7
              Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

              Day 2

              So after a good first day we wake up for our last bit of time we will spend this trip at Walt Disney. As this is our anniversary trip, we begin the day by exchanging our gifts for each other. The trip was the main gift, but we each had a small gift to exchange. My wife got pajamas and earrings and I got a new FSU jersey and signed FSU helmet by Bobby Bowden (which I had gotten earlier at home).

              So we headed down to everything pop for breakfast. I will say this now, the lines at the hotel restaurant were ridiculously long for this time of year. My guess is that it is due to the free dining plan which is currently running. Apparently there were so many people and not enough restaurants that they've even added prime rib and a few things like that to the pops menu. I got the pop waffles. I love those things. They just make me feel like I'm at disney.

              Afterwards we hopped on a bus and headed down to the magic kingdom for a ride around on the monorail. I hadn't ridden the monorail since I was about 7 years old so I was excited to do this. We hopped on the monorail from the magic kingdom and rode it over to the TTC where we hopped aboard the monorail to Epcot.

              Now I had every intention of taking lots of pictures on the monorail and some video of the ride through Epcot so I could get some good footage of what was going on at the Living Seas. Unfortunately my brand new batteries died as soon as we got to Epcot. I don't know why, and I didn't have any spares so I wasn't able to get that. It was nice riding through Epcot though and made me feel for at least a minute like I was in the park. It looks like the Living Seas mural is being repainted but it seems almost 3d looking. I've never noticed that before and I didn't see the sun on it. It may come back but it just looked like wavy lines of blue, yellow, etc....

              Anyhow, we headed back to the hotel, checked out and headed on over to Universal where we stayed for the next two nights. My wife really wanted to eat at some place on I-Drive called Bahama Breeze that she'd eaten at as a kid, so we found that for lunch and then headed on over to the Royal Pacific for check in.

              This hotel was beautiful and my wife loved it. She couldn't stop talking about how great it was. We've never had the opportunity to stay at any of the nicer hotels at Disney and I'd love to one day, I imagine they're even nicer than this, but this hotel was gorgeous.

              The pool was huge and beautiful. It was also pretty cool that from this location you could see the hulk roller coaster launch and the people shooting up on dr doom. If you looked just right at a few other locations you could also see the top of Jurassic Park and Dudley Do Right. I loved these pools and the two jacuzzis were great after a long day in the park. My only complaint was that parents let their kids use the jacuzzis like their own personal kiddy pool. We only spent about ten minutes in the jacuzzi because of kids jumping and splashing around and snorkeling through the water. It's impossible to relaxe in them when there are kids around. Maybe if they'd make one of them adult only and the other families only or something like that it would be better.

              Check in was easy and our room was ready for us already. The staff were ultra helpful and always had a smile. After all the bad talk I'd heard about Universal employees I was very impressed with the staff here. They were always ready to give us directions and even go so far as to walk halfway across this large hotel to show us where we needed to go, which we needed a few times since it was so large and spread out. My one main complaint about the hotel was how big it was. It was quite a walk to get anywhere. The other complaint is the main complaint I have with Universal. They don't have the luxury of land like Disney does and you see the outside world far too often. The hotel is themed like the pacific islands but our room looked out right over the freeway which pulled you out of the theming a bit.

              After we got in our room and cleaned up a bit we decided to head down to the dock to take the boat over to city walk. This area is a beautiful little beach with a nice sea plane sitting out in the harbor. The story is that the captain brings in people from all over the world on this plane.

              We hopped aboard the boat and headed off on the short journey to citywalk. I really like the way their boats run. It never took more than 10 minutes for one to show up and the ride over is a beautiful trip through luxuriously themed foliage and past Islands of Adventure where you dock at Citywalk. We really enjoyed the layout of citywalk much better than Downtown Disney. Everything is right there and it really reduces the amount of walking you have to do. It's also a beautiful view to look across from Citywalk and see the Hard Rock, Universal, and IOA. We did a bit of shopping where I bought several logo golf balls and then started checking out the dining options. While looking around I decided to catch a wave.

              There are a ton of great dining options here and we finally settled on the Bob Marley restaurant since we had honeymooned in Jamaica last year. We figured it would be a good way to relive the Jamaican honeymoon. I really liked the ambiance of this place. It was a small, mostly outdoor restaurant where Bob Marley plays nonstop. Apparently they also have a nightly band but we missed that. The food was good but the menu is small and you have to like the jamaican twist on food. I'm not in any huge mood to go back there again, but the food was good and we reminisced about our honeymoon from last year.

              We were starting to get a bit tired by this point and the rains were starting to pour again, so after a bit more shopping we headed back to the hotel for the rest of the night to rest up for the day in the park on Monday.

              The rest of this report will be all about Universal and Citywalk so if that bothers you guys I can restart this report in the non disney section of micechat, but if not it'll be easier to just keep it here. So let me know. I'll get up day three in a little bit.


              • #8
                Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

                Great trip report and photos, keep em coming! Also, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!


                • #9
                  Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

                  alright, let's keep it going then.

                  Day 3
                  We got up around 8, headed down to the islands restaurant for a quick breakfast before taking the boat over to citywalk again so we could head to the parks. I had not been to the Universal parks in at least 11 years. The last time I was there Islands nor Citywalk were there, King Kong, Hannah Barbara, the old Hard Rock, and the psycho house still were so I was prepared for a brand new experience.

                  We went straight to Islands of Adventure and entered with our brand new 2 park preferred annual passes which we had gotten with the deal where we got two years for the price of one. That is definitely a great deal. We entered Islands of Adventure and I was immediately blown away. IOA exceeded my expectations from the minute I stepped into the park.

                  You enter into what serves the same purpose as Main Street at Magic Kingdom. Instead of being themed to early 1900 cities it is themed to some distant arabic market street or something like that. It was beautiful and the entrance music immediately takes you away. There were no attractions here but there were several shops and a few food carts. We just stood around for a few moments taking in the sites. I found a cart and went for a ride.

                  We left from this section and instead of following the mass of crowds to superhero island to ride the hulk we veered to the right and headed to seuss landing. This place was so cute. There wasn't a straight line to be found. Even the railings for the queues were curved and bent. My wife loved this land and her favorite ride out of the entire park was there version of the dumbo ride called one fish two fish or something like that. It was slightly different as you had to listen to the song and figure out whether to go up or down based off the song or get wet. I really sucked at figuring it out and we got wet everytime.

                  We stopped by the cat in the hat ride and it was a cute little dark ride. I thought the animatronics were a little on the cheap side but it was still a fun ride. It seemed a little too intense for a child ride as it spins you around in circles several times. Maybe I'm just getting old though as anything that spins me around gets me sick. My wife found a green eggs and ham cart and posed for a picture.

                  After getting off the one fish two fish ride we found our way over to the high in the sky seuss trolley. This ride was really cute and I liked it but it was way too short. If the ride would go through the entire track it would be worth a wait but as it is I won't do it without a walk on or express pass. It was very cute though and adds a nice kinetic to this part of the land as well as giving you some nice views. After we got off my wife found got arrested.

                  We headed on over to The Lost Continent where I was amazed again. This area is beautiful. In fact it was so beautiful that my wife actually stopped and said I am really really impressed by this park. I've never heard her say that once. She just stopped and wanted to just look. I'd never seen something capture her imagination like that and it was wonderful.

                  We headed through the Lost Continent. The only complaint I had with this area is that there wasn't anything I could ride. I can't do big roller coasters so that was out, we didn't feel like waiting around for sinbad, and everytime we looked over at Poseidon's Fury the wait was around 25 minutes for the next tour to start. We did stop and look at poseidon's fury for a while though because it was just so beautiful however.

                  We headed out of The Lost Continent and headed over towards Jurassic Park. On the way over we passed this little display outside of dueling dragons that made me laugh. My wife got seated as this was as close to a roller coaster as she was going to get all day. The sign over the seats make me laugh everytime I read them though.

                  We entered on into Jurassic Park and I was very impressed with how this truly felt like the Jurassic Park from the movies. I was a little annoyed by a few things though. If you'll notice in this picture below, only two of the torches on the Jurassic Park entry sign were working and there were too many places where I could see through the trees and see backstage. That was bad show, but it's still a very cool area.

                  We stopped by the Jurassic Park Discovery Center where I looked around for a bit. This reminds me of some of the innoventions displays. When it first opened it may have been cool but the technology has certainly been left behind. I'd like to see them update the displays here. I did get managed to be attacked by a dinosaur on the way over to the jurrasic park river ride however.

                  The Jurassic Park River Adventure was great. I really liked this ride. I just felt the leadup to the drop was a little short. I'd have liked to have seen a slightly longer tour of Jurassic Park before the boat gets knocked off course into the raptor cage. Everything seemed to be working except for two small raptors who looked like they should be fighting over a CM's outfit, they were just standing still. The portion inside of the facility where you're attacked by the raptors and the T-Rex were top notch though and the point where the T Rex rips a whole in the side of the building actually scared me. The drop is a tremendous drop and really pulls your heart out of your chest. I loved the drop, my wife didn't. All in all I give that ride an 8 out of 10. Good ride.

                  After we got off this ride we headed back towards The Lost Continent for lunch at Mythos. I had heard all the hype about this restaurant and didn't expect to believe it. Apparently this restaurant has been named the number one theme park restaurant in the world four years in a row by I don't know if that claim is justified because I haven't had a chance to eat at blue bayou in Disneyland or any of the great restaurants I hear about in Tokyo Disneyland, but Mythos was by far the best restaurant I've eaten at in Orlando. The food was great and the warm ooey gooey chocolate banana cake was phenominal. It's a little small, so each person may want their own, but it was well worth the price. I'd go as far as to say this was the best meal we ate the entire trip. I was that impressed. The restaurant is beautiful as well with wonderful views of the park inside.

                  The day was really really hot and my wife was starting to feel a little sick from the heat so we headed over to toon lagoon after this and hopped aboard Dudley Do Right. The theming and show scenes are nowhere near as good as Splash Mountain but it's still a fun ride and you get drenched at the end which felt great on this hot day. It doesn't compare to splash mountain, but it's probably the second best log flume I've ever ridden. My wife felt much better after the ride though even though we looked much worse. lol

                  We were starting to get a bit tired from the heat by now and there were still a lot of things I wanted to see at the studios so we headed by Marvel Superhero Island where we rode Spiderman. I had heard so my hype about this ride that I was a little let down. It was good and I was very impressed with the 3d technology but it didn't live up to the hype. It may have also bothered me that it made me a bit sick with all the spinning around it did to your car. After we left Spiderman we headed out and on over to Universal Studios.

                  We headed into the park and immediately ran into the Ricky Ricardo band. They were very good and we stood around watching them play for a bit. Being back in this park brought back a lot of memories but it stood in stark contrast to the beauty of IOA. While I was blown away by the theming of IOA I noticed how barren this park feels compared to it and although there are more rides to do here than MGM, MGM is still so much more beautiful of a park.

                  After we watched the band for a bit I decided I wanted to ride the mummy. My wife wanted nothing of it so she decided to sit around a bit while I headed off over to the mummy. The queue was pretty nice but I took the express pass option so I missed most of it. As I was walking up the stairs to loading I began to smell something that smelled like bananas. I laughed and said, oh no I've heard about this, I bet the rides about to break down. Sure enough as soon as I was about to load on the train the ride broke down. I stayed there for about 15 minutes talking with the CM's before deciding to head out and meet back up with my wife since she was sitting by herself in the park. Apparently while I had been gone my favorite characters, scooby doo and shaggy came by. I missed them, but luckily my wife took a few pictures of them for me.

                  We headed on around to San Francisco and stopped on for Earthquake. This attraction was as bad as I had remembered. The first preshow is just horrible and the second one while not as bad is still laughable. I especially enjoyed when they unveiled the U571 model and no one had a clue what movie it was fun. The little subway ride is actually a bit fun alot like catastrophe canyon but not worth the wait or having to sit through those first two bad preshows.

                  Afterwards we made our way on over to Jaws. I have wanted to ride Jaws ever since I was a kid but it had always been closed when I'd been before. I'd been to Universal three times as a kid and was always disapointed to find it closed. When I saw it was open we immediately jumped on and it's a great ride. I was so happy to see it open. I had so much fun, I could ride this ride over and over. I wish they were able to keep the effect of the shark actually attacking your boat, but the gas explosion is great too.

                  We headed over to MIB for a quick spin on it and boy did we suck. I only managed to score around 200,000 points and my wife only had about 50 thousand. I thought the queue was very cool though and the visuals of the ride were much nicer than buzz lightyear. It was a good ride, but nothing amazing. I actually liked the queue more than the ride. Afterwards we walked past Back to the Future. We stopped and took a picture of the Deloreon but skipped the ride. I'm probably one of the few people who isn't upset about the rumor of it leaving. It always made me even more sick than Star Tours does so I won't miss it if something better comes. I do love the movie though so we took a pic of the Deloreon.

                  We headed on over to ET which is a ride I had really remembered loving as a kid. I had recently watched a video of it again on youtube and it looked like it was in bad shape on the video but I was glad to find that in real life with the correct lighting it still looked pristine and was very cute. We took the express pass line and I wished we hadn't because I really missed walking through the forest in the queue. I'll remember that next time, but the wife wasn't feeling good again so we went as quickly as possible. I'd say they should drop the ET saying your name part though, this really slows down the loading on this ride and hearing him say your name, while cute, just isnt that big of a deal anymore. Never mind that ET doesn't even have half the names that guests have.

                  After we left ET I ran back over to the mummy to give it a try one more time and left the wife waiting on me. It was working this time and I gave it a whirl. I must say that this has become my favorite theme park ride ever. It's the first time I've ever felt that a ride was perfect. The only complaint I could even find was that it doesn't fit in the theme of New York but if you can overlook that there's not one complaint I can have about this. The theming was beautiful, the coaster part was just intense enough to scare me but not to make me sick, and it scares you not only on a physical point, but on a psychological point. I give this ride a 10 out of 10. I was left wondering if I really was alive after getting off though as it took a while for my heart to get back in my chest. My wife snapped a picture of my corpse walking back towards her after getting off.

                  We had wanted to stop and see Shrek before we left but Tiffany was feeling sick again from the heat so we headed on out with a promise to come back before long and give the parks more time when it was cooler. All in all we had a wonderful time in the parks this day and I can't wait to come back to Universal. They don't have the magic that I get from the Magic Kingdom, but they're loads of fun.

                  After a bit of rest in the hotel and a shower we headed back to Citywalk for dinner. We decided to eat at the new Bubba Gump restaurant and we loved it. The food was a little overpriced but so is most of the food down here. It was a lot of fun though. There was nice little forrest gump decorations all over and the staff was very attentive. We really enjoyed our own personal trivia time with the wait staff. The food also tasted good. It wasn't phenominal, but it was about average for seafood. I'd put it on par with Joes Crab Shack or some other places like that. We'll definitely go back again though. We learned that Bubbas last name was Blue. We didn't know that. They also have a really cool little photo op outside.

                  Life is like a box of chocolates.

                  Afterwards we headed back to our hotel room for the final night before leaving the next day. We headed down to the jacuzzis at the Royal Pacific to rest our weary legs. It felt great but this was my main complaint with the hotel. There were about 5 kids in the jacuzzi who were making it their own personal play area. After about 10 minutes of getting splashed and dodging a kid snorkeling we decided just to head back up to the room. I know this is a resort hotel and to expect that kind of thing but it's still annoying. I really wish they'd make one jacuzzi an adult only jacuzzi and the other a family friendly one or something like that.


                  • #10
                    Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

                    Wonderful pictures! Happy you had a good time and Happy Anniversary!


                    • #11
                      Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

                      I'm working on the final day pictures. I should have them up by tomorrow.


                      • #12
                        Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

                        Thanks for the pcitures and the IOA trip report. I am a big IOA fan and I love to read about it.


                        • #13
                          Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

                          I haven't been to Universal in YEARS! Maybe I should plan a day or two. But I feel like such a traitor to Disney just thinking about it.


                          • #14
                            Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

                            I've never understood that feeling. I adore WDW. I think it is one of the greatest things ever given to America. That said, I don't view Universal as the enemy. They're the competition, but competition is a good thing. As a Universal fan I'm not angered when Disney does something well for I understand that without Disney in Orlando, Universal would never have come here and without the high bar that Disney has created we'd have never gotten such great things as IOA, The Mummy, etc...

                            As a Disney fan I don't feel any animosity towards Universal. Yes Universal does get a little annoying with their constant references to Disney and how they're better. It's like the little kid on the playground who constantly talks a lot about how he can beat up the big kid. I wish Universal would just promote themselves without having to tell me so many times how they're better than Disney for they do have a great product to sell. That said, those things don't do more than irk me a little bit for as a Disney fan I'm glad to see Universal put a great product out there for without that competition we wouldn't see Disney continue to upgrade their parks. If there was no Universal, Disney could just sit back on their laurels and not have to do too much. So I'm glad to see Universal putting out such great products as almost all of IOA and things like the Mummy, etc... for it requires Disney to attempt to go even better.

                            So in the end, I'm a fan of both parks because they're both good for each other requiring the other to push for far greater quality. I love Disney and I love Universal for two totally different things. We are blessed to have such quality parks available for us in Orlando. As fans of theme parks or even just of Disney, we should value the strong competition Universal puts up for it is imperitive for the success of Disney in the long run.


                            • #15
                              Re: kcnole's trip report8/26-8/29

                              Well said, kc! :clap:

                              Thoroughly enjoyed your trip report - fantastic pics and descriptions! Quick question...DH has never been to WDW, and neither of us have been to Universal Orlando so we're thinking of planning a combo trip (similar to what you did).

                              If we're staying at a Disney hotel, is there some kind of shuttle or public transport that will take us to Universal? Or do you recommend getting a rental car and staying at different hotels? I don't even know how close the areas are to each other...
                              She did it!


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