Cabana Bay switch to RPR, Disney resort hopping and Kennedy Space Center

dandemom

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 29, 2009
Hi all, I just wanted to report back to you all with some feedback from our recent trip. Well, we're still on the trip, but headed back to NYS in 2 days. :-(

On the trip are me, my husband, son (15) and daughter (13). I had reserved Cabana Bay for 2 nights and then RPR for 1 night with the APH (WOW HUGE savings!!!!) so that we would have Express Pass for 2 days of our 4 park days.

On our way in we stopped at Walmart to pick up our order that I placed online. This was awesome and I would totally do it again. Although we passed another Walmart on our way to Universal on Columbia ave/st that I would perhaps check out to use instead next time.

We arrived at Cabana beach on Saturday 12/21 around lunchtime. We had a family suite reserved and it wasn't ready yet when we checked in. We stopped by the ticket counter to pick up my hubby's annual pass. I asked if there was a way to get a card ticket for my paper tickets that I had purchased online with the Black Friday 10% off deal but of course, the answer was no, just use the paper and if it gets wet they can reprint it. Well, OK, I have it in the wallet and I have the email so I guess we have backup.
(Sidenote- I cut out the section with the barcode and used packing tape to "laminate" it. It worked great until one lady at the turnstile told me that invalidates it when you remove the small print. I pulled out my phone and used the electronic version on the wallet, so no problem, but just so you know...)

Then we headed into the gift shop to get lanyards for all of us. Unfortunately, I didn't understand about the AP discount on merchandise so I lost out on that savings. Then we had lunch at the Bayliner hoping the room would be ready soon. It wasn't ready yet and we were done with lunch so we hopped on a bus and went to IoA.

We were SUPER lucky when we arrived. Hagrid's coaster was showing a 90-minute wait so we jumped in line. We ended up being 62 minutes' wait time. Our room was ready then at 2:45. We were impressed with the room layout.

We spent the rest of the day and the next having a great time and enjoying low crowds. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the Macy's parade because they cancelled it both Sunday and Monday nights due to rain (no wind, just rain). BTW, we didn't see Hagrid's at anything less than 120 for the rest of the trip.

On Monday morning, we let the kids sleep in while we went to RPR to get checked in to get our Express Passes. That whole thing was a fiasco that I'm not sure I will repeat. First, we arrive and find a sign in the loop that says don't park here. But the valet said to park there to check-in. Then we find a pretty long line at check-in, employees coming and going. I think we waited about 20 minutes to check-in. We were hoping the room would be ready since we had milk in the fridge at Cabana Bay but that was really wishful thinking and it was not ready. So we drove back to Cabana Bay to get the kids up and finish packing. Everything was in the car except the refrigerated items. We went to the park and hoped to get the text before the 11 AM checkout time. No dice, so we left the kids in the park to ride whatever they wanted (of course strict instructions to stay together and NOT leave the park!). We packed up the fridge, put it in the car and drove over to RPR. NO parking spaces left. NOW WHAT??? Valet told us to drive down the road and find a spot so we did find one there, but it was very inconvenient and not what I would expect at a deluxe hotel.

We walked to US and got the kids. Did a couple more things and then the room was ready. We were ready for a break so we went back to the room, found the room WAAAAAAYYYY down at the end of the tower hall and sat down for a few minutes.
In all, I think we spent about 3 hours to change hotels. And quite honestly I was much happier at Cabana Bay. The bathroom layout was better and I didn't have to bend over to make a cup of coffee. Also the fridge at RPR was a lot smaller and definitely not as cold.

If I had to do it again, I think I would have just booked the room at RPR for the express tickets but also booked a 3rd night at Cabana Bay and not moved and eaten the $100 extra I would have been. (Yes, I got Cabana Bay for about $100 a night for a family suite!!!! Yeah for APH!). Moving was a royal PITA and I felt like I wasted half the day. If Lowes was smart, they'd look at the reservations and offer families that book just 1 night at a deluxe after multiple at the value the opportunity to stay at the value and just give them the express passes (still pay the deluxe rate though). Then Lowes could also book the deluxe room to someone else (and probably not a passholder). Win-win.

In all, we had a great time at Universal. I'm not sure we will be headed back any time soon since I wasn't really WOWED by much there but we had a fun vacation and daughter LOVED Harry Potter.

Then we had a break to visit snowbirds mom and dad for Christmas.

We spent a day resort hopping at Disney. I have always wanted to see the Disney decorations at Christmas and this was my opportunity to do it. We parked at TTC, rode the monorail to the Contemporary, had Mickey waffles at the Contempo Cafe and then saw the gingerbread house. I do have to say I'm a Disney girl at heart and felt like I was home here. On to the Grand Floridian via the monorail. Beautiful!!!!
We took a boat to MK and then took the other boat to Wilderness Lodge. Amazing decorations here, too. Then we took the bus to Hollywood studios with the intention of taking the gondola to the Epcot resorts. Unfortunately, that leg of the gondola was not working that day and had already been down for 4 hours with no anticipated time of coming back online. We really wanted to try to gondola so we took it anyway to the hub and then took it to return to HS. What an awesome ride! And so quick. It was really too bad that leg to Epcot resorts wasn't working. Anyway, we waited for the boat from HS to the resorts. I think in retrospect we should have taken the bus, but whatever, we got off at the Swan/Dolphin and walked to Boardwalk. Everything there was so pretty. Then we walked to Yacht club and Beach club. That carousel was so amazing! We took the bus from Beach club back to MK and hopped on the ferry back to the TTC. So we were able to take every free transportation and see all of the deluxe resort decorations/gingerbread houses. What an amazing day and I'm so glad we did it. Total cost: $90 - $25 to park, $40 for mickey waffles and $25 for 2 lunches to share at Wilderness Lodge. This day took us about 6 hours.

We spent the night in the worst hotel I think I've ever been in. Never again will I stay in a Clarion. GROSS! I won't even get into it, but NEVER. AGAIN! This was the one by MCO.

We arrived at Kennedy Space Center right at 9 when they opened. I got tickets on Black Friday on discount. We had to stand in the in the will call line for about 20 minutes to exchange the voucher for tickets. We followed advice I found here to get in the line for the bus tour right away. I think we waited about 20 minutes there. What a great tour! We had to wait to do Atlantis until about 6PM for the line to go down but in the middle we saw pretty much everything else we wanted to see. What a great day that was! I don't need to go back, once was really enough but we were there from 9AM until closing at 8PM.

Thank you for all of the great advice I have received here!
 

macraven

Proud Redhead
Moderator
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
You covered quite a few things while in Florida
Sounds like most of the trip was awesome!
 

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