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Elissa's Thoughts on the UK and Europe Trips!


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We also had a great meal this day and I had planned on going back to get some McDonalds as well but surprisingly the group voted to leave an hour early. Who knows why!?!?

I was actually very surprised by this too! In fact, I had so much fully expected the group to want to stay longer than I had already queued up iSpeed on our Q-Bot for another ride.

 

Much to my surprise only 5 people had their hand up when the group was asked who wanted to stay later. Of course, I did end up having some people come and complain to me about this (seems to be a theme of this trip) and they told me "We were late to the meeting and didn't get to vote" to which my only respose is "Why were you late to the meeting?"

 

To be fair, we got in a *LOT* of riding that day thanks to the Q-Bots. And even we were ready to go by the early meet time, and wouldn't have mind staying the extra hour, and from what I hear everyone also gone in a ton of riding as well.

 

I think heading out early was the right decision, and as much as I would have liked to gotten one more ride in on iSpeed, I think I got about 8 that day, which is a lot for a ride we didn't have ERT on! (We had ERT on Katun)

 

--Robb

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All in all Italy had still been exceeding my low expectations to the point where Robb and I started running new Europe itineraries through our brains and working out some fun stuff for all of you in the future!

 

Yeah, especially when they complete that park near Rome some time around 2045.

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In fact it was about a month before the trip that I started having severe issues sleeping at night between the BA Strike and Volcanic Ash.

 

Glad I wasn't the only one literally losing sleep over the @!#$!@#%#$ volcano. (That's not a swear; I think that's actually how you spell the volcano's name.)

 

I am a planner though, so to make myself feel better I worked out this amazing plan that would get all of our participants doing both trips, as well as our UK Early Arrival people from Thorpe Park to Gardaland by Bus and Ferry in case there were any issues. Luckily this plan didn't have to come into play, but it was ready and had deposits in place!

 

That is just plain awesome! If we ever have a global nuclear holocaust, I hope it's while I'm on a TPR trip because I can envision the scenario now: "It's OK! I thought this might happen, so I booked a rocketship in advance and put a down payment on space suits based on your T-shirt sizes. There's plenty of freeze-dried ice cream in the Earth evacuation snack bag, and we'll be passing out the Tang shortly. Your Q*bots will still be good on Mars, where we'll be staying until this all blows over. Mars is opening early, so please remember to thank them. Breakfast is included! Remember, there's no saving seats on the rocket. The seat you choose will be your seat for the rest of the day, even after we hit zero gravity...."

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^^I would expect nothing less from Elissa!

 

Those were some great times. So sad to be home. The hotels were amazing! I still can't believe what an incredible value this trip was with the hotels, the food, the Qbots, ERT!

 

I was watching that volcano like nothing else! I was so nervous it was going to start up for our flight!

 

Speaking of bus drivers, remember this guy!?

IMG_3902.jpg.ba0375ac7cbb1b14e550bd01bfcc8595.jpg

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That is just plain awesome! If we ever have a global nuclear holocaust, I hope it's while I'm on a TPR trip because I can envision the scenario now: "It's OK! I thought this might happen, so I booked a rocketship in advance and put a down payment on space suits based on your T-shirt sizes. There's plenty of freeze-dried ice cream in the Earth evacuation snack bag, and we'll be passing out the Tang shortly. Your Q*bots will still be good on Mars, where we'll be staying until this all blows over. Mars is opening early, so please remember to thank them. Breakfast is included! Remember, there's no saving seats on the rocket. The seat you choose will be your seat for the rest of the day, even after we hit zero gravity...."

 

CLASSIC!!!

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I want just to express my thanks for all your stress. The trip was excellent. I normally am a bit stressed myself about what could go wrong on a trip but now I had no worries at all. Thank you for that.

 

I would like to travel with Alvey inc. again and that trip to Mars sounds great.

 

As does the cross europe dash.

 

Thank you again for all your work.

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Elissa - thanks again for this thread.

 

I've been telling people who ask about these trips that one of the reasons I love them so much is that once I arrive at the initial meeting place, I can basically turn off my brain. As long as I am on time for busses and meetings, etcetera - I don't have to worry about anything. EVERYTHING is planned to the Nth degree.

 

Besides being with friends like Robb and Elissa - this is what a vacation is all about. Hence - I'll be on a trip every summer until my body wears out. Love you guys!

 

David

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For example, why only have the Woodland Walk open from 10am - Noon!?!??! That means you can't use it to get to Hotel Guest ERT and you can't use it at the end of the day to bypass the crowds walking or taking the monorail to the parking lots!?!? STUPID!!!!!

 

RE: Alton Towers access via Woodland Walk to Forbidden Valley.

 

I am a few days late, but - thought I would share this! The Woodland Walk is only available for ENTRY to the park from 10:00-12:00 (which is totally stupid). However, you can leave the park via it at any time to get to the hotels/parking. There is a simple turnstile (as you are probably aware) with a buzzer and they will let you out with no problem!

 

Just a tip for the future!

 

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^When I went during a quiter period of the year I asked about the walk while staying in the hotel and they told me it was closed now, so I got the monorail. That isnt a problem as it was quiet but still it would be very annoying if it was a busy part of the season.

 

-Craig

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It feels really good to read your comments on the Italian park. Gardaland has been a bit disappointing in the past few years but Mirabilandia is really doing great things.

I'm very glad you all enjoied iSpeed so much! Did anyone notice the headchopper after the first inversion? That's probably one of my fafourite parts. I like it but I still think that the second part of the ride is a bit lame compared to the first part.

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^When I went during a quiter period of the year I asked about the walk while staying in the hotel and they told me it was closed now, so I got the monorail. That isnt a problem as it was quiet but still it would be very annoying if it was a busy part of the season.

 

-Craig

 

It often is technically closed. But there are never any signs at the FV end to tell you as such, and if you get to the buzzer -they never don't let you through!

 

Annoying though.

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I've been in the travel industry for the past decade, but was only a leisure travel agent for a very short time. The stress of planning and putting together someone else's dream vacation is enormous. And to have something go wrong, or have them complain about the details, was way more than I could take - I hated it and moved on to corporate travel, and now travel tech support. I have the utmost respect and admiration for what Elissa and Robb do in putting together these trips. Very few professional travel planners and travel agents do what they do - I don't know any who host their trips once they've planned them. The benefit of having them with along on the entire trip is invaluable. There have been many instances during the three trips I have been on when either, or both, of them were scrambling to confirm arrangements down the road, or making alernate arrangements when something had to be cancelled.

 

I could never do what you guys do, and I'm so grateful that they've allowed so many of us to experience these trips with you!

 

See you on a trip next year (come hell or high water, I will be there!).

 

PS - I love this thread, and getting the chance to see things from the planners' side. THX

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Thanks Elissa for posting this. It's very cool to read your trip review.

 

I'm already afraid of your review of the bus ride to phantasialand.

 

 

----Hans

 

ARE YOU AMERICAN?!?!?!

 

ARE YOU NICE??????

 

TPDave - You are a fraud, you weren't even on Hans' bus.

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I don't know any [travel organizers] who host their trips once they've planned them. The benefit of having them with along on the entire trip is invaluable.

Thank you Ron! I'm glad someone has pointed this out and can appreciate the rarity that it is.

 

I can't tell you how many cruise ship excursions or other bus tours Elissa and I have taken that once you book something, that's it! It's booked and done and then you're pretty much on your own.

 

If something happens during the trip, too bad, so sad...hope you had trip insurance!

 

With TPR on the other hand, we have always said we offer a "concierge" type service. Now, I'm not sure if people don't quite get that this DOES NOT mean we are going to carry your bags to your room for you (and I've actually had to do that on occasion) but what it means is that we are there along with the tour doing our very best we can (usually at the expense of us enjoying what little free time we do have on the trips) to make everyone else's trip the most awesome trip that it can be.

 

Now granted, I'm fully aware that everyone has paid for the service, and we are in turn fulfilling our agreement to give our time and services, but sometimes when you have the handful of people who just expect an unrealistic world that is impossible to deliver, it does begin to break us down and make it harder for us to please everyone.

 

Am I asking that people not share their complaints? No way. Not at all. Constructive feedback DOES help us make future trips better, BUT, I'm just kindly asking that some people, and it was really only a few this time around (but more than we normally get on a TPR trip), just try to understand that if there is a problem you see, we see it too, and we are either doing our absolute best to address it, and if it cannot be addressed, there is a reason for it. And many times those reasons might be out of our control.

 

I would hope that any small issues that came up on either trip (and IMO, most of the problems that were brought to my attention were more based on personal preferences) were overshadowed by the amount of greatness that we were able to put together.

 

And if not, then, well, maybe a TPR trip, or ANY organized trip for that matter, just might not be that person's preferential way to travel.

 

--Robb "I hope I'm being fair and people understand where I'm coming from." Alvey

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Now, I'm not sure if people don't quite get that this DOES NOT mean we are going to carry your bags to your room for you

 

A certain UK trip participant complained to me about this very thing. That they were used to luxury trips where you never have to touch a bag and you stay in the finest hotels and eat gourmet food.

 

LOL! Didn't they notice that the luxury tour was twice as expensive?

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Now, I'm not sure if people don't quite get that this DOES NOT mean we are going to carry your bags to your room for you

 

A certain UK trip participant complained to me about this very thing. That they were used to luxury trips where you never have to touch a bag and you stay in the finest hotels and eat gourmet food.

 

LOL! Didn't they notice that the luxury tour was twice as expensive?

 

 

Was your wife that upset?????

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Day 12

Movieland & Aqua Studios

 

So this was a day I was VERY excited for as we had an AMAZING time back at Movieland in 2005. Movieland, as I explained to people on the bus, is as if you went to a Universal park that had no rules, regulations, or IP Laws.

 

Right off the back I was quite concerned as roughly half of the population under age 12 in Italy was waiting at the front of the resort. I assumed they were all going to the water park (as that's where they were, and that was the park in 2005 that was PACKED) but I was quickly proven wrong when they started walking towards the movie park. The woman from the park who had arranged our 'ERT' clearly did not understand the point of ERT or punctuality in general. At least we got in like two attractions before it got too busy. We knew ahead of time that the larger new coaster wouldn't be open, but coasters are not really what this park is about and I don't think many people minded.

 

It was good to see that the park was still as screwed up and scary as ever, but we were disappointed to hear that they had kind of ruined the Terminator Attraction which was amazing in 2005. Since Robb and I had been on everything at the park, we and some others decided to head over to the waterpark since it was roughly 100 degrees out. The waterpark was virtually empty which was amazing! Even baby swapping we were able to do a ton of attractions. I should mention that KT *LOVES* water parks so that was another reason we headed over. The park didn't have a great kids area but it made KT happy and I suppose that's what really matters.

 

Water Jump. Ok, so picture a small ski jump, but instead of snow, it's water!!! This ride SERIOUSLY scared me, but I had wanted to do it for 6 years and dammit, I was going to do it. It scared the bejesus out of me, tweaked my back, but I would do it again in a second. You fly nearly straight down a tube, come out only to head up hill and then the slide ends and you go flying into a pool. Oh, and did I mention that all of the 'catch pools' didn't even have lifeguards!?!?!

 

Some of the people braver than Piers and I also did the waterslide of hot tube death. The way I explain the hot death tube ride is if you've ever played RCT and you made one of those custom wet/dry slides that didn't really use physics and you'd test it and watch the tube fly off of the slide and blow up. Yeah that pretty much happens every other time on this waterslide minus the actual explosion. Seriously, you watch the tubes fly at least 18 inches OFF of the slide, it's terrifying.

 

So we cooled off some more at the park before it was time to leave as we had a very long drive through Switzerland to Europa Park this night. I had prepared people for the beautiful ride through Switzerland but I think they didn't believe me or something as I kept hearing these Ooo's and Ahhh's and camera's clicking away!

 

I made sure we stopped for food IN Switzerland so people could get their 'proper' country credit but as an ulterior motive I also made sure the stop was right before the very famous and sometimes troublesome Gotthard tunnel so I could check on any problems or issues the tunnel was having that evening.

 

We continued on and eventually made it to Europa where the hotel was just as amazing as I remembered from previous visits.

 

Next up EUROPA AWESOMENESS!!!!

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What a great thread, Elissa! It's interesting to read about the trip through your perspective, so thanks a bunch for sharing.

It's crazy to hear about all of the things that were looming over our heads that we had no idea about. I too was really worried about the ash clouds, as well as the BA strike issues. I'm glad everything worked out!

 

I'm not the best with words, but I just want to say that I can't thank you and Robb enough for everything that you did for us on this trip. It was my first TPR trip, and I'm not gonna lie... I was quite nervous going into the trip and I had no idea what to expect, but man... I never could have imagined the great time that I was about to have. I am 100% dead serious when I say that this trip was the most fun I have EVER had! I felt like I got my money's worth by like the 3rd day of the trip.

 

The only complaints that I have about the trip is how sad I am that it's over, and how impossible it is to explain to people the amount of fun that I had, and how many great people I met on the trip. Photos and videos do the trip no justice. I'm gonna leave it at this, as I don't want to spill ALL of my thoughts before I even start my TR for the trip.

 

Thanks again to you and Robb. I can't even begin to imagine what you two go through to plan and execute these trips. Amazing!

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Reading about some of the stuff trip participants seem to expect is rather weird... carrying... their bags to their room? Really?

 

I think it's weird that people pack your shopping in US grocery stores. I'm all like... I am capable of putting my various edibles into bags.

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