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...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    Oh, and we are VERY excited about Clearwater Marina. :goodvibes It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that DC has but I think it's a great choice for us! :)

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  2. Avatar

    Google AdSense Guest Advertisement


    to hide this advert.
  3. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    I know I've been quiet this week but we've been having fun in the sun in Gulf Shores, AL. :beach:

    We're on our way home now and I'll have a picture filled update for you regarding that trip as well as some new info about the trip to the dark side my mom and I discussed this week.

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  4. Twoboysnmygirl

    Twoboysnmygirl DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2008
    Messages:
    6,524
    SELFISHLY happy that you are headed home!!! ;)
     
  5. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    And then you'll be leaving me in just a few weeks! We seriously need to coordinate our trips in the future. ;)

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  6. SeptemberGirl

    SeptemberGirl More drink, less run since 2008

    Joined:
    May 20, 2007
    Messages:
    2,399
    I LOVE the idea of the Clearwater Marina!

    I just returned from my first Universal trip. We stayed onsite for the EP. We NEVER used the early entry - we hung by the pool for hours in the am, and went into the parks after 2pm. Much less crowded. WW of HP is mush nicer post 4pm. Cooler, less crowdeed, and more relaxed. The longest wait for the wand ceremony was 20 minutes, and 30 minutes for FJ. Really nice.

    Onsite worked for us because we were there only 2 days and didn't rent a car, plus it was just 2 of us. The offsite sounds perfect for your family!
     
  7. Tink-erin-belle

    Tink-erin-belle DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    1,179
    I can’t wait to hear all about your beach trip!
     
  8. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    Oooh, details, details! :hyper: Did you post about it in the Goddess thread??

    I keep waffling on this decision because of stuff with my mom- she doesn't want to spend as much time at Universal and if we only have two days instead of 3 the EP might be more important. :confused3 I really want to do three days and a house/condo offsite but two days might mean at least one night onsite. We'll just have to see I guess.

    One of these days I'm going to get caught back up with real life and recover from this vacation so I can tell you all about it! How about a beach pic to tide you over in the mean time.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. SeptemberGirl

    SeptemberGirl More drink, less run since 2008

    Joined:
    May 20, 2007
    Messages:
    2,399
    Oh, great family pic!!!

    I did not post about it, but i will send you my TR if you want!
     
  10. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    Thanks, I'm super pleased with it, especially considering I forgot a piece of my tripod and improvised with a hamper. :lmao:

    I'd love to read your TR! :thumbsup2

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  11. Tink-erin-belle

    Tink-erin-belle DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    1,179
    That is a beautiful picture of you and your family, Hope! Gorgeous!
     
  12. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    Thanks! :goodvibes

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  13. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    I think we are finally settling back into a routine after our trip to the beach. I'm not entirely convinced that this is a good thing since I really, really didn't want to leave! :beach:

    It does however mean that I have some time to be on the Dis (other than on my phone) and can give a proper update. :thumbsup2

    So, for those who may not be up to speed we went to Gulf Shores, AL with my parents.

    [​IMG]

    Our first frustration occurred when our GPS took us on a route which included a trip on a ferry. It would have been fine except the ferry was closed! All signs said it was open so we waited for about half an hour. It came in and and a worker came over to tell us they weren't going to run the last one due to high winds! This meant driving around the bay and an additional two hours to our trip (which had already been delayed by driving to the ferry and the wait for it to return). I was frustrated but taking it in stride UNTIL my mom tried to talk me out of being frustrated. This was a running theme- if my face showed the slightest sign of frustration my mom would start talking incessantly trying to convince me that my feelings were ridiculous. At one point I told her I'd be fine but she had to let me feel what I was feeling and then it would pass... she said okay and then kept on doing it. All week. :crazy2:

    We stopped for wine on the drive home but as soon as we got to the rental house and unloaded the Suburban (did I mention we all rode together too??) :crowded: I kicked off my shoes and walked down to dip my toes in the Gulf and it all just melted away. pixiedust:

    We spent every morning the next week watching the sunrise over the gulf from our deck.
    [​IMG]

    One of us would make coffee and we'd enjoy it from the deck. Some time after the sun would rise the fishing boats would come in and they were generally followed by dolphins! I loved watching them and would sit out until they disappeared. Then I generally went for a barefoot walk on the beach, letting the surf splash my feet. Sometimes I went alone, sometimes my mom or one of the kids would join me. One morning Robbie even came along (in his work boots) even though he really doesn't enjoy the beach...
    [​IMG]

    Mid morning to early afternoon was usually spent sight seeing.

    Over the course of the week we saw a shipwreck...
    [​IMG]

    Explored Fort Morgan...
    [​IMG]

    Went to a place called The Track which had an arcade, mini-golf and go-carts...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There were supposed to be bumper boats as well but it was under repair. :confused3

    Our best outing, by far was a dolphin watching cruise. Even though we could see them from our deck it was really cool to see them closer...
    [​IMG]

    And just so you don't think it was all serene and happy I'll tell you that on the way back from the dolphin excursion my parents started fighting and it lasted into the next day. It wasn't just normal bickering it was a full blown, dysfunctional family fight. I was beyond furious that they were doing this on our family trip but I knew if I jumped in it would only make things worse so I just attempted to steer clear of them and keep the kids distracted until it blew over. :furious:

    When everyone was getting along (or even if they weren't I'd just take the kids by myself) we would spend mid-afternoon to evening in the water. The water temp was perfect this time of year. :goodvibes

    This was another point of contention because Robbie didn't really like the beach, it hurt his feet to walk barefoot, even in the water (he ALWAYS wears shoes, even in the house because his feet are so sensitive). :confused3 My parents like the beach but only on their terms. My mom wanted to sit on the beach, get hot then get in the water to cool off only to hop right back out. My dad spent the entire time hunting for seashells. This is fine, they both deserve to do what they want. But they were not willing AT ALL to just spend some time doing what the kids wanted. If I wanted the kids to be able to play in the surf with the boogie boards it was all on me to do it with them. Robbie did come down and help once because I asked him to but that was it. I really don't understand the mentality of kids being expected to just make do with what the adults want to do. :confused3 I don't think the adults should NEVER get to do what they want but I don't think the kids should NEVER get to do what they want either. Robbie agrees and this is why he was willing to come out that one afternoon even though he hated it. But my parents never just did what the kids wanted. All of the time they spent with the kids was when the kids did what THEY wanted. :sad2:

    (I came back to edit here because I realized it might sound a bit whiny to complain about my parents not helping with MY kids.) The real issue is that we had only one car and the time at the beach was only one example of them doing this. They have the idea that the kids should always just go along with the adults, never complain, and never ask for much. They are more than willing to buy them things and junk food but not always willing to spend time doing things that aren't their priority. And they get put out and act like their feelings are hurt if the kids don't want to what they want. Soooo frustrating. Please don't misunderstand, my parents are wonderful grandparents, they just have some old fashioned ideas about adult/child dynamics.

    Anyway, after an afternoon of fun in the sun we generally made dinner ourselves. However, one night we ventured out to one of our favorite Gulf Shores attractions, Lulu's!
    [​IMG]

    This is a restaurant owned by Lucy Buffett, Jimmy Buffett's sister. It's open air, has live music and makes the BEST fried crab claws on the planet.

    After dinner sunset on the deck was a perfect way to end each day...
    [​IMG]

    I usually went inside after that because the bugs were horrible! However, on our last night I braved the mosquitoes because my girl really wanted s'mores...
    [​IMG]

    That's pretty much it. We had a great time, despite a few ups and downs. I always say no matter where you go, there you are. People don't magically change just because they're on vacation so all of the things that frustrate us about each other are still there. But I'd rather be frustrated in a warm sea breeze than a cold, drizzly one. :rotfl:

    Some plans were made for our trip to UO as well since Mom and I had all week to discuss but that will have to wait for another update! :flower3:
     
  14. BabyEeyore

    BabyEeyore DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Messages:
    760
    I'm sorry there were frustrations, but I'm glad that you had a nice vacation. It looks beautiful! Your family pictures are absolutely gorgeous, too. :)
     
  15. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    Thank you!! It really was a nice trip. Poor Karen probably doesn't believe me when I say that because u kept texting her to vent about the frustrations but was happily quiet during the food bits. ;)

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  16. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    Did I scare everyone away with my ranting?? Seriously, I wasn't trying to make it sound like it was ALL bad. We had a lovely time, just with some ups and downs. I did send Karen a few texts that said NEVER AGAIN- and I'm already going back on that decision. :rolleyes1


    The thing is, we'd already invited my mom to come along with us to Universal and we can't very well un-invite my mother! And then my mom went and told my brother that we should just all go next year and make it a split stay between Universal and the beach... we had briefly discussed this as a possibility but now with everyone on board it's a done deal. Robbie refuses to go though, for a variety of reasons, so we'll do something close to home with the four of us in the late spring and then the kids and I will do Florida in the fall with my parents and brother.

    So, without further justification, those updates to our actual UO trip I've been promising are...

    A beach trip to the Clearwater/Tampa/St. Petersburg area (still narrowing that down) interspersed with several day trips that will be optional for everyone including at least one night (possibly 2) on site at the UO resort.

    Our main accommodations will be a beach front townhouse/condo/house (again, still narrowing it down) from Saturday to Saturday beginning September 21. The night(s) that the kids, my mom, my brother's girlfriend and I go to UO my dad and my brother will still be at the beach house and probably do some deep sea fishing while we're visiting Harry and friends.

    We also still have plans for a trip to Legoland and Clearwater Marina but those will both be day trips while we're at the beach house. Legoland is only about an hour and a half from the area we plan to stay in and doesn't open until 10 AM (parking lot opens earlier) so we'll have no trouble getting there on time. Clearwater Marina is in the direct vicinity so again, easy for an outing.

    Both of these are going to be open to whoever wants to go. This is one of the things I'm tweaking with this trip to try to avoid some of the frustration from the last one. I'll have my own car so I can take the kids to do the things they want and others can choose to join us or not. This way we aren't dependent on anyone else for transportation and they don't feel like they're chauffeuring us around when they just want to sit on the beach or look for shells. At any rate, I think Legoland will end up being just me and the kids, and even Kya is undecided about it. I'm not sure who will want to go to the marina either but I know the kids and I will. Two vehicles means not having to know or worry about what everyone else wants. :thumbsup2

    We'll also be flying instead of driving this time and then just rent two cars for the week. Again, avoiding one of the biggest sources of frustration from our recent trip. ;)

    I really wanted to find a duplex or smaller condos across the hall from each other so we'd have our own space but I'm not sure that's going to happen within the budget. I'm going to keep looking but I'm hopeful that even if we end up sharing a condo the other changes we've made will be enough. :thumbsup2

    So, that's it, the new plan. I still need to scour the boards to find out a few things, mostly how early can we check in at UO. I know our room won't be ready until later in the day but how early we can check in will help determine if we do one or two nights on site. We'll want our room keys for the EP and if we can get those near park opening and then actually check into the room later in the day then we'll do that. :confused3 Lots more research to do with these changes! :yay:
     
  17. macraven

    macraven Proud Redhead

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Messages:
    59,077
    to answer the last thing you mentioned, you can checkin as early as you wish at the onsite UO resorts.


    check in and all get a room key.
    with that, you go to the kiosk in the hotel to have your picture made for the express pass usage.

    your room key is not valid for the ex lines but the picture hotel pass will be.

    i have checked in as early as 6:30 am before.
    the park isn't open at that time but you can get your room keys and picture card made early.

    you can store your belongings with valet when you check in early.
    at your request, the belongings can be put in your room when it is ready.

    your hotel key will be preprogramed w/ room number once assigned, therefore, you don't have to stop in at the front desk for room information.


     
  18. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    Thank you! I thought this was how it worked but wanted to be sure. I was really hoping you might stop by and clear this up for me. ;)

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  19. Alysa

    Alysa DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2001
    Messages:
    2,080
    Gorgeous! :goodvibes
     
  20. -Hope-

    -Hope- Always dreaming of adventure...

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    2,937
    It really is a beautiful beach, and so peaceful. I have this particular pic as the background on my phone so I can "go back" anytime I need/want to. :goodvibes

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  21. Tink-erin-belle

    Tink-erin-belle DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    1,179
    Another beautiful family picture! That sunrise looks amazing! It must have been wonderful to wake up to that every day. Oh my goodness, dolphins? I would love to see them, too! That is a cute picture of Kya going barefoot and Robbie in his work boots! Wow, I spoke too soon about the dolphins! You were really close to them on the cruise! That is so cool! :goodvibes I’m sorry to hear about the issues with getting your parents to do what the kids wanted. I didn’t think you were being whiny at all :hug: Their generation just has more old fashioned child rearing ideas. My aunt is the same way. That must have been frustrating on vacation, but that was really nice for Robbie to ignore his feet and go out on the beach with the kids that time :) I want to try a fried crab claw! I’ve never heard of that before. It sounds like you had a wonderful trip!

    OK, I’ll admit that I laughed when you said you couldn’t un-invite your mother to UO! :rotfl: Well, I think a split stay between UO and the beach is a fantastic idea! It’s good that you will have two cars so that you guys can do your day trips. I’m so excited that you are going to stay on site! Any idea of what hotel?
     

Share This Page