We just got back from our summer vacation and although it’s not design related I thought I’d share some helpful hints about vacationing in Orlando, Florida.
(Coop’s first plane ride!)
I’m going to admit something to you guys, I’m not one of those OMG I love Disney and theme parks and lots of people standing super close to me kind of people but I also have kids and they do love this sort of thing and like every mom if they’re happy I’m happy so when my husband had to attend a conference in FL I jumped at the chance to make it into a family trip.
I’m also not a big vacation planner and I don’t like too many scheduled events. I figure we run around like crazy people during the school year and I don’t want a vacation from my vacation. So this little recap isn’t for diehard Disney, Universal Studio, SeaWorld enthusiast, it’s for the novice like me who likes to sleep in and plan plenty of time poolside with a cocktail in hand.
(Clearly Coop likes to relax like momma too! #hotelliving)
Our first visit was to Disney. Prior to going I bought our tickets online and picked out 3 activities to use our fast pass on. I chose 2 rides and 1 event. I also made online reservations for 2 meals, breakfast and dinner. Another helpful hint is to download the Disney app. It will give you your itinerary for the day, tell you wait times for rides and let you know where the characters are throughout the park if you want to get a photo with them.
(It was 96 degrees out, these characters get mad props!!)
I had two favorite moments of the day, it started out with breakfast at Be Our Guest. It was actually super pretty and every little detail was thought of. I made our reservations and even ordered our food ahead of time online. We were immediately sat and within minutes a waiter brought us our food. (They give you a magic rose when you get there that informs the wait staff where you are sitting and bring your food to you immediately!)
The other moment was using our fast pass to sit in special seating to watch the castle fireworks and the electric parade. It was perfect, we were away from the crowd and our view to both was perfection.
Next up was Universal Studios. This day was all about my daughter who is a diehard Harry Potter fan. In order to see all of the Harry Potter experience though you have to buy tickets to both parks. (Smart Universal!) We also bought fast passes in addition to our tickets, but unfortunately you cannot use it for anything Harry Potter related. There is also not an app to download on your phone which was sorta a bummer after being spoiled by the Disney one. If there is one thing you don’t want to miss it’s taking the Harry Potter train to get from one park to the next. It’s interactive and super fun and nothing I’ve ever experienced. I think we spent 12 hours at the park that day and still didn’t get to see everything.
We stayed at a hotel that was affiliated with Sea World so there was someone on staff to answer all my questions and that leads me to telling you to talk to lots of people while you are vacationing! We always made friends with the people at the pool and always walked away with some information about one of the parks that we didn’t know. But anyways we got a discount for SeaWorld because of the hotel and because of the conference so we got to attend SeaWorld and Aquatica for less than $88.00 per person (fast pass included) which is a good price for anything in Orlando. Another fun thing about staying at the hotel is we saw Sea World’s fireworks from our window every night!
SeaWorld in my opinion was the prettiest of the parks we visited. The flowers, water and landscaping were absolutely gorgeous! The park is smaller than Disney and Universal which left me feeling not so overwhelmed. They also have an app to download which helps you maneuver through the park, give you wait times for the rides and lets you know when the shows are starting. They also have some fun rides (for teenagers and grown ups) at the park too! Instead of buying souvenirs we chose a very nice meal Sharks Underwater Grill (where you are surrounded by shark tanks) and we paid to feed the sea lions. I let the kids get a souvenir from our trip, but just one, I wanted to spend our money more on experiences than things that probably wouldn’t mean that much once they got home.
We ended our park tour with Aquatica which is a huge waterpark with lots to do for all ages. Sloan was not able to go on any of the big waterslides because of her knee which secretly was fine with me because it meant her hanging out with us more on the lazy river!
It was a super fun vacation and lots of great memories were made but I will say if you’re hoping to find a non-chain restaurant or shopping that isn’t an outlet mall you’re in the wrong place! Surprisingly I really loved it!!