5/16 – Universal Studios
We slept in a bit because we were still on Mountain time, but because we were staying onsite at Universal Studios at the Portofino Bay Hotel, I wasn’t worried about it since we would have Front of the Line (FOTL) for almost all attractions. We arrived at PBH at 8:45 am, just in time for a quick breakfast in the Club Room. We'd only stayed Club (concierge) level once before, at AKL years ago, but I discovered that at Universal with a family of 5 we would save money staying at Club level from the 2 days worth of breakfasts that would be included for our one night (one breakfast on arrival and one the next day). Plus, there was no extra charge for a rollaway in the room since all the Club Level rooms have a sleeper sofa, so they sleep 5. Breakfast was good, and the chocolate croissants were amazing. It was a great way to start the day.
After breakfast, we hustled down to the dock and just made the boat to US. One note about PBH as opposed to the Royal Pacific or the Hard Rock Hotel, it’s the farthest hotel away from the parks, so walking is not a great option. The walk is about the same as the walk from Epcot to DHS – doable but not short – so if a boat is available, take it.
We arrived at Universal just before 10 am. It looked pretty quiet. We had a couple of goals today but the main one was to get H. on the Simpsons and Jaws. He loves the Simpsons, and the Simpsons is frankly one of the best rides in all Orlando (perhaps the best). As for Jaws, well, he was just the right age when Jaws came out, and he does bear a passing resemblance to Steven Spielberg and all (in fact, there’s even a note saying that in the computer at our local video store). Knowing that The Simpsons can be rough on your stomach, we bought H. some Bonine at the store the night before. We were ready for our day.
What I love about Universal Studios is the detail of the park decorations. They really did a great job with the park (are you listening, DHS?)
Right after the turnstiles, Adi saw Dora the Explorer, so we had to take a picture of them together, since Dora is her middle name:
The initial plan was that Judah, Emilie and I would ride Rip Ride Rockit (which doesn’t honour FOTL) while H. and Adi saw Shrek 4 (a f**t joke every minute is how I like to describe it
. We got through the RRR line fast, rode it once, then decided to line up to ride it again, figuring we had enough time, but the ride broke down while we were on line, so we jumped out and went to our meeting spot – the big square next to The Mummy. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to explain to H. that there was a separate line for FOTL, so we waited a while for them to come out. Oops!
Once they were out, we rode the Mummy twice, even H. I love the Mummy, more so every time I ride it. It’s a great coaster with very fun effects. Be sure to check out the lost and found board when you’re there, too. Then we went to Jaws. Now, Jaws is one of H.’s favourite movies from when he was growing up, so the kids and I couldn’t wait for him to ride it. For those of you who haven’t visited Universal yet, we call it “The Jungle Cruise… with Teeth.” Our captain was fine, not great but fun. We played around with Bruce afterward and then continued around the circle to Men in Black.
Yeah, I caught Bruce.
I warned H. that MIB was a bit spinny and that he should ride the Simpsons first. However, he wanted to ride MIB first and he’d taken the Bonine we’d bought for him, so I figured he’d be okay. Emilie and I forgot about how spinny it was, with several sudden Teacup like turns. Well, after the first one, I was nervous, and after the second one, I knew we were in trouble. H. came out looking very, very green. And we hadn’t even gotten to the Simpsons yet! He sat down and we brought drinks for him. Then the kids and I went back to MIB and rode it another 3 times, each time checking with him when we came out to see what he wanted to do. Each time he said, ride it again and hopefully I’ll feel better. After the fourth time, he said he wanted to walk around, so we went over to the Simpsons. Kids and I rode it. (First great Simpsons line is from Kang: “Foolish mortals, don’t you know that all rides must end in a gift shop?”) H. just sat again. When we came out, he said he thought lunch would be a good idea because it might settle his stomach (yeah, either that or....)
We walked back across the little lagoons that divide the park and over to Finnegan’s, which is on the Amityville wharf. It’s a lovely little restaurant, good place to sit. I had the fish basket. Emilie had the chowder. H. and Judah had the fish & chips and Adi had the grilled cheese. Service was good. Food was good. And, most importantly, H. felt better after the meal.
Still going for quiet, we walked over to E.T. Everyone heard ET say their name but me. Then back to the Simpsons, and H. said he was ready to try it. He survived and loved it, just like we knew he would (Next great Simpsons line is from Homer. Marg: “Homer, Sideshow Bob is trying to kill the kids.” Homer: “It just keeps getting better and better.”).
He wanted a little recovery time after he rode it, though, so the kids and I rode MIB another couple of times (my son kept thinking that he would beat my score. Ha!).
We returned to the Jaws and got a really funny captain this time. We crossed back over to ET. This time, I heard ET say my name, but because we were discussing the ride when we got out, H. forgot his bag. He remembered it within 20 sec. but they’d already sent the ride vehicle forward. Then the ride broke down, so he couldn’t get it. They told him to return in half an hour. The animal show was just starting, so H. took Adi and Judah to see it. I’m not a fan of animal shows (you’ve seen one animal show, and you’ve seen them all, I say.), and Emilie and I wanted to see the Terminator 3D, which we’d missed last trip, so we went to find that show instead. Unfortunately, we missed it, so we rode the Simpsons again (fourth great Simpsons quote is from Marg: “Maggie, take those tourists out of your mouth now! You don’t know where they’ve been.”) and then met up with H., Judah and Adi at the Lucy: a Tribute exhibit. After that, H. tried to get the bag, but they hadn’t found it yet. I was a little worried – dark bag, dark ride, not a good combination. It was at this point, that H. told me he’d put the rental car keys in the bag… Bad news, and this story is to be continued.
We went back to the Simpsons for one more ride (Third great Simpsons line is from Krusty: “And now, we’ll go on a magical journey… through my mouth.”), then back to the Mummy. H. was over his nausea, so he rode both again. Then Judah and Emilie wanted to ride RRR again, so H and Adi and I went back to Lucy: a Tribute. Here’s the thing about Lucy: a Tribute. H. was also a huge Lucy fan growing up, so he had a wonderful time at the exhibit.
Then we regathered and headed to the exit. Back at the hotel, the kids swam while H. and I got pizza at Sal’s Market and drinks at the Thirsty Fish. Unlike the Royal Pacific Hotel, there aren’t nightly pool movies, but the resort is so beautiful, we didn’t mind.
Portofino Bay Hotel is also a great hotel if you like hotels that aren’t square boxes but have lots of nooks and crannies and strange little alleyways. Adi tumbled across the lawn and we all admired the full moon. It was a great start to the trip.
Afterwards, we went back to the lounge for cookies and cannoli before bed. We had a lovely day, but we had to get to bed early because the next morning was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
RD at 8 am.