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Old 05-28-2014, 07:25 PM   #1
jerseygirl82
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We don't need no stinkin' pixie dust...Universal here we come!

Hellooooooo! And welcome to what I am hoping will be a fun way to pass the next 39 days until we head on our 10 day jaunt to Cocoa Beach and Universal Studios. I'm also hoping it will keep me motivated to come back and post a very detailed, picture filled trip report!

First, the back story. As a first wedding anniversary gift to ourselves, DH and I bought into DVC, with the promise on my part that we would occasionally use our points to explore other vacation options (there are other options? ). Fast forward 7 years and I am finally making good on that promise!

In February I began to explore some of the swap possibilities available to us. I recently left my corporate sales job of 8 years and completed my first year teaching English to 9th graders. Seeing as this is my first summer off in I don't know how long, I knew I wanted to celebrate.

After much research, I came upon the Ron Jon Cape Caribe Resort in Cocoa Beach. I was able to score a one bedroom villa for the week of July 6th-13th for me, DH and our DD (who will turn 4 shortly after we return from vacation).

Ron Jon was recently bought out by Holiday Inn, but I am still thrilled about the resort. There is a lazy river, big slide, splash area, indoor playground and it is on the beach. The resort caters to children and that is exactly what our little family is looking for!

Once the resort was booked, I began stalking airfare. We are in Jersey and very close to Newark airport, but we fly out of Atlantic City because it is just more convenient in a number of ways (cost being one of them). I quickly realized that it would be cheaper to fly one way midweek and slowly began to plant the seed in DH's head that we should treat ourselves to an extended vacation and why not add 3 days at Universal Studios? I originally booked 3 nights (July 13-16) at Cabana Bay, but after much angst and DIS research I came to the conclusion that we need to have FOTL on top of EE, especially for yours truly, who is a Harry Potter fanatic and jumping out of her skin to experience the new Diagon Alley. Unfortunately, the deluxe resorts in July are priced a little out of budget. Fortunately, I had enough DVC points to book Sunday night in a studio at OKW. Then on Monday we will switch over to Royal Pacific for two nights.

I scored the ebates 20% promo on Orlando attractions and was able to get three, 3 day Universal park to park passes for $400 And just so you know, when DD and I went with my mom, sister and nephew to WDW in April, I paid over $500 for TWO three day park passes (no hopper). So while I love the mouse, I do not love that it costs $100 a person to walk through the gates of Magic Kingdom.

Even though we only have about 2.5 days, I'm very much looking forward to utilizing our EE to hit DA and WWoHP and then maximize our FOTL passes on all of the other attractions. DD is in a big Curious George phase, which is actually the reason we decided to do Universal over WDW. If we're lucky and flexible enough, we might even get to enjoy some pool time! Next post I will introduce my cast of characters - with pictures!
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Old 05-28-2014, 07:55 PM   #2
jerseygirl82
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Cast of Characters


Me. 32, 9th grade English teacher, lover of all things both HP and WDW. I also live for summer time, going to the beach, Dallas Cowboys football, country music and writing. Fun fact: I self-published my first novel nearly two years ago and am hoping to use my time off this summer to work on the next one. You know, when I'm not busy chasing after an almost 4 year old

This is me and my mom last summer after a Jennifer Nettles private concert that I won tickets for.



Next up is my DH. Also 32 and works for a division of Homeland Security. We live in Central Jersey, but DH would pretty much rather live anywhere else. He has actually tried to bribe me with annual passes to WDW for me and DD if I agree to leave. Sadly for all of us, our entire families live in NJ and I refuse to leave for that reason alone.

This family shot is a little old, however, DH will probably always look this young. I don't think he has aged in the over 10 years that I have known him.



And as is customary, I saved the best for last. As I mentioned in a previous post, our DD will turn 4 right after we come back from our trip (3 days after, to be exact). In short, she is fabulous. She loves all things Disney and, like most other 3 year olds, is obsessed with Frozen. She also likes to play soccer and participate in gymnastics.

Here is a shot from meeting Anna and Elsa when she and I did a girls trip to WDW with my mom, sister and nephew back in April. It was one of the best days of my mommy life to see her bursting with happiness.




DD and Ariel


DD and her numero uno, her brotha from anotha motha, her bff. He also happens to be her cousin, my sister's son, who is only 18 days older than her.


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Old 05-28-2014, 08:30 PM   #3
Lynne G
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Subbing. Cute family and nice story. We will be in USO at the end of August. My kids are working at a summer camp, and the end of the summer is when we travel. So nice to not start school until after Labor Day.

Since there is no pixie dust in USO, we send mummy dust. So, sending you a bunch of mummy dust to have a great vacation.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:05 PM   #4
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such a cute family........!

ok, you have had your break....
come back and tell us more of your plans.


i'll be here waiting.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:01 PM   #5
jerseygirl82
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Itinerary

Itinerary...for now!

38 days to go! And only 27 until school is out for summer!

If all goes according to plan, DD and I will officially start our vacation on Thursday, July 3rd. I am from a small beach town on the Jersey Shore and a good majority of my family still lives there. Needless to say, that is where I plan to spend almost all of my July and August. See ya in September, DH! JK...sort of

Thursday, July 3rd - DD and I will wake up and take the 45 minute drive to the beach

Friday, July 4th - DH will drop our dog off with my inlaws and then join us at the Jersey Shore

Saturday, July 5th - take advantage of mom/grandmom's pool and the beach

Sunday. July 6th - get up super early to head to Atlantic City for our 7am flight. Land at MCO around 9:30am and hopefully get our rental car and arrive at DTD for the official start to any Orlando vacation - a trip to Earl of Sandwich! DD and I also plan to do a little bit of pin trading/purchasing. Around 3pm we will head off for our under an hour ride to check in at Ron Jon on Cocoa Beach.





Monday, July 7th-Sunday, July 13th - spend as much time as possible enjoying the beach, pool, lazy river and resort. One day we might ride back into Orlando and do Sea World if we start to feel antsy.




Sunday, July 13th
- Wake up nice and early to make it to our 8am Chef Mickey ressie. DD will turn 4 on the 19th and requested that we do something Disney while we are in Orlando. After breakfast we will go check in for our one night at Old Key West. I plan to lounge and explore OKW before getting DD into her Cinderella costume and heading to our 5pm ressie at 1900 Park Fare. We've never been there before and I have heard great things and I think DD will have a blast at her early birthday dinner.

Monday, July 14th - Become a little bit of a park commando by waking DH and DD up extremely early to go check in at RPR! The current plan is to arrive early enough to check in, drop our stuff with bell services, and hightail it over to EE at either IOA or USO. Once mommy has gotten her Potter fix we will either check out lines for kiddie attractions for DD or we will go back to RPR for our FOTL passes if we didn't have time to get them at check in.

I'm hoping that with EE and FOTL we will be able to take an afternoon break to swim and/or nap before heading back out for the night.

At this point we will also be meeting up with my bff and her DH. BFF and I are YOOG Margaritaville fans so I am hoping to get a dinner reservation for this night. I've been stalking OpenTable.com and I don't think this will be a problem

Tuesday, July 15th - Up and at 'em early again! I expect no complaints as we will just have come off a week of late sleeping during our beach portion of the vacation :wink: Once again we will EE for WWoHP or DA and then use FOTL to hit the other attractions. DD is not big into rides. In fact, her favorite ride during our April trip to WDW was the monorail. Uh, DD? We could have ridden that for free! I'm anticipating another day of being able to use FOTL to hit as many attractions as possible and then do what DD loves best - play at the pool!

For dinner tonight we would really like to try Antojito's, though I am not opposed to trying The Kitchen or Sal's. The best part I am finding about our Universal vacation is the ability to be flexible!

Wednesday, July 16th - Wake up. Moan and groan as often as possible about it being our last day...jk I might let DD and DH sleep in and go it alone for WWoHP or DA EE. At some point we will meet up and hit all of our favorite attractions, which for DD will mean getting soaked at the Curious George play area. For the adults that will mean riding The Mummy and MIB until someone gets sick (hopefully not me!). Our flight isn't until 9pm on Wednesday night so we will have a fair amount of time to do some last minute touring.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:04 PM   #6
jerseygirl82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynne G View Post
Subbing. Cute family and nice story. We will be in USO at the end of August. My kids are working at a summer camp, and the end of the summer is when we travel. So nice to not start school until after Labor Day.

Since there is no pixie dust in USO, we send mummy dust. So, sending you a bunch of mummy dust to have a great vacation.
Thank you so much! We don't start here in Jersey until after Labor Day as well. I love it!
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:36 PM   #7
jerseygirl82
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such a cute family........!

ok, you have had your break....
come back and tell us more of your plans.


i'll be here waiting.
Awwww thank you! DH does not always share my love of vacationing but I am willing to overlook that tragic flaw

Your request is my command! Though I must admit, our itinerary is pretty open right now, thanks to the flexibility of the darkside!
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Old 05-29-2014, 10:41 PM   #8
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sounds like you have it all planned out which is a great thing.


after you check into RPH, turn to the right and go towards the end of the lobby there.

on the right side will be the photo id kiosks.

it is next to the information counter.


you all can take your photo and create the express pass within one minute.
no need to back track to the hotel later to have it made.

you might want to take your dd on the hippograff ride while in potter ville.
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Old 05-30-2014, 06:20 AM   #9
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In case you weren't aware....Uni has a great child swap. Your child can go through the line with you both and then one parent waits in the child swap area and then you switch out easy peasy. Just let the TM know
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Old 05-30-2014, 04:19 PM   #10
jerseygirl82
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Originally Posted by macraven View Post
sounds like you have it all planned out which is a great thing.


after you check into RPH, turn to the right and go towards the end of the lobby there.

on the right side will be the photo id kiosks.

it is next to the information counter.


you all can take your photo and create the express pass within one minute.
no need to back track to the hotel later to have it made.

you might want to take your dd on the hippograff ride while in potter ville.
Thank you for the directions to the photo id kiosks! You are right, no need to back track if we don't have to.

And good to know dd can ride the hippogriff ride! I haven't done any looking, but she will be able to ride the HE too, right? She loves trains but I know this isn't a "kiddie" train.
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Old 05-30-2014, 04:21 PM   #11
jerseygirl82
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In case you weren't aware....Uni has a great child swap. Your child can go through the line with you both and then one parent waits in the child swap area and then you switch out easy peasy. Just let the TM know
Hooray for child swap! I am admittedly a little nervous that there will be more to entertain the adults than the dd. I just keep telling myself to use FOTL (and child swap!) and hopefully she will be just as entertained. I'm also hoping she is more into the characters by the time July rolls around. In April she freaked out when Stitch tried to put his arm around her for a picture...
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Old 05-30-2014, 04:36 PM   #12
jerseygirl82
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DD's First Uni Trip!


I can't believe it has been 3 years since DD or I have been to Universal! For DH it has been even longer!

Every year my mom, sister and I try to do a "girls' trip", which of course includes the nephew I have previously mentioned who is DD's age. When the kids were 8 months old we took them down to Orlando and also brought my twin cousins, who were in high school at the time. I have to say it was one of the best trips ever! I always see people on the DIS asking about bringing young kids/babies and I say do it! At 8 months DD could crawl, which means she was mobile but not to a crazy point. We also stayed at an offsite timeshare where we were often the only people at the pool. We hit the Publix and grabbed inflatable pool floats for the kids which was great.

Here is me, my cousins and DD in front of Hogwarts. I may or may not have just wiped away tears of joy.


Little besties hanging at Uni.


DD hanging at the resort.
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Old 05-31-2014, 12:51 AM   #13
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beautiful pics of you and cousins.


cute babies!!!
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Old 06-01-2014, 07:08 AM   #14
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You will love the Ron Jon Resort

We stayed there two years ago for 3 days before our Disney cruise and it was great. We had a two bedroom villa in the main building which was awesome and the pool area is one of the best. My DS10 still talks about the resort and wants to go back. We also enjoyed going to Kennedy Space Center when we were there. Didn't go to the beach which looked great, because my DS prefers pools.

Sounds like a great plan for Universal. We go at least twice a year and stay at Portofino Bay. Just remember it might be a little insane this year with Diagon Alley opening. What's great is you can always escape the insanity and go back to RPR. The Express Pass is also a life saver. We went when Transformers first opened last summer and were able to go on the ride multiple times in a row while people waited in lines for two hours.

Have an awesome trip!
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:38 PM   #15
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This trip sounds great! I'm excited to hear about the resort part as well as the Universal end. RPR is amazing-- you'll love it. Being able to walk to both parks is the greatest.
And your DD is adorable!
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