Universal Orlando – Day 1

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On December 19th my son and I made a little escape to Universal Orlando. We always go to Bonita Springs, Florida over Christmas with my parents. This year my husband had to work until the following weekend, so we decided to have some fun and go a little early!

We had an early flight and arrived around 10 am in Orlando. We took our very first Uber ride to our resort from the airport. Our Uber driver Leslie was wonderful!

Upon arrival to our resort “Loews Portofino Bay” we were not greeted by anyone to help us with our luggage. (Yes, you read that right.) Not a big deal, we proceeded to the check-in line which was very short. I booked a Deluxe Double Queen. These rooms offer a nicer view of one of the 3 pools, also since the resort is pet-friendly, as most Loews are, they do not allow pets in these rooms. I have terrible allergies, so this was the best way to go for us. The staff at the front desk was friendly and professional, our room was not ready but we were able to get pre-registered and they did hold our luggage.

We were staying for 3 nights, we had the 3-park 3-day park to park passes so we decided not to go to the park that day and just explore the resort and Citywalk. It was almost lunchtime at that point so we took a little walk around the resort, which was beautiful! Loews Portofino Bay was built to resemble the seaside village of Portofino, Italy.

We ended up eating lunch at a restaurant called Sal’s Deli. We ordered a Small Margarita Pizza which was great and perfect for the two of us. I was so glad we didn’t order a large because we couldn’t finish this one!

After lunch, we checked back with the front desk because my phones battery was almost dead. The resort sends you a text when your room is ready, but what good is that with a dead phone… The girl at the desk was very nice and called to see if we could get into our room yet, but it still wasn’t available. I should have taken a hint then as to the lack of housekeeping. She then told us, check-in isn’t until 4 pm so just go to the park and check back later if your phone isn’t working.

At this point, I really started to get irritated. Especially because I was still wearing my winter boots, jeans and a sweatshirt since we left freezing cold Pennsylvania that morning. I really wasn’t thinking and I know from traveling so much that I should have packed a bag to change, but I wasn’t expecting to have to wait so long for our room.

Winter boots and all, we took the water taxi over to Citywalk. I felt like the biggest loser ever. It was wonderful to be able to jump on the water taxi from the resort. From Loews Portofino Bay it is a short 7-minute ride which never seems to get old. The scenery is beautiful along the way, there is also a walking path if you’re feeling like you aren’t already walking enough in the parks. While we were there the water taxis ran to and from Citywalk until 2 am! They drop you off and pick you up right in the middle of it all. The closest park entrance is Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure is a little bit further but within walking distance. You do need to take a shuttle bus to Volcano Bay, Universals water park.

My son saw pictures online of the milkshakes from Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, so we had to head there. They make the coolest milkshakes around, the one he chose had a huge piece of confetti cake right on top of the cup. It was about $13, but you really can share it…the two of us couldn’t even get through half of it! Toothsome also has a restaurant and an amazing gift shop, we opted for the walk up counter to get our milkshake. There’s a fun steampunk vibe, it’s just a really neat place.

After walking around Citywalk for a little we headed Back to the resort. It was about 3:30 pm and we were both so happy to hear our room was finally ready!

The Bellman helped us with our luggage to our room in the Villa Wing. Everything seemed clean until I went to use the bathroom. Now everyone please be aware I have an extreme phobia of hair, well the lid was closed on the toilet and there was a hair on top of the lid. We aren’t talking hair from someones head either!!! Most of the time if my husband was there I would run out screaming and pretty much dry heaving and he would take care of it. (Yep, he really is THAT wonderful) But, since he wasn’t with us I had to compose myself and remove it with my hand wrapped up like a mummy in toilet paper. OMG so freaking gross. I lift the lid and what the hell…!?!?!?! Another one!!! At this point, I’m gagging, but I had to pee like crazy so I just had to pull up my big girl pants, wrap my hands up like a mummy again and flush it!!! Ugh, I know I’m a crybaby but I wasn’t expecting that from a Loews Hotel…and especially from one of Universals premier resorts!

They do have a really good system where you can text a number they provide if there is a problem or you need something. I found this to be especially convenient during our stay.

I texted to let them know I’d like someone to come up and re-clean the bathroom. The more I looked the worse it was. There was hair all over the bathroom floor, shower, and front of the shower. They told me they would send someone right up. I really didn’t want to wait for another room and I liked the location of our room. After about 20 minutes 2 women arrived with supplies and a huge lint roller they used to remove the hair. They were very nice, but I could tell they really thought I was nuts. I didn’t care. The front desk did offer breakfast vouchers for us on one of the mornings for the inconvenience.

The rest of the room was fine. You can definitely tell the furniture is a little worn and in need of an update. But the beds and pillows were clean and comfy. Unfortunately, my son plopped down on the bed before I could get a good picture…and to be honest I was so exhausted I didn’t think to take one right away. FYI: the picture of the bathroom was after it was cleaned.

We decided to rest a little and then go back to Citywalk for Mini Golf and Dinner. They have a great little golf course, it’s themed well but it was not very challenging for us. There are 2 courses and if you choose to buy both (which we did) you don’t need to do both that day, you can come back any day to use it and you do save a little money. Our favorite course was the Sci-Fi.

Dinner was up next, so many choices. Citywalk is home to so many restaurants! My son chose Bubba Gump. We received a coupon at the hotel for a free appetizer, so we ordered the Calamari. Service was okay but really not great. The calamari appetizer was really good and came with 2 kinds of dipping sauces. I ordered the Stuffed Shrimp and D ordered Fried Shrimp. My entree was just okay, the shrimp were stuffed with crabmeat that had a little filler but not overwhelming there was actually more crab than filler. The shrimp were very small though and it seemed like when they butterflied the shrimp they cut the shrimp in half. I don’t know, maybe they do that to save money and use the other part of the shrimp for something else at the restaurant? I found it to be a little odd, I was mentally and physically exhausted so I didn’t care at that point. My son said his dinner was great, but it’s really hard to screw up fried shrimp and fries.

After dinner, we visited some shops and took the water taxi back to the resort. They had the huge Christmas tree lit and everything looked so festive.

We ended the night at the Gelato Shop, D got a scoop of Blue Banana and a scoop of Nutella Gelato. Me…? Oh…I got a bite! There are tables all around the harbor you can sit at to eat. We had a few ducks come visit with us looking for food. I really felt like I was sitting in Italy. There were many other people sitting outside dining, sharing a bottle of wine or gelato.

It was time to end our first day, it certainly was interesting but we were both very excited for the morning. Our plan was to go to Universal Studios.

Day 2 Coming SOON!!!

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