After the later-than-expected bedtime the night before, Friday was all about relaxation. This was something new for our family. We’re normally go-go-go when we’re on a theme park vacation. But with a longer trip planned this time, we intentionally built-in some down time. As I mentioned in my Day 1 post, this was originally supposed to be our Early Entry/Islands of Adventure day, with the R&R day in the middle of the two park days. But once we all talked about it, everyone was good with the plan to take it easy on this day instead.
We didn’t set an alarm for the morning – we just let people wake up when they were ready. Jonathan and I were awake first. I got us dressed and out of the room quietly, to let the girls get some more sleep. We headed up to the Concierge Lounge to see what the breakfast options looked like. (Oh, did I not mention I booked us a Concierge Level room for this part of the trip?) 😉 The picture there is of the afternoon snacks in the Lounge, but that buffet area is where most of the food was set out. Breakfast was a decent set up – fresh cut-up fruit, pastries and bagels. There was Starbucks coffee, juice, and milk out, as well as single-serving cereal packs.
My overall assessment of the Concierge Lounge is that it was just OK. It was particularly convenient on this particular morning in that it helped me keep an early-riser child from waking up the rest of our sleeping family. But overall, I was disappointed in the Royal Pacific Concierge Lounge. First of all, the hours are much too limited. The Lounge doesn’t open until 7:00 a.m., and the breakfast isn’t available until 7:30 a.m. – which pretty much makes it useless if you’re trying to take advantage an 8:00 a.m. early admission at Islands of Adventure. It also closes at 9:30 p.m., so it loses it’s appeal as a place for me to hang out for a bit after the wife and kids have gone to sleep. The food offerings were adequate, but not anything more than that. And the staff was OK, but nothing special. While they were friendly, they weren’t overly knowledgeable about the resort or it’s amenities. I had questions about the special pool cabana discount that is available to Concierge Level guests, and the staff member on duty didn’t know the answers and wasn’t even sure who I should contact to ask about them. I wouldn’t pay for it again.
The girls finally woke up at about 9:30 a.m., and I hustled them upstairs for breakfast (since breakfast at the Lounge closes at 10:00 a.m.). Then we changed into swimsuits and headed down to check out that terrific pool that we could see from our hotel room window. After careful consideration, we decided to skip the cabana. We had a hard time getting a straight answer on the price (I THINK it would have run us $200), and we decided we probably wouldn’t make enough use of a full day’s cabana rental to make it worth the cost. After the crazy day the day before of last-minute packing and travel, relaxing by the pool was just what the doctor ordered! The kids really enjoyed the water play areas of the pool, in particular, and Miriam and I enjoyed relaxing poolside in the shade of the well-themed pool umbrella.
As I had predicted, all-day at the pool is just not our style. Frankly, the three hours we did last at the pool was longer than I had expected. After showers and a change of clothes, we grazed some snacks from the Concierge Lounge. (Everyone told us how great the poolside restaurant/bar was, but somehow, we managed not to eat there the whole trip). We took it easy the rest of the afternoon, just hanging out in the room watching TV/surfing the web/etc. – just making it the recovery day that it was clear we all needed.
Everyone was getting hungry at about 2 p.m., so we decided that “Linner” was in order. The kids both enjoy the atmosphere at Hard Rock Café, so we took a walk to CityWalk. We had no problem getting a late afternoon walk-up table at Hard Rock Café. I was pleasantly surprised with the food at the Hard Rock. My fish and chips were excellent. Everyone enjoyed their food, and the kids took turns wandering around checking out the memorabilia on the walls and the Hard Rock Store. As we started back to the resort, we could see the Halloween Horror Nights crowd beginning to gather outside the Universal Studios theme park. Mikaela was a bit freaked out by the HHN crowd, so we didn’t linger at CityWalk. In fact, she was freaked out enough that she didn’t want to be anywhere near the Studios park until Sunday (which was not a Halloween Horror Night).
It was still early when we got back to the Royal Pacific, so we decided to take a road trip to Orlando Premium Outlets and do a little shopping. Oh. My. God. What a zoo! The crowd was like your local shopping mall the week before Christmas. The parking lot appeared to be totally full, so we paid for valet parking just so we wouldn’t have to waste a half an hour driving in circles looking for a place to park. The Disney Outlet didn’t have much compelling merchandise, though we did find a birthday present for Mikaela (and a big t-shirt she could use as a nightshirt, since her pajamas didn’t get packed). I also managed to find a not-ridiculously-overpriced pair of Oakley sunglasses, to replace the pair of sunglasses I managed to break about a week before our trip. Overall, we probably only spent about an hour at the Outlets, but it was a productive hour.
When we returned to the Royal Pacific, we worked through our plan for the next morning. Because this trip was a surprise, I wanted to make sure that the kids had a chance to go over the daily plans in advance. After the walk around at the Outlets in the heat and humidity, everyone needed showers, so we were ready for bedtime a bit later than planned (and it ended up being too late to head up to the Concierge Lounge for a beer – see my earlier complaint about the lounge hours). But taking it easy overall for the day meant that we were still going to be refreshed and ready to roll for Early Admission at Islands of Adventure on Saturday morning.