A family and traveling party of 7, hailing from the Boston area. This is our second family trip to WDW, the previous being in late Jan 2020, the last trip we did before COVID lockdowns. Our family consists of Me, DW, DS13, DS11, DD9, DS6 and DFiL (mostly referred to in this post and IRL as “dad”). This is definitely a splurge vacation for us as we do prioritize staying on site and love being able to walk to a couple parks. We need a lot of space with 7 people and love the flexibility of having a kitchen, full fridge and laundry that a villa provides, and had booked direct via Disney on a 25% room only discount which came out cheaper than renting points via DVC rental store (which we’d used back in 2020) and with much better cancellation policies which we’ve valuing more after COVID. I expect we’ll return to WDW in 3-5 years but not before that given the other vacations we want to do as a family (and cost).
Saturday, April 15 – Arrival and Universal (both parks)
The previous evening I’d driven my three older kids from Boston to Newark as flight prices from Boston to Orlando were outrageous and we saved over $1,000 a ticket by flying to/from Newark. It was rather painful with Friday traffic but we played some YouTube videos teaching the kids about Universal to pass the time and made it to a nearby airport hotel.
Our day started early with a 3:45 a.m. wake up to catch the 4 a.m. hotel shuttle for our 5:25 a.m. flight. Everything went remarkably smoothly each step of the way. Our kids are really excellent travelers.
We got a Lyft to Royal Pacific Resort where there was no line at check in and our room was ready for us at 8:50 am! We had a great room in tower 2 on the same floor and about 3 doors down from the lobby. We’d requested Tower 1 for proximity to the walking trail but it was so quick to enter and exit our room to the lobby that we were thrilled with this room, and getting it so early so we didn’t have to deal with luggage services.
After a little freshening up and preparing for a hot day, we arrived at USF by 9:30, and rode mummy as our first ride. DD9 did not like at all, but the boys said it was best thing they’ve ever rode! We followed this up with Gringotts which DD9 was okay with but didn’t want to reride promptly, and the boys loved. We were ahead of my rough schedule so we all got butterbeer and had fun in Diagon Alley.
We then rode transformers and caught the Bourne stunt spectacular show. I probably liked Bourne best of all, but everybody found this really exciting and the time in A/C was much appreciated. We then grabbed lunch at the Simpsons food court, and the kids were watching the cartoons while we ate typical theme park fare. The burger line was much longer than the others so we focused on chicken and seafood and got food very quickly. The boys were excited to try an intense roller coaster so we split up with the boys riding Rip Ride Rockit while DD9 and I chatted with the knight bus driver (hilarious!), explored Knockturn Alley and found a place to relax in the shade.
DS13 had forgotten to bring his phone but DS11 had one of the AirTags I had bought for this trip (DD9 had one too) so I felt comfortable with them splitting up. We then took the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade. Asking how to find Platform 9 ¾ from the cast member outside King’s Cross station was very entertaining! Upon arriving, the boys did Forbidden Journey while DD9 and I tried to ride Hippogriff. It was about 2 p.m. so peak theme park time and neither the express nor standby queue was moving well at all and so we bailed after 10 min in the express queue, feeling like we had at least 20 more to go. It was a good thing because the boys had just gotten out of their ride at that time (with virtually no wait in the FJ express queue). In the heat of the afternoon we rode Jurassic Park River Adventure and then walked back to hotel for nap / quiet time and pool time. The three kids had a great time playing together at the pool and I was so happy to see them having fun together!
After getting dressed, we then walked to Mythos for our dinner reservation at 6. The food was yummy and the venue amazing!
We then did Poseidon’s Fury after that as rain was coming and DS11 had played Poseidon in a school play the previous year. We found the show very enjoyable, though I can understand why a standing walk-through attraction is being phased out. The skies opened up a bit as we were getting out and there was thunder and lightning. Hagrid’s was closed and didn’t reopen that night; our goal was to ride as the last ride of our day but we had to shelf that plan. Hulk was also closed and had been all afternoon, so DS11 was starting to get anxious he might not get to ride it (it was the ride at Universal he was most exited to ride given the 7 inversions). We then did High in the Sky in Seuss Landing and sent the boys off to ride Spider-Man while DD9 and I did Cat in the Hat and the Caro-Seuss-El. It was awesome to have this 1:1 time with her today, while also letting the older boys have more freedom. She liked both of these rides a lot; she’s growing up so fast but still loved the carousel!
I got a call from DS13 and the boys wanted to do Reign of Kong next so I encouraged them to do so but 15 min later when I’d seen they’d walked from Spiderman back to Mythos I thought something was up – they’d gone the wrong way! I directed them the right way while DD9 and I went home. The boys regret the ride as it wasn’t great and they also got a bit lost trying to find their way home. They probably walked close to an extra mile on an already exhausting day. But it was a great day overall and folks were asleep in minutes from their heads hitting the pillow!