We're off to see the wizards! We leave tomorrow!!

Discussion in 'Universal Studios Trip Reports' started by -Hope-, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    Hi everyone!:wave2:

    I've made a few posts here on the dark side forums but not many. We've been talking, thinking, tentatively planning and fantasizing about a trip to UO for a while now and I decided that it's time to put some things down in writing.

    I was hesitant because my trip is just over a year away (leaving home 9/21/13) and I've noticed that here on the dark side people just don't seem to start PTRs as early as those who are visiting Mickey and the gang. But I'm a planner. An obsessive planner actually. I love making and fine tuning plans only to completely upend everything and make new plans. Hopefully you guys won't get too frustrated with me and my constant plan tweaking! :p

    So, lets get started with a little background about us...

    [​IMG]

    That's me, Hope, on the far right with my mom, Bobbi, son, Jace, and daughter, Kya. This pic was snapped in July 2011 at the American Girl Cafe in Chicago. My hubby likes more laid back (think beach or mountains) vacations so when we want to venture to a theme park or large city we usually take my mom along. My hubby has been to WDW but didn't really like it! :scared1: Yes, I'm still married to him, even with this unthinkable character flaw. What can I say, love is blind. :lovestruc Anyway... we decided that this trip is definitely more of a Grandma trip than a Dad trip, especially since my mom loved Harry before Harry was cool. :wizard: It's great fun AND saves us some money since she helps pay for hotels, gas, food, etc.

    A little about each of us. As I said, I'm Hope (I know, my username is sooo creative) :blush: I teach GED classes part time while I also homeschool my kids. I have a bad case of Wanderlust that just doesn't match up with my budget... but right now time with the kids is more important than traveling to other continents so I make due with finding fabulous places to visit with a classic road trip once or twice a year. :drive:

    My mom, Bobbi, works at a bank and had always been happy to stay home. We didn't take family vacations when I was a kid and that suited her fine. However, now that I've started dragging her along with the kids and I she's gotten a bitten by the travel bug. She's actually headed out for a cruise with 7 of her friends in just a few weeks only to turn around and go to the beach a week later with my family (hubby and my dad are going along for that trip). I'm really happy that we've been able to share our adventures with my mom and that it has inspired her to go out and find some of her own. She's a typical self-sacrificing, always-putting-everyone-else-first lady from her generation and it's nice to see her doing things for herself. If we had anything to do with that it makes me extremely happy. :goodvibes

    My son, Jace, is 13 (14 now!) and pretty much the inspiration behind this trip. He loves all things Lego- still- and I don't think he'll ever outgrow it. He's even looked into conventions for AFoL (Adult Fans of Legos) and researched the degrees and skills he'll need if he wants to work for Lego someday. We've been to the Legoland Discovery Centers in Chicago and Kansas City and he loved them both!

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    But he's really always wanted to see Legoland. When the new park opened in Florida I figured we could pair it with a trip to WWoHP and he'd finally get his wish. Honestly, none of the rest of us are all that excited about Legoland (though we do enjoy the elaborate builds we've seen in other places) but he's so looking forward to it that we'll make it work. :thumbsup2 (We may also sneak in a trip to the Lego store at DTD since we haven't seen the new one.) ;)

    In addition to Legos Jace also loves sci-fi, gaming and all things technological. He's a self described geek and happy to have that label. He's fiercely intelligent and in addition to inspiring this trip he's also the reason we homeschool. :surfweb:

    My daughter, Kya, is 12 (13!!) and she definitely inherited the wanderlust gene. She dreams of Paris and starts each day with the same question, "Where are we going today?" :drive:

    She also loves classical ballet, animals and, most of all, her friends. Though she inherited a love of travel from me she definitely got her sense of humor from her dad. She is a completely silly girl who takes most things in stride and never takes life too seriously. She is the perfect balance for me and a reminder not to spend too much time in my head.

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    So, that's us in a (rather large) nutshell. More about our tentative plans in my next post along with some questions for you experienced dark siders. :groom: (Just threw that last smiley in because he has a bowtie and bowties are cool).
     
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  3. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    Table of Contents

    Mini shopping update- collapsible water bottles
    Decisions, Decisions... On site, partner hotel or vacation rental?
    And the decision is...
    One Year Celebration: Despicable Me movie night
    Discovery Cove??
    A different dolphin experience...
    Let's go to the beach! Our family trip to Gulf Shores, AL
    Back to the Beach- adding some beach fun to our trip to the dark side
    Family Movie Night: Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!
    Big, exciting, WDW related news!
    Family movie day: Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
    Ch ch changes... fewer nights, fewer people and a hotel decision!
    Harry Potter, you give me my wand! (An apology for being away so long and new PLANS!!)

    Orlando Transportation Options
    Let's talk about dining options
    (Final?) Dining Plans!
    85 Days!! A celebration and a list of things to do...
    Happy 4th of July and some thrifty notes
    70 Days Dance and Our Trip Itinerary!
    Day 1 Touring Plans- LegoLand!
    Day 2 Touring Plans- IOA!
    Autograph Books/Journals
    Day 3 Touring Plans- US!
    Day 4- last day in the parks!
    Movie Day- Immortals (in honor of Poseidon's Fury)
    Countdown Calendar
    Mini-Movie Night- Men In Black
    How a day trip to Six Flags helped me wrap my head around some differences between UO and WDW
    Info from a helpful TM about the new Dining Plan
    50 Day Countdown Party- Prisoner of Azkaban!
    50 Days Continued- making HP t-shirts!
    Can you guess what movies we're watching next?
    Still Counting Down
    This 'n That
    ONE MONTH!! And a Jurassic Park movie day to celebrate.
    WWoHP Scavenger Hunt
    More shirts!
    Finishing up my to-do list!
    We leave tomorrow!
     
  4. couturelover

    couturelover Earning My Ears

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    I'm definitely not an expert but I'd be happy to talk your ear off!! Looks like you'll be going an AWESOME time of year :)
     
  5. Tink-erin-belle

    Tink-erin-belle DIS Veteran

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    I'm here, Hope! I can't wait to see what you have planned!
     
  6. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    :welcome: I'll be happy to listen! :listen:

    We love the low crowds and low prices of late September. The heat and lovebugs are another story but it's worth enduring them for the perks of traveling in the low season! :thumbsup2

    Yay, Erin! You are the main reason I started my PTR so I'm definitely glad you're here! :cool1::banana::cool1:
     
  7. Tink-erin-belle

    Tink-erin-belle DIS Veteran

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    Well, you know I want to steal your ideasÂ… I mean, plan along with you ;) As far as I am concerned, it is never too early to start a PTR!
     
  8. Twoboysnmygirl

    Twoboysnmygirl DIS Veteran

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    OMG, Erin got here before me?!?!?!?

    BTW, you are on my FAR RIGHT in the picture, not LEFT...don't want anyone thinking you are your mom! :)
     
  9. Tink-erin-belle

    Tink-erin-belle DIS Veteran

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    Hello? Bored at work! :lmao:
     
  10. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    What are you talking about??? I said I'm on the right. ;)
     
  11. reelmom

    reelmom DIS Veteran

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    I'm in. We have a little bit longer until we return to Universal in October of next year. We were bitten by the dark side bug on our last trip. We stayed onsite and the rest is history. I look forward to planning along side of you.
     
  12. JessicaR

    JessicaR <font color=blue>DIS Veteran<br><font color=green>

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    I'm in and looking forward to reading all about your planning! :thumbsup2
     
  13. couturelover

    couturelover Earning My Ears

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    Yes, the whole melting thing isn't too bad when you don't have to stand in line for 3 hours! :rotfl:
     
  14. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    I've actually been thinking about and researching for months- two years out might have been too early, even for me! :rotfl:

    I'm waffling so much about where we'll stay- onsite, partner hotel or condo?? They all have advantages and disadvantages, especially since we're going at a time of year with low crowds so it's hard to choose! This is definitely one of the reasons I started this PTR- to help me decide!

    Yay! :welcome:

    Exactly! :)
     
  15. BabyEeyore

    BabyEeyore DIS Veteran

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    I'm here! We really want to go to WWoHP someday. We live 2 1/2 hours away, maybe we can plan a time for us to come down and meet you! Can't wait for more of your PTR. :)

    Oh, and bowties ARE cool! Love the smilie. Ashlyn and I took a picture during our trip to Epcot last week with fezes on. I put it up on my family blog saying "oh, and we wear fezes now... fezes are cool." No one got it. :(
     
  16. reelmom

    reelmom DIS Veteran

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    We stayed onsite for the first time last June. It was amazing. We got a great rate using our AP's. With that comes the perks of unlimited express pass and early entry into WWoHP. It was so nice not having to wait in a long line. Plus you are within walking distance to the parks. We used the water taxi a couple of times but found it faster to walk back to the Portofino Bay Hotel.
     
  17. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    A Dis meet up would be great! :cheer2:

    Alas, those who don't understand that fezes and bowties are cool are really missing out. :rolleyes:

    It reminds me of this:
    [​IMG]

    Yep, I've looked at all that info but I'm on the fence about the value of early entry and UEP in mid September. What time of year did you go?
     
  18. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    A mini update about the fabulous find I just had to buy even though our trip is more than a year out.

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    I found these collapsible water bottles at our local Big Lots for $1!! :banana:

    For those unfamiliar with the dark side these are a must for a trip to UO. Some of the rides don't allow any sort of loose objects such as backpacks, camera bags, water bottles, etc. You have to wait in line to put your stuff in a locker (which is free during the ride but still a pain), wait in line for the ride, and then wait in line to retrieve your stuff after the ride! :crazy2:

    I've read that fanny packs are acceptable so we'll each have one and these handy dandy water bottles will be perfect because...

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    When empty they roll up and are nearly flat! :thumbsup2

    And even though they are collapsible they still stand on their own when full...
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    I've looked at these on Amazon and even though they were a bit pricey I was going to get some for us. When I spotted them for a buck I just couldn't pass them up! I'm afraid of them getting a hole or something before our trip so we're not using them and I just have them stashed in the closet. At some point we'll also need fanny packs (ugh) to put them in. I'm on the lookout for those now because they seem like a summer item to me so they might be on sale. :confused3

    Like I said, a mini update- life is a bit crazy right now and I'm not spending nearly as much time at home as I normally do but I promise there will be a real update soon! :goodvibes
     
  19. Twoboysnmygirl

    Twoboysnmygirl DIS Veteran

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    I have a couple fanny packs you can borrow, if you are interested in saving some money on something you probably won't use again! ;) One of them is AK with mickey on it, so you may not be interested in that, but the other is black with skulls. I was trying to get one that looked cooler than the normal fanny pack. Note to self: you cannot MAKE a fanny pack look cool, doesn't matter how many skulls are on it! :lmao:

    and OMG, those waterbottles are COOL!!!!!!
     
  20. BabyEeyore

    BabyEeyore DIS Veteran

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    I love that ecard. My feelings exactly. ::yes::

    Those collapsible water bottles are so cool! Great find!
     
  21. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

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    Oh, yeah, we'll borrow those! We took a TAZ bag to Disney (he lives at Six Flags and the bag check attendant told Kya she was at the wrong park :lmao:) so taking Mickey to UO should be okay. I bet Mickey is a secret Potterhead and really wants to go anyway...

    :goodvibes
     

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