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first trip report dec 26th-30th

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by THREEBOYSPLUSONE, Jan 1, 2013.



    This is the first time I am trying to write a trip report but I wanted to share our trip with everyone. My husband entered a contest at work where you were to write why your family deserved a trip to Orlando and his entry was picked out of all the entries from 16 plants. It needed to be used by Feb and since I don't like to take our kids out of school and my husband was already on vacation Christmas week we decided to go Dec 26 to 30th. The trip included our airfare, our hotel which was Renaissance at Sea world,a day at Sea World, a day at Universal and breakfast at our hotel each day. His work was also great in that they are to reimburse us for car rental and gave us spending money. The trip was for 4 people so it was myself,age 49,my husband,48, our son who is 16, and our son who is 10.
    We flew out of Harrisburg International Airport in PA at 6 am Dec 26th. The flight they booked for us went to Cleveland first and of course there was a snow storm coming so we hoped we would get going before it hit. when we got to airport all other United fights to Cleveland that day were cancelled but ours. So of course we just hoped we would get out of there before we got stranded. No trouble on flight to Cleveland and no weather problems getting out of there. It actually started snowing while we were on runway waiting to take off. Hit some turbulence on flight to Orlando but we made it there on time. We arrived around noon and got our rental car and headed to hotel.
    The Renaissance hotel is beautiful. We were able to check in and hung out in room for a little while waiting for my husbands aunt and her family to come visit. We had some pizza in room and then decided to check out pool while we waited. The 10yr old wanted to check out the water park they have so we did that first. It is geared to younger kids but he had fun esp. on the two slides. Then we went to try pool. It is big and the area around it is beautiful but it was not heated like we were told it was. The water was freezing and since it was not very warm out and there was a breeze blowing we were very cold and didn't stay there very long.
    After we got changed we went to lobby to meet my husbands aunt,uncle and cousin. They took us to the huge Mcdonalds on I drive and we ate and then the boys got to play in the game room(we had planned to go there so had bought Mcdonalds gift cards ahead of time). Got to admit I never had pasta with Alfredo sauce at Mcdonalds before. It was good. We spent awhile there playing and visiting and really enjoyed it. After that we headed back to hotel.
    The boys had trouble going to sleep but finally did after 11.
    Dec 27th-We got up early, got ready and went down for breakfast. Our plan was to be at IOA before it opened at 8. Breakfast at hotel was very good. It was all you can eat and it had eggs,omelets,waffles and pancakes made to order plus tons of other offerings. After breakfast we headed to IOA. we got there around 8:30. The one thing we didn't like was the long way from parking lot to park. I have a disability and can't walk long distances. We used a courtesy wheelchair from parking lot and had to stop before city walk to rent a wheelchair and then had to stop inside park to rent ECV. This was a little annoying and time consuming. Once inside the park we headed to Spiderman. Our boys are not into Harry Potter so we decided not to go there first. They did want to do Spiderman. It was a 20 minute wait but when I parked the ECV the guy working the front let us go in express pass line so we got right on. I loved the ride and so did husband and 10 yr old.(in fact that was one thing he wanted to do again that we didn't get to) 16 yr old hated it because he didn't like when it went up. He doesn't like most rides and only went on a few. After Spiderman we started walking and ended up at popeyes and blutos bilge rat barges. It was probably around 50 degrees out so of course there was no line. Our 10 yr old really wanted to go on so my husband took him on. They were not too wet when they came off so he talked me into going on. Of course I came off soaked. We were cold but I was glad we got on it. Then the boys played on Me Ship Olive for a little while, Then the 10 yr old and my husband went on ripsaw falls. we purchased the photo connect after the ride and were glad even though we didn't have too many pictures taken.
    We ate lunch around 11 and there were no lines. When we came out of lunch we noticed it had gotten much busier. No one wanted to go on Jurassic park but we did check out camp jurassic. Both our boys and my husband had a blast although they got soaked.
    Have to go now. I will continue later.
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  3. wookiebeck

    wookiebeck Fan of both WDW and USO

    Great detail. Thanks for sharing!!


    When we left Camp Jurassic the park had gotten really crowded and we ended up in major traffic jam as there was a standby line just to enter WWOHP. Since we didn't need to go there we made our way through the crowd to Suess Landing. Since our 16 yr old wanted to go on Sky High Trolley we waited in line which was probably our longest line. It said 90 minutes but it was only around 60 that we waited. I was able to switch to a wheelchair they had for the line otherwise I don't think I would have been able to wait that long. When we got up to the ride I was unable to step into it. No problem though. They had us go back and wait in line until a car came up that they could put side down and I could get in. We thought the ride moved too fast and you didn't get to really see everything. After that we went to Cat in The Hat. This ride has a separate handicap entrance and even though it was a 45 minute wait we were able to get right on. This made it possible for us to ride it again later.
    After Cat in the Hat we decided to wait for Grinchmas. This was a needed break for all of us. Grinchmas was fantastic and the handicap seating was up front which gave us a great view. We all really enjoyed it and went right for our 10yr old to get his picture with the Grinch. After that my husband and 10 yr old waited in line for One Fish Two fish. We checked out If I ran the zoo and the 10 yr old enjoyed it. We then left Suess Landing to go back to Spiderman and the other rides there. I went on Acceletron with the 10 yr old and my husband took him on Dr Doom. This was the only ride our son didn't like as it scared him a little. Unlike his 16 yr old brother who basically liked nothing except Sky High Trolley. Our 10 yr old and my husband also had their picture taken with Spiderman. Of course the 16 yr old wouldn't because he has never liked characters.The 10 yr old wanted to ride Spiderman again but the line was too long at this point.
    We then decided we had enough and left and went back to room to order pizza. We went to IOA with the attitude that it was a bonus trip we hadn't expected so whatever we do we would be happy with. Knowing how crowded it would be we figured we would not get to do alot but ended up doing more then we thought we would. There were things we didn't get to do like seeing WWOHP but it didn't ruin it for us. We spent 12 hours in the park and enjoyed it. For some reason though my husband nor I had phone service most of the day which made it hard when we split up.
    The next day we went to Sea World. Dec 29th we went to Universal Studios. I will come back another time and report on our day there.
  5. Metro West

    Metro West <font color=red>Proud Redhead<br><font color=blue> Moderator

    Come on back and continue the report. :thumbsup2


    Dec 29th we went to Universal Studios. It was raining went we went there but it didn't stop us from going. Of course we didn't make it for opening as usual for this trip but about a half hour after. Despicable me had a 115 min wait so we skipped it.Actually never did get to do it because we never saw wait under 100 min. The first thing we did was Twister which actually ended up scaring both boys. We were going to go on Disaster but the 10 yr old asked t the worker in front a lot of questions and decided he didn't want to do it. So we kept walking and ended up at Men in Black. My husband, 10 yr old and I went on it. Of course the 16 yr old decided he wasn't going on and actually never went on anything else the rest of the day. We really enjoyed it. In fact my husband and 10 yr old went on it again later in the day. We then did Simpsons. We also enjoyed that. The 16 yr old did enjoy seeing the car and train from Back to The Future since we have seen those movies several times. He also enjoyed texting his cousin at home to hear about the snow we were getting while we were enjoying what turned into a beautiful day. As we were walking the 20 yr old spotted what he had been waiting for- the Spongebob store. My husband took him in line to see Spongebob and when it was his turn we got in pictures too(except the 16 yr old who has never liked characters anywhere). The people working there were very nice and took pictures of 10 yr old alone,me and 10 year old and my husband, me and 10 yr old and took pictures with our camera too. Of course then we had to spend time in the store so the 10 yr old could spend most of his money and get pictures with all the fun displays they have.
    After the spongebob store we headed over to ET. The wheelchairs they have for use in line were both in use so they took us over to a separate entrance were we got right on instead of having to wait in line. This is one ride that was here 15 yrs ago when we were last here and we enjoyed it. Then my husband took the 10 yr old on Woody woodpeckers roller coaster. When they got off we headed to the Curious George section. The 10 yr old wanted someone to play with him but my husband and 16 yr old didn't want to get wet so he started playing by himself. Next thing the 16 yr old was in although he didn't go through all the water stuff. When they were finishing up they talked my husband into trying a phone there and he got all wet and they thought that was hysterical. The 10 yr old then tried the water slide in Fievels but then we headed out of that section.
    They wanted to see the Fear Factor LIve so we headed there. That is when they went on Men in Black again. By the time they came out the Fear Factor show had started and they didn't want to go in because they were hungry so we went for lunch. We ate at Richters burgers but were not impressed with it.
    By the time we were done we decided to head up to watch the parade. The parade is short but it is nice. The 10 yr old spent most of the time dancing to the music. We checked on Despicable Me again but line was still 100 min. so we went in Shrek. I didn't like Shrek The movements of the chair went through my legs( I have a disability that causes my legs to not have normal feeling) I actually couldn't wait until it was over because it was very uncomfortable to me.
    At this point whenever we tried to use a restroom there were lines long enough to be out on street. We went to see Beetlejuice which the boys liked. We then decided to get ice cream and took a little break. The 16 yr old and I went shopping from there (he wanted to buy a sweatshirt because he forgot to bring his jacket and he was cold).while my husband and the 10 yr old found a place to wait for the Macys parade. By the time we got back to them they were very cold. My husband tried to find a blanket to buy to cover them but couldn't find one so they ended up covering their legs with their rain ponchos. The Macys parade was great. The 10 yr old loved it because the women in it kept blowing kisses at him. It was also the only time we saw some of the characters. The 10 yr old didn't want to take time out from riding to find the characters. When the parade was over we decided to head out and go back to hotel to order pizza.
    When we got back to hotel the 10 yr old was laying on bed playing with his new spongebob toy and he fell asleep before the pizza even came.
    Dec 30th was our last day. We planned to go back to IOA because we had bought the buy 2 days get one free and our plane wasn't until 7pm. We decided not to. Mainly because of the hassle with the wheelchair to ECV and the fact that it is $50 a day to rent ECV. Instead we went to International Drive and ended up at the CSI experience. This was probably the 16 yr olds favorite thing of the trip because he loves CSI. We then ate at Olive Garden and headed to airport a little early because a friend had given us Disney gift cards thinking we were going to Disney and I knew there was a Disney Store at the airport.
    We had a great vacation.It was made even better when we got to hotel we were staying at in Harrisburg,PA and they told us they upgraded our room for us. They gave us the Presidential suite and moved our check out time to 2 instead of 11. We have never had a hotel room this big before and with 4 tvs we could each watch whatever we wanted. We even ordered room service for breakfast which is something we don't normally do.
    The other two times we had been at Universal we really didn't enjoy it and hadn't even stayed a whole day. This time we really enjoyed it. The thing that really made it enjoyable for me was that I could get on almost everything. When we go to local amusement parks there is almost nothing I can get on because of my disability. There was no problem at Universal and the employees were very nice about helping too. The only complaint is how far it is from parking to park and the process of renting wheelchair to get to park and then having to rent ECV there. The one lady at wheelchair rental outside city walk also would not let me use gift card to pay even though I was told you could when I talked to guest services before we went and they had let me two days earlier. If given the chance I would definitely visit again.
  7. macraven

    macraven <font color=red>Proud Redhead<br><marquee><font co

    i'm glad to hear you had a fun trip!

    it was wonderful you were able to get out of the airport with the incoming storm.
    that is the main problem in traveling in winter but it wasn't an issue for you and the family.

    what a nice treat to be upgraded to the Presidental suite!!

    hope you took pictures of that.
  8. Metro West

    Metro West <font color=red>Proud Redhead<br><font color=blue> Moderator

    Thanks for finishing the report.

    Two things I wanted to just let you know for future visits...

    1. Richter's is usually not very good...I would recommend Louie's for counter service and Finnegan's for table service.

    2. Shrek 4-D has stationery seating for those with disabilities. You should try those seats the next time.

    Again...thanks for finishing the report!


    I did know that Shrek had stationary seats but since I didn't know what it was like I figured I could sit in the other seats. None of the other rides bothered me so I didn't realize this would. I know better now. Richters was the first place we came to when we were hungry and they advertised the 100 flavors of soda having sprite zero. I can only drink caffeine free soda and I prefer diet and no other place in the park had it. We found out that we couldn't get it unless we bought the freestyle cup and we had already bought the other cups and knew we wouldn't get enough out of the freestyle one to buy it. The boys enjoyed eating outside though and they didn't seem to mind the food. Of course our 10 yr old decided to throw a fry on the ground for the birds and we were almost attacked by all of them that came after it. They then watched us finish eating hoping we would give them more. Our son wanted to throw more down because they are his buddies so we had to constantly remind him not to.(He is a special needs child and didn't understand why he couldn't feed the birds)
  10. macraven

    macraven <font color=red>Proud Redhead<br><marquee><font co

    the first 3 years that Richter's was open, i enjoyed it very much.

    after that, i hit that place every once in awhile.

    i guess i have avoided eating there the past 6 years as experiencing a less than decent meal made me move on to other places.

    i don't read too many posters say they loved Richters.

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