Day Eight – 3rd September
The pain of these early starts, and today was once again a 6.30 am wake up, is paid back in spades if you are out to the parks before many others can manage. So imagine my levels of upset as again, it took us over two hours to get out of the villa. I should not have been too surprised as this morning we had to pack for our overnight stay at the Hard Rock Hotel. For me, that was underwear, swim shorts, normal shorts and two clean shirts. For others, it involved what appeared to be about a week’s worth of kit.
It was a depressing 8.50 am before we reversed off the drive and made our way up the I4. This meant an arrival at Hard Rock at 9.30 am. Naturally I self-parked and then spent far longer than we should have checking in. It took an age. This may have just been my perception as my need to be on rides already was as large as the chip on my shoulder at the late start.
Our room was not ready of course, but no matter, we would just check our bags and get on with it. Alas, no. It seems now that on-site guests need an extra photo ID thing to use the front of line privilege. This was a self-serve affair at a kiosk in reception. It could have been a tad more intuitive and for reasons that never became clear, Nana ended up with a moustache on her photo.
We wandered out to the pool area, trying to remember where the path started to get to the water taxi before lunch. I really do need to learn to relax in these situations.
It was 10.15 before we got in to the park…thankfully that was am and not pm.
First up, and with a suitably smug flash of our special passes, was a walk in to the Minions ride. There was already a queue that we would not have tolerated without our golden tickets.
This ride is of course just a re-hash of all the other rides that have been here before, most recently Jimmy Neutron, but it made it no less enjoyable. The pre-show is very good too. I would imagine this ride will stick around a bit longer than its forerunners judging by the amount of Minions stuff both in the parks and the movie franchise.
We crossed the street to Shrek and again avoided a woeful looking queue. This clearly pleased Rebecca.
We enjoyed another strong pre-show here.
The obvious next ride was Rip, Ride Rock It which now appears to have stricter security than most airports. I can only imagine someone was injured to such a degree that a law suit followed, by some object falling from the ride. The checks are only just short of full body cavity and the riders, had to go back to the non-riders, Nana and Grandad, to leave our glasses, hats, phones and most of our clothes with them.
We of course were able to walk on without a wait, and it was apparent that I have aged significantly since my last ride on this, as it felt much more intense and painful than I remembered. We watched the video clip of our ride as we exited and I marvelled at how I managed to hold that pained expression for the entire ride.
We wandered back to Nana and Grandad who had taken the chance to chillax in the shade.
This wasn’t as good an idea as it may have first appeared as he then couldn’t get up again.
Breakfast had been so long ago by now that food and drink became an urgent priority. We made our way up to the Starbucks past the Mummy ride for coffees and pastries.
Once refuelled, there was a mildly awkward moment as we appeared to be having a conversation about how bad it was to ride Mummy. Thankfully, I realised in time that this was the roller coaster we were walking to and I was glad to have kept my opinion to myself.
Everyone rode this one, mainly as we all lied to Nana and Grandad about how intense it was.
Here is the photo everyone wants to see, the gift shop as you exit.
We wandered on with no particular plan and sort of stumbled upon Diagon Alley. This was because it wasn’t here when we were last.
We briefly ambled around a shop or two with me cursing my lack of preparation and research about this new area. It was also very busy compared to the other areas of the park.
Somehow we found ourselves outside Gringott’s and wandered inside to ride. The bank hall as you enter is probably the most impressively themed thing I have seen on any ride. It was incredible. You may wonder then why I did not capture it in a photograph. Well, I was Periscoping instead.
Looking back now, the ride experience was a bit of a blur. I seem to remember being herded into a cubicle to have a photo taken for reasons that never became clear and then we joined the queue. There was a lift involved somewhere along the line and then we climbed some stairs up to the boarding area.
As we sat down there was a right old palaver. Grandad had been put in the front row but was then told he’d have to move as he didn’t fit. The young ride attendant then had a complete brain meltdown as she tried to reconfigure the seating to accommodate our party of six and everyone else in with us. Despite us all telling her what to do, which was obvious to everyone other than her, she just couldn’t bring herself to get it sorted. It took forever before we just ended up moving ourselves around, into the arrangement we had been telling her to do and we were off. We all have times at work like that I guess.
The ride was of course superb but inevitably a little too short. Louise tells me that it is something you get used to eventually. We made our way over to Men In Black where I continued my form from Buzz a few days ago.
We then made our way to the exit feeling hot and tired. We spotted some familiar faces on the way.
The water taxi took an age to arrive but at least our rooms were ready now. I always like to pay that bit extra for the preferred view.
To be clear, I NEVER pay for a preferred view.
At this point five of us (everyone but me) went down to the pool. I went to pick Emily up now that she had finished her work for the day. On the way back to the Hard Rock we stopped at a 7/11 to get her some lunch and then after changing in our respective rooms joined the others at the pool.
Louise had worryingly already opened a tab so I went in the pool to try to block that from my mind. Grandad, Emily, Rebecca, Sarah and I went down the slide and generally just messed around in the pool for a bit.
There was a DJ on by the pool who had a few games going that we absolutely did not take part in. Instead we rested and drank for a few hours.
It was around 6.30 when we left the pool and ventured upstairs to get ready. I had to have a lie down for a while after settling the bar bill and then spending another $75 in the hotel shop on “bits”.
I quickly showered and then caught up on my trip report notes whilst I waited for everyone else to be ready to go.
We made our way to the water taxi as we had a reservation at the Hard Rock Café for dinner.
As we arrived at the taxi stop we were approached by a blog reader who had recognised us. We had a quick chat and a photo before boarding our vessel. It was lovely to meet you Debbie.
Grandad’s bumbag game was strong!
We were immediately seated and over ordered spectacularly once again. We took some family photos to pass the time. Emily, as ever, was delighted to be photographed.
Then of course the smile comes out for the selfie.
Louise and I are less skilled at this art.
A few Nachos the size of a small planet were our appetiser.
Me and Emily – Pulled Pork Sandwich
Sarah and Louise – Fajitas
Grandad – Shrimp Platter
Nana and Rebecca’s meal were not recorded in my notes I’m afraid. However, Nana’s looked like this.
My body hated me for how full I had made it and despite the very real physical pain we left and started to try to walk off the impending heart failure.
This is one of our favourite places of an evening. It looks lovely…
However, tonight we were simply too full to enjoy it.
We ambled to the water taxi stop and it somehow carried our excessive weight back to the hotel. The youngsters sat by the pool for a bit but all the oldies were in bed by shortly after ten. Yes, that’s what you call Hard Rocking at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Till the next time…..