Monday 16 October 2017

The Ride, NYC

After visiting NYC in Christmas 2016 and standing in Times Square at night waiting to cross one of their manic crossings, something caught my eye. It was a bus, but not just any bus, it had floor to ceiling windows and the people in that bus were sat in tiered rows like that of a cinema, facing outwards. There was music and flashing lights, and you could hear what was being said inside this magical bus. But what really caught my eye was how everyone on that bus looked like they were having the times of their lives. It was then that I knew I needed to be on that bus. I remembered the huge logo on the side of the bus as it whizzed by, jotted it down on my phone and that was that.

source - google images
Fast forward a few months and we were back in England booking yet another trip to NYC. I 100% knew that 'The Ride NYC' was going to be on my itinerary. As the trip drew closer I ordered an attraction pass that enabled us to choose 5 'activities' from the list. Low and behold, the magical bus was included in that list. Win.

I deliberately left this 'activity' till our last night in NY (save the best till last 'n all that...). We were advised to get to the meeting point 15 minutes before the scheduled departure, which we did, however when we arrived, we were already at the back of the queue. There was only one other couple that joined after us. I immediately thought this was going to scupper our chances of getting a 'good seat', however I was glad that it actually worked in our favour, and we were sat on the top row.

As we were passing through Times Square

The ballerina Duet
There are 2 entertainers on the bus, one at either side. They interact with the audience via microphones and are telling jokes throughout the 90 minutes of your journey. As the bus rides through Times Square and famous NY streets, it stops at random points and gives the illusion that random passer-bys outside are extremely talented and we 'just by chance' found them. Obviously these are actors positioned in certain points throughout the streets that work in conjunction with 'The Ride' - you get to witness live music performances, break dancing, etc. Everyone outside can hear what is being said in the microphone inside the bus, so occasionally the entertainers would try and wind strangers up as they were minding their own business, probably trying to get home for the night! Some would be cooperative and interact back, and do what the entertainers were asking, whereas others looked mortified and continued walking. This added a lot of humour to the tour!

Yes, we celebrated New Year in the middle of September.. When in New York...

As the bus approached The Pulitzer fountain (situated near the famous Plaza Hotel from Home Alone), a ballet dancer appears with her tutu all lit up. She performs a duet with a suave looking guy and this looks truly magical with the fountains as a back-drop.

The 90 minutes flew by and I was actually sad that it was over so quickly. I was glad we left it till the last night because that combined with a late night trip to the Empire State (which we did after departing the bus!) really helped us to end NYC on a high.

I think this song will now always bring back memories of our time in NYC... such a goose bump moment!

This is definitely an experience that I would completely recommend to others!

Monday 2 October 2017

Hotel Review - Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Orlando, Florida.

For those that follow me on social media will know I've been away for 2 weeks in both New York and Florida (Yes, again!).

After staying in a range of accommodation in Orlando we thought we'd give one of the Universal Studio's hotels a try, so to stay within budget, we settled on Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

Cabana Bay is vibrant and definitely 'there' with its vintage retro theme, taking you back to the 50's. With it's vintage cars that are permanently parked near the lobby, to its 50's style diner and bowling alley, and it's complimentary 50's style bathroom products, they definitley deserve top marks for theming. As you strolled round the resort you'd catch a snippet of a 50's song. Elvis eat your heart out!

After doing some research, I politely asked to be placed in the 'New Tower' which had only been built a few months prior, however the disadvantage to staying in this tower was that we were the furthest from the lobby, however it was nothing a good 5 minute walk wouldn't fix!

The rooms in the new tower were extremely spacious, with lots of floor space. With huge floor to ceiling windows, these rooms were lovely and bright. We were situated on the 11th floor (the very top of the tower) and had a partial view of Volcano Bay, Universal's new water park. This gave great opportunity to people watch from the comfort of your own bed - amazing! Both double beds were super comfy. I usually suffer from lower back pain upon waking, however during our stay at Cabana Bay, this pain was non-existent.

Storage wise there was ample for 2 people, with 2 spacious drawers and a wardrobe. The vanity area of the bathroom provided further space for your lotions and potions and although the floor space in the bathroom was a little on the small side, the shower itself looked like it could fit 2 people in.

Unfortunately we didn't use that many of the hotels' amenities, however we did have a wander round when we had a spare 10 minutes one day. The pools looked great, especially for kids, and the lazy river was something I really wanted to go in but just never got round to it - we were too busy having fun elsewhere! There were a few sandpits were you could play volleyball or table tennis too.

The food options seemed endless, and there was even an onsite Starbucks, which we managed to make use of (of course!). Everywhere was spotlessly clean and although this looked a very family orientated resort, it did have some luxurious touches to it.

For those wanting to go to the Universal parks, this hotel provided a free shuttle bus which run very frequently. In fact that frequently that we never once had to wait for a bus to arrive! Its great for those that don't want to drive, or want to have a drink in the parks. Additionally, Cabana Bay offers early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, 1hr before park opening - perfect for those HP fans! This is the same for Volcano Bay (Universal's newest water park) which is a great way to pack in a few extra rides before the crowds start to arrive! Another way to travel to the parks for free is by boat. Just hop over to Sapphire Falls hotel which is across the road - This is one of Universal's more luxurious hotels that provides this service from the hotel to City Walk (the section in between both Universal parks). I used to love getting the boat, especially on a night, just to mix it up a little from travelling by shuttle bus!

The resort is in the heart of Orlando, and only a stones throw away from the Disney Parks as well (should I really mention Disney and Universal in the same post?!). International Drive is a very short drive away which gives you access to further shops and restaurants so this is definitely the place to be if you want to be in the centre of the action.

Cabana Bay is the cheapest of all Universal hotels, but still doesn't come cheap at approximately £100 per night. However I definitely wouldn't hesitate in staying here again should our holiday focus around the Universal Parks.

Have you stayed at Cabana Bay before?

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