Sorry kids! We're going to the DARK SIDE!

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by mrsabbott, Sep 19, 2013.

  1. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    I had started a pre trip report on the Disney side of things, but plans have definitely changed!

    Let me introduce myself.. My name is Mom aka Honey. I work at a Christian daycare and I love my job. I love reading, watching movies, and planning vacations that we never get to take.

    My husband is Daddy, or Hubs, or occasionally his name is Mud.. ;). He loves MMA, racing, and music. He's a medically retired vet and is currently a full time student. We've been married 12 years.

    We have 4 children. Punky is the oldest and turns 9 soon. She is the quintessential big sister, loves school, cats, and eating dessert.

    Pod is the next oldest. She is 7, doesn't love school but does love horses, lady bugs, and being silly! She's currently attempting to read Harry Potter but finds it frustrating because there are too many words that she doesn't know how to read yet! ;)

    Puddin' aka Boo Bear, is my youngest girl. She's 5 and loves Kindergarten, puppies, snuggling, and anything that is girly girl.

    Baby brother is Buds. He is 2. He loves blankets, cars, tomatoes, and getting dirty! He's also spoiled rotten but we just can't seem to help ourselves!

    The kids and I have been saving for a vacation for awhile now and have managed to squirrel away a little over $500. My goal/plan was to save up enough for a BUDGET budget trip to Disney over Spring Break. I wasn't sure how we'd manage it without me getting a second job, but I was going to do it somehow!

    Sadly, the plan didn't include Sea World, which we loved back in 2009, or to Universal, where I've never been ever! Hubs and I are huge Harry Potter nerds! Live HP and have wanted to visit WWoHP since they were first talking about building it! I won't let the kids see the movies until they read the books ( hence, Pod struggling through it now) but they know who HP is.

    We just found out yesterday that we were accepted by an organization called Wounded Warrior Family Support to get a free vacation to Orlando!! They provide a weeks stay at a condo at Bahamas Bay, 2 day passes to Universal, 1 day passes to Sea World, and 1 day passes to Wet n Wild water park! It had been so long that I thought we didn't stand a chance so it was an amazing surprise!!

    We are really and truly blessed to receive this gift! The kids and I were jumping up and down in excitement and even Hubs was smiling! I even caught him on the Universal website looking at matching Gryffindor shirts for him and Buds! :)

    I've started counting down.. Only 28 more Fridays until we leave for out vacation! It is still going to be a budget vacation, but we might be able to eat out a few times instead of surviving on PB&J and ramen! ;)

    I've also put in my leave request at work.. 6 months in advance! Lol! So much planning to do.. Love it!!
     
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  3. wiigirl

    wiigirl DIS Veteran

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    Following along! :)
     
  4. Lynne G

    Lynne G DIS Veteran

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    Woot! Great news on your vacation plans!

    My DH finally got his Disabled Veteran status not long ago. We are thankful.

    Have a great trip! We love the Orlando area, as there's so much to do. My kids are HP fans too.

    Subbing.
     
  5. orlandonewstarts

    orlandonewstarts Mouseketeer

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    Can't wait to see your trip updates. :)
     
  6. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    I'm going to warn you.. I am an obsessive vacation planner and sometimes get wrapped up in the most insignificant, minute details.. I actually plan vacations as a stress reliever.. isn't that odd? Hubs thinks I'm a little nutty! :crazy: I've been known to burst in the room and say things like, "Did you know that we could CAMP in the Florida Keys and go snorkeling with sharks and then have a margarita and we should go do that TOMORROW!"

    Yeah, I've planned all kinds of vacations all over the US and let me tell you.. I am SO EXCITED to actually plan one that we will actually be GOING ON! :woohoo:

    So, let me start out with the rough outline of our trip..

    We will be driving. :drive: Whether or not we will be driving my Suburban or renting a minivan remains to be seen. It all kind of depends on how ol' Bessie is doing. I love my gas hog, but she's had a few issues that we can't seem to permanently resolve. And she needs new tires. Regardless, we will NOT be flying because Hubs won't step foot on a plane. He says we will get there as nature intended.. in a car. :rolleyes:

    We will be driving quite a ways.. MapQuest says it will take 13 hours. I say that it will take AT LEAST 16! The last time we drove, it took about that long to get there and we split it up into 2 days. I suppose we could drive straight through if we drive in shifts, but for the sake of our sanity we should probably split it up. That means, we will be leaving on FRIDAY since our check in date is SATURDAY!

    This means that the kids will be SKIPPING SCHOOL :teacher: that day, and I will be SKIPPING WORK! My plan is to have the car mostly loaded up Thursday night so that we can get up, get ourselves ready, have a quick bite to eat, load up the final few things, and HIT THE ROAD early Friday morning.

    Will need to find an inexpensive place to stay about halfway through. I have budgeted $500 in gas and mapquest says the gas estimate one way is $208. Seems about right..

    Soo, we will leave Friday. Stay the night SOMEWHERE Friday night. Travel the rest of the way Saturday until we get to our destination.. Bahama Bay Resort!! Check in time is 3pm. Let me say that this place looks AMAZING! We have a 3br 2ba condo with a full kitchen! Swimming pool, splash park, beach area.. I'm thinking that the first day will be settling into the condo and checking out the resort area!

    That brings us to SUNDAY! Honestly, I don't know what to do on this day.. Is anything even open? I might see if my cousin and his family are available that day for a visit. Wouldn't mind finding a church service to attend. Maybe check out Downtown Disney for a little bit of mouse magic?? Saving swagbucks to get a Trex Café gift certificate. I don't know what the plan will be. Not sure just yet..

    And then.. MONDAY! This is definitely a PARK DAY! But which park?? I'm kind of thinking Sea World!

    Next is TUESDAY! Another PARK DAY! I'm thinking Islands of Adventure or, basically, Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!! :wizard:

    WEDNESDAY will be a rest day for us! BIL and his family live nearby and SIL said the kids get out of school early on Wednesdays and it would be the best day for them to meet with us. We'll either go to them or they said they could come to us.

    THURSDAY is another PARK DAY for sure.. possibly Wet n' Wild water park! Haven't researched that place at all..

    FRIDAY is our last day in Florida.. and it will be a PARK DAY! Not sure if I want to do the Studios or visit Island of Adventure again. I feel like IofA seems more "kid friendly"..

    And, finally, SATURDAY we check out at 10am and start the long, sad journey back to reality. Need to find a place to stay on the way back and we should arrive home sometime SUNDAY.. Back to the grind on MONDAY.. :sad2:
     
  7. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    Last night, Hubs said to "not get all stressed out planning every little detail" of our vacation. He then reminded me that things never quite go as I plan them. True.. But planning makes me HAPPY!!

    That said, he also reminded me that it might be too cool for water parks or swimming when we go. Average temps for that time of the year are between the high 70s and low 80s. I also found out that all the pools at the resort are heated. I am pretty sure we will get some swim time in, but you never know..

    I won't pack away the kids swimsuits this fall when I swap out their seasonal stuff. Wait.. That's in a couple of weeks! And speaking of weeks, it's now only 27 more Fridays until we leave!

    Hubs and I are trying to lose weight. I've lost 29 lbs in the past 18 months. Hubs has lost 29 lbs in 2 months. Tell me how this is fair.. :/ Anyhoo, I am only 12 lbs away from my goal. If I make it by Spring Break, I will need some new shorts and a new bathing suit. I've got time for all that though.. Just jumping the gun a little..

    I researched Wet n wild water park online last night. It looks fun but I'm a little worried about keeping track of the kids while there. Anyone gone with younger kids? Any advice? We've only gone to very small, local water parks or pools and even then it's not often and my son has never been.. Punky and Pod can swim okay. Boo Bear is just learning and Buds is just a baby and won't even go in a pool yet. Loves bubble baths, hates swimming pools.
     
  8. chs27

    chs27 Mouseketeer

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    I just wanted to thank you and your Hubs for serving our country! God Bless you! I'm trilled your family is getting this adventure.

    Everything is open on Sundays. It's just another day in Orlando.
     
  9. zebsterama

    zebsterama Mouseketeer

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    I'm not sure if this is part of your package with the Sea World ticket, but from what I have read Aquatica may be more suitable if you're looking for a more 'family friendly' water park experience.

    Apologies we haven't been to either Aquatica or Wet'N Wild, still doing my research for out trip next year.

    Have fun planning. :goodvibes

    Cheers,
    Zebsterama
    :hippie:
     
  10. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    Good to know about Sundays.. I'm thinking that Sunday will definitely be our Downtown Disney/T-Rex Café day!! :) I'm thinking we will sleep in, have breakfast at the condo, pack a few snacks and head down to DTD. T-Rex Café for lunch (should I make reservations??) and just wing it the rest of the day. Walk around the shops, hopefully meet up with my cousin and family at some point that day!

    We are gifted the tickets, so our only option is Wet n' Wild. I think it looks fun and there is a TON that is age appropriate for my kids.. I am just a nervous Mom is all.. They will be 9, 7, 6, and 2 1/2 when we go..

    I DID find a couple of super cute things I want to get.. I was on ebay and found this to put on Bessie!! I had no idea that they had such a thing!!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/I-Solemnly-...Decals_Stickers_Vinyl_Art&hash=item4ac1ad2f61

    Isn't it awesome!?! pixiedust:

    I also found this and am TOTALLY making shirts for our family!!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Thing-DECAL...rens_Unisex_Clothing&var=&hash=item5654e1efcc

    The kiddos will get Thing 1-4, mine will say Mother of all Things, and Hubs will say Father of all Things! I mentioned it to Hubs, who is usually a little.. um.. uncooperative when it comes to matching stuff. Okay, I mentioned us having matching Mickey shirts back when I was planning a Disney trip and he flat out refused, even when I offered to make his more "manly". However, Hubs is a big Seuss fan and he didn't immediately shoot down the idea. He did give ma a "look" but he didn't say no! The kids think it is an AWESOME idea and he's outvoted!

    I was talking to MIL about Christmas stuff for the kids. They don't need tons of toys or anything, so she's going to get something small for them and said instead she'd give them vacation money to spend. :)

    Oh!! And did you notice my ticker?? :cool1: I've been wanting to have a ticker for YEARS now.. :hyper:
     
  11. ArwenMarie

    ArwenMarie DIS Veteran

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    I'm so happy for you that your family is getting this trip! You will all have a great time :)
     
  12. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    Thank you!! Hubs and I are watching all the HP movies together in the evenings. Although, I end up falling asleep halfway through them.. I have to get up at 4:30am each morning for work so by 9pm I'm done for!

    I had thought since our school district had such an early spring break that maybe we might miss most of the crowds, but I guess a March/April spring break isn't uncommon. I hope it isn't too packed because I worry about Hubs anxiety. I want this to be as stress free as it can be.

    We have decided to rent a minivan for the week. Bessie is old, needs new tires, and some other work done. All stuff we will do, but we think that for the peace of mind it will be worth it to spend the extra on a rental. Not to mention, Bessie is a gas hog and the money we save there will offset some of the cost.

    I had been thinking that we might do that, but it was Hubs who approached me and said he thought it was what we should do. I hadn't even brought it up to him. Which means he's been vacation planning in his head. Also his idea to do the HP movie marathon. :) This gift has been a blessing in more ways then one!
     
  13. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    Now, back when I was planning a trip to "the Motherland", I'd planned on doing some Disney themed movie nights. I'd seen someone else do them on the Disboards and thought it sounded like SUCH a fun idea!

    I was thinking of planning something similar only with Universal movies.. but here is the problem..
    We are very particular about what movies we let our kids watch. popcorn:: I know that some people have different views as to what is and isn't appropriate.. we tend to be a little stricter in those views. My kids know who a lot of the characters ARE.. but they don't really watch the movies or anything. We don't watch SpongeBob at all. No Simpsons. Dora and Diego are okay, but I don't know that my kids are big fans anymore.

    These are the movies we have seen or own:
    Babe
    Borrowers
    Curious George
    Pirates Who Don't Do Anything
    Tale of Despereaux
    The Lorax

    We also watch Scooby Doo (although I prefer the old school cartoon over the newer ones) and the old Spiderman and Avengers cartoons.

    I watched ET as a kid, but it's been years. Not sure if it would be appropriate for my younger kids. Same with Jurassic Park. I'm going to rent Despicable Me and watch it to see if it will be okay.. I suppose I could watch the others also..

    So, what are some theme ideas?
    Definitely a Seuss night.. We have the Lorax and a few Dr. Seuss cartoons.

    Maybe a Scooby Doo mystery night..

    If Despicable Me is okay then we can do that another night..

    Perhaps a Superhero night and we watch some Avengers cartoons??

    Any ideas or suggestions to go along with these?
     
  14. ArwenMarie

    ArwenMarie DIS Veteran

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  15. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    I've seen Shrek.. definitely not on our "okay to watch" list! I kind of feel like it's more for teenagers/adults. Like I said, we're kinda strict. ;)
     
  16. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    I always figured that we would wait until the kids were much older before visiting the Universal Parks! I think we're going to have a blast anyways and am super excited we are going though.. Hoping that my older girls will hurry up and read the 1st book. They are both trying to read it! :) I promised them that when they read the 1st book that we would sit and watch the 1st movie together.
     
  17. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    I am, admittedly, the reader in the family. I had hoped to instill that in my kids but so far they just don't love books like their Mom did at their age. I read Gone With the Wind the first time when I was 9 if that tells you anything..

    Anyhoo, Punky is starting to get into Harry Potter! She's picked it up a few times but wasn't quite getting into it but yesterday the story started to grab her imagination and she read for quite a bit. She was excited to finally know what a muggle is! :)
     
  18. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    Okay, so I have a friend who is also a big HP fan and she has been to WWoHP before. She posted that she was watching a HP movie and made herself a Butterbeer Latte to go with it..

    Say what?? How do you make such a concoction? :stir:

    She gave me the recipe, which I lost, so I looked online, um, I mean used my MAGIC :wizard: , to find it and plan on making it tonight!! I think I mentioned that Hubs and I have been watching the movies at night..

    So, I thought I would share the recipe.. I will let y'all know how amazingly delicious it is! I haven't ever tried Butterbeer so I can't really compare it.

    [​IMG]

    I'm back!! I wanted to give you my review.. I made the first one exactly as the directions said. It wasn't bad. Once it cooled a little bit, I let each of the girls take a taste and they all like it. Then again, I use the exact ingredients when making "sweet rice" with leftover rice from dinner sometimes. They all love "sweet rice" so they naturally loved the latte!

    Still.. I felt like it needed something. I added the vanilla WITH the butter and brown sugar the 2nd time. It helps the caramel-y butterscotch stuff taste more.. butterscotch-y. I also added a pinch of salt when bringing the milk to a boil. That definitely gave it a little added "oomph!"

    I then spent some time looking up Butterbeer recipes online. There are a TON of them out there and so I eventually stumbled across this webpage:
    *********************************/2012/harry-potter-butterbeer-recipe/

    If you scroll down a bit, it has the best tasting "not as simple" recipe and I noticed it added salt AND rum extract! Hmm.. I don't have any rum extract (or any rum) but I'm thinking I might add a bit next time I make this.

    Also, to me a latte needs coffee in it. Yes, I know latte means "milk" but.. well.. it just needs a little caffeinated goodness if I decide to make this in the morning.. which I'm considering. I'm a bit of a coffee snob and would normally thumb my nose at the thought of instant coffee.. but Starbucks makes a mighty fine instant coffee. I like to keep some on hand for camping or what have you. I think I'm going to add some to it next time.. of course, it might not be a Butterbeer latte but more of a caramel café latte.. I don't know. Regardless, this is fun and awesome and totally getting me in the mood for our trip! (I keep trying to convince myself that 6 months isn't really that long of a time..)
     
  19. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    Next weekend is the official "Switch out the Seasonal Clothes" weekend! It's starting to get cooler here and I have the kids' fall/winter clothes in totes in the shed. It's a huge undertaking involving a ton of laundry and sorting through what can be passed down next year, etc.. and then figuring out who needs what after everything is put away.

    It dawned on me that we won't do the Spring Switch Out until the first of May, usually. That is AFTER our vacation!! I have a feeling that I will need to set a few things aside (including bathing suits) to pack for our trip as it is usually MUCH warmer in FL then KY that time of year!

    So, I guess I will start packing for our trip over 5 months in advance!! LOL! Not bad since I'm usually packing the night before and throwing last minute stuff in bags as we are walking out the door! :laughing:
     
  20. SAHMKC

    SAHMKC Earning My Ears

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    I just want to say that I am very happy for you and your family! Thank your husband for his service to our country. And thank you too because you supported him while he was serving!:)

    BTW - There is a great website that rates movies. Just google Common Sense Media. It rates movies (and just about everything else) and gives you specific details about why a movie got it's rating. It breaks it down into categories like violence, language, drug use, etc. This way you don't have to watch all the movies first. Believe me I wish I had checked out Total Recall on that site before I agreed to watch that with my DS13. I didn't know nudity was acceptable in PG-13. Boy did we have a shock!:eek:
     
  21. mrsabbott

    mrsabbott DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for your kind words and thanks for the tip about Common Sense Media!! :) I will definitely check that out!

    Today was kind of a rough day.. nothing major but just several little things combined with me not feeling good and I ended up kind of blowing my top a little. *sigh*

    I made myself an ADULT Butterbeer Latte (see recipe above, just add a smidgeon of Jack Daniels to it) and it is amazing!! Not a big drinker usually, and there isn't enough in there to do much.. but it is nice to have a hot drink on a cool evening, browse the computer, and just UNWIND.. :surfweb:
     

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