englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)! - Page 3
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  1. #31
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    englanddg is offline Senior Imagineer
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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!



    Quote Originally Posted by Winkster View Post
    Just checked the website and the unlimited Express Plus pass is the One Day Park to Park VIP ticket. Including park entry, it ranges from $180 off-peak to $260 peak but still doesn't include Harry Potter, Rip Ride Rockitt and the Pteradon Flyers. Bargain! Not!!
    I'd agree. Not a great deal. It's interesting that the manager at the MIB gift shop I spoke with on park reported something completely different though regarding the $99 upgrade. Perhaps there is a difference between the unlimited express pass on the park and the one online? (though I doubt that)

    I wouldn't want anyone to read my report and make a decision based on it alone without confirmation. Deals like this seem to be consistently changing, and as a disclaimer, I don't want anyone to take my posts as gospel! It's my experience based on what I booked and when I booked it.

    In any case, it was a huge perk for staying on property, and I'm glad we had it!


      
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  3. #32
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    I'm always envious of the unlimited passes. Although I say we don't think we need them in May, we only do lots of the rides once. To get unlimited access would be brilliant!!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Winkster
    I'm always envious of the unlimited passes. Although I say we don't think we need them in May, we only do lots of the rides once. To get unlimited access would be brilliant!!
    I agree, we've never stayed at the Universal complex but look on enviously at the people with Unlimited Passes. Not a major problem when we go in Sept as the queues are relatively small but even still, I think they must make you feel important and not part of the crowd.



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    Enjoying your Reports - I honestly didn't realize that Universal had that much to offer. I definitely Want to experience it in the future. Enjoy the next phase of your vacation.


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    Very much enjoying your trip report! glad you two are having such a great time!


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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    I love Universal. I've had an AP since 2010, and I couldn't imagine being down in FL without it.

    And I totally agree with you about tour groups!


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    LOVING your reports! I actually grabbed a cup of tea to drink whilst reading! We went to Universal during our first trip to Florida in 1998! Back then I wasn't impressed and refused to visit again! However, last year I went under duress and ABSOLUTELY loved it! Universal has worked hard to theme all the areas! In 1998 it was a bit drab and no where near as cool as Disney! Universal are getting there! My surprise ride was Spiderman, it's AWESOME! We didn't manage to get on the Harry Potter ride due to ridiculous wait times because this area was newly opened! Enjoyed duelling dragons though!

    One question, I know you affectionately refer to your daughter as "the kid" but what's her name? 8:0) XXX



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    Quote Originally Posted by Rawlybabe
    One question, I know you affectionately refer to your daughter as "the kid" but what's her name?
    Don't forget that some of our members prefer a little more privacy for their nearest and dearest.


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    Really love reading your TR and reading how you and your little girl experience the parks.
    Sounds like you 2 have a great time together
    And am curious to the Blue Man group, sounds like fun.
    So far only saw pictures of them, going to look on YouTube

    Yeeeyyy, have fun in WDW

    Looking forward reading more of your adventures


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    I'm looking forward to hearing about your Disney adventures!



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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    Day 4 (Part 1)
    Goodbye Leows and Hello Pop, Royal Treatment at the Royal Table, and How to Watch Two Fireworks Shows in one Night

    Magic Moments - 1
    Pics Taken - 72
    Vid for Projects Taken - 8
    Discomforts (bug bites/etc) - 0
    Unexpected Surprises - 2 (Fireworks and Pop itself)
    Peeves - 0

    Breakfast - Coffee (me), Orange Juice, Milk and a banana (Kid)
    Lunch/Snack - 2 Apples and a split a blueberry muffin I had picked up with breakfast
    Dinner - Rock Shrimp Cocktail, Grilled Swordfish and Espresso Cheesecake (me), Grapes and Cheese, Beef Tenderloin and Decorate your own Ice Cream (kid) (Cinderella's Royal Table)
    Snacks - Resort Drink Cups
    ____________________________________

    The day has arrived, and it's time to say our final goodbye to the Leows and head off to "The World". We had a scheduled pick up at 9a with Quick Transportation to take us back to the Orlando Airport, where we would catch the Magical Express to Pop Century.

    I had packed the night before, and only had to put together our toiletries from getting ready in the morning. I woke up at 7a (6:30a wake up call WITH the alarm/snooze set for 7a as well this time!), did a final room check for forgotten items, and ran down and got us some breakfast munchies to snack on. At 8a, I woke the kid, and let her get ready at her own pace while she watched Avatar on Nick.

    I enjoyed the Leows, with only a few gripes that I have mentioned before, and as our stay got longer, my comfort grew. They have a lot of things going on at the hotel, way to much to take in with just one 3 day visit. One example is their "Open Wok and Magic Show", which they do on Saturday nights. You get all you can eat stir fry, and then a magic show. Another is "Open Wok and Hula Night (which is Friday Nights).

    I was also hasty to judge room service. I used it all three nights, which was never my plan, but it sortof worked out and was convenient. Yes, there was sticker shock each time (there is an automatic 22% gratuity). I also didn't like that the porter every time insisted on entering my room beyond the entry way and "setting up" our table. Though, there may be a liability reason for that (one porter informed me he could get in serious trouble if he didn't do it).

    What added to the general frustration is that the hotel restaurants will not do "carry out" orders, except for one (the same one that does room service, and is located across the hotel from me). I had to walk by Emerils (he has another restaurant in this hotel) and a Sushi place every night on my way back from the park (even last night when I took the Water Taxi back), and I would have loved to sit down at the bar and share a shirley temple or something with the kid and take a really nice meal up to the room...but it's verbotten.

    Instead, I got decent food, for 30% more then I expected at even an inflated hotel rate. However, the food was good 2 nights out of 3, so perhaps Weds was just an off night for the kitchen.

    Quick Transportation was prompt, and again the driver was professional, courteous and organized. He dropped us off directly above the Magical Express check in area (after having to loop around the airport after dropping off two other families who were catching flights home), and gave us very clear directions on how to proceed. He helped me reassemble my luggage, and joked around well with the chiddler.

    I was already aware of where we were in the airport due to the frequency of my trips, but I knew he was going an extra mile, and I let him go through the whole spiel. I tipped him $5 for the drive (would have done $10, but it was the only cash I had on hand), thanked him, and we were on our way.

    I have never seen the Magical Express queues so empty! We literally walked up to check-in, and then also literally walked onto our bus. The bus took about 30 minutes to fill up. I covered the kid up in her Minnie throw blanket that I use for the airplane, and she settled on my lap and tried to take a nap.

    No go...she was too excited. Every year since she was 5 she has done this ride, and this is the first year I didn't suprise her at the gates of the Magical Express (in hindsight, I still sortof wish I had kept it a secret and let her figure it out on her own).

    Anyhow, she now knows exactly what is coming at the end of the ride! In fact, she knows it so well that this year we got a "water park" themed bus instead of the traditional Magical Express bus, and she thought I was telling her to get on the wrong bus. "Daddy, we are supposed to get on one of THOSE!"

    Anyhow, she couldn't doze off, so we powered up the iPad and played DragonBox+ together. For parents, I recommend this app. It's a math game that doesn't play like one, and teaches logic and reasoning skills. We adore it, and my kid is actually faster then me at times. We play the game by alternating levels and we give each other "3 hints" each if we see a solution that the controlling player doesn't (which sometimes turns into 4 - 20 hints, but who's counting?) Anyhow, it's a fun iPad app to check out.

    The bus finally filled and we were off! The driver was jovial, and had several good one liners that came off as genuinely funny without being forced (which is always hit or miss, in my experience), and the ride was a blast. Every year I've done the Express, I have one gripe only. I wish that instead of turning on the video so late, they'd do it earlier, and instead of a blank screen, they'd run cartoons as filler. They do it after the video, but not before, and there's a good portion of the ride where you are staring at a blank screen.

    After a nostalgic stop at Carribean (Pop shares this route), we arrived. We arrived around 10a. The arrival was more then I expected. Bell Services was out there with bubble guns, and they had literally laid out the red carpet for you. From the moment I stepped off the bus, the hotel took on a jovial feel, and for the first time on the trip, I felt like I was coming "home", even though the hotel was mostly new to me.

    I plopped the kid and the luggage down in front of the cartoon TV (great idea Disney!), and check-in is was mostly painless. I did let one woman who I had seen earlier ranting at her husband about how this was "the fourth time our room keys haven't worked" cut ahead of me, as I figured she needed more attention then I did at the moment.

    Once it was my turn, I'd done the online check-in before arriving, and true to Disney's promise, they had everything ready for me when I got there. A veteran, I didn't need the whole spiel, so I quickly informed the clerk that I was not a first time, or even irregular visitor, but I was new to Pop. He seemed a bit relieved by this, and then went about calling housekeeping to find out if a room was already available, or if we needed to go see bell services to drop off our bags until our scheduled room became available.

    Luck be my friend, there was a room ready! AND it was on the 4th floor, which I wanted anyway (I like being on the top floors of buildings, personal mental issue I'm sure, but <shrug>).

    New keys issued, we were off to our room. For those who haven't been, Pop has elevators, which is very nice. Carribean does not (though it's only 2 stories tall, not 4...there is probably a local building regulation that requires a certain number of elevators per floor...I know that building regs like this exist in Atlanta...anything 4 floors or taller with above a certain amount of habitable sq footage is required to have an ADA compliant elevator there, even residential homes. So, there's some random trivia for you!)

    The room is a touch smaller the CBR, but the layout is very similar. There were a few details that CBR had that Pop does not that immedietly stood out to me, outside of the obviously simpler decor and furniture.

    1) No real glasses, no coffee maker
    2) No Footstand with storage compartment next to the entertainment center
    3) Smaller table

    There are other obvious differences, but overall, nothing I found inconvenient or annoying, and in the back of my mind I was wondering why I spent extra money for CBR in the past.

    I paid the slightly higher rate to get a "preferred room", which basically means you are near the food court / shops / bus and have a view of the central pool. As luck would have it, I ended up with the very last room on the top floor closest to the laundry/etc. I am very pleased with the room, the view, and the location. The only disadvantage of this was the obvious temptation of the pool for the chiddler. It was all she could talk about, and while I went about setting up our room for our stay, she was out on the foyer looking down at the sparkling water and getting so excited you could see her anticipation from her body language alone.

    Getting the room ready was easy, since the layout was so similar to CBR, and I largely was able to keep the same system.

    I unpacked her clean clothes into middle drawer on the entertainment center, and mine into the top. The bottom drawer is reserved for souvanier storage. I emptied the nightstand of the obligatory phone book and Bible, which I deposited on back corner of the shelf above the hangers in the bathroom, as the nightstand will become my electronics center. I pulled the nightstand out about 3 inches from the wall, and balanced the clock and phone against it. I plugged in my power strip, and started to set up my my charging station. All items ended up with their own cables leading into the night stand drawer, with the exception of the phone which is granted the spot between the phone and the clock. The only other exception is the laptop, which at CBR I would set up at the night stand, but I felt it worked better on the table at Pop this year, and that's where I am now. This year I have far less electronics, as I now have a combined HD video/picture camera (I'll touch on that later), and that helped dramatically.

    I unsealed our laundry pack (re: video in the Packing Advice thread), and put all our dirty clothes from Universal (which I had isolated in the outer pockets on our luggage). After dropping a laundry sheet into the bottom of the bag, I filled them appropriately, hers and mine. There was no need to hang them, as my plan was to do laundry tonight (every 4 days, give or take), so I sat them by the front table, and moved on to our shoes. These I lined up in pairs below the window.

    Then I removed every piece of promotional/educational material (only after checking each one for something new or exciting) and put them on the shelf above the hangers on top of the phone book and Bible. The "Privacy Please" card I stuck on the front door, using the on door evacuation route hanger to hold it (easy access for the future, if I ever want to use it...but I enjoy room service, so I probably won't, unless one of us has an embarrassing situation that I don't want to share with a hotel maid...)

    From the hooks outside the bathroom, I hung bags. Working order, from the one closest to the bathroom to farthest, my day pack, my belt, my now empty electronics pack which is also my briefcase, and her pin collection bag.

    The "empty spots" on the entertainment center, inbetween the unused area below the TV and the drawers (which, CBR starting last year is a media connection portal with comparable empty spots to the right and left), I set up our daily staging. These are drop off points for our daily use items, like wallets, cards, tickets, change, etc... Basically, I use it as a catch all spot for things that need to be looked through or taken daily, and it's where we empty our pockets at the end of the day, and fill our pockets for the next day.

    Our trip luggage I stashed in the back of the "closet", with all associated zip locks and related packing items within. I was now tucked into the hotel for our extended visit, and ready to face the day.

    It was around 11a. I gathered the munchkin and asked her what she wanted to do next, as we really didn't have any plans outside of our normal traditional stop to get set up for pin trading, buy some ears, and head off for Magic Kingdom.

    She had different ideas. I'm going to leave you here, as I am off to collect our laundry. I'll be back and will finish in a second post before I go to bed.

    Day 4 (Part 2)
    ___________________________

    Ok, I just got back from one of the most farcical things I've seen in a long time. I was going to write how Pop is much more active at night (it is) then CBR was, and how, at this time of night I would rarely see another person. However, here, the party is still going, even though the pools are "shut down"!

    So, apparently, Disney does send security out to clear people at a certain hour (pool closed hours ago, so...this is quite delayed). In this case, it was a 60 something year old woman with an LED flashlight trying to tell a bunch of excited colombian kids (I ran into one of thier group leaders) to get out of the pool. They didn't understand her, and kept going. So, I watched her keep circling the pool, repeating "the pool is closed, please return to your rooms, for about 3 minutes, before I couldn't take it anymore and left for the laundry chuckling to myself.

    That poor lady is still out there trying to round up all the kids.

    Anyhow, back to my report. This part will be much shorter, as there isn't much left to say, and I'm ready for the sack.

    The kid, after 20 minutes of watching the "fun" down at the pool, decided she didn't want to go to the parks first, and breaking our tradition, we went to the pool. We spent 3 hours here. I should note, my kid doesn't know how to swim, and while she loves the water, she freaks out when it touches her face. I don't enjoy this attitude much, as I'm an adept swimmer, and I've struggled for years to get her over this phobia.

    This year, she was ready to really start learning. 2 hours later, after working on her floating (jellyfish and back float), and her leg work (standard teaching method of holding onto the edge of the pool while kicking to learn how to keep your legs flexible but straight), she was swimming about 20 - 30 feet on her own into the 4 foot section of the pool to my waiting arms.

    My magic moment today was seeing her awkwardly doggy paddle while telling herself "don't panic, don't panic!" to keep herself motivated, as she set her own free swim goals to get to me. She won't understand this until she gets much older, but it reminded me of teaching her how to walk all over again.

    The pool at Pop is a whole lot of fun, and they do activities for the pool visitors throughout the day. We played bingo, for example (which, to our mutual but minor disappointment, we lost at every time). This is a far cry from CBR, which has a grander pool setup, but lacks interactivity (they do have it, but it's very rare).

    Also, Pop blasts hits from the 80s and 90s...who could ask for more?

    But, as much as we were having a good time, I had to cut it short as we had a 4:25 ADR for Royal Table.

    I had pushed us out of the pool a bit early for both of us to get refreshed with a shower and change of clothes, so we agreed to walk through AoA (in her eyes after walking it the "cool hotel!") to catch our bus to Magic Kingdom.

    I posted some of the pics I took at the AoA forum here: A of A

    Overall, AoA is impressive, and obviously a step up from Pop. That being said, as a party of two, I think Pop is perfect for our needs, and I see nothing there that interests me, outside of the eye candy. However, the kid loved the pools, as they have a lot more detail and water features, which is to be expected given their relative age.

    Architecturally, the food court and main lobby smack of Pop (as they should, as it was supposed to be a Pop extension in the first place, and any Pop goer will feel quite at home over there. The food court does have some interesting options, and I'm glad that Disney did that, as I plan to check out the AoA food court more during my visit. The Pop food court is very similar to CBR in terms of offerings.

    So, a short bus ride later where she fell asleep on my lap, and I nearly dozed off, we were at Magic Kingdom. I picked up my 2 day tickets at Will Call, where I noticed a family sporting what seems to be a trend this year...knock off "Thing" t-shirts. If you are not familiar, Universal sells Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 3, Thing 4 and any other Thing they can imagine you'd want at their resort, all of which are a tie in to Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Cat and the Hat.

    They are fun T-shirts, and I got one for my kid (Thing 1), and a sundress/shirt for her half-sister (Thing 2, age 3), as well as a t-shirt for my ex that says "Mother of all Things" as souvaniers from Universal.

    And, when anything goes "fun" at the parks, the parody artists go wild. So, off site of Universal and Disney, you can get T-Shirts that are far more...racy...

    For example, the family in front of me, which was a group of about 20 all with these shirts, had Drunk 1 and Drunk 2, as well as Bi**h 1 and Bi**h 2, S*xy 4, and Spoiled 1 and Spoiled 4 (never figured that out), etc...the list goes on.

    I never figured out the logic behind why they chose these shirts. If I was a 30 something year old man or woman, I wouldn't care to wear a shirt that said B**ch 1, even if I was one.

    But, to each their own. Once they were done Jerry Springering the staff, I picked up my will call 2 day tickets, and moved forward to our dinner.

    The kid was dog tired after 3 hours of swimming, and I knew it, and my plan was we'd do the dinner and get out, but once she saw the castle, she knew she was here. I teared up a bit too, once I see the Castle and see Main Street, it all gets very real.

    She quite literally ran to it, and was stopped by a show, which, caused us to take a detour (by Sleepy Hollow) to get to our dinner, and the mere fact she guided me through it, including the detour route, made me realize...she's as much a Disneyphile as I am!

    I need to summarize and go get the rest of our laundry.

    The park is pretty much the same as before, and as always magical. We did Small World, and Prince Charming's Carousel today, and did some dancing vids along the way. She really wanted to do the movie at Pop's central pool tonight, so we skipped her favorite rides (Splash M and Space M) by her own choice, and by the time we had gotten back to Pop, she was asleep.

    I carried her to the room, and laid her in bed, and she's still knocked out. Tomorrow, we have breakfast at Tuskers, but I don't think we are going to do the whole day at Animal Kingdom, as I planned.

    She's quite excited to find out if she's finally tall enough for Rockin' Roller Coaster...she's only been waiting for 2 years!

    (she is, I think, based on web details from Disney...but only the bar will tell!)

    Anyhow, goodnight all, and I'll be posting tomorrow night unless all goes haywire with my internet (I have issues with the "free wifi...I'll get into why in detail tomorrow)....


    Last edited by englanddg; 08-12-2012 at 01:31 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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  13. #42
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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    Timed to perfection! I took my last mouthful of tea just as I finished your report!

    OK - quick question...

    Loews to Pop is about 15 miles.

    Loews to Orlando International is about 18 miles.

    Why get Quick Transportation to the airport, drive round dropping people off, wait 30 minutes for the ME bus to fill up and then drive to Pop when you could have been at Pop in far shorter time?

    Am I missing something?

    But hey - who cares!!

    I'll keep my fingers crossed that your daughter gets on the RnR this year. And enjoy AK!


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  14. #43
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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    Quote Originally Posted by Winkster View Post
    Timed to perfection! I took my last mouthful of tea just as I finished your report!

    OK - quick question...

    Loews to Pop is about 15 miles.

    Loews to Orlando International is about 18 miles.

    Why get Quick Transportation to the airport, drive round dropping people off, wait 30 minutes for the ME bus to fill up and then drive to Pop when you could have been at Pop in far shorter time?

    Am I missing something?

    But hey - who cares!!

    I'll keep my fingers crossed that your daughter gets on the RnR this year. And enjoy AK!
    For the heck of it, really. One less thing to plan, and the time lost was still time spent with the kid, so I saw no reason to expedite. We still got in plenty early for Disney, had she not been hooked on the pool, we would have had a full day. You have to remember, none of this is new for her either, she's on her third trip. And, I'm having to learn that the inital magic does wane, even for a 7 year old as well. She has her must do's, and her "well, whatever" rides now as well. It's not like the first year where it was all still new, or even the second where she wasn't sure she was doing it again. Now, she's opinionated!

    Originally my plan was to surprise her with Disney upon our return to the airport, but I caved this year and told her early, first year I did that. It sortof broke the suspense of the trip, but did help me figure out what she was most interested in...so, macht nichts.

    It all worked out.


    Last edited by englanddg; 08-12-2012 at 03:38 AM.
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  15. #44
    Curious Alice's Avatar
    Curious Alice is offline TalkDisney Team

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    Re: englanddg's Magical Mystery Tour (and Trip Report)!

    Well, I have two days of trip report to catch up on since I didn't have much time for TD yesterday.



    Quote Originally Posted by englanddg View Post
    There are a lot of spins and movement on the ride, but most of the intensity comes from the odd angles they put you in (laying on your back, etc). It's not anything like the motion simulators in Mission Space...closer to MIB I think. The ride itself is very smooth, not jerky. As an idea, on your text trip, try Spiderman. It's a very similar ride experience but not nearly as extreme. If Spiderman goes well for you, I think you'd do fine on Harry Potter.
    I've been on Spiderman several times before the refurb and it's one of my favorite rides ever. I also like MIB. But I can only handle Mission Space Green. Centrifuges and me don't mix well.


    Quote Originally Posted by englanddg View Post
    I really miss the Alfred Hitchcock experience...However, most of the original 3-D footage had survived, and they showed it to you in the ride, and to date it is still the most harrowing 3-D experience I can remember, even though it was even at that time decades old.
    That sounds so cool. Hitchcock is one my of my favorite directors. I wish I had experienced this attraction.


    Quote Originally Posted by englanddg View Post
    We stopped at Quickie Mart so I could pick up a 3 eyed fish for my dad (he works in a nuclear power plant, and I thought it would make a fun office addition for him)


    Quote Originally Posted by englanddg View Post
    The park was not crowded at all today, but they were all over (mostly south american, I think). I'm sure it's a cultural misunderstanding, but they were extremely rude. They cut lines, were totally out of control in the lines (wrestling and just generally acting wild), and while I didn't have to spend much time around them due to the fact we both had express passes, I'm glad I wasn't stuck next to them in a line for an extended period. The most frustrating thing was how they would mob the express pass area, not paying any attention to who was there first for pass check, and even blocking the normal line entrance generally.
    I've dealt with the same type of group at Epcot. Was it teenagers?

    Quote Originally Posted by englanddg View Post
    ...as well as Bi**h 1 and Bi**h 2
    I'm surprised Disney let these T-shirts in. That's pretty offensive.


    Great trip report so far! But how was Royal Table? No details?


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  16. #45
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    I am loving your trip report. I'm with Curious Alice, what about CRT???

    Your description of arriving at Pop gave me chills as I was remembering our trip last month.

    The Jerry Springer bit made me lol!

    We had a similar experience with a touring group of Brazilians at the pool at 2:30 in the morning...which we wouldn't have had a problem with, but they were chanting and singing. Luckily for us, a quick call to the front desks and no more noise from the pool.
    It was our experience that the pools at Pop were open all night, but the lifeguards made an announcement when they went off duty at around 11 pm that you could "swim at your own risk" and quiet hours were from 12 am-8 am.

    Out of curiosity, how long of a walk was it from Pop to the buses at AoA? We never made the trek, but I gazed across the lake wistfully, as we were on the 4th floor in the 50's.


    Last edited by txmomx2; 08-12-2012 at 11:00 AM.

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