Once again Rex and I boarded our planes to meet in Orlando, FL for our annual trip to the Universal Orlando Resort and Halloween Horror Nights. Rex flew in from Denver, CO and I arrived from Nashville, TN. After some traffic hiccups in Nashville, I was in danger of missing my flight. Thankfully, it worked out perfect since I stepped up to the gate just as my group was boarding. I am a sleeper on airplanes, so in a very quick 2 hours, I was walking toward one of the most exciting places in Orlando – the Orlando Airport Shuttle that carries passengers from the gates to the main terminal. Getting on that thing is one of the best parts of the entire weekend. I know the fun is about to begin.
I met Rex by the center water fountain and after a selfie (see below) and a brief period of aimlessly walking around trying to find our rental car location, we were soon driving toward the Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s newest offering for on-site lodging. One small problem – I was starving. I didn’t think I could wait another second, so we exited onto I-Drive and ducked into the closest CiCis pizza. After loading up on about three plates of pizza and a brief pre-theme park conversation on racial inequality in America, we were off to the parks.
My first impression of Sapphire Falls was admittedly not all that great. The water color of the front waterfall appeared to be a nice brownish hue as if it had been contaminated with feces. The front third of the lobby was nice enough, but something just seemed undone to me. Of all the lobby experiences at Universal, this one is by far the most disappointing. I needed to pick up my season pass and it was nice to have a ticketing booth separate from the concierge station. I was met by a very informed team member who walked me through all the options. In no time, I had my season pass and was ready to roll. Rex and I were pumped to see that the season passes are back to hard plastic and not just a flimsy paper ticket.
Our guest room was nice with a blue color theme. I have no complaints at all about the room – the problem is I also have no flattery. I will be very surprised if Rex and I stay at Sapphire Falls Resort again in the near future. Royal Pacific remains our favorite, and we enjoyed our stay at Cabana Beach suite more than SFR.
Well, it was time to get to the parks, so we boarded the water taxi and headed toward Citywalk. After an epic Facebook Live video of us simply nodding our heads in unison for 4 straight minutes without saying a word, we arrived at our destination. Now listen people, the walk toward Islands of Adventure with their perfectly themed soundtrack is the absolute best. Nothing can compare with the visual of seeing Cinderella Castle on Main St. in the Magic Kingdom, but Rex and I find the entry soundtrack to IOA to be the best in the business. It was a somewhat difficult start for us, as we made it through the Port of Entry and took a left, anxious to get to Reign of Kong, the attraction we had never experienced. We made it all the way to Toon Lagoon and was stopped – the weather had knocked over something and the portion of Toon Lagoon in front of Dudley was shut down. Yep, we had to walk the entire circle back around the park to arrive at Kong. So, that’s what we did.
We had a fairly short wait at Kong and were impressed with the queue. It clearly is up there with the best queues in the business. The ride itself was fun, but we were not super impressed with it. For what it’s worth, Rex and I are ready to take a break from “screen based” attractions, especially at IOA. To us, that park needs to stay more in the thrills arena, which means more attractions like Hulk and Doom. But still, it was a lot of fun.
After a ride on Hogwarts Express with a super nice girl from the UK, we spent the rest of our day at Universal Studios waiting for Halloween Horror Nights 26 (Read our review of HHN 26 here). We made our way to the Finnegan’s holding area and it was packed. They gave us the option for immediate seating if we sat down at a table with two other folks, like community dinner. That is not our favorite thing, but we agreed. Thankfully, we were escorted to a table with a young couple who were super cool. We talked about HHN and horror movies and family. Unfortunately, we forgot their names (Sarah and Joe perhaps?). It was a great meal and a great night.
After realizing that my memory card was full and without my laptop to drag off the media, we decided to run to the nearest Walgreens for some Mountain Dew and a new card. They had a nice special going on a 32 gig card and it only took the employee about 27 minutes to walk from the cash register to the “electronics aisle” to unlock the memory card section. After Rex paid for his buggy full of Mountain Dew, we were off for some rest.
After an unfortunate incident with the shower the next morning, I secured all the necessary items for the long day ahead – cameras, batteries, memory cards, phones, passes, and so forth. After a fairly uneventful day at Islands of Adventure, we stopped for lunch at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and enjoyed a fantastic meal. Then we met up with Seth Kubersky and did everything in our power to find him a refreshing beverage. After a quick walk around the park with Seth, it was almost time to head to the holding area for another night of HHN. Unfortunately, Rex had to run back to the room for work related reasons, so I hung out in the Simpson’s holding area and managed to hit 4 houses with virtually zero wait, and this was on a Friday evening!
After Rex returned, we soaked in the atmosphere, watched Academy of Villains, and then made our way to try out The Repository.
No trip for Rex and the Beast is complete without some off the wall video taping, so we managed to record a few memorable clips at City Walk, including this beauty of Rex below.
So there you have it, another epic trip for RexandtheBeast.com – Join the Journey!