Saturday, June 24, 2017

Paige and Ree's Epic Vacation: Part 4

*sigh* Sometimes I ask myself why I bother starting these things if I'm not going to finish until 3 months later...

Anyway, if you've been following along, you know that I've been documenting my trip to Florida with my bestie in March. We spent a week in Orlando: four days at Universal (Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!), one day at Magic Kingdom, and the rest of our time relaxing at our resort. This is the final part of this dragged out four-part saga. If you've stuck around, congratulations. I love you. You're a star. 

Ok, moving on! If you have read my other posts about this trip, you'll know that we had already spent three days at Universal and our day at Magic Kingdom, so all we've got left is one day at Universal, and our "going home" day. This post is mostly just talk and not too many pictures, I'm afraid.

Friday, March 31

So, as I mentioned, Friday we went back to Universal. We had decided ahead of time that we would save our last day for doing things we had missed out on, re-doing things we had enjoyed, and buying souvenirs! The shuttles always had to be booked 24-48 hours in advance, so we had figured that since we were staying later for the fireworks at Disney on Thursday, that we might want to sleep in Friday, so we booked the 11:15 shuttle to Universal.

There wasn't a whole lot else that we wanted to do in the parks. We had more or less exhausted all that we want to do in the Wizarding World, aside from souvenirs. And there wasn't much in the rest of the parks that either of us were very interested in. Except...

I told Paige that since we had one more day, and we'd already done the Wizarding World rides a couple times, and the rides at Magic Kingdom weren't terribly exciting... that I wanted to do one other "thrill" ride in the park, but that I would leave it up to her which one we would do. The options were:

1) Hollywood Rip-Ride-Rocket
2) Doctor Doom's FearFall
3) Jurassic Park River Ride
4) The Incredible Hulk Coaster

Neither of us wanted to get wet, so that ruled out the river ride. She also very quickly ruled out Doctor Doom because she couldn't do the drop. So it came down to the Rip-Ride-Rocket or the Hulk Coaster, and she decided that the Hulk was the lesser of two evils, haha! So we did that fairly early in the day. It was pretty awesome. We went the single-rider route, once again, so that we could get on faster. It was definitely a thrilling ride, and I'd have to give that one 10 out of 5 stars! It was great! I don't know how much Paige enjoyed it, but she didn't seem too traumatized. :D I didn't take any pictures of the ride, but here is a video of it from YouTube:

So we mostly spent the rest of our time wandering between the two parks, taking more random pictures, and buying up souvenirs. I was really hot that day. I mentioned in an earlier part of the saga that we had every intention of sampling Butterbeer in all available forms, so we went and got Butterbeer Icecream from Florean Fortescue's (it's pretty much just butterscotch soft serve...).

A cool Pumpkin Juice advert, and Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour
Mmm... Butterbeer Ice Cream...

Even though it was wicked hot, we hadn't yet tried Hot Butterbeer, and we wanted to get some before we left. So we went to The Hopping Pot (because we hadn't been there yet), but they said it was out of season. What?!? How is that even possible?! We were so miffed. So instead, Paige got Otter's Fizzy Orange Juice, and I tried the Fishy Green Ale. Hers was a basic orange-flavoured carbonated drink. The Fishy Green Ale (I read about it on a blog and wanted to be adventurous) is a mint & cinnamon-flavoured drink with blueberry flavoured pearls (the "fish eggs") in the bottom. It sounds weird and gross and looks strange, and it was kind of good (well, it wasn't disgusting), but I could only drink about half of it, and that took me quite a while because I was only taking little sips (which is unfortunate since they cost enough...). I did quite enjoy sucking up and squishing the blueberry bubbles. :)

The Hopping Pot

Fishy Green Ale

It was a pretty hot day, and we decided that we wanted to have time to relax a bit back at the resort, so we had no intentions of staying until 7:15 to get the shuttle. So we instead decided to grab a taxi back around 5pm. It was handy and easily accessible, and an enjoyable ride, but, if I were doing things over, I would not do the taxi! It ended up costing a small fortune ($63 CAD). We knew it would cost a bit, but weren't quite expecting it to be that much. Had we made arrangements ahead to book a private shuttle, it would have cost us much less, but we didn't really know what we were doing. Oh well. Live and learn!

So once back at the resort, we munched on leftovers and all the snacks we had bought earlier in the week, hung out at the pool, packed our suitcases, and generally just chilled out.

Saturday, April 1

Paige's flight was around 11am, so her airport shuttle was supposed to be picking her up at 7:20am. This proved to be a bit complicated because the resort shuttles couldn't be booked ahead, and the office only opened at 7 (we had asked at the front desk a day or 2 before, and they told us to just call right at 7 and it should be fine). So she called at 7, like they had told us to do, and said that she needed to be at the desk at 7:20 to meet her shuttle. It apparently took them a really long time to get organized, and she had to call a couple times to remind them her shuttle was picking her up in X minutes, and let's just say she very nearly missed the shuttle, but thankfully the desk staff held off the driver long enough.

Unfortunately, my flight wasn't until 9pm, so I had most of the day to kill. Which would have been super fine, if I could have hung out in the villa, but I had to check out at 10am. So... I got a ride over to the main building with my bags, checked out and left my bags at the front desk (this was about 9:15am), then walked over to the commercial area to get breakfast.

Because my dad is an "owner," we were considered owners for being there in his place, but he hadn't given me his owner card (because they didn't tell him he had to), so I didn't have proof. This wasn't a problem during our stay because we had key cards to prove it. But once I had checked out, I no longer had a key card, and also didn't have my dad's owner card, so I couldn't prove "ownership" to get the discounts due me, so I had to pay a lot more for my breakfast than I should have. Not a big deal, but kind of annoying.

So, I ate my breakfast, then I stayed there writing postcards to my pen pals. That really didn't take very long, and I didn't feel comfortable staying at a table for no reason, so I went to buy stamps to mail my postcards. They sell stamps in a little dispenser machine that only takes quarters, and an International stamp is $2.50. (I knew this, but didn't really register it. In Canada, we have a national rate, a rate to send to the U.S., and another rate for International - I sort of assumed it was the same from their end.)

The postcards I mailed from Florida

After getting that all settled (and using up most of the American money I had left), I walked over to the main building to put my cards in the mailbox. I would have considered watching a movie at the little theatre, but the movies didn't start until afternoon. So I sat in the lobby and tried to read for a while. There were always so many people in the lobby, it's really not a relaxing place. It was very distracting. So I alternated between reading and people-watching. But then I just got sick of all the noise, so I walked back over to the commercial area, settled in on a bench outside in the shade, and read and people-watched some more, and surfed Facebook.

At some point I got kicked off the WiFi and couldn't get back on, so I had to give up on that. As it got closer to my shuttle pick-up time (4:20pm) I walked back over to the lobby, got my bags from the front desk, and found a table to sit at to try to read while I waited. It was a very long afternoon. Finally it was time, and the shuttle, and off we went.

It only took about 20 minutes to get to the airport, so I was ridiculously early, and I didn't really know what I was supposed to do. There was nobody at the Air Canada counter to ask, so I just checked in at one of the machines, and wandered out into a big lobby-area. I knew I needed to check my bag somewhere, but I didn't see any signs for baggage check (it had all been very straightforward and clearly marked in Montreal). So I asked a flight attendant where I was supposed to check my bag, and she was kind of confused and indicated that it would be at the airline counter... so I went back.

There was still nobody there, but somewhere along the way I had heard that the Air Canada counter would only be open at 6pm (because they only had 2 outgoing flights that day, ours at 9pm and another at 11pm), and by this time it was about 5pm. So... I took my place at the head of the line and waited! People eventually trickled in behind me, and I had the pleasure of telling them we had to wait until 6 to be served. Anyway... 6pm eventually rolled around, I checked my bag, and then hustled off to security and my gate.

After that, it was all pretty normal and straightforward and uneventful. My seat mate on the flight left her overhead light (which seemed to be pointed right at the top of my head) on for the whole trip, so there was no chance I was even going to doze. We got into Montreal right on time at midnight. Baggage claim took forever, it was 1am before I even got my bag, and everything just seemed to take much longer than necessary, but maybe that was just because I was sick of waiting. I think it was 1:30 by the time we left the airport (my parents were waiting for me), and with a few stops, it was 4am before I was home in my bed, and at least 6am before I was able to sleep. It was an extremely long and tedious day filled with so much waiting, but considering some of my other adventures, a rather routine and unexciting trip home. :)

Harry Potter souvenirs! Clockwise from the top:
Ginny Weasley's wand, souvenir Butterbeer mug,
Fizzing Whizbees, Chocolate Frog, Bertie's Every Flavor Beans,
Pumpkin Juice bottle, Ravenclaw sweater & pin, Ollivander's pin,
and Universal Studios magnet <3

So, that's it! It was an amazing and super fun trip. New York would have been fun, but doing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was definitely the better choice, for this year anyway. Maybe someday we'll do New York - it's really not that far away.

I would most definitely go back to Universal at some point, but if I was going back to Orlando, I would probably try to get in more time at Disney World and only one or two full days at Universal. And as much fun as the resort was, next time I would probably seriously consider booking a complete package and staying on site and stuff. We thought that doing it this way was cheaper, but in the end... I'm not entirely sure that it was! I still haven't added everything up to see how I did compared to my budget... Another post, maybe.