Wednesday morning we were up early and busied ourselves with more boat jobs….. By 2pm we were in our new hire car and enjoyed the drive across the state to Orlando.
We arrived at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort and quickly checked in. We had a lovely large bed- some great complimentary toiletries – and an impressive bathroom. Not too happy though that it costs $15 to use the fridge so we left that locked up – assuming that the minibar was hidden in there too!
We went to the concierge desk and collected our tickets – City Walk passes for free access to the venues that charge entrance fees; two day park-to-park tickets giving us unlimited access to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure; complimentary water taxi to and from the parks; and complimentary express tickets so we could go in the shorter queue. We were surprised that they charged us for the lanyards to hold the tickets though….
After organising ourselves we wandered around the hotel admiring the Balinese-themed décor and the Orchid Lounge before heading off on our first water taxi ride to City Walk.
We visited Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and his plane; checked out the Mexican restaurant and Bubba Gump; before having a quick meal at the fast-food Chinese. Full up we headed over to O’Briens to listen to the Duelling Pianos – great fun. Didn’t stay out too late – had been a long day – and we got back and had a pontoonie in the hotel before we retired to bed. Jacks Bar was a strange place, not least because we had four people who decided to crowd us into a corner, when the bar was empty! And I mean crowd us – one guy even had his arm on the back of my chair LOL.
Anticipating lots of speedy rides I was wearing my contact lenses rather than glasses – but made reading the map a bit of a challenge… We admired the scenery as we walked around and spotted our first ride – the huge roller coaster called the RockIt. Almost walked straight onto the ride and wow – it was straight up / straight down and then lots of twisting, turning and inside out / upside circles. Both of us felt a bit motion sick at the end of it – and said never again!
We enjoyed The Revenge of the Mummy, the Terminator, and Shrek 4D. We thought Twister, Disaster, Men in Black and ET were a little dated but the good surprise was the Minions. Showing our age – we didn’t know about these little critters before – other than in adverts. Jaws still exists but only as an exhibit – sadly the ride has gone. Some interesting street entertainment too….
Moving on we came across London – which is where Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley is located. Neither of us had read the books or seen the films so wasn’t sure what to expect – and certainly not expecting to be chatting to a cockney clippy, hanging out at Leicester Square, walking past the Mansion House or going on a train from King’s Cross.
Inside Diagon Alley was also familiar – with some of the shops looking a bit like the shambles in York and the inside market must have been modelled on Leadenhall. All very familiar and a bit surreal – especially eating Cornish pasties with HP sauce in an old school hall. I did have to laugh though when the server tried to explain to me what cottage pie and bangers and mash were as food options.
The main ride is in Gringotts Bank (the one with the dragon on top which does actually spit out fire every now and again) but it was already showing a two hour wait – no express line available here – so we left it for the day. We explored Simpson World for a while…..
Then rain stopped play so we returned to the hotel for a few hours in the afternoon – and then went out again in the evening, did a few more rides, and stayed in the park for the parade.
Sadly the pyrotechnic spectacular was cancelled due to the weather – so we headed back to City Walk. We decided to go to the Mexican for dinner – as they advertise a mariachi band each night – to find that they stopped playing at 9pm. We stayed for dinner – wasn’t anything to write home about – and then tried the Bob Marley tribute club.
Well – they wanted ID. Hmmmm….. we are on a night out and don’t tend to carry this around with us….. So we showed her what we had – photo ID passes from the parks / City Walk passes and the hotel keys. Eventually she let us in without charge – but not very graciously. We went in – and it was absolutely empty! I wonder why??? The band was really good but there was no atmosphere at all – and the beer was pretty expensive at $9 a bottle.
So we headed back to O’Briens again – and enjoyed another duelling piano partnership – and even requested songs from our favourite guy…. We got back to the hotel about 1 am – having been the only people on the water taxi.
Friday morning up very early and hot footed it into the park just before it opened to the public – determined to go on the Gringotts Bank ride. But first we tried out the Rock It ride again just to remind ourselves why we were not going to repeat the experience – and actually really enjoyed it second time round as we knew what to expect! Well, glad we made the effort to get to the Gringotts Bank ride – it was fantastic. Although again very surreal experience as I worked in a very old bank in the City of London and I’m sure some of the designs of the floors, the counters and even the clerks – albeit without the elf ears – were eerily familiar!
After this ride we headed off to King’s Cross station to get the Hogwarts Express over to the Islands of Adventure. The station is a pretty good replica and the steam train was great – all aboard – who remembers these carriages on our old London trains eh?!?
As you go along the windows depict scenes so you leave the City and the Gherkin behind, end up somewhere in the country, before arriving at Hogsmeade Station which brings you to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Great set…..
We went on the duelling dragons ride – the red side – and felt motion sick again…. Didn’t fancy the blue side after that! Then we went on the Quiddich flying broomstick ride which incorporates 3D and roller coasters inside and outside the castle…. An incredibly good ride – but not on top of the dragons – so we decided to be a little more sedate after that.
We headed off to see Jurassic Park and went on the River Adventure water slide. Well we got soaked and as we got off the ride the heavens opened. Torrential rain. We ended up having to purchase rain ponchos and carried on. We ended up on another water ride and got even wetter… Finally we wandered to Doctor Dooms Fear Fall – which was pretty tame – followed by the Incredible Hulk Coaster. Now this was our favourite of all of them….. You get shot out of a tube at incredible speeds upwards and straight into an upside down twisting bit…. No motion sickness here – just great fun – although I do admit to screaming a little LOL.
Finally – wet, tired and cold – we returned to Hogsmeade for the train journey back to King’s Cross. Took in some more rides on the way through and finally back to the hotel where we collapsed. We couldn’t be bothered to go out again – so we decided to eat in the Islands Restaurant in the hotel. This is a wok place where you select vegetables and the chef cooks it for you with your choice of meat / fish / seafood / rice / noodles etc…. We had salad first, ordered wine, and waited in line for the chef. He was clearly in a bad mood because he quite surly to the group in front of us – then berated us for using the wrong bowls for our vegetable selections. How are you supposed to know without signage?? Anyway…. I ordered beef, Richard ordered chicken, that got cooking and the veg went in. The chef asked what sauce – we both asked for Szechuan – and I asked if I could have my rice in a separate bowl. Well – I don’t know what he thought I said – but he promptly emptied my wok full of food into the bin!!! What?!?! Finally – with no apology – he asked me what I wanted and started over. If we hadn’t already had some food we would have walked out. The food was actually really good…… and we were entertained too……
Going back for a second try and the Chef was very keen to make my curry a good one – but all a bit insincere and I think he realised that he was out of order previously. Was a bit of a shame – we were looking forward to a chilled romantic last dinner here and this marred it somewhat. I do, however, admit that I have shared this with the hotel via their feedback survey!
Saturday morning up early and we checked out – retrieved the car – and drove back to Fort Pierce, keen to see Morphie again. We arrived around noon and she was there waiting for us. We got on with our final boat jobs that we could do in the water and collected all our goodies from the office – was a bit like an Amazon Christmas!
Oh yes – and, as we cancelled the factory tour, Island Packet sent us our new sliding doors – as a goodwill gesture. Much appreciated and will post ‘after’ pictures once we’ve filled in the hole left by the dead microwave.
Later that afternoon we headed to Harbor Cove for a few beers before bed and caught up with Chad. An early night for sure….
Sunday morning up at the crack of dawn – we got all the canvas off and stowed; the main off, flaked and stowed; and I finished waxing the topsides while Richard scrubbed all the cockpit cushions. Oh yes – and Richard managed to drop the handle to our dodger into the water – so he ended up having a snorkel in the horrible black water. When he dived down – in only six feet – I couldn’t actually see him. I also chose not to remind him about the snapping turtles that I had seen previously LOL. Yuck!
Finally – we are ready for hauling on Monday morning – and Morphie looks very naked in her slip.
Monday morning we slipped from the dock at high tide and we reversed safely into the concrete slip inside the lift….. I even managed to chuck a rope a good distance in a straight line…. All that practising with Blaine paid off!!
Then we were being lifted – until finally we had to get off – and Morphie was out of the water. Nervous times these….. Her bottom was filthy – thanks to the water in the marina as we had cleaned her just before we left the Bahamas – but looked a lot better after her jet wash. Then she was on the move to her summer position – she was chocked up – and the guys then started the krypton factor putting together the connector / rod cradle system. Finally all done and we are safe and sound.
Off we went to the hotel – not allowed to stay on board on the hard in this marina – and checked in. Basic place but it only a bed after all….. No restaurant / bar so we ordered in a takeaway and had an early night in front of the TV.
Today – Tuesday – we returned to Morphie and worked hard all day. Chasing the boat yard again for things to be done prior to our departure as always…. Still waiting on some significant quotes too…. Ho hum…. Oh yes, and of course, we don’t have the hurricane tie down straps in place yet….. Back in the hotel now blogging and we are heading out for dinner soon – and another early night is definitely on the cards. Working down below on the hard is always very tiring in the heat but the list is getting significantly smaller. Who knows maybe I’ll even get a chance to get in the pool one of these days….
Bye for now