Friday, January 31, 2020

Legacy Vacation Club Kissimmee/Orlando: One Bedroom

Date of Visit: January 9-11, 2020

We ended up staying here as a way to use Dad's RCI points, which always are a pain to figure out how to use and even this use we weren't so sure was going to end up working. One problem was that the minimum stay for most of the Orlando area places was too long for this trip, but the bigger issue was that you can't book and know you're getting an accessible room. As we weren't really staying at the place long, this wasn't an absolute must except the two options we had to book didn't have elevators and all they allowed was calling two weeks after booking to put in a request for wheelchair accessible that wasn't actually a guarantee.

In the end, it worked out fine as the first floor request was honored and appeared to actually be handled as a guarantee. However, we found out that requesting a wheelchair accessible unit just means they put you on the first floor and not the ADA unit, which they only have one. Turned out that room had been assigned to a reservation that didn't need it and they actually did move reservations around and we did get it (and cleaning fee waived as it took so long to check in because of this), but would have preferred if they could just guarantee it when you book and not just get lucky we asked the right question when checking in and it happening to not actually be assigned by someone who needed it, especially as I could see that easily turning in to having kicked someone wrongly out of it.

The kitchen had an open layout.

The table was a bench style. I think it worked with Mik's chair at the end, but we didn't really have the need to use it with him.

Mik enjoyed the living room area and the hardwood throughout. For us, it worked, but really wonder how it would work if you actually needed to fold out the couch as there really isn't that much extra space for that table to go. Overall the living room area isn't really accessible with the amount of space the furniture takes up.

The bedroom had a good amount of space, though.

The bathroom worked for us, though it wouldn't really be what I'd expect to qualify as ADA. The cabinet could be moved if needed, which may allow enough room for a wheelchair to roll up next to toilet for transferring. The toilet paper roll being a moveable thing on the floor ended up quite annoying.

I liked the size of the roll in shower, though as often happens it does flood the bathroom. There also wasn't any seat, although that isn't an issue for us as Mik prefers to sit on the floor anyways. It is also awkward that the shelf in the shower is up quite high.

Overall it was a good place to stay a few nights while we went to Universal Studios before our week at Walt Disney World. Just not sure it's worth the risk of booking something like this again when it's not that hard or expensive to get a guaranteed accessible room at a hotel instead.

Destination Info:
Legacy Vacation Club Kissimmee/Orlando
2800 N Poinciana Blvd
Kissimmee, FL 34746

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Universal Studios Florida: Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

Date of Visit: January 10, 2020

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon was not initially on our list to do, but as it was only early afternoon when we finished our must dos (Suess Landing and Wizard World) we started going through the list I had starred of the non-transfer attractions. This one piqued our interest in that we couldn't understand how it was a simulator ride while still being non-transfer. Basically, we figured there must be a stationary way to experience it, which ended up being the case for the Minions. Instead, it turned out to be the most impressive accessible ride experience we've ever seen.

When you enter the building for this attraction, they asked if Mik could transfer or not. They kind of tried to convince us to transfer as the wait would be longer, which we not only experienced throughout most of Universal Studios but also increasingly experienced at Walt Disney World this trip. Once we told them we preferred it to take longer to get on the ride than have to transfer, the experience with the person called to escort us and do the attraction was great.

We learned that the normal loading process is you get assigned to a group and get to free roam through a museum area until it's your turn to go. This is a fun line concept and we were told we could come back later and just do the museum area if we wanted. We didn't get around to doing that as Mik got tired and that was the one thing Mik wish we had done at Universal.

The escort took us to a room where the chair is loaded onto a platform and secured. The ride preshow is also shown in here before loading.

Then the platform is wheeled to be loaded into the attraction.

Seats are removed from the middle of the back row and the wheelchair platform is loaded into the theater.

Overall this was a surprisingly fun motion simulator ride and they've actually figured out how to make a thrill ride that doesn't require a transfer. It was also interesting to get to be in the back row as the main simulator ride we do is Star Tours and I've never experienced it from anywhere except the front. Ever since Star Tours went 3D, I haven't liked it because it doesn't look right with my glasses, but I had no problem with the Jimmy Fallon 3D and wonder if that has to do with being further from screen (tried to ride Star Tours once without Mik later that week, but, of course, still randomly ended up in the first row).

Destination Info:
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
Universal Studios Florida
6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819

Monday, January 27, 2020

Universal Studios Florida: Diagon Alley

Date of Visit: January 10, 2020

Diagon Alley turned out to the complete opposite of Hogsmeade. While it also only has transfer only thrill rides, the area was much more open allowing us to actually navigate and enjoy it.

Finding Diagon Alley was slightly confusing, but amusing once we noticed you just wander through the passages in the buildings to find Diagon Alley hidden in London just as it should be.

We were happy to immediately find Sugarplum's Sweet Shop, which doesn't have as big of a selection as Honeydukes in Hogsmeade, but did have the Fudge Flies Mik wanted and, of course, Chocolate Frogs I wanted along with several other sweets such as Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. The shop was also much smaller, but the layout was more open and thus easy to navigate, especially since there was no one else shopping in there when we visited.

We didn't wander into any of the other shops, but we did enjoy walking around Diagon Alley with it's much wider areas than Hogsmeade.

We did visit the Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, which is just a queue for the ice cream making it an easy go in one door and out the other after paying experience.

Mik enjoyed the Toffee Apple flavor.

I had the Butterbeer flavor.

Our wandering included ending up in Knockturn Alley.

Overall we really enjoyed the Wizarding World experiences of London and Diagon Alley, especially after the disappointment of Hogsmeade.

Destination Info:
Diagon Alley
Universal Studios Florida
6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Universal's Islands of Adventure: Hogwart's Express

Date of Visit: January 10, 2020

Riding the Hogwarts Express was the one Wizarding World experience we not only enjoyed, but found even better than we expected. Mik was slightly disappointed that the one elevator wasn't as he had hoped, though.

Finding the elevators lifts to the platform were easy. We especially enjoyed how well the stations were themed to the British settings.

The accessibility of the train really surprised us as once you're in the compartment it doesn't seem any different than a regular.

Getting in and out is quite different though as one half of the last compartment's bench opens backwards to allow you to roll in.

Then you hope they remember to let you back out when you get to the other side because you sure can't go out the side door. Actually, it was just kind of amusing when we got to King's Cross and the conductor had to go back to the front of the car to get they key to let Mik out as he definitely didn't forget we were there and, yet, arrived to let Mik out without the key.

It's obvious the window is really just a digital screen, but it is still fun that it really represents the journey including starting with the wall of the station.

It was fun to see the various things happen including going through Forbidden Forest with centaurs waving and the Weasley twins making an ad for their shop in Diagon Alley.

The corridor side also adds to the experience and surprised Mik when "passengers" came by.

He loved it, though!

In King's Cross, it was fun to be at Platform 9 3/4.

Again finding the lift was easy. Getting on it when at destination not so much as the whole train is unloading at once rather than people more staggered timing getting in line to get on the train. We had to wait a few loads to get on as it is also used by strollers, but that just meant more time to enjoy the station.

Or for Dad to take photos and then get yelled at that he still wasn't ready when it was our turn for the lift...

The lift at King's Cross ended up being the one part that didn't meet expectations because of the buttons. Mik had really wanted it to say "To Platfrom 9 3/4 "and not just platform, but it is still good that it says "Exit to London."

I can't remember if this part where you go "between" Platforms 9 and 10 was before or after the lift when we took the train back to Hogsmeade. I think it was after the lift and thus the lift would part of the muggle world of King's Cross so "To Platform," fits, but then it should actually say, "To Platforms."

On the way back to Hogsmeade, we experienced dementors boarding the train and a patronus.

Overall the Hogwarts Express was a fun experience. We were glad we had gotten the tip early in the day to ride it both directions as it was definitely worthwhile and I somewhat wish we had rode it even more.

Destination Info:
Hogwart's Express - Hogsmeade's Station and King's Cross Station
Universal's Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida
6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819

Universal's Islands of Adventure: Hogsmeade

Date of Visit: January 10, 2020

Hogsmeade was part of the main reason we went to Universal Orlando. We had planned to visit years ago on a WDW trip, but decided we weren't sure it was worthwhile since we aren't into thrill rides and there's little else to do. As this year's annual family trip included Dad for the first time and we again had the ability to go to other area attractions, we decided to finally just go and stop wondering if it was really worth it or not for us. Ultimately, not so sure it was, but it certainly was better we waited to go and did not go in 2012 when there was only Hogsmeade as this area was the worst part of our visit to Universal Orlando and it was the Harry Potter stuff that opened since then that we enjoyed, especially Hogwarts Express.

The one thing that was a good experience in Hogsmeade was the butterbeer cart, which was an easy way to get some to enjoy.

Mailing ourselves postcards from Hogsmeade was a fun souvenir, but not an easy process. Getting the stamps wasn't too difficult, but only because Mik decided to not go in the shop, which was hard to get into with people selecting wands and as often happens with stores didn't have much room for maneuvering. However, it wasn't as bad as Honeydukes, which really was barely navigable with no people and Mik got mad at me for not wanting to put up with the line myself to buy what he wanted for him (luckily we later found what he wanted over in Diagon Alley where the selection was limited, but had more open space and at the time also had no one else shopping).

Mik and I watched the Frog Choir while Dad was trying to figure out how to mail our postcards, which took awhile as they just said you mail it around the corner from the shop and we assumed that meant you drop it in a post box and not that you hand them to the cashier at what seems more like a souvenir stand than a place to mail something. I thought the Frog Choir was interesting, but Mik didn't.

Overall found Hogsmeade to be a rather unenjoyable due to everything being too compact. Of course, the main reason we had never gone before was that we knew all the rides required a transfer and weren't worth it for us as they're thrill rides. However, I really expected that we could at least enjoy Honeydukes. We did at least easily enjoy some butterbeer and it was a light crowd day, so it could've have been so much worse in terms of navigating through parts.

Destination Info:
Universal's Islands of Adventure
6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Universal's Islands of Adventure: Caro-Seuss-el

Date of Visit: January 10, 2020

The Caro-Seuss-el not only has some very unique creatures to ride on, but the wheelchair accessible part is more than just a bench.

Mik usually enjoys carousels even though he just ends up by the stationary bench. The Caro-Seuss-el, though, makes the stationary bench it's own unique experience as it's own Seuss-themed vehicle.

The side opens and there is a ramp to roll into the vehicle. The two seats fold up allowing plenty of room for maneuvering to get in place making this the easiest ride we did in Seuss Landing.

One seat can be folded back down to ride with the wheelchair. Mik even ended up being the one that wanted to go again when they asked.

Destination Info:
Universal's Islands of Adventure
6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819

Universal's Islands of Adventure: Suess Landing

Date of Visit: January 10, 2020

While we visited Universal Orlando to experience the Wizarding World, our favorite area ended up being Suess Landing. Not only were there three rides Mik could go on without transferring, but there was fun things from different Dr. Seuss books to discover.

McElligot's Pool 

Horton Hatches the Egg

One favorite was The Street of the Lifted Lorax with the truffala trees.

Whale - If I Ran a Zoo

Best find was the photo opp where Mik could actually roll into the sidecar.

Destination Info:
Universal's Islands of Adventure
6000 Universal Blvd
Orlando, FL 32819