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Monday, March 11, 2013

google is a treasure trove

found a trip report I posted on the DIS years ago.  I posted it in two parts, the first half on the Universal board, the second half on the Disney board.  I'll post both parts here:


   02-21-2001, 07:35 PM



Jewish American Princess

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Join Date: Aug 1999

Location: Long Island, NY USA

Posts: 3,698


Songbird and the chickadees:  the two-hotel, four park oddessy. Part I: Portofino Bay, Universal, Ci

Cast of Characters

Songbird -- single mother extraordinaire, celebrating yet another birthday by indulging her every whim

Tinkerbell  -- age 10, and "officially" an adult -- at least from a
theme park point of view (though at 4'2" you have to wonder "what were
they thinking?")

Cinderella -- a/k/a "Annie Warbucks" and "Eliza Thornberry", age 8.

Songbird and the chickadees have been Disneyworld fans since our first
trip there together in August 1998.  We have stayed at the Polynesian,
Dixie Landings and Boardwalk.    We've seen most of what Disney has to
offer.  So this time we decided to be a little more adventurous and see
what Universal was all about.  At first I was going to "just" do the
Universal parks, but as I started to plan this adventure I realized I
could not go all the way to Orlando and not see the Mouse.  Unlike the
previous trips, where the girls weren't in on the planning, this time I
told them we were going about 2 months before the trip, so they could
help me make decisions about how to spend our time.

Our trip began in the wee hours of Friday morning, february 16.  The
limo arrived at our house at 4:30 a.m.  It was a royal blue limo, and
the driver is a woman named Susan.  She told the girls that the limo we
were riding in had been used for a movie once.  We drove to LaGuardia
Airport.  As we passed Shea Stadium the girls cheered  -- I'm raising Mets fans, you know.

We had a quiet, uneventful flight.  Occasionally the woman seated across
 the ailse from me would make a comment to me about Florida or Universal
 (she was reading Kelly Monaghan's book).  When the plane landed, the
woman asked Tinkerbell "Do you know so-and-so?"  It seems that Lissa,
and her son Daniel, are friendly with a man who is also one of my
ex-husband's friends.  Small world.

As promised, Tiffany Towncar was waiting for us when we arrived.  Our
driver, Ian, is originally from Liverpool, England.  I love that accent!
  Ian drove us to Portofino Bay.  Wow.  Impressive hotel.  Cinderella
saw the fountain outside
 the main entrance and immediately thought about the fountains in Rome.
 Our room was ready, and we were expertly escorted upstairs by Janet. 
We were in the villa wing, kind of far from the main lobby and the
harbor, but close to the beach pool and the villa pool.    the room was
huge and had two queen beds -- my kids liked the fact that the beds were
 high off the floor, but I kept looking for a stepladder and felt like
Princess Winifred in Once Upon a Mattress
 every time I had to get into that bed.  The girls were very impressed
with the bathroom -- two sinks, a stall shower and a separate tub, and a
 shuttered window
 between the tub and the bedroom.  No balcony, but we did have a view of
 the lawn and the lake (and Universal Blvd. just past the lawn.)  Lots
of little "extras", like a make-up mirror, blow dryer, minibar (yes, we
did indulge -- frequently.)

We spent the afternoon at the beach pool.  The girls were very impressed
 with the castle slide, the beach, the rocks, the playground area. 
Cinderella earned the nickname "Annie Warbucks" by singing all the songs
 from Annie --she did "Hard Knock Life" while lugging a bucket of sand
across the beach.

My most embarassing moment -- I overheard a young woman tell her friend
"I only want one child because then he or she won't have someone to
fight with" as she was looking right at the chickadees fighting with each other.
  We did have quite a bit of sibling disagreement this trip, and it got
on mom's nerves quite a bit.  We also had a lot of whining and carrying
on, more so than in previous trips, but we did have an good time overall
 (and we'll work on our behavior now that we're home again.)

Lunch from the poolside snack shop was great.  A staff member took our
order and brought the food down to the pool for us.  I had grilled
chicken, Tink had a hot dog and Cinderella had chicken fingers.  We made
 the decision not to go to the park that night, but to start fresh in
the morning. 

I stopped at the concierge to buy our tickets and make reservations for
dinner later in the weekend.  And I asked about Cousin Brucie.  Bruce
Morrow, a/k/a "Cousin Brucie", is a fixture on New York Radio.  I've
been listening to him since I was Tink's age.  On Wednesday, 2/14, he
announced on his show that he'd been braodcasting from the Hard Rock
Hotel on 2/16.  So I asked the concierge at Portofino for information. 
The concierge called the concierge at Hard Rock, then told me:  "Yes,
he's broadcasting from the Hard Rock pool, but it's supposed to be hush
hush."  LOL, he told 1/2 of New York City where to find him!

For dinner, we took the boat over to Citiwalk, did some shopping and
found our way into Nascar Cafe. They weren't honoring priority seating
for hotel guests because of the upcoming race but our wait was only 30
minutes --- not bad for a holiday weekend.  We played in the arcade
until it was time to go upstairs.  We sat right under one of the cars. 
 The chickadees even got to start the "race".

Alas, by the time we finished eating, the chickadees were too tired to
indulge mom with a trip over to Hard Rock (some other time, Cousin
Brucie), so we went back to Portofino and to bed.  the girls were amazed
 at the "turn-down service".  Nice hotel.

On Saturday we ordered room service for breakfast, then headed out to
the boat.  the smell of smoke was heavy that morning due to the brush
fires -- in fact I-4 was closed most of the time we were in Orlando
because of the fires -- though after the first day I only smelled the
smoke once or twice.  (It's sad that those fires are burning out of
control -- a bit of hard reality in an area that's devoted to fantasy.)

Our destination that morning was  Islands of Adventure.  Our frame of
reference is WDW, and we couldn't help but draw comparisons.  IOA is
hipper, edgier, more exciting and adult than the Magic Kingdom (and the
same can be said about Universal and MGM).  We found the Universal parks
 to be just as much fun as Disney, but in a slightly different way --
anyone who has been to both will know what I mean.  When we first went
into the park, we saw the Hulk roller coaster.  It seems to dominate the
 skyline.  Cinderella was disappointed that she's not tall enough to
ride -- until she actually saw the coaster.  Tinkerbell hated the idea
of the coaster from the moment I told her it has inversions -- and was
even more frightened of it when she saw it.  Cinderella wants to go back
 when she's older to ride Hulk and Dueling Dragons, but I doubt Tink
will ever want to ride either coaster.

Our first stop was Popeye's barges.  the girls were wearing bathing
suits, and it was a good thing -- when they tell you that you will get
soaking wet on the ride, BELIEVE THEM!  You go so fast you hardly see
the theming.  The drop was hardly noticeable.

Next, since we were already wet, we did Dudley Do-Right.  Cinderella
loved making a joke out of Dudley's dressing room a/k/a the broom
closet.  We found this ride to be much like splash mountain but cornier
and faster.

Next we saw characters.  Rocky and Bulwinkle were going back stage, so
we didn't get aphoto with them, but we did take pictures with Bluto,
Popeye and Olive Oyl.

The day was a bit cool (temps in the low 70's) so the girls changed into
 dry clothes, but decided to wear their slide-on sandals instead of
sneakers.  This was how Cinderella got her nickname -- for the rest of
the trip, she kept sliding out of her sandals, and we'd have to stop and
 wait for her to put her shoe back on.

After we changed we headed over to Seuss Landing, easily our favorite
part of the park.  Until this point we hadn't used Front of the Line
Access, because the lines were short, but now the park was getting
crowded, so out came the Portofino room key.  Now I'm really spoiled,
because we didn't have to wait on lines for almost all the rides!  First
 we rode the Caro-seuss-el (I love the animals -- so Dr. Seuss!)  and
then visited the Cat in the Hat.  This is very much like the Pooh ride
in Magic Kingdom, only bouncier and with more spin.  It shows the story
with charm and humor.  After that was One fish Two Fish, sort of like
Dumbo but water skirts out at the riders.    (No FOTL access for that
ride, alas.)

Next we wandered into the Lost Continent, where I dragged the girls onto
 Poseidon.  this was not a success.  the girls felt it was too dark and
ominous, and kept telling me they were scared the whole time we were in
the attraction.    Next Cinderella wanted to ride the Flying Unicorn,
but it started to rain just as we were walking over there.  We decided
to call it a day.  It stopped raining a few minutes later, and we walked
 back to Seuss landing.  Stood on line and got great photos of the girls
 with the Grinch and with the Cat in the Hat.  Proof that Songbird is
not shy:  just as the chickadees were about to see the Cat, a woman with
 3 kids in tow tried to cut the line -- but Songbird made the woman go
wait her turn.

It started to rain again when we were on the boat back to the hotel, but
 stopped just as we arrived.  We hadn't had lunch, so we arodered an
early dinner from room service and spent the evening watching t.v.

Sunday was my birthday.  the day began on a sour note, since our wake up
 call never came (though we got up early anyhow.)  A short time later
John, the manager on duty, called and apologized, and offered us free
breakfast for Monday morning.  They do try hard to please you at
Portofino.  We ate cereal in the room and headed out to Universal.  Our
first ride of the day was ET.  The girls were a bit nervous but
absolutely loved the ride!  Next it was photos with Scooby Do and Yogi
Bear and Woody Woodpecker and his girlfriend, all wearing Mardi Gras
beads.  We had an early lunch at Mel's diner  - hot dogs for the girls, a
 chilidog for me.  Love the 1950's atmosphere -- especially the music. 
Then the girls got their faces painted (adorable!)and then it was on to
the Woody Woodpecker roller coaster   -- the girls loved it so much they
 rode it twice.  Next was Men in Black, which the girls decided was
"cooler" than Buzz Lightyear "because the aliens shoot back!"  We lost,
but enjoyed the ride anyhow.  Next I convinced the girls to ride Back to
 the Future (one of my favorite movies!)  they were scared, but a girl
their own age told them it wasn't too scary.  Still, Tink closed her
eyes when the dinosaur appeared.  After that the girls got hair wraps. 
they looked so cool!

As we walked towards Nickolodeon Studios we came across a mini parade --
 the Marx Brothers and Marilyn Monroe -- and they were throwing Mardi
Gras beads.  the girls were entranced.

What can I say about our tour of Nick? Seems my girls knew the name of
every show, the answer to every question the tour guide asked.  I think
they watch too much Nick!  Anyhow, when we went to the game room,
Cinderella was chosen to be one of the players.  she had to dress like
Eliza Thornberry (orange pigtail wig) and I had to dress like Eliza's
sidekick Darwin (a monkey) and catch what she threw at me.  We had fun,
but Tink's nose was out of joint because when the mc asked Cinderella
"who are you with?" she replied "my mom" and forgot to say "and my

After that, we walked over to IOA and headed for Seuss Landing once
more.  We rode the carrousel and Cat in the Hat, then headed over to the
 Flying Unicorn -- which the girls decided was better than Woody
Woodpecker.  We walked trhough Jurrasic Park but didn't stop -- the
girls don't like scary dinosaurs.  Cinderella rode Dudley again. She
wore a bathing suit and got very wet.   Afterwards she was so cold that I
 had to buy a Betty Boop towel for her so that she could dry off before
putting on her clothes again.

Until now I had not been able to convince the girls to ride Spiderman. 
But someone at dudley told cinderella that Spiderman was the best ride
in the park.  So we walked over to spderman, but the ride was "down." 
Oh, well.  We ate dinner at Hard Rock, then walked back to Universal
just in time for the Mardi Gras Parade.  I didn't catch a thing, but the
 girls caught a lof of beads.

We didn't feel like waiting for the boat, so we walked back to Portofino Bay.

Here'a the link to the second half of the report:


[This message was edited by songbird on 02-21-01 at 10:58 PM.]

Jewish American Princess

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Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Long Island, NY USA
Posts: 3,698

Songbird and the chickadees: the two-hotel, four park oddessy. Part II: Beach Club, MGM and Magic

Cast of Characters

Songbird -- single mother extraordinaire, celebrating yet another birthday by indulging her every whim

Tinkerbell -- age 10, and "officially" an adult -- at least from a theme park point of view (though at 4'2" you have to wonder "what were they thinking?")

Cinderella -- a/k/a "Annie Warbucks" and "Eliza Thornberry", age 8.

Songbird and the chickadees have been Disneyworld fans since our first trip there together in August 1998. We have stayed at the Polynesian, Dixie Landings and Boardwalk. We've seen most of what Disney has to offer. So this time we decided to be a little more adventurous and see what Universal was all about. At first I was going to "just" do the Universal parks, but as I started to plan this adventure I realized I could not go all the way to Orlando and not see the Mouse. Unlike the previous trips, where the girls weren't in on the planning, this time I told them we were going about 2 months before the trip, so they could help me make decisions about how to spend our time.

Here's a link to Part I:

We had room service waffles for breakfast, courtesy of the Portofino Bay management. Next we called bell services and headed downstairs, where our Tiffany Towncar was waiting. Our driver Jack took us to Disney's Beach club. Now, we had had a wonderful time at Universal, but someohow you just know when you're on disney property --everything is more magical somehow. We checked into the hotel -- the room wasn't ready. So we left our bags with bell services and took the boat to MGM.

Our first attraction was Muppets 3D. Cinderella didn't care for it the first time she saw it, 2 1/2 years ago, but now it's become one of her favorites. Next we walked over to Great Movie Ride and observed the construction -- is that really going to be Sorcerer Mickey? The line was well over 30 minutes long, so we decided to head over to our lunch reservation, evne though we'd be 1/2 an hour early. for some reason, even though Sci fi was crowded, we were seated right away. the girls loved the car, the B movies and cartoons on the screen, etc. stick to the basics here -- I had a decent cheeseburger, tink had grilled cheese and Cinderella had chicken fingers, and it was all ok. Not fantastic, but not bad.

After lunch it was back to GMR, with a much shorter line now. We sat in the first row of the first car -- one of the best views (sat in the back row once and hated it!) Next it was Doug Live. I could have done without this show (it's very good, but we've seen it several times) but the girls keep hoping one of them will be picked for Quail Kid. Alas, no. then we walked over to Rock 'N' roller coaster. Cinderella thinks it's cool, but Tink won't ride, so we left her sitting outside while we rode. when I got off the ride, Castmemeber Marta approached me -- seems tink had to use the ladies room, and when she got back she began to think she'd missed us coming off the ride, so she told the CM, who found girl, my Tink. We saw Clopin and Belle on
Sunset Blvd. We had to make a stop in the Villains store -- Tink loves villains. the girls bought pirate stuff -- earrings, eye patches, etc. they played at being pirates as we took the boat back to Beach club. We saw one of the water taxis broken down in the lake between Beach Club and Boardwalk -- later I saw the boat being pushed by another boat -- guess they couldn't get it started.

We checked into our room. our room was close to the elevators. It was a lovely room -- two queen beds (lower to the gorund than the ones at Portofino) and a day bed, with a seahorse motif. the bathroom was very small, but the sinks were in the dressing room. even though we were on the second floor, we had a balcony -- which overlooked the construction area for the new Beachclub Villas (I told the girls about the DVC and now they want me to join.) We headed out to the beach to play until dinner. We ate a Cape May -- great buffet. we drew all over the "table cloth". at the end of the meal, the staff sang "Happy Birthday" to me (I hadn't had a birthday celebration the day before.)

we decided to walk to the Boardwalk. but first we stopped in the video arcade and played a few games. then we walked over to the Boardwalk and played the arcade games -- you know, the ones with the prizes. Cinderella won a prize by knocking over dolls with baseballs. Tink won a prize by shooting baskets. we saw the fireworks from Illuminations. we noticed a lot of surrey bikes, and the girls wanted to ride, but I don't do biking, and besides, they rode one with their aunts last summer. next was a stop in the sweet shop, and then we caught a performance of the Boardwalk buskers. they did magic tricks and juggling. Cinderella was entranced. we were getting tired by now, so we walked back to Beach Club.

We were up at dawn Tuesday morning and on a Magic Kingdom bus by 7:15 for our 8:00 breakfast at the castle. This time our waitress was Tina, but David -- who'd been our waiter in August -- was still there, and I think he recognized us. the characters were Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Aurora (sleeping Beauty) and Jasmine. We asked why there were no princes, and were told that Prince Charming was at WDW that day, but "was putting a glass slipper on Rosie's foot."

After breakfast we went down to the lobby and took a picture with the Fairy godmother. We walked out of the restaurant and were present for rope drop at Fantasyland. The CM's told us to avoid one side of the carrousel "because they're shooting a movie." Later I found out the "movie" was a commercial for Rosie O'Donnell's show -- rosie rode the carrousel. but we didn't bother to investigate -- we had a date with the pixies!

I'd had an event with Jane and the pixies in 2/2000, and decided to have a birthday event again this year. only, since it's my birthday, I decided to let Jane surprise me. Jane and one of her pixies planned out a treasure hunt for us. I won't go into the details, in case she wants to use it again, but it involved villains and following clues, and riding Peter Pan and Snow white. she'd also planned on us riding haunted Mansion, but the ride was down that morning (my girls don't care for that ride anyhow). good job, Jane! you really gave us a good time!

after the treasure hunt, we got a fastpass for Pooh, then rode the Indy 500 -- and Tink was ecstatic because she actually made the height requirement to ride alone! I had to ride with Cinderella, but I let her drive. the we rode Pooh, and Small World (the first time I rode Small World was at the 1964 World's Fair in NYC). we saw Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, then walked over to tomorrowland and rode the TTA -- which I still think is a lot better than the NYCTA. Next was Carrousel of Progress (another relic from 1964)(the rude people next to me wouldn't turn off their two-way radio and it made an awful noise during the show). then it was back to the Beach Club for a swim in Stormalong Bay and lunch at Hurricane Hanna's. Tink's one complaint was that the slide is an enclosed tube -- she doesn't like that kind of slide.

Minor complaint -- housekeeping didn't get ot our room until afternoon, so when we came back from the park the room hadn't been made up. but when we came back from the pool the room was clean, and the stuffed animals were arranged on the bed -- Cinderella's puppy was "chewing" on her blankie.

we headed back to Magic Kingdom sometime after 5. got our e night bracelets as soon as we came into the park. we walked over to Adventureland and headed to the Tiki Room -- the atmosphere of the park at night adds to the effect. next was Pirates of the Caribbean -- a walk-on, since most people were lining up for the parade at this point. then it was Jungle Cruise -- a ride which is much better at night.

We walked from Adventureland into Frontierland -- andright into the Main Street Electrical Parade. We'd seen it last year. we watched a few of the floats -- from cinderella's to Peteand his dragon. tink especially loved the Peter Pan float -- Tink is going to be tinerbell in her school play in april, so anything having to do with Tinkerbell or Peter Pan captures her attention these days.

We left the parade after that, and ran into one of Tink's Hebrew School friends in Adventureland. travelled 1500 miles to meet up with friends from back home, LOL. then the girls and I headed to Main Street for the fireworks. we'd seen the fireworks several times from the Polynesian, and once from inside the castel, but we had never seen Tinkerbell's flight. my girls were amazed and enchanted.

we walked over to tomorrowloand after the fireworks, but it was 45 minutes until e night would begin, and the lines for Buzz and Space Mountain were too long. we rode TTA again. then we went through the gift shops to see if I could find AngieBelle. I'd met Angela when she came to NYC in December, but she hadn't met the chickadees. we found her in one of the shops, and had a lovely talk. she told me "it's a shame you're leaving tomorrow, because I have the day off." a shame, because I would have loved to spend a day at Disney with a cast member!

we rode Buzz Lightyear, then Cinderella rode Space Mountain (I skipped it because my back was acting up, and Tink was too tired -- but I think she would have ridden if I'd gone on). We walked across the park and rode Big thunder. Cinderella wanted to ride splash Mountain, but Tink and I were too tired. even though e night was only 1/2 over, we headed back to the hotel.

this morning Ian of Tiffany Towncar picked us up, and took us to Orlando airport. our vacation was over.

wish I were still in Florida!


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