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Thread: 8-12 & 12-14 dual WDW & Universal trip..slumming it at POR!

  1. #1
    Registered User ericles's Avatar
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    Jul 2002
    Location
    Maryland's Eastern Shore

    8-12 & 12-14 dual WDW & Universal trip..slumming it at POR!

    Who: Eric (husband) and I (Les)
    When 8-12Feb @ POR and 12-14 Feb @ Loews Sapphire Falls at Universal
    How: Southwest out of BWI
    Why: sunshine, warmth and work

    I struggled as to whether I should do a trip report, for sure it won't be a traditional one. For one I don't take notes and I no longer take that many photos. But I figured maybe I could touch on the highlights & lowlights and perhaps my info might be helpful to someone!

    Firstly, we were last in Orlando in May and promised ourselves we were done with WDW for a while, at least 2 years. We have other travel plans in the works and frankly WDW has become a long weekend in-between "real" vacations for us. So of course over the Christmas holidays we were chilly & in need of a get away so our thoughts turned to Orlando. Well it turned to a few places but we didn't want to have to overplan or think to much about it - so we dithered over WDW or Universal and settled for old traditional! We decided to go in just a few weeks and of course it was impossible to get a DVC rental (or usual method of staying at WDW) so we decided to "slum it at Port Orleans Riverside".
    Honestly, we have longed loved POR and it's our go to when we can't get the DVC we want, so it was really no hardship on our part! I secured our rooms, purchased park hoppers from UT and booked some flights on NYE for the 14th-17th of January.

    So then we go back to work on the 2nd of January, and I discover I need to go to a convention in Feb. at Universal. So we dithered over it for a few minutes and decided to combine the two trips. I had zero issues transferring my POR room only reservation, or changing the dates on the park hoppers we bought from Undercover Tourist. Changed my flights (southwest makes it so easy), and booked the hotel for the convention. So, 4 nights at POR followed by 2 nights at Loews Sapphire. It would be our first time at this property, our first stay ever at Universal being this previous May for one horrible night at Cabana Bay. Yuck.

    As fate would have it the original timeframe we were going to go ended up being very cold, so we lucked out! Honestly this was meant as a recharge trip for us, I just wanted to feel some warmth on my face and read my book outside. We flew out of BWI on Saturday morning at 10 AM, arrived at MCO and collected our bags. We saw the mass of folks at the ME decks and turned right around and were out the doors and in a Uber in less than 10 minutes. Room wasn't ready at POR, no problem. We took a boat ride to the Springs to shake off the flight and had a drink and soaked in some of the atmosphere. Headed back to our room, collected our luggage, chilled out and then headed back out to meet our nephew & his wife at Paddlefish. Nephew works in the greater Orlando area and his wife is a CM at Disney - she trains the new captains who operate the boats to and from PO & FQ/OKW/SS to Disney Springs. She also does a bit of VIP tour stuff and is working on her masters courtesy of Disney. We always look forward to seeing them down there, and had the chance to take them to Chefs de France later during our stay as well.
    Anyway, lets see...I think we did Studios then Animal Kingdom the first day. Buzzed thru and by 1:30 that afternoon we headed to Poly for a late lunch and ended up at Kona Cafe for sushi. Great meal. From there we headed to the Grand Floridian pool bar for a drink and to scope out the resort for our next stay. Two thumbs up. Then off to Wilderness via Contemporary boat to have a drink at the new large, outdoor bar by new DVC units. From there we headed back to our resort, grabbed some sandwiches and turned in for the night. Second day...I think this was Magic Kingdom. Hit all the top spots & rides we wanted to and from there - I think that was the night we headed over to EPCOT, rode Soaring, and then headed to Chefs de France. Great meal. Left the park around 8:30 via a Uber from Boardwalk.
    Last day, EPCOT. Had a great day in Epcot, ended up eating lunch inside of Mexico (no ADR) and had a good meal. Spent the afternoon at the POR pool bar, where we watched a grandmother drunk on Pina Coladas driving her scooter around the bar area like it was a race track. Dinner at POR again, then Wednesday morning early we grabbed a Uber over to Sapphire Falls. Checked in, checked our luggage and hit the ticket counter. We went with two seasonal AP's vs. regular tickets as they were essentially the same price and so in case we cold manage a quick trip back we would - if not no harm/no foul. Bought the express pass for one day (OUCH! next time I'll know better to stay at the nicer hotels) and headed off to the parks. Had a great time - and ended up at the Tapas bar at top of our resort for dinner. Fabulous. And great views. Thursday morning at 7 AM I headed off to my Risk Management conference, and Eric headed off to explore the parks on his own. We met up later for lunch at the pool bar, and then around 5PM, where we headed back to the parks for a quick turn around. At 6PM there was a private block party for attendees of the conference which took up the Bob Marley place and the Pat O'briens place and the Karaoke place. All you can eat or drink and not crowded. Plus entertainment. Two thumbs up. Friday morning I had a few sessions at the conference, and Eric chilled out. After my conference concluded we walked up to the Loews Pacific resort. Very nice. Next time, I'll know! The conference is at Universal every two years, so I'll book there then!
    Walked back to our hotel, grabbed our bags and a Uber and headed to airport. Smooth flight home, we were in our front door by 8ish Friday night. And no where to be until Monday morning, which is how I like to end my trips!!!

    My thoughts:
    Star Wars - area is huge. Didn't ride anything, I can take or leave Star Wars but I'll tell you what, it was packed.
    Starbucks in Studios - ridiculous lines. Bring back Starring Rolls or maybe add another location? Lines out the door, down the block and around the building towards Tower of Terror. Same at Animal Kingdom. Surprisingly , the Starbucks at Magic Kingdom was just fine.
    As always, had great time at MK and rode some many rides without FP - in and done with rest of afternoon to spare!
    Paddlefish - very good. very expensive. Crowded, we had ADR's for this originally for 2, but when we had additional people to add to ADR's that afternoon it was no problem.
    Chef de France. Very good, not as expensive. Had a less noisy table this time which was nice. Again, no problem at all adding another person to our ADR a few hours prior.
    POR - it pains me to say this, but for the second time we have stayed here and noticed trash. Floating in the water, on the walkways. And cigarette butts. People are trashy. The resort is still nice, but I think we are done here. Can't argue how nice having the boat to the Springs is, but we can get that at OKW or stay at SS and walk. We were in the preferred area, building 15, second floor. It was very quiet and a great location....did see some folks at the next building over who had pulled out the side chairs from their room, pushed them outside, kept their doors open to hear the TV, and proceeded to smoke. Tacky & trashy and yeah, we reported it. Saw it again the next day- I reported it but I didn't come on vacation to police people. I'll just take my business elsewhere next time.
    Sapphire Falls - Nice hotel. TONS better than Cabana Bay for sure. Tapas bar was delightful, as were the staff at the hotel.
    Universal Parks- My goodness, we enjoyed ourselves, can't lie! Love how the whole area is a bit smaller and we can walk from hotel to parks and City Walk. While we were at WDW my husband decided he wanted to bring our adult sons and their SO on a trip there for his next big birthday in 2021. By the time we were leaving Universal, he had changed his mind to bringing everyone there!

    Uber - yep, we used it a lot and were glad to have the option. One thing I often see on these boards and others, is "how much is the Uber from X to Y?" So for anyones reference, below are some examples of our Uber costs:
    Port Orleans Riverside Resort to Sapphire Falls resort $18.82 plus $5.00 tip = $23.82
    EPCOT to Port Orleans Riverside $11.06 plus $3.00 tip = $14.06
    Boardwalk Resort to Port Orleans $12.58 plus $3.00 tip = $15.58
    Port Orleans to Contemporary Resort (accessing MK this way) $10.42 plus $5.00 tip = $15.42
    MCO to Port Orleans $30.97 plus $8 tip -=$39.97

    Weather - weather was so unbelievably perfect I could not have picked better. Warm, sunny. Just what we needed.

    There you go...not a traditional trip report, I can't recall what I ate specifically. Didn't take any photos, and I'm proud to say I used by phone once between Saturday & Wednesday - Objective to relax accomplished!


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  3. #2

    Sounded like a great time to relax and recharge. POR was the very first resort we stayed at back in 2016. It holds a special place in our heart. Thanks for sharing.

    Past Trips: 2006-POR; 2008-POP; 2009-CBR; 2010-VB/AKV Kidani; 2010-BLT; 2011-BWV; 2011-AKV Kidani; 2013-BCV/BLT; 2014-AKL Jambo (Concierge); 2015-SSR/OKW; 2016 BCV/AKV Kidani; 2018 BWV; 2019 Mar-BLT/Sept-AKV Jambo

  4. #3
    At home in the hills candles71's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    foresthill Ca

    > how the whole area is a bit smaller and we can walk from hotel to parks and City Walk.

    This right here is reason to come to California and see the parks.
    Glad you had a nice visit and got some sunshine and warmth.


  5. #4
    Registered User ericles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Maryland's Eastern Shore
    Quote Originally Posted by candles71 View Post
    > how the whole area is a bit smaller and we can walk from hotel to parks and City Walk.

    This right here is reason to come to California and see the parks.
    Glad you had a nice visit and got some sunshine and warmth.
    Welll...remember me asking about San Diego a bit ago? Reason we didn't go this time was because I found out this same conference (I have to attend 2 per year) will be in San Diego next Feb. so it is for sure on our short list! Plus our niece @ WDW is gunning to go with us ha ha!!

  6. #5
    At home in the hills candles71's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    foresthill Ca

    The Disney hotels will give you sticker shock. But there are nice hotels right across the street.


  7. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Shores of Lake Erie

    Sounds like a nice relaxing trip. Definitely splurge for the nicer hotels at Universal it’s worth it. I do love the ability to just walk from park to park.


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