Friday, November 18, 2016

Universally Awesome! April 2016 Trip Report, Day 3: Smorgasbord Day! Part 3

Need to read what happened before?  Click here.

It was about 4:30, and, if I wanted to have more than a couple of minutes to check out Cabana Bay, I had to get going.  I bid Sheri adieu and headed to the main lobby to see what options I had for transportation.

Of course, I had to grab a couple of pics on the way.

When I arrived at the lobby, I found out that the car was only to the parks and the premium resorts; to take a car to Cabana Bay, it would have cost $12.95.  I balked at that.  I remembered that there are also buses that go around all the properties; however, I was informed that those buses didn’t start until 6:00.  I went into planning mode and decided to head back out to the ramp and grab a boat to City Walk.  From there, I could see what it was like as a guest leaving the park and trying to get to the hotel.  The boat ride was quick … from the ramp, I’ll admit that it was a bit of a hike to get to the parking garage area where those staying at Cabana Bay caught the bus.  Luckily, there was one waiting there when I arrived, and it still had some standing room available.  I held on, and we were off on our 5-7 minute bus ride to the resort.

When we arrived, I immediately commented to myself that it definitely wasn’t Portofino Bay.  I had to remember that Portofino was the resort’s flagship, just as the Grand Floridian is the flagship resort of Walt Disney World…and I’m perfectly fine staying at Pop Century or one of the All Star resorts.  I kicked myself for being a snob and started to look around at what the resort had to offer.

I knew that I couldn’t stay for very long, because I had to reverse the trek (bus to CityWalk, walk to boat launch, boat to Portofino, walk to the room) and get ready, and it was already nearing 5:30.

While I didn’t go into any of the actual rooms or suites, I definitely got a feel for what this resort was like.  I’ll admit that it was difficult not to compare it to Portofino Bay (no boat service – only a bus; the Express Pass is not a benefit of staying here; a food court as the primary meal location; etc.), and I struggled a bit trying to ascertain how I would qualify the resort.  Later on during the trip, I saw someone I have come to know over the years who is an expert in the travel industry, and I asked her about what she level she qualified the resort at, and her immediate reply was “Value!”  I knew I had ranked it at a level comparable to the All Star resorts at Disney World, but I was unsure if it was at the same level as a Disney World Value or not (was it Value, Value “+” or Value “-”?).   It is a beautiful resort with a lot of activities to keep families entertained.  If people are looking for a resort and are on a budget, then I can easily recommend Cabana Bay without hesitation – especially during quieter times when the Express Pass might not be needed much.

I knew I had to get back to my room in order to keep the peace, and luck was on my side as a bus was waiting when I made it to the loading area.  I reversed my route and was able to be ready for our Mama Della’s reservation with about 45 seconds to spare.

We walked in, and, wouldn’t you know it, “Mama” herself was there to greet us and walk us to our table!!!  The storyline is that you are at Mama’s Home in Italy, and the décor fits this perfectly.  Our server, Erick, introduced himself, and we immediately liked him.  Aaron talked us into ordering the calamari fritti for an appetizer, and Sheri didn’t have to do much talking to convince me to order a bottle of Pinot Grigio.  The calamari was excellent – even Eric commented that it wasn’t bad (which is saying something for him).  We completely forgot to get a picture of the appetizer (sorry!).

For our entrees, Eric went the traditional route and ordered lasagna.  I opted for the Frutti de Mare, and Sheri and Aaron went with the special…pan seared scallops and crab meat on a bed of risotto.

While we were waiting for the food to arrive, we had a great family conversation – we talked about all sorts of things.  No phones were out, except to grab a picture or two of the food.  We also had Nino Cuomo stroll by; he stopped at every table with his guitar and performed requests.  We gave the option to him…something romantic for Sheri and me (and to make the boys squirm).  I wish I could remember the name of it, but he performed it beautifully.

And then…the food…

Scallops and Crab meat...WOW!!!

Another picture of the scallops

Frutti de Mare

Lasagna - sorry about it being out of focus

I asked the boys to give me one word to describe their meal:  Aaron went with “Authentic”.  Eric came up with “Lasagnalicious!”

Oh, man…all of the dishes were worth the price, in our opinions!  They were awesome!

We ordered the pistachio and chocolate chip cannoli for dessert; I almost sought out Mama to kiss her.  The entire meal was absolutely awesome.

We strolled around the harbor area, stopping to hear the live music at the Thirsty Fish.  It had been a great family day, and we were ready to turn in for the night.  The boys were asleep within a few minutes, while Sheri watched a little television.  I turned to my stack of papers to grade and went to town on them for about 40 minutes before needing a break.  To avoid waking anyone up, I decided to grab my camera and grab some night shots of the resort.  As beautiful as Portofino Bay is during the day, it becomes an altogether different sort of beautiful at night.  This, my friends, has easily become one of my favorite resorts to stay at.  I think of it as "elegance without any corresponding stuffiness."

You can make out the Hard Rock Hotel in the left-center of the picture, but I was zoomed in all the way for the picture

I finally turned in around 11:00.  Tomorrow was the dreaded check-out day and the flight home; still, we had a few hours to have some more fun!

The last day can be viewed HERE.

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