Friday, March 28, 2014

Orlando Vacation, Part 1 (Universal Studios Tips)

We left Saturday morning around 5 am and began the LONG drive to Orlando.  We stopped at the Florida sign for our traditional photo.
Don't you love the "Open For Business" sign above our heads? :)
We didn't get to our hotel until late, so we spent the first night just getting settled.  Shout out to the Hampton Inn--it's our favorite.  We try to stay at one whenever we can.  The complimentary breakfasts are the!  (<--and that doesn't tell my age at all!)

On Sunday, the weather was a gorgeous 80 degrees and sunny.  We went to Universal's Islands of Adventure park and spent the day. 
How about those Dr. Seuss shirts? (Crafty Cookie Boutique designs)
We made our way straight to Hogsmeade for the Harry Potter rides, because everyone said (and rightly so) that they would be the most crowded.  I took everyone's advice about the Butterbeer, too.  It was REALLY good.  Butterbeer is the drink from Harry Potter--it is a non-alcoholic butterscotch cream soda drink.

Dragon's Challenge was the only ride the girls wanted to ride and weren't able to.  Justin, Mallory, and Gra-Gra rode it though and were SUPER dizzy when they got off.  I'm glad the girls weren't tall enough yet.

Flight of the Hippogriff was Libby's favorite ride.  At last count, she had ridden it 8 times before we left!  Kyndall was able to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but Libby was too short.  The girls loved these rides so much that I didn't get pictures.  Oh, well.

The girls met the famous Mystic Fountain at the Lost Continent.  He read the names from their shirts and then read their palms.  He predicted that Kyndall liked music and gymnastic and Libby liked macaroni and cheese and dancing.  The girls thought this was SO funny!

Next stop--Seussville!! Seussville was by far my favorite place at Universal.  We ALL had our pictures made with the characters, but I'll save some space and just show you the ones of the girls.  We saw The Cat in the Hat and the Lorax:

Thing 1, Thing 2, and Sam-I-Am:

Sam-I-Am (again) and the Grinch:

We actually missed the Grinch on Sunday, but we lucked up and saw him when we went back on Wednesday.  In Seussville, they have a Dr. Seuss show and following the show is a dance party.  The girls danced with the Things on Sunday and the Grinch on Wednesday.  (Tip:  The parks were MUCH less crowded on Sunday than on Wednesday.)

Lunch was at the super cute Circus McGurkus Cafe.

After lunch, we met Spiderman!  Of course, Mal had to have her picture made with him too :)

Then, the big kids (aka Justin and Mal) went to ride the Hulk while the girls met a few more superheroes.  Storm, Rogue, and Wolverine.

Our last stop of the day was riding Bilge-Rat Barge for all of us and Ripsaw Falls for Kyndall and I.  We were SOAKING wet, and fortunately for you, there are no pictures.  While Kyndall and I rode Ripsaw Falls, the others walked around trying to dry off.

We had such a fun (and exhausting!) first day at Universal! In case you are going anytime soon, here are my tips:
  1. Buy the express ticket.  We didn't, because we were trying to save a little money, but I think it would be SO worth the extra money.  The express ticket at Universal is a lot like the FastPass at Disney, except they last all day.  When you go to get in line for a ride, there are two separate lines--one for Express tickets and one for regular riders.  The Express ticket would save LOTS of wait time!
  2. Purchase the souvenir cup.  The cup itself is $11.00 and then you get free refills all day long.  If you are there multiple days, the cost is $9.99 for each additional day.  If you are drinkers like we are, this saves you a good bit of money!
  3. Go to the park early (a few minutes before opening time) and go straight to Harry Potter.  The Forbidden World ride gets backed up quickly, so go there first.  
  4. Try the Butterbeer.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our vacation story--where we meet Anna and Elsa, get turned into Minions, and help save Princess Fiona!

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