Monday, November 16, 2015

Vacation....Disney vs.Universal

Hi everyone!
I know I've been MIA again! That's cause we went on vacation to Orlando, Florida! We all know how much I love Disney, right? There isn't much not to love. :)  Well, our kids are getting older, and they love roller coasters and other theme parks, so we thought we would try Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure for this vacation. 

I made 3 shirts for each of us for this trip. Two Harry Potter ones and one Mickey Christmas on for the MVMCP.

We bought the 3 day Park-to-Park pass. This is required to do the Harry Potter train from Diagon Alley to Hogwarts and back. People we spoke to said 3 days would be enough to see the parks. It was.  There were a few attractions we didn't do, just because no one wanted to.  And several that we did 2-4 times. We were able to leave the parks between 4-5pm. They closed at 7.  We also purchased the 3 day Photo Connect, so we could have some ride photos and family shots.

We spent our first day in Universal. We went straight to Harry Potter stuff. The ride was great and my son loved doing "magic" with his wand. We enjoyed our first taste of Butter Beer. We had an amazing lunch at Finnegan's. They had a great Gluten Free menu. Our son has Celiacs Disease, so eating out can be tricky, so we have to check out restaurants before we can eat there. Most attractions were 30 min wait or less.  We did have some food packed ahead of time, just in case. We got surprised this day with a free concert by Walk the Moon and HALO awards for some teens. Nick Cannon was there.  That was fun! 

For day 2 we went to Islands of Adventure. Again, we went straight to the Harry Potter stuff.  Did all the rides there and had more Butter Beer. Yum! We did a ton of rides till we were too hot. The kids had lunch in Cat in the Hat area. We were pleasantly  surprised with their attention to food allergies for a fast food/quick service type meal.  Hubby and I had lunch in the Comic area.  We saw Spider-Man and some other characters that we didn't know who they were. (We aren't big super hero people.) Again, most rides had a 30 minute wait or less.  The kids really liked the bigger water rides, we got soaked. 

For our last day we started in Universal and rode the Harry Potter train over to Islands of Adventure. Lots of friends had talked up this attraction.  It was nice, but I did expect more. We did a few rides and attractions in Islands of Adventure, then hopped back on the train for the ride back to Universal.  More Butter Beer, yummy!!!!  It is a little bit different "show" on the train. We visited a few attractions that we missed on our first day.  We enjoyed lunch at Finnegan's again.  Then we walked back over to the other park for the favorite water rides.

On the way out, I looked at our photos on the Photo Connect, and noticed that all of day 3 photos still had watermarks/logos all over them.  I stopped in the photo service store to ask about it and the gentleman working informed me that my photo card had expired.  Our tickets didn't expire for 13 days, but the photo card expires after 3 consecutive days???!!!   I told him that that was crazy.... the 3 day photo card should be for the 3 days I'm in the parks!! He did finally add most of the photos to my account. He missed one that I had to email them about later. Overall, Harry Potter stuff was really good, the parks were nice, but I would not do Universal's Photo Connect again.  Their cameras are older, the technology and skill of their system and employees are way behind Disney.  Most of my photos are dark or off centered.  And every photo has the boarder and or a design on it.  I would rather them not. 

The photographers shadow is in this one.  I know the swinty eyes can't be helped.  But The photographer should have taken several and counted for us to help get a good shot.

This one is okay, just off centered.

Just dark.

Just dark.  Wish they wouldn't add all the boarders. 

I assume this was supposed to be like Disney's magic shots.... his hands are empty??????
I think I'll throw a Minon or something in there.

We did have a fantastic dinner experience at NBC Sports Grill and Brew in CityWalk while we were there.  They do not have a Gluten Free menu.  When I asked about the menu, they brought my son and I into meet the chef, who told me that she would and could make almost anything on the menu gluten free for him! When we came back for our dinner a few hours late, she came to our table and again spoke with us. My son wanted wings.  He hasn't had wings since he was diagnosed.  He was so happy and excited!  She came back out to our table several times to check on him and bring him his food.  Here is a pic of our chef with Austin. 

Am I happy we did Universal? Yes. The kids did have fun and they liked most of the coasters. But I definitely don't want or need to go back to the parks.  We will def do CityWalk again.  Disney, Dollywood, and Busch Gardens are parks that I feel we can visit over and over. 

While on this vacation, we did do Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party in Magic Kingdom.  It was our first time doing the Christmas Party and we had a blast! We rode almost every ride in MK and saw the parades and most shows. We closed the park! It was def a magical night!!

We also tried Disney Quest in Disney Springs (aka Downtown Disney) for the first time. They are closing it in 2016. That was a very fun day, but not something I would need to do over and over.  (My kids may disagree with that!)  They LOVED designing their own coaster and riding it!!  We also had a bit of Pixie Dust sent our way this day.  While we were waiting in line to buy our tix, a very kind lady gave us one for free. Her family couldn't use it, so she wanted someone to be able too! 

We also spent lots of time swimming and had 2 days of no parks for relaxing. It was a much needed break from our hectic day to day life with 4 kiddos and one a senior.... oh and I didn't share her senior portraits, here are a few....

Opps!! That may have been more than a few!!

And we came home to the news that she has gotten accepted into the college of her choice. . . .  I am soooo NOT ready for that chapter yet!!! 
Well, now I have tons of pics I need to get scrapping!!
So ta-ta for now!!
Have a happy scrappy day!!

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