October 2014 Trip Report – HHN Nights And Food & Wine Days – Day 3
On the third day we got up for early entry. I had warned everyone about my prior days experience in which ten minutes late cost me a a forty minute line at Gringott’s. Apparently they didn’t believe me as we were even later getting out that morning. We left the hotel about 5 past 7 would be my guess. By the time we got to Gringott’s we had an hour wait and we were warned as we got in line that Gringott’s was not operating and they had no way of knowing when or if it would be. This was going to be their only remaining park day since buying 2 day park to park tickets so we weathered the storm. After about forty minutes the announcement came on that the ride was once again operational.
From this point we waited about another forty minutes, and at least for me it was worth it. I enjoyed watching them see the bank lobby for the first time. They were even more impressed than I was at its first glance, more than like a result of them not knowing anything about Diagon Alley other than it existed. We all enjoyed the ride immensely and I found a trend where I was enjoying it a little more each time I rode it. We spent quite a bit of time in Diagon after riding, staring, exploring and taking pictures. We all were overwhelmed at the area and they appreciated my tour of Knockturn Alley.
As a group it was decided breakfast would be in order and we ended up at the leaky cauldron. The cashier was giving us the hard sell on the dining plan for the day and everyone but me bought it. She was even at the point where she was saying ‘hey I am just trying to save you money’ and that got my wife angry with me because why wouldn’t I want to save money right? So ultimately I won without winning because I saved 10% with my annual pass and after all was said and done they saved the same $2.50 that I did but I did not have to commit to their snack and dessert, which I didn’t get.
The Leaky Cauldron, what can I say about it? It was not the worst thing I had ever had, but then again I didn’t get the blood pudding or maybe it would have been. I got the American breakfast because the traditional options just honestly scared the heck out of me. We did have one amongst us order the traditional breakfast and she did enjoy it. My wife decided to take one bite of the black pudding and the face she made was so horrifying that a server came over and asked her immediately “did you just try to the black pudding? I could see your expression from across the room”. The American breakfast includes, eggs, potato, sausage, bacon, and a biscuit for $15.99. As fantastic as the plate sounds, that is a hefty price to pay for a typical breakfast. The portion size was also extremely small for a plate that sounds like it has so much on it. It was clearly prepared ahead of time and sat under a heat lamp as well. You can get a much bigger, better and a full plate at an IHOP for half the price. However, I did order a butterbeer which fixes pretty much everything. Surprisingly enough, the NASCAR lunch I had the day prior turned out to be a bargain at the same cost but with a much bigger plate of food that was prepared for us. I would never eat there again for breakfast and not sure I would try it for lunch or dinner either but time will tell on that part. I might stop in to get a butterbeer if the carts out front looked to busy, that is all I am willing to commit to at this time.
After a couple of hours of moving about Diagon we made our way to some of the groups favorite attractions in the rest of the park. After banging those out we went back to the hotel for a rest. The galaxy bowl bar sounded like a good place to recover. Enjoyed some beers and got a decent chicken Cesar salad for lunch there as well. The bartender was friendly and we had a football game on the television. Life is good. There is a limited menu here but I find it is a good value and good option when trying to eat quick or an alternative to counter service. I will definitely return to try some of the other options as well as bowling when possible.
Everyone got their rest and it was time to start heading back for another HHN event. I had some things on my to do list and tonight I spoke up and asked them to have dinner at Vivo. Which oddly enough I later realized I wish I hadn’t. Nothing but rave reviews out there for this new Italian restaurant at CityWalk so I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately this night was not their night which means ultimately it was not going to end well for us. I approached the podium and was told there was a 10 to 20 minute wait which was fine with me. Fine with me, at least until 40 minutes had passed. One of our group spoke with the host and was assured we were the next table of four when it became available. 15 more minutes had passed and another of our group approached the podium and at least this time they took us in. We were seated and I think it was 20 minutes before we were able to give our drink order. Add another 15 minutes and we got to order and received our drinks. The place was just a zoo, I have to imagine that there were several wait staff who had called out that particular evening because there was no way this place could get such high praise if this was their norm. I had the Osso Buco which was good but not any better than anywhere else I would order it from. The rest of the table ordered safe American Italian plates and they were more pleased with them as I was. I will definitely try this place again as I feel we must have shown up to see them at their worst. Had I not heard such praise from people whose opinions I respect, I would never have given this place another thought after the experience. Ultimately for now all I can say was it was unorganized, loud, no service to speak of with average Italian food.
Putting that behind us, it was time to Purge. We headed into HHN and of course enjoyed that Purge scare zone once again. So much going on there, what a difference after the previous few years with scare zones. We made our way from house to house and completed 6 of the 8. At that time the friend of ours who was pregnant started to get really nauseated. We had been so appreciative of how much of a trooper she had been already, we did not sweat at all leaving early to go back with her. She of course wanted us to stay but we had another full HHN night coming the following day as well as a couple under our belt already. Great time had by all, well maybe not so much her. Until I sat and wrote this day up, I had no idea how ‘bad’ a day we had. That is the amazing thing about Universal Orlando. It is just so much fun, when you have these meal setbacks and so forth you quickly move on. It doesn’t linger with you, the fun that awaits you erases any of the bad experiences you may have had. For the record, the bus service was flawless again. Waiting for us when we arrived at the bus stop.
|Day 10 – Summary|