Spending Christmas Break at Hogwarts

We started our adventure at Cabana bay for 3 nights. We got in late christmas night and uber over. I posted that night about my frightful experience with uber car seat. We were lucky to get to the hotel and we could have just rented a car for what it cost . This trip was all of us: DH 39, DS 12 (stepson), DS 9 (stepson), DS 7 (DH stepson), and DD 4.5. We are a very blended family.

12/26. We slept in but still out the door by 9am. Took the bus which was a breeze and we never waited long for one. Husband got cinnabon while I waited in line for our APs. Originally was going to RD but after not getting into bed until midnight decided to not rush it.

First up was Forbidden Journey - wait time was marked 35 mins didn’t time it but it felt about that long. Did child swap. This is where universal puts disney to shame. Child swap was easy. We all got to wait in line together. When we got toward the front they sent us through to a special line. Dh and dd went to a small room to the left and me and the 3 ds got on. Dd got to wave at us. In the room was several benches and the first harry potter movie was playing. When we got off. I switched seats with dh and all 3 ds got to ride again. Great use of time. Tomorrow I will bring her activities she can do while she waits.

Decided to do pterodactyl flyers next…it was only a 25 min wait on the app but by the time we got there it was 45 mins. We decided to do it anyway since dd had to wait out the last ride. This took a VERY long time and the queue is boring. It also broke down for a few mins. I made a rookie mistake here. We have refillable cups but we were in a rush to get to this ride and didnt bother to stop and reactivate them and get drinks. By the time we got off I had a headache from dehydration and lack of caffeine. This may be the only time this worked but all 6 of us could ride. Dd, and 2 of the ds are under 56ins but over 48 and so could go without an adult which meant ds 12 could ride with ds7 and dh rode with ds9 and I rode with dd 4.5. She loved this very short ride. I do not really like heights but I dont hate them either but this ride freaked me out. Partly because I couldn’t hold on to her and it went much faster then I anticipated.

It was after 11am when we got done so we got our cups activated (2 cups for 6 people means a lot of refills but I feel like we get our moneys worth. We purchased these cups in January and I realized that I could bring them back which was a good savings). We then ate at fire eaters grill. This was a compromise. Orginal plan was three broomsticks but ds 12 objected and I knew dd wouldn’t eat anything there. We ended up with way too much food. Everything was fine but just that. Although it was nice to eat a gyro rather then a burger. Also it is really close to a freestyle machine which made refills while we waited much easier.

After lunch we hopped on the Hogwarts express. Very little wait required and I love that you dont have to collapse the stroller. Dd got a kick out of the ride. It was getting really busy by now so we skipped going into diagon alley and headed to ET. Posted wait time was 55 mins…we waited maybe 30. Everyone liked it and it was nice to all go as a family.

A quick check of the map showed a 20 minute wait time for shrek. Dd watched this movie on the flight down so she had been begging to do it all morning. We got stuck in the back row which meant I had dd on my lap. Didn’t bother me but I don’t think she got the full effect.

It was 220pm when we got done and our instacart was due to be delivered. We decided to try the walk to cabana bay. It was longer then I thought and not a great plan in the afternoon. We got back just in time. Dh and I meet the shopper in the lobby to pick up our groceries. Such an easy process.

Instacart went really smooth. There were some adjustments but all acceptable. She called when she got to the lobby and was walking in as we walked in from the other side. I would do this again.

After a nice rest we woke up the children and headed back to the park. Decided to eat an early dinner (430p) to avoid the crowds at cowfish before heading back into the parks. We got seated right away so I guess it worked. I ordered a burger which was fine but nothing grand (I think I ordered poorly). Dh got sushi which was very good and ds 12 got the jalapeno popper burger and both he and dh declared it delicious. Dd and ds 7 got pb&j sushi and it was adorable. They also got fruit which made me happy. Ds9 got the mini burgers and did not complain. It is always a win when we manage to eat all our food and everyone actually ate.

IMG9520381 DS 12 felt the matching shirts were very embarrassing and refused to wear them but he made a great photographer!

We headed back into the park going for usf. We did the Mummy with child swap. Again this was so nice, there was a TV playing something with mummies but not the movie (obviously that would be too scary for littles) and the boys love getting to go twice). I had gotten a virtual line for fast and furious. So we headed over. DD likes the rides she can go on obviously but wants them to go faster and last longer. This is a new ride for us and I found it just ok. I didnt really think the content was a problem. Yes they mention guns and the chase scene is intense but really the Simpson ride tries to kill you. I sat toward the outside of the “party bus” and I could see the top of the screen. This really messed with the illusion of the ride.

When we got done it was almost time for the parade so we found a spot in New York. Parade was cute and DD really loved it especially Santa.

We did not try to watch the tree lighting it was just too many people and too long of a day. So back to the hotel.

When we got there very tired we found that none of our keys worked. This is not just inconvenient when it is 9p and you have 4 tired children, one of which has to pee and it’s not like a normal hotel were the lobby is a elevator ride away. It is a trek. I went to stand in line and then the lady at the desk said oh sorry let me recode them and I’ll send out security and maintenance in case they still don’t work. So back to our room and of course they still don’t open. We wait a little while and finally maintenance shows up. I told him no lights came on. He explained it was the batteries going out. Why didnt the front desk tell me this. He jump started it (those were his words and then had to replace the batteries. My IT DH was very interested in this. We then had 4 kids to shower and get to bed. Kind of a sour way to end the day.


Day two 12/27
We are going to call this the day we realised we could get icees in the coke freestyle cups.

Got up at 6am in an attempt to RD a 7am opening. Got to the park at 7 but waited in a long line to get in. Then of course ds 12 had to use the restroom. Then ds 9 and 7 had to use the telephone in London. By the time we got into diagon alley the wait was 45 mins for Gringotts. We waited and did child swap. I took ds 7 and 9 down knockturn alley while the others stood in line. Side note about child swap not having to use lockers and allowing the children to ride twice is amazing. Poor dd but she ends up having a pretty good day. After gringotts we decide to hit the twirl and hurl for dd who was such a trooper. It was basically a walk on. Then we all went on the Simpson ride (there is a valid reason my children are not allowed to watch that show this was not a proud parent moment) everyone including dd loved it. We decided to divide up and Dh took all 3 ds to do mib while dd and I headed to the woody woodpecker rollercoaster. It was dead in that section of the part. We got on right away and she loved it. We ended up going on it 4 times in a row.

Then we discovered the water slide in the feival play area. We did that twice (phew it’s a lot of stairs). By then the boys had found us and they all went on it several more times with her. We then headed to ET. By now it was close to lunchtime so we headed back to diagon alley and the leaky cauldron. We ate every morsel of this meal. After lunch wait times were getting crazy (80 mins for Hogwarts express) so we headed to the pool to swim…

We only did the pool with the slide at cabana bay. I know there is a lazy river but I wasn’t sure where it was and our room was really close to that pool. The kids enjoyed swimming. They had life jackets which made me happy as I didn’t have to get in the pool. Ds 7 can swim but this is new and I am a nervous mom even with life guards. Poor guy was not super pleased I made him wear one. Ds12 originally stayed in the room but after awhile he joined us and got in. All and all a fun time and dh and I got to relax by the pool. However we skipped naps which ends up not being a great plan.

Back to USF to do some shows and eat some food. Ds 12 and i stood in line for some pretzels (jalapeno and pizza) and icees before we all went into the horror makeup show. Dd had fallen asleep in her stroller, poor thing. Just a heads up no food or drink is allowed in the horror makeup show. So we sat out front and ate our pretzels and drank our icees. We carried dd into the show. She woke up right as it started and I started to question my judgment in bringing her to this. It is a very funny interesting show and surprisingly dd did not get scared but I could see why most 4 year olds would. After the show we noticed dd had pink eye. She had caught a cold or something on the plane ride down and had been very congested and apparently that was now oozing out of her eyes. I started panicking as I did not want to go to urgent care and i was not sure how I would get her there. We tried calling her doctor but was told they would not call it in without seeing her and if it got worse to take her to urgent care (great policy, we have 4 kids and we know what pink eye is but yes let’s drag the 4 year old to urgent care in orlando to get some drop). I was not happy. I made an appointment for the next morning for a walgreens take care clinic and DH was looking into the virtual doctor. During all of this we headed to Diagon alley for ice cream, strawberry peanutbutter was good. It was chaotic and busy and I was stressed. I looked around at this people walking around eating ice cream and enjoying everything and I got pretty envious. After spending a small fortune on ice cream I led everyone out of diagon alley to sit on a street corner and eat our ice cream. Dd got chocolate with sprinkles and proceeded to make a huge mess. Ds 7 and 9 got butterbeer and ds 12 got soft serve vanilla in a cone. (I know they are kids I should let it go but really we come all this way and he picks vanilla the same stuff you can get for like a $1 at McDonald’s) and Dh got chocolate and apple crumble and I got strawberry and peanut butter. The apple tasted like apple pie and was amazing. We had tried the butterbeer ice cream before and it was still delicious and I really loved the strawberry and peanutbutter.

While DH and I still tried to figure out the pink eye crisis DD wanted to see the live animal show. It is a very cute show and all the kids enjoyed it. They wanted so bad to be picked but it didn’t happen. We got to pet a cute little corgi on the way out.

Dh and I had a side conversation, he had figured out that we could do the virtual doctor for pink eye even if our insurance didn’t cover it for $75 and then he could uber to get the medicine. I had looked up how to treat it without the doctor visit and if it was necessary. Given that it was from her sinus drainage and not the bacterial kind we decided to give her allergy medicine and see. (Spoiler after a few nights of benadryl she is much improved)

We then headed to woody coaster to give it a shot but it was 35 mins for a 45 sec ride so the kids said no thank you. Instead we tried out the non water parts to fieval and curious George. At the very back of Curious George is a two story ball play area with cannons, vacuums, ball drops and more. Everyon6g had fun here and it was not crowded. If you dont want to risk getting wet to get to this part go to the sides there is no water on the very edges of the play area.

By now we were very tired and hungry. We had an 845 reservation for Vivo. It was about 745 so we decided to check in early and see. Unfortunately they could not get us in any earlier so we sat around. While waiting for the table DH realized he never got his AP pass back after checking out at the ice cream shop. So we headed to guest services at IOA. Lady was very helpful and it was a relatively easy process (thankfully). It required his id and I think the credit card. This made me feel better about the kids having them in their lanyards.

At vivo, dd didnt order anything but ds7 got pizza, Ds 9 got spaghetti and meatball. Ds 12 couldn’t decide what to order. The waiter was really great with him. Told him to pick any sauce on the menu and any pasta and he would have the chef make it. He ended up with meat sauce with penne noodles. Dh got the squid ink pasta and loved it and I can’t remember what mine was called but it was basically spaghetti and meatballs but with a different pasta. It was really good. Ds 7 was almost asleep at the table so only ate one piece of his pizza but said it was good. Dd shared some of ds spaghetti and ate a ton of bread. Overall one of our best meals.

We bussed it back to cabana bay where I finished packing us up for our move to royal pacific and our first day with Express Passes!


Day three 12/28
So the plan for the day was to sleep in, take our luggage to royal pacific and then go to the parks with our Express pass in hand…it sort of worked. Apparently DH and I can’t sleep in so we were both up around 7am. My plan was to let them sleep. By 730 dh was up and dressed and wanting us all to get up and moving. So much for sleeping in. For some reason we thought it would be easiest to just walk our luggage over. This seemed like a good idea in theory. I would not try it next time. Cabana bay and royal pacific are not very far but when pushing/pulling/wearing luggage for 6 people for 6 nights and a stroller it was a lot. The guy checking us in at cabana bay seemed to think they would move our luggage but he gave no details other then to say they dont have a luggage delivery service but it was sure they would. That did not instill a lot of confidence so we went with walking. In hinde sight I would have had dh and ds 9 uber over with luggage and I would have walked the rest. Oh well live and learn.

Royal Pacific is a beautiful hotel. We had stayed before when we brought ds9 down in January. It is the kind of hotel that even makes ds7 and dd stop and say wow we get to stay here. Very friendly check in and luggage drop off. In no time we were out and walking to the park. Now this was our 3rd day in the parks but first with Express pass and I may have over estimated everyone’s stamina. Getting in the park was smooth.

Dd is not your typical 4 year old, sorry 4.5 year old. She loves thrill rides. The only thing stopping her is her height. We took her on Kong and she loved it. Then we headed to Spiderman which she also loved. We tried to do fear fall but ds7 was one inch too short (not sure how I didn’t realize this) so we skipped it. Side note here has anyone else noticed that universal kind of over does it on the restriction. Seems like similar rides at disney have normally shorter requirements or none at all (I’m look at you cat and the hat ride. I mean this is basically Winnie the Pooh at disney). Dh and ds 12 and 9 decided to tackle the Hulk (ds 9 was super pumped to have grown that one inch he needed since visiting in jan and ds 7 and dd 4.5 were both disappointed). While they did that we headed to storm acceleration (I think that is its name). This is basically tea cups with a little extra spin to them. It was a hit and we had to ride again. Express pass is really amazing especially for these types of rides. We literally walked up and just had to wait for the ride to stop and then we were let on first. Luckily the boys were back so I believe a 3rd time would have left me incapable of continuing. After some discussion it was decided all the boys would go ride the water rides (again dd was too short and not happy but mommy was glad for the excuse to skip it). I sent them off with a few rain coats and dd and I headed to dr suess land. I love this land. So colorful and fun and it was extra special decorated for Christmas. We started with cat and the hat which is cute and as mentioned earlier just like Winnie the Pooh. She really liked it and it was a decent length but wished it went faster (this becomes a theme for the day her wanting rides to go faster and/or be longer). We then headed to the carousel then the one fish two fish ride (which I got wet on). We were headed to the sky trolley when we heard them call last call for grinchmas. Ok I had never done this so I had no idea where it was at. Luckily we had grabbed one of our cups and a snack. Then we walked and we walked and we walked. It is in a studio like behind the scenes in between the park. When it was over dd had to go to the bathroom (right now) and of course the bathroom was not at all convenient. However I then realized we were right next to the rock it roller coaster. I also then realized you can go back to IOA or into USF. Now no one stopped and checked out tickets and I’m not 100% sure you can enter from USF so maybe they checked if you went that way but seemed like a way to go between the park without the park to park ticket. The show was cute and it was a nice break but the walk was crazy.

By now the boys were back and were wet and hungry. Unfortunately I had made a reservation for mythos but could only get 230p. Note to self if going at busiest time of the year mark calendar to make reservations earlier. I had checked when we decided to go but they weren’t available and then I forgot until like 5 days before we were to leave (oops). We got a pretzel, 2 Churros and more icees and continued to consume the snacks I had packed. (Thank you instacart). We ended up eating and drinking everything packed.

Here is were we got a little crazy. Dd wanted to do the sky trolley and the rest wanted to do the rock it rollercoaster. So we split up, although at the last minute ds7 decided to stay with me which worked out well because he ended up being like a hair too short for this one too. So off we went to the sky trolley with a meeting place by the rollercoaster. Express pass really saved the day and we made it onto the ride in record time. We then walked out the front of the park and used the blue men’s group entrance (if you don’t know as you walk from ioa to usf before you get to usf you pass the blue mens group and there is a sign saying additional entrance. It was delightful and we walked right up and through with no problem. You get spit out at despicable me. After waiting a bit (apparently they had to go twice) and a bathroom break and more snacks we all headed to the Hogwarts express. This one had quite the line. I really do not understand why it is so difficult to 1. Form lines to scan your park ticket (um universal if you want 4 lines then put up some rope) and 2. Scan your card and your finger and move on. By the time we got through even with Express pass it was 2:25 as we were unloading and of course dd is screaming for a bathroom. The nearest one is in hogsmead. This was dumb directions to follow given the crowds and time. But when your 4.5 year old is screaming she is going to pee her pants you just go for it. We got to mythos at 235 and it only took about 10 to 15 mins to get seated. The food was ok, service was not great (never got a refill of my water) but it was nice to have a relaxing meal. The food is not worth the price but what food is in a theme park.

The boys wanted to do the water rides again so dd and I went to the outdoor play area in Jurassic. She loved it and I kept up as best as I could. She found the water section and had a blast getting wet (seemed only fair). We tried to do Kong but the Express pass line was crazy long. Dd and I watched the boys go down the log flume and then she said her stomach hurt and our rooms were ready so we called it a night and headed to the hotel.

We walked back to the hotel given we were leaving ioa and the path is right there. We got two adjoining rooms. This was slightly cheaper then a suite and we got an extra bed and space to spread out. Cabana bay is a great option on a budget but it was tight getting the 6 of us in a suite. Obviously royal was better. But it also was about $800 more a night. If we had tried to stay here the whole trip that would have been an extra $4,000 which just wasn’t in the budget. But it was worth it getting two days of Express passes. Tomorrow night we head to the Drury inn for the last two nights.

We used grubhub to have firehouse subs delivered. This worked relatively easily with dh meeting them in the lobby. All 6 of us ate for $55 total…better then room service or the onsite hotels. Oh one more note ab is it royal pacific some rooms have just showers and some have tubs so you may want to ask at check in.


Day 4 12/29
Man we are running low on energy. Decided to let ds 12 sleep in while we took the rest to do some magic and shopping during early admission (7am early admission is rough to get up for). It was very empty with most guests in line for gringotts. Got some great pictures. I took ds 7 to the bathroom and dh got in line for olivanders. Worked out great. We were told when we went in that they normally shoot for picking a 11 year old. DS 9 got lucky and was picked. We were in the front row and he had a Hogwarts shirt on. I dont know if that matters though as he was not picked in January in full robes. Of course he had to buy the wand (he already had hermonies but he had $50 of christmas cash to spend and let DD have the hermonie wand. We then did some magic and shopping and then did the Hogwarts express with pretty much a walk on. Did some more spells while I ran and got the mugs reactivated and filled (Dh was needing a coke). A little more looking around and then dd wanted to do Kong again.

Kong at 815a with Express was super short. In true 4 year old style DD got scared this time and said never again. She loved the ride about 16 hours before.

I then took Dd and ds 7 with me to spiderman and dh and ds9 went on the hulk. Both rides were quick waits.

Dd wanted to do despicable me so we headed over using the blue man group entrance again. Such a cute ride we all loved it. After this it was time for DH to go get ds12 and get the luggage to luggage services to hold. While he did this I took the littles to go on transformers. This one dd loves (it is the same ride as spiderman). By now my motion sickness was kicking in and I kept my eyes closed. We then went to the bathroom and met up with dh and ds and headed to jimmy Fallon. This ride was another big hit. Of course right before our color was called dd had to use the bathroom. The lady was very nice and told us as soon as they got back they would get us in with that group. I did not wear my glasses and it was fun to watch the kids experience the ride and see how it worked. I guess 4 days is my limit for simulation rides.

We decided to head to toothsome for lunch since it seemed unlikely we would make it too dinner. It is yummy food although we generally do apps so there is room for dessert. Service was good and we had no wait for our party of 6 at 11:30a.

After much discussion it was decided dh would take ds 12 and 7 to do the water rides again (log flume ride is a favorite) and I took DS 9 and dd to dr suess land to reride cat in the hat, red fish blue fish and carousel. We then headed to hogsmeade to meet up and ride forbidden journey. Man it was crowded and hot (83)…we did get to see some of the frog choir which dd 4 thought was amazing (those frogs are real dont you know). The line to get through the lockers took longer then the Express pass to the ride. There needs to be a separate line for those that dont need to use lockers. So I took ds 9 and 7 (12 decided line was too long). This ride really messed with me and of course it stopped in the middle so we got to go again and how does one say no to that. I was close to throwing up on the ride. And it took a long time to recover.

So dd and ds 7 were pretty down but ds 12 & 9 really really wanted to ride the hulk again so DH hustled over. I slowly walked over found a place to sit on the ground and began passing out snacks and setting up phones for some screentime. This was a long wait but we were all done so it wasn’t bad.

Dd wanted to do the “tea cups” one more time so dh took her and ds9. And we decided it was time to headed to hotel number 3.

We are big drury inn people. With 6 of us all fitting in one room (2 queen suite with pull out sofa and rollaway) plus free dinner (and drinks for the adults!!!) and a really good breakfast it is a very good deal. I knew the Drury had a shuttle so we called earlier and found out they are on shuttle C. I sent most of the bags with Dh and Ds 12 back to get the luggage and Lyft to the drury while I took the littles on the shuttle (not sure how much safer a shuttle is versus no car seat in an uber or using a travel booster). The shuttle runs a certain times. We had to wait about 20 mins for the bus and another 15 for it to leave. We were the 4th stop. After stop 1, ds7 said he had to pee. This is kind of a problem of his. He waits until the last second and then asks to go as if it is an emergency. This has lead to multiple accidents. So I started freaking out. I had no options. I couldn’t get off the shuttle because I had no way to get to our hotel with dd and of course we were the last stop. So I may have yelled a little and sternly told him there was no other option then to hold it. I then held my breath and prayed. After a very stressful and LONG bus ride we made it to Drury with no accident.

We got room 809 which has a nice view. It is so nice to have the extra space compared to Cabana Bay. It is cheaper and you get meals…our issue is the shuttle. If you dont need a car seat or the Express pass I would totally stay here and just uber/Lyft.

Should have: taken Thursday as a resort day and then hit the parks hard on Friday and Saturday…oh well live and learn.

Tomorrow afternoon DH has to take Ds 12 and 9 to meet their mom in Tampa. We have time to go to the park but as of this evening no one wants to go (I may have over done it…)

Side note: recently on the last two trips to disney we had the dining plan (when we went all 6 of us it was free dining so we upgraded for like $600 to the standard). I fell in love with having a dining plan but universals dining plan just seems confusing and not a great value. I missed that a lot on this trip. It is one thing when going out to eat with 2 or 3 of us, but 6? It was hard to swallow and lead me to making choices based on price and not what I wanted to eat. I know that the dining plan at disney is not always a great deal but there is something about being able to order a snack or whatever I want and not worry about it.


Day five 12/30 daytime
After some late night discussion it was decided that we would take it easy this morning and go to the parks later and only really for lunch, shopping and a ride or two. After much debate we decided I would uber to Walmart to buy a cheap booster to use with uber as the hotel shuttle’s times did not seem convenient.

The kids began waking up around 7a after going to bed at normal bedtimes the night before. I think the sleep did everyone some favors. We then had a nice breakfast (Love me Drury waffles). Ds 12 opted to stay asleep in the room.

Ubering to walmart was a breeze and super cheap (my $2 tip was more expensive then the ride). I called for the uber at 8:58a and I was back at the hotel by 930a. I bought a bungee cord to secure the booster on the stroller and it worked well. I will be purchasing a travel one for our next trip but none of the stores around us had any in stock so I got a super small cosco one from walmart for $13. She fits ok. I would not use this as her primary means of transportation but it works for the ten minute ride to/from the parks.

We decided to do universal studios this morning. Mostly because it has virtual pass rides. It was really nice just kind of going with the flow and actually looking around. Dd said she wanted to meet shrek and donkey so I left them there and went to fill up our cups. Twice on this trip we paid to activate the cups and for some reason they activated for 2 days not one for the same price. So check your cups (it tells you on the machine how long you can have free refills). So I did not have to pay to activate them today. Also I noted today that there is no time limit between refills anymore. I got some in one cup, filled the other and then added more to the first cup with no problem. The cups were $7.99 to reactivate. You can bring them back over and over again. One of our cups was broken and they just gave us a new one. We probably filled those cups 10 times a day or more and then drank mostly water at restaurants and I think it saved us a ton.

By the time I got back they were all having a snack. Shrek had taken a break and she did not want to wait. She decided she wanted to so the twirl n hurl again so off we went to Simpson land. I sent them on ahead and stopped to get a big pink donut. The kids got a kick out of it and it was very good. It didnt go as far as I would have hoped with 6 of us but it was nice. Refilled the cups again and decided I would take the boys on MIB single rider line while DH went and got tacos/nachos for lunch.

I love the mib ride and single rider worked great. Ds 7 was a little nervous but he ended up in the same car as me just different rows. I did not win…in fact all 3 boys beat me. We meet up with dh and dd behind the tavern that sells duff beer (is it duff’s tavern? I don’t remember) it was very nice and peaceful and shaded. The tacos were good (chicken was just ok but the Korean beef was amazing) and the so were the nachos. Ds 7 and dd declined to eat (dd ate a big breakfast and she was just in a bad mood)

We then walked over to New York to grab a slice of pizza for ds 7 and so I could look in the christmas shop there. I was not aware th that t you can mobile order! I saw the sign and googled it while I was in line. It is pretty simple to use and fast. It was then time for our virtual pass for fast and the furious. I did not like this ride the first time as I could see the top of the screen but I was in the middle this time and it was much better. Dd liked it but bumped her head and so needed some cuddles coming off it.

I had promised DD she could play in curious George play area and get wet so we headed over. Dh didn’t want ds 9 or 12 getting wet as they had an hour car ride ahead of them. Ds 9 went back to the ball pit area while ds 7 and dd ran around getting soaked. Ds 9 came out screaming and holding his eye. Apparently someone hit him in the eye. He can be a little dramatic so you never really know if he is hurt or just being himself. Took a little bit to open his eye but nothing seemed scratched. We took that as a sign it was time to leave.

On the way out all ds 12 wanted was another jalapeno pretzel so we stopped and got one and filled up the icees. We took an uber back to the hotel (our car was there as soon as we called for it). I packed some snacks for the road and DH took Ds 12 and 9 to pick up the rental and head to tampa.

We are attempting naps (dd is in the bed next to where I am typing and she is not sleeping…) I really really want to see Hogwarts at night with the christmas projections. So our goal is to rest up the kids (and me) then when dh gets back head back and have dinner and then attempt to close out the park. The only thing we have to do tomorrow is repack, check out and take an uber to the airport at 11am.


Day five part 2- our last night

Both kids took nice long naps so we were ready to go when dh got back. We took advantage of having the rental car and drove over to universal. Our APs would have been free parking but there was no one at the booths so maybe parking is free after a certain time?

We were suppose to do the Mexican restaurant but we had just had tacos for lunch. So we let the kids help us pick and ended up at the bubba gump. I’ve never been to one before as I don’t normally do chain restaurants when on vacation. I won’t be back. The food was ok but most of it was not hot enough and it was all overpriced for what you got. It took over an hour to get a table but that was expected. While we waited I ran into USF to fill the cups with our last icees of the trip. Dd and ds were full of energy from the naps. They both ordered mac and cheese. It was Kraft mac n cheese so I knew dd would eat it. I’m not sure why ds picked it when he likes popcorn shrimp. So we paid 9 so my kids could eat .50 worth of mac n cheese.

My only goal was seeing the castle show. So after dinner we headed over. I had read once you see the fireworks the next show is about 13 minutes away. As we were walking into the lost continent we saw the fireworks so we booked it over. The crowds were so much better by now (it was like 9pm). We had no problem getting into Hogsmeade or a perfect spot to watch. Dh took DS and DD up to filch’s to buy an owl for DD and broomstick for DS. They made it back and the show started. It was amazing and beautiful. I really loved it. They really should do something like that all year long.

As we were leaving the park we decided to do cat in the hat one more time as our last ride with a 5 minute wait. We popped into the christmas store on the way out to get our traditional vacation ornament.

All in all it was a great vacation. We are not perfect parents. We get tired and frustrated. There is yelling and bad decisions. But we try our best to give our kids great experiences they will remember. We will bring them back at least once more before the APs expire and Dh and I have a trip planned for February. That will be the first time DH and I have been to a theme park sans kids.


I wrote this trip report as we went when I had down time in an attempt to remember it all. This is my first time doing one and I really liked it and think it will be a way to remember this trip in the future. I did not post as I went as I try to stay off social media during vacation (with the exception of the uber car seat instance as I wanted to let everyone know about that issue asap). Plus it gave me something to do at the airport!


great review! thank you for sharing. we hope to visit in November.

1 Like

Love the pictures! Seeing that empty Diagon Alley makes getting up early all worth it to me! Glad you guys had a good time. And this…

…is also my mantra! :grin:


I really enjoyed reading your trip report! Thank you for writing it, and posting pictures :smile:

1 Like

Thanks for sharing in detail and pictures. I really enjoyed your report!

1 Like