Magical Customer Service

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There is an exact moment when I feel my vacation has begun. It's not as we're packing (by we, I mean my wife), as we're sitting at the gate waiting to board the plane, or even when we touch down in Orlando. For me, it's as we drive up to our hotel and see the tastefully done, but obvious facsimile of the Italian bay village of Portofino. For the last few years this has been our destination of choice. It's the type of trip where we are already familiar with getting around, the restaurants, and the attractions. It's relaxing in the sense that we don't need to spend a lot of time figuring out what we would like to do or how to make it happen.

This year we hit a minor snag when we ended up in a different type of room. This room was in a less convenient location and the size and organization were less user-friendly. We asked to move and though they couldn't accommodate us immediately, we were told we could move the next day. The front desk told us to leave all our luggage in the center of the room and call them before we left for the parks. They would move everything to our new room and contact us when it was ready. The ideal situation would be for our new room to be ready before we returned from an action-packed day at the parks. I wasn't sure this would happen because we like to come back midday instead of staying out all day.

This year the Loews Portofino Hotel started doing something new where you can communicate with the hotel via text message. Since we were in a magical sort of mood during our first day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I figured maybe a shameless attempt at magical references would speed things up. To my pleasant surprise, it worked!

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Thank you Loews Portofino Hotel for your well-trained staff, beautifully maintained grounds, and a magical stay! See you next time.

Next post next Saturday, 6:30 a.m.

 

Top Wizarding World of Harry Potter Tips

For the last several years we've taken our family vacation at Universal Studios in Orlando. We are huge Harry Potter fans.

Over the years, we've discovered a few tips that have allowed us to spend less time on lines and more time enjoying our activities. I've shared some below.

Child swap

This one is genius for parents with small children. Normally, having a small child who can't ride makes it difficult for both adults to go. Normally, since one adult must stay back with the child until the other comes back, this effectively doubles the time it takes. With child swap there is a room at the end of the line - right before you get on the ride. So everyone waits in line together till the end. Then, one adult waits in this room with the child while the other rides and you switch as soon as the first rider is back. It's brilliant!

Universal has 4 on-site hotels and the three main ones (Portofino, Hard Rock, and Royal Pacific) have the following benefits.

Early park admission

You get into Universal Studios an hour before they open. Great for shopping without crowds or getting on rides. Only available to guests of the hotel.

Universal Express

You can pay for this one, but it is included with your room at the three main Universal hotels. Basically it is a separate line that allows you to avoid the regular line and you get on the ride or into a show faster. Note, the hottest rides don't have this, but most rides do and it saves a LOT of time.

Another option, which is free, is some rides have a single rider line so if you don't need to sit together, this separate line also gets you on the ride faster.

Bring your sunblock and sunglasses and spend less time waiting, more time having fun!