That one time we went to Universal… a first time family vacation pre trip report / trip report Completed

Bethany10

Mouseketeer
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Day two - first full day

the plan: Get to the park at 7:45 for early entry. Hit the HP areas first then take the train over to islands and see the sights there. Back to the room around 2 for a pool break.

The reality: the humidity and extensive walking heard our plans and busted a seam they laughed so hard.

6:30, A gets up and gets me up. We must have headed downstairs around 7 as the diner was open. We got an omelet to share and refilled the drink cups. At 10 bucks for the omelet a trip to Walmart was moved up on my priority list for the evening. It was good, but this was not going to become a habit.

I left A to get the drinks while I paid for the food. Took the tray into the main dining room, no kid. I went down the center isle, still no kid. Did she go back to the room? so, I went back to the room, both T and C were still asleep. No A. back downstairs. 5 minutes of wandering she appears out of thin air and says where were you? This little incident began the agreement of where to meet if separated. It also cost us at least 15 minutes. We sat down to eat, with A bouncing up and down eager to get to the parks. We wolfed down the food - not bad, omelet was fresh made to order. Had I been by myself I would have had more than just the ham and cheese she wanted. Not worth 10 bucks even with the side of bacon however. And proceeded back upstairs to roust the boys.

20 minutes later we headed for the busses. At this point 7:45 is waving at us from 10 minutes ago. I honestly don't remember the time, but I would guess around 8 when we actually got on the bus.

People were moving steadily through citywalk, C kept saying I can't believe we're actually here. I'll admit I teared up a bit as we hit the arch. So much work, time and effort to get us here I hoped everyone would enjoy it.

Once we got in the park we sped past minions (no mom, not today) and headed direct for potter. the time stamp on my Knight Bus photo says 8:39. Juuuuuust under when I wanted to get there. Not. A interacted with the driver and the head, she laughed at the jokes the head made and we headed into Diagon Alley.

WOW, I mean I think I had to pick my jaw up off the floor once we walked in. The photos don't do it justice. I just stood there for a moment, I'm sure causing the person behind me annoyance. A started crying, I cried we had a moment. Then the shear mass of people hit us and it became a game of doge the muggle. A got in line for Olivanders and C announced he wanted to ride Hulk. Ahhh, children, thanks for bringing me back to earth.

T took A to stand in the Olivanders line. The line for Gringotts was at least 45 minutes and extended out the door and down the lane in front of the entrance. None of us was willing to brave it. People everywhere. Once it was explained to him that he couldn't ride Hulk, C asked for a drink. We went and procured a butterbeer. Nether of us really liked it but hey, we've tried butterbeer. While we were meandering the dragon breathed fire. I didn't get a chance to see it. This would become a running gag amongst us, I have yet to see the dragon breathe fire. We're ending day 3, we've also yet to ride a HP ride.

I kept swinging my backpack around to yank my phone out as I wanted to take photos of everything. I finally just gave up and stowed my phone in my pocket. This was the first time I acutely missed my mom as once C sat down to drink his butterbeer I would have called her to gush about how beautiful the area was. I have had several of these moments throughout the trip. Quiet moments where I want to talk to her about what's going on. Not much to do but push through it. I just kept taking pictures of everything. There's so much in this area to see.

Somewhere in our wandering C found Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. A ginormous pygmy puff was acquired. The naming ceremony was fantastic and my normally shy kid ate it up. This was also the point where they were introduced to the concept of having things sent back to the hotel. No way were we hauling that thing around all day. By this time A had gotten her wand and was doing spells. C wanted to ride more rides so we split up. A did a few more spells then agreed to leave and come back when it was less crowded. We started walking toward the front of the park and I noticed Transformers had almost no wait. She wanted to ride so she headed in, but I stayed behind. I meandered through the gift shop while I waited, then seeking a place to sit wound up on a bench outside. Commotion made me look down the street and low and behold there was a transformer doing a meet and greet! He was one of the bad guys, but the costume was incredible. He wound up scaring a couple people who were posing for a photo muttering about "puny humans". it was fantastic. Soon enough he went back inside and there was an even bigger commotion. Optimus Prime himself came out. I texted T to get back here, and they showed up about the same time A got out of the ride. I made A and C get in line with me for a photo, I mean come on it's Optimus. Neither of them were happy but they did pose with me.

After my epic photo op we headed through Simpsons land toward Men in Black. This one I would ride, and the low wait time meant we jumped on. C got ahead of us he wound up in a whole different car. T, A and myself went in one row. It took me forever to figure out to aim my gun higher so I had the lowest score of all three of us until I heard Rip Torn say hit the button hit the button. So, I hit the button and suddenly I got the jackpot, therefore smoking both my husband and my kid. bwa ha. ha. sadly they did not feel the same.

We were exhausted and HOT after MIB, and T made the suggestion we stop for lunch in citywalk. We trudged toward the front of the park running into a couple of character interactions along the way. Scooby, hello kitty and one more I can't remember maybe a Simpsons character? We wound up at citywalk where I immediately started campaigning for cowfish. We gratefully walked into the AC and had an excellent lunch off our feet. T and C both had hamburgers, A got a bento box and I had the burgerooshi, specifically the pulled pork. Only I don't think it had pulled pork in the center I think it was ground beef. It was excellent and I was hungry so I didn't say anything to the waitress. The time? 11:30. We had made it about 3 1/2 hours in the parks before calling it quits. sigh.

After lunch we headed back to the room. C had been begging to go to Volcano bay, so after a brief rest he and I geared up to hit our second park of the day. T and A headed to walmart where they had strict instructions to bring back some kind of breakfast item. The walk to VB from CBBR really is minutes, and it's a lovely walk with the landscaping. More ominous were the storm clouds rolling in overhead and I repeatedly warned C we may not be able to stay. Sure enough within minutes of entering the park they kicked everyone out of the water due to the storm rolling through.

About 30 minutes after we got there the clouds rolled past without really doing much but a slight sprinkle and the sun came back out. They cleared us for the water and C flung himself into the wave pool with abandon. I hung out on the beach chair while he happily ran back and forth. We attempted to find the tapu tapu station for the drop slides in the volcano but between my knees and his impatience we didn't locate it. At one point I did get up and walk through the volcano just to meander which was delightful while wearing prescription sunglasses. It was like being in a horror movie as the darkness, made worse by my glasses, meant all I could see were bodies coming out of the darkness. If I took them off then all I saw were blurry shapes coming out of the darkness. I quickly made my way out of the volcano, and found the lazy river, but skedaddled back to my seat quickly in case C needed something. Honestly I could spend the whole trip here, the light breeze made it incredibly comfortable the volcano is stunning and at least one kid was happy, what more do you need?

Eventually I did pry him loose and we headed back to the hotel. Dinner tonight was a very much hoped for experience at the world's largest entertainment McDonalds.
 
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schumigirl

It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
Joined
May 15, 2007
You had a good day!!!

Shame about the rain to start with, but your full day was amazing......it can be so emotional to walk into Potter........

Glad you enjoyed Cowfish.......it is so good!!
 

Bethany10

Mouseketeer
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Day two -

C had been begging to go to "the worlds largest McDonalds" ever since he found out it was in Orlando. 2 stories, the bottom is the restaurant and the top is a play structure, arcade and party area. They serve normal mcDonalds food but they also have pizza, pasta and hard pack ice cream. My expectations were well, McDonalds but C was so happy to be there it made it all worth it. You actually order on a touch screen, so you can see the entire expanded menu. I ordered pizza while everyone else got their go to Mcitems. Folks, this is not your run of the mill McDonalds. Even the 13 year old was impressed. The pizza oven blazed in the corner, around us tables with huge plates of fresh made to order pasta were being consumed, and every now and then the screams from the play place brought us all down to earth. The regular food was first to arrive, T was somewhat poking fun at my missing McPizza, but then it showed up. Fresh, hot thin crust pizza with extra cheese and black olives. It was also HUGE, like feed 2 people huge. My expectations had been met and exceeded. There was no way I could eat it all, but I did make a sizable dent. T even remarked today that he kind of wanted to go back and try the pasta. Prices were in line with Mc Donalds as well, we paid as much as we normally would when we go out to eat there and my food at least was a heck of a lot better. Bellies full we headed back to the hotel where everyone plugged into their devices and snuggled in. I closed my eyes for a few minutes and the next thing I knew T was shaking me awake to move over and take my glasses off, it was midnight and everyone else had gone to bed to my snoring apparently.

Day three - A and I agree to hit the parks early, and this time we'd make it to islands. Suuuuuuuure.
 
  • PoohIsHome

    Wizard momma living in a muggle world.
    Joined
    Sep 5, 2013
    Can't wait to read about your first day in the parks! Nothing like that first view of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley!

    Edit: I must've read in reverse! Sounds like you had a great intro to the Wizarding World!! I NEVER tire of it!
     
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    Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    Day 3 -

    it's actually Thursday morning as I type this. Everyone else is asleep as I resoundingly got told "you said we could sleep in tomorrow mom" when I asked if anyone wants to do early entry last night. It's also the opening day for Hagrids, so we're staying as far away from Islands as we can to avoid the insanity. It's been a fantastic trip, but the pace is a lot slower than I'd like. I feel like we haven't seen very much of the parks at this point and we've tried twice now. Part of it is the extreme heat and part of it is my knees just can't handle this much walking. I was chattering about coming back to T long before we even got down here, by last night he was making statements like when we do this next year. I suspect we will attempt this trip again next year but be better prepared both mentally and physically to have a more "commando" approach to the parks. Sometimes you get what you need, apparently we all needed a slow paced trip this time.

    So, Actual Day 3. We see more of the park… maybe.

    I promised A I would get up early with her and we'd be IN the park at 7:45. No messing around missing each other at breakfast, let the boys sleep in etc. aaaand the best laid plans. We had several mishaps this morning, Bayliner doesn't open until 7, she wanted starbucks but there was a line, the giant pygmy puff, "Tony" needed to be picked up from the front desk. All fo which meant we were on the bus at 7:56.

    The woman in front of us had obvious mobility issues, another woman, I assume her daughter, was coaxing her along as we walked to the bus. they wound up sitting in front of us and you could see her struggle to get on and off the bus. As someone with burgeoning mobility issues and having been caretaker to a senior I felt terrible for both parties. I only hope they had rented her some kind of scooter for the parks as there's no way she was going to be able to do the kind of walking required to make it even through citywalk.

    We moved on and quickly made our way to studios only to slam into yet another delay.

    I had wanted to change our tickets over to annual passes, and warned A that I'd need to stop at guest services to do that. We purchased 5 day 3 park P2P passes from UT. I did the math on both 4 and 5 day tickets once we knew we wanted to add volcano bay. The 5 day was the only way we wouldn't have to pay and possibly get a credit once we were converted. We still paid less with UT and certainly less than if we had bought at the gate. The line was very short so we hopped in.

    30. minutes. later.

    I don't say this very often but thank God I have a kid who is old enough to understand sometimes you just get stuck. What is really difficult to grasp at toddler stage, the sulky teenager picked up on immediately. I kept apologizing that she was missing park time, but i needed her ticket to be able to make the upgrade. Finally we were at the counter.

    No issues with the upgrade, but we also didn't get my hoped for "refund". Her explanation was the time on the tickets would be carried over on the pass. I took this to mean the expiration date would be Saturday the 15th - the end of the 5 days our tickets were good for. Later, When I checked our passes online they expire the first day we entered the park.
    I'm not going to sweat it, I knew the chances of a credit were 50/50, and with the addition of volcano bay to our tickets it was still the best value but I was a bit annoyed not to have the extra time. This is also the reason I'd like to come back. The tickets were not cheap, and while doing this kind of trip you have to say, it costs what it costs, the frugal part of me wants to get the most out of our tickets and time.

    That taken care of we finnnnaaaalllllyyyy entered the park. and slammed straight into the hoard of people waiting to get in for general entry. It was impossible to see where the early entry port was and we followed a group who had no idea where they were going. I could feel A's impatience building. We finally located the entrance, flashed our hotel key and were in the park! Only an hour later than I'd hoped for. I had all 4 APs in my pocket as I wanted everyone to have a separate plastic holder for them. This will play out as a stupid idea later.

    Minions had almost no wait and A wanted to ride, so we hopped on. What a fun ride. As someone who doesn't do drops I spent most of it looking at the floor, but A loved it and the atmosphere was great. We hopped off and A refused to do the photo op with the minions (insert sad face here). But, she was such a great sport about the delay I wanted to throw her a bone so we kept walking. RRR had a very low wait as well, so she jumped on that while I stood by and watched. T and C had finally woken up at the hotel and were headed our way. Somehow C had managed to lose his room key (I'm convinced it's in here somewhere, maybe under the couch) so a stop at the front desk was needed for them.

    A got off RRR and pronounced it amazing. C and T were on their way but I had their tickets so I'd need to meet them at the front of the park. We split up, with A headed for the train to islands and myself to the front of the park. 5 minutes later I get a phone call. Mom you have my park ticket. Headbang. we reconnect, hand over the ticket, then I head out of studios and over to islands to meet with T and C. At this point my feet have joined the chorus of pain my knees have been singing all week, and I'm questioning the value of a scooter. Just kidding, but not by much.

    T and C are lounging outside islands, I hand over everyones passes and we get into park 2 for me for the day.

    First impressions: this is a beautiful park. Really more so than studios at least in my limited opinion. I had the camera in my pocket maneuver down by this point and was snapping pics every few feet. The detail and the theming here are just incredible. C wanted to ride Hulk so he and T split off for superhero island while I headed back to connect with A in Hogsmede.

    I started wandering, then saw signs for Seussland. Now remember when I said I was just here for the food? One of the food items on my must do list was grape cotton candy. Where can such treasures be found? Seussland of course! The area was empty as I suspect this early everyone was headed to the HP areas. I came up on a set of shops and got in line for moose Juice/ Goose Juice (another must try item) what appeared to be 2 people was actually a family of 18 all of whom had dining plan cards and all of whom wanted icees in their refillable mugs. 20 minutes later I was shifting from foot to foot my knees beginning to protest again. Finally my turn I handed over my mug only to find that the orange one (moose juice?) is orange fanta icee. Ether this is a change, or I just wasn't paying attention when researching because I thought it was a drink. Hopes dashed on that one, I headed out in search of my grape cotton candy.

    A brief search turned up the candy shop and they had the AC blasting. After taking a moment to enjoy the cool air and meandered through the turns to finally hit the cotton candy area. No grape listed on the flavor list. The lady working the counter was fantastic, and we chatted and she searched her drawer for grape. Low and behold she found it and we continued to chat while she worked the machine. The poor kid in the are with her was either new or just wasn't tracking because he kept coming back with questions. The family he was trying to help was getting annoyed.

    Eventually she got them squared away and built my ginormous bag of grape cotton candy handing me some on a stick for the road. She asked if I was planning on being in the park tomorrow for the big Hagrid opening and I said noooooo. She mentioned that she was there when they opened Hogsmede and it was just insane. They had to report for work at 5:30 the next morning in prep for the Hagrid opening. I told them both good luck, and headed out snacking on my cotton candy and icee. At this rate I'd need to brush my teeth as soon as we got back to the room.

    Next up hogsmede and I find alllll the people. Plus my kid.
     

    bobbie68

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 14, 2009
    Hi following along. Sounds like you are off to a good start. We love CBBR and stayed in the family suite last year with the lazy river view. It is such a fun resort. I am glad you enjoyed Minions one of my favs. I agree the first time I went to DA my jaw dropped. It is truly amazing. When we go in my DD says she is home.

    I have been looking at pics of IOA and the wait for the new ride, it is crazy there. I think we will hit it next year.

    Have a fun day!
     
  • polarama

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    May 13, 2019
    Really enjoy reading your report! I totally feel you on the “let’s stop wasting time!” feeling. I totally get that way too!
     

    Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    Really enjoy reading your report! I totally feel you on the “let’s stop wasting time!” feeling. I totally get that way too!
    Thank you! Yes, I completely feel like we're just wasting time. But I can't help it, with my knees in their current state there's no way we could "commando" the parks and honestly with my family's temperament we would call it quits long before the true commandos would anyways. I really want to try this when I'm both physically and mentally in a better place.

    That said, this has been a fantastic, relaxing trip and I wouldn't change it for anything. I would however like to try again, putting lessons learned into action.
     

    Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    For everyone who recommended Vivo in citywalk, a huge thank you. Simply the best meal we've had all trip and we haven't had a bad meal yet. This one blew them ALL out of the water. Unfortunately 2 of our party hit the wall last night and teenage sarcasm met overtired dad which resulted in meltdowns for both. We sought ice cream at Toothsome which was packed due to rain, but ran into Penelope who had a fantastic interaction with A. To the point where I need to email the management and compliment the actress, she really got A out of her funk and made the moment special. The ice cream was good too, I had key lime.
     

    schumigirl

    It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
    Joined
    May 15, 2007
    For everyone who recommended Vivo in citywalk, a huge thank you. Simply the best meal we've had all trip and we haven't had a bad meal yet. This one blew them ALL out of the water. Unfortunately 2 of our party hit the wall last night and teenage sarcasm met overtired dad which resulted in meltdowns for both. We sought ice cream at Toothsome which was packed due to rain, but ran into Penelope who had a fantastic interaction with A. To the point where I need to email the management and compliment the actress, she really got A out of her funk and made the moment special. The ice cream was good too, I had key lime.
    Enjoyed catching up on your trip!!!

    You did have fun...….

    We tried Vivo for the first time in May, and really enjoyed it.....I don't usually go to Italian restaurants, but this was lovely and Tom has decided we will definitely go back again......so glad you enjoyed it......
     
  • Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    Day 3 continued

    All 4 of us are now in Islands, with me riding a sugar high and working my way over to Hogsmede while T has lost C on the Hulk ride. I reconnect with A who is spending her souvenir money in the stationary store. Again, these areas are just so well done. The owls in the stationary store that move, the snake behind the glass all beautifully maintained. Her souvenir money spent (a wax seal and notebook. I had to explain how to work the seal) we stepped back out into the heat.

    A spotted someone eating a pink cupcake which looked good so we headed over to honeydukes in search of more sugar. This is where my designer side went nuts. All the packaging, from the gilly water to the chocolate frogs I could care less about the actual stuff (though the water did sound good at that point) the design work on each piece was really fun to look at. A found her cupcake and I threw in a piece of butterbeer fudge. For those of you keeping track yes that's an icee, cotton candy and now fudge. I had moved from just needing to brush my teeth to full blown diabetes in under an hour. Both T and I preferred the fudge to the butterbeer drink, but my first impressions, as someone who makes candy, is that they didn't use enough butter. it wasn't creamy enough for me. Then again when you're doing something like this in bulk for the number of people they serve I can see why skimping on the butter would happen.

    By the time we got done with the parks the fudge it had gotten softer, but wasn't melted. this actually greatly improved the taste and we both finished the piece over the next few days. Thinking back on it now I may try and recreate it at home, as an experiment.

    I walked up a ways to see the castle, they were clearly setting up for the opening of Hagrid's tomorrow. People were everywhere and there was a sign saying that this area of the park was a hot set and that you were being filmed. I assume this was prep for tomorrow but who knows, maybe they needed B roll.

    The castle ride was down, but the path was open so I was able to get several photos of the detail on the castle. Plus, this area feels or is slightly elevated so there was a bit of breeze blowing. I got a text from T that he had found C and that they were headed for the Jurassic Park area. We agreed to meet in the restaurant/play area there. I pried A loose and we headed that way.

    We connected in the visitors center which moved up to the top of my list as an amazing attraction purely for the AC. There are also refillable cup stations here and we took the opportunity to get some water. We broke out the cooling towels and actually got them wet. I'm not sure how effective they were at actually getting cold, but these made their way onto the Walmart list after the third time I flashed the park by wiping the sweat off my face with the hem of my shirt. A word to the wise, buy these on Amazon before you go. While we didn't pay park prices for these, we did pay Walmart tourist prices which were higher than Amazons. On the flip side, it's a functional souvenir as the ones in the park are themed to various areas.

    Both kids wanted to ride Jurassic Park so T agreed to go with them on the ride. I sat down on some rocks to watch the boats come down. I couldn't figure out why the rocks were wet until one of the boats splashed down. A dad had taken his toddler to stand by the ropes so they really got splashed. The kid started screaming bloody murder once he got wet. I agreed with him. Everyone came off the ride soaked but happy. I tried to get them to go find their ride photo but it was impossible on the tiny screen and everyone was impatient to go.

    We moved on toward the toon area, and since both kids were wet they wanted to do Dudley Do-right. This Led to a discussion of who exactly Dudley is. They were not impressed but still wanted to do the ride. DH and I found a dry spot and chatted while they hit the ride.

    Once they were done we decided to go to Citywalk for lunch and be pretty much done with the day. We went to the fast food area where C had BK, A and T had Panda Express (A treat for both of them as I can't stand Panda Express so we rarely get it) and I got chips from Moe's (a treat for me as we don't have Moe's here in KC).

    After a grumpy lunch we headed back to the hotel for downtime. C wanted to go the pool so I took him down with my friend the pool cup and watched him splash for awhile. I was thinking I might steal the car and go to the outlet stores that night but the bar called to me and said you're tired, have a drink. I ordered The King (Three Olives Coconut Water Vodka, Strawberries, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice). They were out of vodka so the bartender suggested rum. I informed him I was a fan of rum, and went for it. If you like sour this is an excellent drink and one I would order again in a hot minute. My thoughts of going to the outlet mall evaporated into thoughts of having another drink but I was afraid I'd fall asleep at the pool.

    Dinner that night was at Bayliner diner, I had the special sandwich of the day which was a chicken parm. It was good, hot and fresh. I like their marinara sauce. C wanted grilled cheese and I honestly can't remember what A had. C had ordered what he called mouse cake (Chocolate mousse cake) the first night and we enjoyed this many, many times over the course of the week. They must truck it in frozen, but the cake itself is very moist and the mousse light.

    We were all pretty much exhausted by now, with a full day of travel and 2 days of up early to go go go, the plan was to slow it down tomorrow and go to volcano bay. This was helped in part by the opening of Hagrid's ride and our desire to be as far from Islands as possible.

    The forecast also called for rain, would we make it, did people really stand in line for 10 hours to ride Hagrid. Stay tuned!
     

    Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    Day 4 - wherein we avoid Islands like the plague

    Day 4 dawned promising rain and for everyone else in Orlando, the opening of Hagrids Motorbike Adventure. You could tell the hotel was getting more and more full, be it the ride or just the fact that we were getting closer to the weekend. Either way, the plan today was to stay as far away from Islands as we could get.

    Everyone wanted to sleep in, but I woke up at my normal time. Snuck downstairs for a drink and had some nice quiet time in the room. Around 8 everyone started to stir, and I started making noises about early entry to our planned park of the day: Volcano bay.

    C and I had been here before, but it was A and T's first time. I had packed beach towels, but we also snagged a couple of towels from the Cabana Bay pool to take with us. Because of how we walked up to the pool I also discovered there was a hot tub on this side. I had been going to the other pool to use its hot tub and was happy to find out this side had one too and it was bigger.

    Towels in hand we made the short, beautiful walk from CBBR to VB. If you're at all a water park family this really is the Resort for you as the entrance is just so close. I made them all stop for a family photo at the front of the park, then we located chairs in the massive beach area in front of the volcano. T and the kids immediately took off for the raft rides while I set up with my book. The clouds continued to roll in, and at some point they closed the pools due to lightening in the area. The announcement also said to take shelter immediately. At that point all the midwest tourists (myself included) ran for the dining area, the rest of the people watched us go.

    Small side note here, the smells in the restaurant were amazing, and the food looked great. The breakfast options looked like they included pizza, and a variety of breakfast sandwiches. The pulled pork also looked good.

    After sitting in the restaurant watching nothing happen for 10 minutes or so, I stuck my head back out and headed back to the chairs where I was greeted by an angry teenager as I had grabbed the electronics when I sought shelter. Reunited with her phone, she sulked in the chair until they called the all clear. T and C had ridden the drop slide in the volcano (T- the adult- was unimpressed, C the 10 year old thought it was "cool"). They rode one of the family raft rides, which actually turned out to be a great photo.

    At some point, post shelter seeking, I strolled around to activate one of our cups and see the layout of the park. I found a photo kiosk next to one of the stores and the clerk happily linked our tapu tapu to our photo account. We later stopped by and linked the kids bands as well. There's a great photo station with a view of the volcano behind you, you just tap your band to activate. The eyes on the tiki god blink to let you know a timer is running. I made everyone do a family photo at the end of the day and you can tell its the end of the day. Next time I'm forcing it on them when we first get there.

    Back at the chairs, we passed a lovely day in the beach chairs with C running back and forth to the wave pool, A alternating between hibernating in a nearby chair or playing in the wave pool and T falling asleep in his chair. At one point it really did start raining, but with no thunder in the area the pools stayed open. Eventually I was sent out in search of food. The kids and I split a pizza and T wanted a burger. I made the mistake of getting food then getting drinks. There was no where to put the tray down in the coke freestyle section of the restaurant and with no one else there with me it was a comedy of errors trying to get lids off and then back on again without spilling food everywhere. Should you find yourself needing refills in the restaurant I'd highly suggest getting those THEN getting food.

    The food was good, less hot than it was before my little dance with the coke machine but not bad. T was getting a little tired of hamburgers. After lunch A asked for a churro so we went in search of that. C acquired a pineapple from one of the shops. We didn't spend much time in the park after lunch, the weather was perfect but everyone was really tired and ready to go back to the hotel.

    Everyone but me that is. Once back at the hotel, I changed clothes and hopped in the car ready to hit the outlet mall. For months I have been reading the Magic the Memories and the Merch on the touring plans blog site. I was ready to hit the Character Warehouse, specifically in search of a Dooney purse branded to the new Mary Poppins movie - it had penguins on it.

    The rain had other ideas though and it began to really pour once I hit the mall. My knees decided at that moment to kick in as well and I limped to the character warehouse which of course was packed with people trying to get out of the rain. No purse, but I did find a beach towel and a couple of other things. Outside the rain still had not let up, but I really didn't want to spend more time in the packed store so I decided to brave it.

    Looking at the map, one store in particular stood out to me as being of interest. Guaranteed to get me a phone call from T going why is my wallet crying? The store beckoning to me with the rays of light shining out of it? Coach! I don't have many expensive tastes, we can't afford to develop any honestly but I do love a good Coach bag. With the store 70 off I knew I could juuuuuust ride the line between it's so pretty and you spent how much?

    I did find a bag, for less than I would have spent on the Dooney and have been carrying it for a week now. There's just something satisfying about a good purse.

    My shopping mission complete, the rain started letting up. I decided to head back to the car not having explored as much as i'd like but my knees were giving me considerable pain and I really needed to get off of them. A brief diversion to Godiva (chocolate covered strawberries) and their covered tables meant I could make it to the car in one piece.

    The rain appeared to be concentrated closer to the outlets, as the closer I got to the hotel the lighter/sunnier it got. I found everyone sprawled out on the beds in the hotel room on their devices, pretty much in the same spot as they were when I left.

    We puttered for a bit, I switched out my purse for the new one. I checked the lines app for Hagrid and discovered it was at a 10 hour wait. Read some of the Reviews on the DIS, and watched the videos of the epic crowds. We all agreed we were happy not to be among them. Eventually dinner was discussed and it was decided we would brave citywalk for Vivo and sit down Italian.

    Next up: the best meal of the trip so far, and more rain. lots of rain.
     

    Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    Day 4 continued

    After lounging in the room, we all gathered ourselves for the trip to Citywalk. The sky is overcast, but the rain appears to be holding off. For now.

    Tonight's dinner is at Vivo, highly reccomended off the boards here and boy were you all right. We were able to be seated right away and I was really started by how the restaurant straddles the line between high end and yes, we know you have your kids with you and that's ok. My kids aren't heathens by any stretch but we were all in shorts and A had on flip flops. We fit right in with the atmosphere here.

    After ordering drinks we dug into the bread, A did not care for the olive oil. That's ok T and I ate her share. There was a brief wait after ordering for the food, but they were beginning to get busy. A brief trip to the bathroom past the open kitchen showed that the food would be worth the wait.

    I got a shrimp pasta dish that has ruined me for standard shrimp scampi for life. T got the Chicken Saltimbocca, A had Bucatini with Meatballs and C had the Pork chop sans chutney. All of it was amazing, aside from A's meatballs which she said were tasteless. I blame this on teenage sarcasm and tiredness and not on the restaurant. Also, I was too busy stuffing my face with the shrimp. Even C's pork chop, which can dry in a flash if overcooked was perfectly done and moist.

    Hands down this was the best meal we had all week. It was more expensive than what we had done up to that point, but worth every penny and honestly for the quality of the food the prices were spot on. I only wish we had done it earlier so attitudes would have been better at the table. I think we were all just exhausted even with the laid back day we had had. A managed to get herself into a snit and T took it the wrong way. Words were exchanged and we hastily paid the bill and went in search of ice cream. I commented that I really wanted to come back next year and T agreed.

    Outside the sky had apparently opened up and poured while we were eating, but was tapering off. The line to get in the restaurant was backed up with people who were soaked. We made our way to toothsome which was wall to wall people and I sent T to order milk shakes while I looked at candy with the kids. I had wanted everyone to at least see the inside of this restaurant, though I knew we wouldn't eat more than dessert here. I picked up some candy bars for my office mates while the kids tried on hats. C found some caramel corn, but A wanted Coldstone.

    T got a vanilla shake, while I got Key Lime. I was a tad nervous for the flavor but I love sour and I love Key lime pie. When they showed up they were big, but not outrageously so. I shouldn't have worried, the shake was excellent, the key lime flavor was real lime juice and I abandoned the piece of pie on top to the depths of the ice cream. They had switched up to the paper straws which of course disintegrated about 1/4 of the way in. Should we do this again I'll be prepared with larger plastic straws that we can re-use. I wound up eating about half of the shake before calling it quits. T shared his shake with A who had abandoned her desire for Coldstone.

    We headed back to the hotel snacking on ice cream, and split up once we got back. A and I went back to the outlets, where we discovered the online map and the actual store location are different. I wound up parking miles from the crocs store (who knew crocs were a huge deal to 13 year olds? not me) but spent a nice time late night shopping with my daughter. We finally found the store, and ended up getting both kids new shoes as it was bogo 60 off.

    This was the trip that both kids discovered I have a very poor sense of direction. Nor can I read a map to save my life. A found this out the hard way when trying to navigate the mall with me. By the end of the trip both kids were actively ignoring me when I would try and direct them somewhere, instead pulling out the park map to figure out where to go. I suspect this will be a fond memory for them, I just missed being able to plug an address into my phone and follow those directions.

    We got the shoes, meandered a bit then headed home to the hotel. Tomorrow would be our last full day in Orlando, and my long awaited bit of Disney. Up next, breakfast at Boma and Disney Springs.
     

    Lynne G

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 29, 2009
    Great report so far. I am enjoying reading it.

    My DD is turning 18 in a few months, and my DS is 21 going on 22. I get one promise for an early entry for one day. I am an early bird, so I get them to call me to meet up when they awaken. Usually, the only one that comes with me on early entry is DD.

    Oh, and DD has always been the picky one. Hence, we haunt the places she has deemed okay to eat at. For whatever reason, has not tried Vivo yet. Maybe though I tend to make pasta, many a times, so we rarely eat pasta out. Week days for me, need fast and quick dinners, hence pasta, rice, and taters, are the go to starches.

    And I love that cotton candy. Polished one off between DS and I. Sugar high for sure. And blue tongues.
     

    Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    Day 5 - our last full day

    Friday dawned bright and early. Again, I was the first one up. Snuck downstairs for a drink and sat with my book for a bit before nudging T awake. This would be our last full day in Orlando and I was excited as it would be a Disney day.

    I've been planning a trip to Disney since long before A was even a dream in my heart. I've always wanted to see the Magic Kingdom. I can't tell you how many trip reports I've read on here. Time, money and T's zero desire to go has meant that the dream has yet to become a reality. As I was the one who did 99.9% of the planning for this trip, I did my "other side' Dis research and found Boma's breakfast offerings were among some of the best on property. Also, I've always wanted to see Animal Kingdom Lodge. I made our reservation in December, when our dining window opened and started saving. This would be our most expensive meal of the trip, but I didn't care, it was on Disney property!

    Gradually everyone woke up and started grumbling about having to yet again go somewhere. I didn't care, I had my mickey shirt on (etsy) my coffee full (downstairs) and keys in hand I was ready to go.

    Disney is not that far from Universal, well the exit isn't that far. What really stands out to me having spent the better part of the week on Uni property is how freaking far from the interstate the buildings of Disney actually are. We quickly found the exit, then drove and drove and drove to find the exit for the lodge itself. The signage was clear, and we were easily able to find it but you can immediately tell the difference in the amount of land Disney owns vs what Universal has to work with.

    Finally, we found the right turnoff and we showed our reservation (on my phone) to the guy in the parking hut, he let us through with a "have a great day." A brief discussion around wether or not we wanted to pay $33 to valet park ensued, mostly me going seriously honey? We walked.

    The lodge is just gorgeous. With pieces of African art on display and lots of seating. There is a beautiful window at one end that lets in a lot of natural light. If we ever won the lottery I'd want to spend time here in a savannah view room. We easily found the stairs for Boma, and trying to save my knees I took the elevator down. They took our name and after a brief, maybe 5 minute wait our table was ready.

    Boma is a buffet restaurant offering traditional breakfast fare (mickey waffles, eggs, bacon biscuits and gravy etc) along with African inspired dishes (watermelon rind salad, turkey bobotie). You grab a seat, order your drink and then hit the buffet. I chose to sit for a moment while the others grabbed their food. I wanted to soak up the atmosphere a bit. Another hit for me here was the Pog or Jungle juice they have. This is a mixture of Passion fruit, orange and guava juice, and is a well known favorite among the Disney faithful. I had wanted to try it for years, and the waitress took my order noting my excitement.

    A quickly returned with a plate of eggs, bacon and a biscuit. C and T got variations on the same but apparently C's bacon had merged together so when he went to scoop out a piece, he came away with 10 pieces. We helped him finish it. T had some ham amongst the eggs. (Carving station) it all looked amazing.

    I eventually stopped taking photos of the restaurant decor to actually get food. They have an extensive buffet, and we all found the food to be good, especially when you're dealing with making it in the quantity they do, then putting it under a heat lamp. Everything was hot and fresh. I did try the Turkey Bobotie (I liked it, T did not) as well as an official mickey waffle. I went back for seconds, no one else did. Eventually the check came. T did not have a heart attack (I knew how much it was going to be, he did not) we paid and meandered out of the restaurant to check out the hotel and gift shop.

    It really is a beautiful hotel, and I agree that the gift shop offers more than just your standard T-shirts. Lots of African inspired instruments and crafty objects as well as real art for sale here. I got some mickey themed candy and finally let everyone else go back to the car.

    Was it worth the high cost? You're paying to eat in a beautiful hotel and while the food wasn't bad by any means, it wasn't any better than what we get at a local Sunday breakfast buffet here. Will we go again? No. Am I glad we went? Yes. If someone in your party is a Disneyfan and wants a little bit of the magic without handing over their first born to be able to pay for park tickets then it's a nice opportunity. if you're looking for a good breakfast ON Disney property then it's great. If you're just looking for a good breakfast, then there are multiple other places in Orlando to go at a fraction of the cost.

    Up next, Wait, we spent how long in Disney Springs?
     

    Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    While we enjoyed our pricey breakfast I mentioned the other Disney themed item on my agenda. Disney Springs. I honestly thought we'd spend maybe an hour here. Really I just wanted a dole whip. My family surprised me and we spent a lot longer, and dropped more cash, than anyone anticipated.

    We easily found Disney springs and parked in the Lime Garage, all the signage was lime green. A lovely gentleman at the base of the escalator handed us a map and I immediately started orienting toward marketplace snacks AKA the place that sold the dole whips.

    T and A wanted to hit the left hand "store" which turned out to be a cart. and C and I went into the lego store. He meandered a bit and I not so subtly directed him toward Basin.

    For those of you not familiar with the nirvana that is Basin, they sell assorted bath products, soaps, bath salts, bath bombs and other things I don't use so I don't pay attention lol. I had first found them at Mall of America wayyyyyy back in the day, and fell in love with their bath bombs. I love all their scents and these just seem to leave your skin moisturized. I recently discovered one of our local grocery stores carries a small selection of their products so I concentrated on stuff I couldn't get locally.

    Apparently they're also known for their sugar scrubs, they have a testing station there where you can try out the different scents. Of course C quickly lost interest in helping me pick out bath bombs and I had to force myself to not get lost in the scents. Eventually I felt like I had seen enough and we paid for my purchases. (under budget thank you very much).

    We came outside to find that T and A were waiting by the silhouette vendor. We have silhouettes of my grandmother, my mother and myself all at around the same middle school age. I was hoping to find the vendor to add A's to the collection. My original plan was to give it to my mom as a Birthday gift, but we will add it to our own family wall once we get her house dealt with.

    The vendor did a fantastic job on A's portrait, and had it framed and mounted for us while they waited. The price was very reasonable too. I was happy to get this done and continue the tradition.

    Conveniently, Marketplace snacks is within eyesight of the Silhouette vendor so while T took the kids to walk through the Star Wars store I headed off to knock another Disney bucket list item off my to do list. the Dole Whip. Basically, pineapple soft serve. It was delicious and refreshing on such a hot day. C, who does not care for pineapple or sour was not impressed. I promised him Goofy's candy company.

    With the Dole Whip accomplished I was ready to head home, but the kids had other ideas. We hit up first the star wars store, then Goofy's candy company. C got a marshmallow on a stick done with M&Ms and white chocolate drizzle. I didn't realize they also do chocolate dipped pineapple here among many other treats. The caramel apples looked amazing, but both C and I have enough dental work that caramel is a no go.

    While we doing that T was headed to the other side of the mall toward the Pele store. He's a huge European Football (Soccer) fan, and wanted to check out the store. As we often pay international shipping for just about anything related to this hobby I was all for it. The only problem was the store was literally on the opposite side of the mall from where we were. and my knees were really starting to hurt. We set off, but slowly with both kids being skeptical of my ability to read the map in my hands. I heard "are you sure mom" at least 5 times on our journey across the mall.

    We did find a cute kiosk that sold 3D pop up cards called LovePop. These are truly amazing works of art, and we did stop and purchase some. As an designer it's stuff like this that just sucks me in.
    This is the website, I can't even describe how cool these are.

    We spent so long at Lovepop that T called me to say where are you and we picked up the pace. Turns out there's another Star Wars store next to Pele and a Marvel store. We did ok in Star Wars, but Marvel wound up getting our cash this time. I found a T-shirt and C found a make your own gauntlet that he had put together before I could even find the price. He had plans to come back for another one next year before even getting out of the store.

    At this point we were all tired and my knees were seriously hurting. T looked at his watch and realized we'd been here over 3 hours. I honestly didn't think we'd spend that long, but there was a lot left undone as we were just too tired.

    We crawled back to the car and hit the hotel room for some pool time. This was cut short by the afternoon rain, and we headed inside for a late lunch/early dinner at bayliner. The kids split a pizza and T and I had a hamburger each. At this point the food was getting a bit repetitive. It was good, but I would have been up for something different. More mouse cake was acquired and the kids took off to check out the arcade once they were done with their pizza.

    T and I chatted for a bit downstairs before heading back to the room to start packing. It quickly became obvious that we had been a little souvenir happy the past few days, I'm looking at you Tony the gigantic Pygmy Puff, and something would have to be done. I was dispatched to Target to buy another suitcase. I wound up getting a set with a couple of extra bags in it. We needed all but one of them (hanging my head in shame). Though in my defense, they weren't all full to bursting.

    We did some packing, then C asked to go down to the pool one last time. We took the sit and ride I had acquired earlier in the week specifically to go in the lazy river, and my pool cup. I went to the bar and C went into the water. Today's drink was an It's Been Real (Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka, Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka, Mint, Lime Juice, Soda). It was ok, Next time I'll stick with The King.

    I returned to our seats and was enjoying my drink when I noticed the sit and lounge was gone. I found C in the pool, but no SnL with him. Did he know where it went? nope. Well shoot. Someone stole our pool float. They're not that expensive, and I'm going to go with honest mistake, but it really put a damper on the evening. I didn't feel like I could leave the bag to go in the lazy river, not that I had a float to go in with anyways.

    I texted T and he brought down C's float - which he held onto for dear life. He was really upset that someone had taken our other float. I think T was just happy it was one less thing to pack. We shared some chicken strips and fries from the food portion of the bar, they were hot and tasty and enjoyed being by the pool. The evening got cut short when something went wrong with the PH levels in the pool and they had to kick everyone out. We waited for about 30 minutes, but with the flight home tomorrow both T and I wanted to get upstairs and make sure everything was ready to go.

    Up next: Our last day in Orlando. What to do with all the time.
     
    Last edited:

    Bethany10

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 17, 2016
    Day 6 - our last day

    We had originally planned to fly out early Sunday morning, but when I went to book our flights it was considerably cheaper to go out late Saturday night. This would also give us a full day at home to recover, get the dog out of doggie jail and relax before heading back into the crazy routine.

    I woke up at my normal early time, but by the time I got back to the room with my morning drink T and A were both up and finishing packing. The plan today was to be out of the room fairly early, then hit the parks until we needed to leave for the airport - around 3.

    We took our time getting everything together. I had purchased the paper copy of the quibbler, really the spectraspecs, earlier in the week and somehow it fell behind the drawers I was using in the dividing wall. T had to literally take the drawer out in order to rescue my cardboard 3D glasses. We finally got everything packed up, and a park bag set for the day. the swimming stuff from the previous night was still slightly damp despite my letting it dry all night. This led to much of the suitcase contents needing to get washed once we got home. I was unaware of that at the time and we loaded (and I do mean loaded) the car, but a quick phone call to the front desk had assured us that we could leave it on property until we were done in the park for the day.

    The kids and I headed for the bus stop while T went to the front desk to officially check us out. You don't actually have to go to the front desk, but he wanted to confirm that we could leave the car for the day even though we were checked out. There was a HUGE line for the bus, but they were steadily loading people and there was another bus waiting behind it. We had no wait at all for busses all week. There were times when we were packed in like sardines, but no wait.

    Today was one of the nicer tourbus days, which while they're nice busses, the steps in and out are really steep. I had gone from being able to get a couple of hours out of my knees before they really hurt to being in pretty much constant low level pain and those steps were not fun to navigate. Both kids had picked up on this and A waited for me to crawl down the stairs.

    Once in Citywalk, we decided to go to Islands first, as both kids wanted to ride Hulk and I didn't feel like we had gotten to see it all that much the previous day. I tried going through the just to see queue with my backpack on, but while one team member let me in the next one shouted at me to go back and use a locker. I explained that I was just going to see the queue, but he shouted back something unintelligible. I gave up and walked back to wait with T.

    Having conquered Hulk, T and A wanted to ride Kong, but C didn't so we split up again. We walked through Toon lagoon, and C asked for a pretzel. I took the opportunity to activate 2 of our mugs again and as we walked around C asked what I would ride. I told him anything in Seussland, so we proceeded to hit Seuss. While he loved the fish ride, I had to choose something on the carousel that was lower to the ground knowing I couldn't swing my knee up very high. The animal I chose must have had a pretty steep back because the instant I sat down I slid all the way forward until it looked like I was cheating on T with a Seuss creation. I tried to back up but the hooks for my feet were so far back that I couldn't get my knees to cooperate. I finally just held on and hoped I'd be able to get myself off the thing once the ride stopped.

    After a brief moment where it looked like it was going to stop higher than it started, the ride ended and it did lower. I was able to get myself untangled. Next up we chose the Cat in the Hat ride. What a charming ride this is, this easily makes for one of my top 3 rides in the park, keeping in mind I'm not a thrill coaster person. Even C, who is a thrill coaster person loved it. If we'd had time we would have ridden again.

    By this point we'd done every ride in Seussland except the trolley/train. Everything had been a walk on. Then we hit the train. We were in line for 15 minutes, with T texting me that they were done with Kong and on the way to Potter how long would we be? Finally, we got close to the front when the attendant called for 2 people, with apologies to the person behind us saying they had 2, we grabbed the slots and took the trolley around. It was cute, but nowhere near the caliber of CiTH, and with DH texting where are you every 2 seconds a lot of it was lost on me.

    We finished the train ride and hot footed it over to hogsmede, where you could see the queue line for Hagrids. T and A had jumped in line for the Three Broomsticks as the lunch rush was starting. Three of us ordered the fish and chips and C wanted the rotisserie Chicken. T and I got lemonaid, and C and A had water. We skipped the queue as T and A were almost ready to order so neither of us had any idea what we were getting. The place was packed, but I'll admit they had moving people down to a science. Our food was quickly plated and prepared and we carefully got in line for a table. C had managed to suck down 90% of his water almost immediately, and in a rare moment of sibling love A shared her water with him. Both kids wound up going to the Hogs Head side for more water during the meal.

    The table was also an experience, the chairs are lower than standard chairs, so I went to sit down and kept on going. I immediately began to wonder if I could get up easily, but I wasn't going to risk it having just sat down. Food was… ok. Dh spent time in Europe as a kid, and loves real fish and chips. He was unimpressed, but agreed that it wasn't bad, just not worthy of a repeat from us. C did NOT care for his chicken, and I ended up taking quite a bit of it off the bone for him. One thing that was really awful was the lemonade, crystal light powdered stuff blech. I was hot and thirsty otherwise I would have asked the bartender for water along with the kids.

    I was very aware of the crowd waiting to get in, so we didn't linger. None of us finished our plates, and while it was neat to eat here there are other places in the park I'd like to try. I was able to get up out of the chair, but I'm still wondering why they were so low. Are all of the chairs that low? Why?

    We headed out into the sun, and agreed to take the train over to Studios. There was very little wait, and as they checked our tickets I was again impressed with how easily Universal could make money on park tickets on this ride alone. If you're a Potter fan this is pure genius and a surefire way of getting people to buy a park to park ticket over a single park ticket.

    Next up we hit the wall at Studios.
     

    Pumpkin1172

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 14, 2016
    Sounds like you are having a great time so far. I'm glad your Disney day turned out as good as it did. I love both parks. They each have different experiences. You can't compare the two. They are each unique in their own ways. One - commando type, the other - more laid back leisure type park.

    I can't wait to hear how the rest of your day went!
     

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