Before we move on, it’s probably right that I add a bit of context and follow up on what was a fairly negative post at times last week about our experience in Magic Kingdom that day specifically, which was a more extreme version of what we experienced a lot during the trip.
Disney have a lot of credit in the bank with us and we will of course return. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t affected our perception or even tempered our usual burning desire to return, so they don’t get a free hit. However, there were lots of extenuating circumstances that lead me to give them some benefit of some doubt.
- Our mood – Louise’s absence and the worry about her Mum’s condition definitely made the trip feel very different for all of us. No doubt this was reflected in our approach to things and my reporting of the trip here. Don’t think we didn’t enjoy stuff. It was just different and a bit muted.
- COVID – This was right in the middle of the Omicron wave and the parks and resorts were still heavily affected by COVID, not offering many of the experiences, attractions and shows that would typically soak up crowds. This inevitably had a huge knock on effect and led to long, long lines for the rides as there wasn’t as much to do aside from rides as there has been in the past.
- Pandemic pent up travel – I am sure there were many people there in January, like us, who would not normally be there at that time. Two years of restricted travel meant that crowds were bound to be higher once folks were allowed to and felt more comfortable travelling.
- Genie+ – It was and is still fairly new. Don’t get me wrong, I think its an abomination and an insult to loyal guests to have them pay out hundreds of dollars more for what was always included in your park ticket, but in terms of the practicalities of getting onto rides, I’m willing to cut them some slack as they were probably still getting used to it and optimising things. As I say, I still hope they kill it with fire.
So all of those things conspired to make our experience, at times, less than we would usually expect and enjoy. The world wasn’t in a normal place at the time of this trip and neither were we to be honest. So with all those caveats in place, I stand by my opinion that Genie+ is shite, the parks were less than they usually are and some “magic” was missing.
Right, on with the trip.
Today we were headed to Universal and our stay at the Royal Pacific. 4am features at the start of may day again, but this time not voluntarily. Some idiot back in the UK called me. It was work related and to make matters worse, it was some cold call about something not relevant to me or my role. Safe to say, he did not make a sale.
I regained slumber until 6am. I was up, finishing off packing, showering and breakfasting when Emily came downstairs at 7.30. We were all ready to go by 8.30 and I pointed the van up the I4. It was a clear run and we pulled into the car park of the Royal Pacific around 9.10am. I self-parked and we headed inside to check in. It took a while. I stood watching a bloke tap at a keyboard for more time than getting a hotel room should necessitate and in the middle of it he charged me $28 to park, which I felt was bordering on taking the piss.
On the plus side our rooms were ready so we headed off to 2429 and 2427.
I was very pleased that I had opted for the “Tree View” upgrade.
Emily and I literally dumped our case in the room and turned around, waiting in the corridor outside Rebecca and Tom’s room for about ten minutes whilst they did stuff necessary when you have a four year old and a bump.
It was early and still quite chilly so it was no shock to see an empty pool.
We were security’d and on board a taxi in just a few minutes. The park tickets, stored on their app all scanned fine at the entrance too.
It had been a while so it was nice to see some familiar sights again.
Armed with our Front of Line passes we felt invincible and unstoppable, so we had no need to be frantically refreshing an app to look at wait times. We wanted to ride Spider Man first, so we did.
There is a clear contradiction here, in that I have moaned about Genie+ and paying extra to ride stuff without a queue at Disney, whereas we have willingly paid to stay on-site at Universal to get those perks. I get that. The difference?
Well, we only ever spend 2-3 days at Universal, if we go at all, due to the extra cost in doing the on-site thing. It has been years since we visited and we only do so when we can afford the extra cash needed to do it. Universal is also easily just a 2-3 day thing, especially with Front Of Line. Disney can often be a two week adventure.
With that in mind, Disney is the foundation and mainstay of our trip and if charging extra continues and/or increases then we and I suspect many others, will begin to plan differently. Something has to give, so less would be spent on accommodation, number of days in WDW, on site dining, and souvenirs/merch if the only way to ride headliners is to pay $8-15 each or pay $15 each to have a chance at avoiding endless queues. It feels like optional spending is being replaced by almost mandatory spend, which if you are on the Disney board or a shareholder, in the short term that’s great. The long term effects as you lose long term loyal guests may not be the win you think it is.
Anyway, we rode without waiting and it is still an impressive ride, especially if you are 4 and obsessed with Spider Man.
Tom was impressed with the ride. Having seen videos of it on t’internet he said it was much more intense and enjoyable than he had expected. Speaking of intense, next Emily, Tom and I went to ride The Hulk. Of course before we could do that we had to strip down to our underwear and stow everything but that in a locker. That is a faff. They do love a locker at Universal and it’s just hard work, especially when it is busy.
Anyway, after longer than it should have taken we walked through the metal detector and onto the ride. We joined the main queue and waited about five minutes. We were lucky to be seated on the back row and well, wow, that launch.
I don’t know why all that netting is still there. Everyone is relieved of anything loose before riding so unless it’s there to catch vomit or body parts it may be redundant.
I left the ride weak at the knee and a bit light headed so the best remedy for that was food. It was 11.20 after all.
I whipped out the app and had a look at eateries. Keeping it simple we chose the one we were stood outside just by the Hulk.
I had a cheesy meatball sub, but that’s what happens at my age.
Tom had the same with pizza for everyone else.
We decided to wander across to the Seuss stuff next.
Cat in the Hat was first.
Rebecca obeyed the guidance for this one and sat out, but I’m sure she would have been fine. Still, not worth the risk of course. There is always a weird feeling riding these things with Freddie when about twenty minutes ago I was doing the same with the girls at his age and above. Life is what happens when you are busy surviving the never ending grind of earning a living.
Onward now to One Fish, Two Fish. There was no queue but that was not going to stop me using my Front of Line thing,
Emily and I played it sensible recognising the still very low temperatures. Rebecca suffered at the hands of Tom, who disobeyed all the instructions and got them all wet.
In the natural flow of things next we should have ridden Carro-seuss-el thing. However it was in a very bad state, looking like it was half way through being dismantled. Instead we moved on to the Circus McGurkus thing. I am slightly ashamed that after all these years I still don’t know the proper names of some of these things.
There was an upsetting ten minute wait despite our specialness. Louise called just as that ended and we were boarding so we promised a call back.
I appear to have taken a lot of photos on this ride. There were some interesting views of course, but I think it was more to capture the fact that it was running. Nearly every time we have been in the past it has been down.
I cannot explain this photo.
We got some cakes at the shop near the exit of this ride and had a seat whilst we chatted to Louise. Tom took Freddie off to meet/watch the Grinch in a show just down the street.
Having let the crowds build nicely, not caring one jot, cloaked in our special on-site status we meandered, nay, ambled over to the Potter stuff.
By jingo it was busy here.
This is the ride we did first, and I am grateful I took the photo as it will save me having to spell it.
Another hit with Freddie. We then left him and Rebecca to wander whilst the rest of us did Forbidden Journey. The last time we came this ride was not included in your Front of Line perks, so we have only ever ridden it once after a very long queue. It was nice not to have to worry about that today. We could also leave all our “stuff” with Rebecca and hooked onto the stroller to avoid more locker carnage.
It is safe to say that I had forgotten the intensity levels of this ride. Wow, it’s a sinus clearer. Very good, very intense and incredibly well done.
It had now been far too long between ice creams for Freddie (and Tom) so we went in search of one in the direction of the Jurassic bit. None were found so we rode Kong instead.
Freddie was tall enough, but on balance some of the “scenes” may have been a little intense for him, but he did not even raise an eyebrow.
This may not win any photography competitions.
Ice cream and churros were found not far from Kong as we continued our loop around the park. It was 3pm by now and still cool enough for hoodies etc. So it made perfect sense to take on a water ride.
First up the impressively insane…
We left Rebecca with our stuff and for once I don’t think she was too sad about not being able to ride. There was a minor kerfuffle as the team members shoe horned Tom into the ride, but eventually with only minor damage to his leg, we were off. There is a horrible moment once you set off on this thing where you realise that unless the ride breaks down or there is an act of God, you are going down the big water ramp at the end. It’s bad enough in the relentless Florida heat of August, but in the very cool January afternoon, today that horror was intensified.
Freddie was at the front and got soaked on the first tiny dip so it did not bode well.
All I remember now is as we crested the hill and started to dip downwards to our doom, a cry of “I have changed my miiiiiiinnnndddd” escaped from my lips.
Too late. We got wet.
We walked back to Rebecca, already chafing, already freezing cold, searching out strips of sunshine as they emerged. At this point, it made complete sense to ride the Bilge rat thing too. We couldn’t get any wetter, right?
This one is such good fun. Every time you ride it you are constantly scanning your surroundings looking to avoid splashes and soakings. You know it is pointless. Everyone emerges from this ride as if they had sat in a bath, but still you try. We all loved it.
Rebecca had brought Freddie a change of clothes so he was whipped away to be changed. Selfishly, she had not planned ahead for anyone else though so we had to fend for ourselves.
I swapped my wet T-Shirt (steady!) for the sweat shirt I had stuffed into Ryan so at least my upper half was only moist. Emily did the same.
Emily, Tom and I then set off hoping to ride Velocicoaster. We arrived hoping to do single rider to limit our wait times but that lines was closed, at capacity. The queue looked a bit grim, and this one was not included in our on-site perks.
A 40 minute wait was posted and to be fair it was pretty much bob on. In this case, that wait was absolutely worth it. My word, what a ride. It is very hard to describe, but this is clearly a “next generation” rollercoaster. Incredibly smooth, surprising, nicely terrifying, very fast and with a few “I’m out of my seat” moments. Incredible. Ride it.
We made our way back to Rebecca and Freddie full of adrenaline. They had walked back to the Potter stuff and Tom took Freddie on the Hippogriff again.
Those who could rode Forbidden Journey again. We used our perks to get straight to the front where we then waited fifteen minutes to ride. It turned out they had to close the ride for all but one party with a disabled guest.
Freddie wanted to ride Spider Man again. We set off in that direction and it was chilly enough, for idiots who had got soaked to warrant a hot chocolate on the way. We rode with the web slinger again, and then Tom forced me to do Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall with him. I had never ridden this before, due to cowardice. It was, as I expected, fun and horrific in equal measure.
Whilst we did that Emily took Freddie on Spider Man again. See what happens when you have on-site perks?
I have to admit that my aging body was broken at this point and I gladly rested whilst Tom and Freddie played in the arcade.
The girls and I wandered some shops for a bit before leaving the park around 7pm.
They were setting up for some private event by the looks of things.
Once at City Walk , Emily and I went into the new Universal store in search of warmer clothes. It was downright cold now.
Emily got some joggers and a T-Shirt and over at the Legacy store I got a long sleeved top both for now and for tomorrow as the one I had brought from the villa was moist.
We had a reservation booked at
This did not seem to count for much as despite checking at 7.45 for our 8pm reservation we were still stood outside trying to keep warm until 8.30. I had a few moans at the lady on the podium, but it seemed everyone was waiting a long time tonight. Why take bookings if you can’t honour them?
We ordered drinks and appetisers.
These blurry beers are very cool….
Ah that’s better…
Our appetisers were appetising. Bacon Fries and Fried Pickles. They were not photographed but that did not detract from their deliciousness.
Entrees were –
Freddie – Chicken Nuggets
Cheeseburgerooshi for Tom, Rebecca and me. One the tastiest things in Florida!
Veg roll for Emily
I had a deconstructed Cheesecake
I didn’t write down how much it was.
We walked out into very chilly weather and over to the water taxi. We waited about five minutes which was long enough in the temperature that night. We went immediately to our rooms and beds, happy to get dry and warm. Sleep came at around 10.30.
Till the next time……