Universal 11/02 - 11/04

Thursday, November 6, 2014 9:36 AM

My wife and I took a short 3 day trip without the kids to Universal mostly to see the new Harry Potter attractions. We flew in on Frontier on Sunday and checked into Cabana Bay Resort on Universal property. After getting advice on this board about crowd levels, we decided to stay at the cheaper resort even though it didn't include Express Pass. This turned out to be a good decision as the longest we waited for a ride was 25 minutes and most of the time it was a 5 -10 minute way. The resort motif wouldn't have been my first choice but the resort was new, the rooms clean, and the staff friendly. The only issue we had was the parking gates failed to work most of the time. It was a pain getting in and out of the lot. Which also reminds me to say one again I think it is ridiculous they charge you for parking when you are staying on property.

Anyway, we got to the park the first day around 100 after stopping for lunch at Margaritaville. We walked around Diagon Alley to see everything. We were going to wait until early entry the next day to do Gringotts but it would have been manageable because the line was only 45 minutes. We did hit up Transformers, which was new since last time I was there, but weren't all that impressed. It was loud, jerky, and not much fun. We both enjoy Spiderman much more. We also went on the Simpson ride. I had been on this the first year they opened it and thought it was fun. The wait was only 10 minutes and it was what I remembered it to be. They hadn't completed the Springfield Area last time so that was cool to see. I have grown up with the Simpsons and it was cool to see Moe's and get a beer inside. Their version of Duff beer is made by a central Florida brewery. It was also really cool to see them make a Flaming Moe. For those that don't know it is an orange based non alcoholic drink that uses dry ice to create the smoke and I'm assuming also the bubbles that make it look like it is on fire. It was really cool and if I like orange drinks I would have gotten one.

We continued on to ET. It is a neat little ride but ET no longer says your name at the end which was part of the charm. It looks like this is permanent because all the computer equipment was also missing from where you used to get your passport. On the way out for the day we hit up Shrek 4d. Overall it was a good first day. We went out to dinner that night at Raglin Road in downtown Disney. It was delicious food and a great atmosphere. I highly recommend the bread and butter pudding for desert. It comes with a caramel and vanilla sauce.

I will post day 2 and 3 on a later report so that it doesn't get to incredibly long.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014 10:42 AM

Iceman3 said:

We did hit up Transformers...It was loud, jerky, and not much fun.

Just like the movie!

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Thursday, November 6, 2014 3:10 PM

Iceman, as much as I enjoyed Universal, one of the "little things" that drove me absolutely batty was paying to park at the hotel where I was staying. That blew me away that for the price I was paying per night for a room at Portofino Bay. Also irritating was paying for WiFi. Seriously?? I mean, I didn't use the WiFi because I was off doing more fun stuff anyway, but in this day and age, paying for WiFi at a nice hotel like that when you can stay at a roach motel in Nowhere, Pennsylvania and get free WF is just unfathomable. However, I guess if no one is complaining, they'll continue to do it.

I can't wait to read more on your trip!

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Thursday, November 6, 2014 5:12 PM

When we stayed at Royal Pacific we payed the daily rate for parking, as we usually do. It is nice to have the guy bring the car right to the door. On about day 2 I noticed a large parking lot with cars in it. Come to find out it was the free lot and it was merely down a few steps and across the road from the porte cochere. Felt like a couple of chumps there, we did.

We did see that the lot was quite full, which might've meant a longer walk to the back on occasion, so there was meager justification.

No excuse for the wifi thing. Although, sometimes wifi sucks in certain locations and it's speedier to go ahead on the 4G especially for short usage. Like checking in with my peeps at CoasterBuzz and stuff like that.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014 8:35 PM

My understanding was there was no free parking anywhere on property. We had to pay $10.65 a night at Cabana Bay. I believe the pricier hotels were upwards of $16 a night. It is definitely a rip off. I guess they do their best to keep you from bringing a car so it is harder to drive off property and spend your money. My wife got us a midsize rental through Alamo for $50 bucks for 3 days so we about broke even if you consider the cost of a cab ride to and from the airport.

The wifi was free though as long as you didn't connect more than 5 devices. You could pay for premium access which allows for more devices and possibly faster speeds. We were fine with the basic connection.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014 8:53 PM

Are you sure that lot at RPR is free? Isn't it still behind the key card gate?

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Thursday, November 6, 2014 10:29 PM

Hmmmm...
Ok, maybe the difference I'm trying to recall was between self park and valet park.

Yeah, that was it.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014 11:22 PM

Parking at Portofino was...I want to say 19 a day, which to me seems ridiculous when you can park your car at the parks for less than that.

I always sound negative when I talk about our Universal and Disney stays, but really both have been lovely. I'm curious to hear what you have to say about the actual room and facilities. Could you tell this was one of the "value" properties, or was it pretty nice? I haven't heard much about it.

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Friday, November 7, 2014 4:04 AM

It is hard for me to really compare since I haven't had the chance to stay at the more expensive properties. The bus service to the parks was great. They run 4 buses and we never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a bus. The drop off is further away than if you could take the boat. It drops you off right under the bag check area so you still have to walk all the way through City Walk to get to the parks. The room felt larger than either the value or moderate resorts at Disney. Once you walk into the room there is a closet on the left and the sink area to the right. The shower and toilet are separated from the sink area. Then after that come the beds on one side and the dressers and tv on the other. Then you end with a table and two chairs next to the full wall length window in the back. There are no balconies. I felt like there was plenty of room to walk around even with two suit cases on the floor. The furniture seemed like decent quality and the beds comfortable. It is hard to know how things will hold up since everything is so new. We were in a standard 2 bed room. The only noticable defects were an outlet cover that seemed to be pulling away from the wall and the caulk in the shower was already starting to crack and pull away. The pool area seemed nice but we didn't swim at all. It has a rather long lazy river. If you had a room on the end of one of the 4 buildings it would be quite a hike to the bus stop each morning. It also has a bowling alley if that is your thing. I think that about sums it up.

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Saturday, November 8, 2014 7:57 AM

Thanks for the post. My wife and I are staying at Cabana Bay in December rather than our usual Royal Pacific. Last time we tried to stay at a different hotel (Hard Rock) we switched back to the Royal Pacific after around an hour. :)

I will say paying for parking sucks but the land that those parking lots sit on are extremely valuable and could be used for other things if people didn't store their cars there. We usually hire a driver to pick us up at the airport. YMMV

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Saturday, November 8, 2014 11:01 PM

Thanks for the report! We will be going the first week of March and got the 3 day park to park tickets. We haven't been there since 2007. I am a little disappointed with the review of Gringotts the ride and Rip Rocket Rollercoaster. I thought both of them would be solid rides. Hopefully there is enough to do there for 3 days. Thanks for the report!

Last edited by got2havefun, Monday, November 10, 2014 9:38 PM
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