Tate's Orlando Trip Report

Day -1 Friday 29th March 2019
It was a normal school/work day for DD7, DD9 and DH. I had already finished earlier in the week and I was so organised it was quite a relaxing day. We headed to the Courtyard hotel near Gatwick about 7 pm. I had fed the girls and myself beforehand so we just had dessert while DH had dinner. This was a lovely start to our holiday but it did make our traveling time rather long. Cost wise it was cheaper than a return cab as they look after your car for free and deliver it to the airport when you return.

Day 0 Saturday
The problem with sharing a room with your kids is as soon as someone goes to the loo it’s not long before you are all awake. Our flight wasn’t until 11:30am but as we were up we headed to the airport, checked in etc. and found a nice table near a bar. Where I enjoyed a lager at 10 am while feeding my kids nut bars and telling them they could only have water. No issues with our flight, watched a few films whose names escape me, the girls enjoyed themselves, and we chatted a bit with our neighbors who were all roughly sitting in the same seats on the way back. It was economy with extra legroom, and the row behind. I hate how much it costs to reserve seats with BA, it’s nearly the price of a whole flight. I could risk it now as my girls would cope if they had to sit on their own, though DD7 might need a bit of bribery, though the chances are we would at least get 2 seats together. Anyway, we landed about 4 pm local time, and Orlando airport wasn’t as horrendous as last time. My phone wasn’t picking up any Internet so I couldn’t use Uber, this meant a more expensive taxi, and we had to wait for one that could fit all our stuff, I always pack too much. Arrived at Hard Rock Hotel just before 7 pm, we weren’t as wiped out as I’d expected and the kids wanted to swim, so we had a quick dip while DH watched us from the bar. I love this hotel, didn’t find it loud at all, but the underwater speakers and the ones around the back of the pool weren’t working. For being able to see your kids, this pool is perfect and 48’children can stand in most places. However for an adult it’s a little annoying. We liked the afternoon DJ and live music in the evening, usually someone singing with a guitar. I’m getting ahead of myself, but incase I forget there is a machine that sells stamps in the shop and there’s a post box. I hadn’t been expecting to send postcards but I’d written out my families addresses on sticky labels beforehand, just in case. I think we headed up to bed around 8-8:30 and I got the park bag ready for the next day. DD7 and DH snore, I can too but I was too busy listening to them to get the chance. After the first night there was a strict ‘you must blow your nose before bed’ rule.

Day 1 Sunday – Universal Studios
I hadn’t been expecting a kettle so I had bought my own tea bags from home and a thermos mug, fortunately they didn’t charge me for water and milk in their snack bar. The girls and I shared a freshly made waffle, egg and bacon croissant and a donut, which we took to the main hotel lobby to eat, while DH showered and I picked him up a croissant too, it was all very tasty. We left about 7:25 am and there was a boat waiting so we jumped on. You can’t beat HRH for the location it is brilliant, when there wasn’t a boat waiting or expected imminently we walked, it’s a lovely path and only takes 5-10 minutes to get everywhere. We were first in line at Olivanders and both girls were chosen for the wand ceremony, we then wandered around doing spells and saw the dragon breathe fire, rather cool. Tried butterbeer, we all had a couple of sips and chucked the rest away. DD9 bought some every flavor beans, I ate a dirt one, she’d chew the disgusting ones and then spit them out, sensible child. We did rider swap for Escape from Gringotts, it was great and I only felt a little queasy, did have to close my eyes a few times to keep the motion sickness at bay. DD9 enjoyed it but was a bit scared despite being a Harry Potter fan, she preferred Forbidden Journey, though the only HP ride she wanted to do more than once was Flight of the Hippogriff. DH thought they were all great but had no desire to ride again on his own. We then took the Hogwarts train, nice interlude and DH and I reminisced on when those type of carriages were common in the UK. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to enjoy Forbidden Journey as I had to keep my eyes closed the whole time and I was literally holding on and waiting for it to end. DD7 also kept her eyes closed, it wasn’t her cup of tea, a bit too scary, but the others enjoyed themselves. Both rides are very impressive. We had lunch at the 3 broomsticks, no queue for food as we’d arrived shortly after opening, but there was a 15-minute wait at the bar. As we’re waiting for our food, DD9 was asked who her favorite character was, she replied Snape and was given a free Butterbeer. I kindly thanked him and then passed it on to someone in the line at the bar. Food was edible but nothing more. DH and DD9 then rode the Hippogriff; DD7 wasn’t keen so we wandered into the next land to find a quiet place to sit in the shade. The morning had been more about DD9 so we headed into Suess Landing next. I loved the train trolley, it’s their equivalent of the people mover, though the girls thought it rather lame, however they couldn’t get enough of the Carrousel and One Fish, Two fish, which they rode multiple times. It’s similar to Dumbo but with water, they loved this. We walked back to the hotel around 2ish and spent the afternoon and early dinner around the pool. It was lovely but I didn’t reapply the sun cream and the girls got a little red in places. DH and I had a brief nap while the kids played on their kindles then we walked back to Universal Studios. Saw Minions, luckily for me they had stationary seats, and found a good spot for the Mardi Gras parade. We had taken the buggy and DD7 was asleep by 7:30 pm and slept through it. It was fun and was definitely the highlight of DD9’s day, she loved all the free necklaces. We went back twice more and came home with 257. Bed by 8:30 pm and asleep soon after.

Day 2 Monday – Discovery Cove & Seaworld
We left our room at 6:15 am, called an Uber which arrived within 5 minutes and headed to Discovery Cove, perfect timing as we only had a 5-minute wait before they opened the park at 7:15 am. We started with breakfast, found some loungers and got geared up ready for our Dolphin swim at 8:30 am. This was brilliant, and the timing would have been perfect on a hot day but it was cloudy and rather cold so DD7 never smiled and couldn’t stop shivering. We all loved our day here, the lazy river was great and bird watching while you float around is incredible. The girls didn’t enjoy snorkeling with fish and Rays but DH and I did. Other highlight of the day was we met a sloth, which was really cool. Unfortunately it rained all afternoon, not heavily but enough that you couldn’t just lay out in the sun. We ate 3 meals, nothing special but it’s all included in the price, and left around 4:15pm for Seaworld, which was also part of our ticket. Large lockers were $25 so we decided we could carry our 3 rucksacks and a paper bag with our photos and free towel. WRONG DECISION. One Ocean the killer whale show was amazing and very sad, I felt guilty just being there. We then walked all the way around the park, only stopping for the carousel until we reached the Penguin ride, the girls enjoyed this and we liked seeing the penguins, they have 2 versions, the mild I was fine with and it had a shorter queue, the non mild one just rocks a lot more. After that we were done, we were tired and sore from carrying the bags and our mood was not improved by an Uber driver who didn’t show up. We ended up paying for an expensive cab and were all in bed shortly after 8:30 pm.

Day 3 Tuesday – Universal Studios
We weren’t interested in early entry, so I picked up a couple of waffles and we had a leisurely breakfast in our room. Left around 8:30 am, arriving less than 10 minutes later. First up was the minion show, followed by Jimmy Falcons race through NY, it was OK, DD9 wanted to ride again, but the rest of us said no. DH & DD9 tried the Mummy, DD9 said it was way too scary, but DH thought it was good. Then we wandered round to Men in Black, though I came out wishing they hadn’t felt the need to spin the car. We checked out Springfield, decided to skip Simpsons as it was another screen ride and rode ET, which was lovely. It was raining when we came out so we had an 11 am lunch at Moe’s Tavern, it was decent and it was fun trying Duff beer. We left around 11:30/12 and spent the afternoon relaxing, DH and I had a nap while the girls had some kindle time and then we hit the pool. They always found friends to play with and joined in with at some of the entertainment. The entertainment here was on a larger scale and included adults in some of its games, while the Beach Club was aimed at children younger than mine, and it was very mediocre. I also did a load of laundry, very convenient as only 2 floors down, I could pay by credit card, and I had brought my own washing capsules. We headed out about 5 pm for our reservation at Pat O’Brien’s. There were only a few families eating at this time, and only one pianist but we had a brilliant time, the food was good and DD9 spent most of the meal dancing. We then headed into the Studios park to see Minions again and find a place for the parade. DD7 was in the buggy but managed to stay awake, the excitement over catching necklaces trumped her tiredness. We were at the beginning of the parade route, afterwards we headed towards Diagon Alley and caught the parade again, yay more necklaces! We did a few spells and then DH took DD7 back as she had fallen asleep and he was tired. DD9 & I stayed out and saw Celeste’s show and then found a spot to wait for the Cinematic experience, which is a light show with projections and a few fireworks. It was nice and it was lovely to be able to walk back to the hotel. There were a couple of bicycle carriages, so I treated DD9 to the 2-minute ride.

Day 4 Wednesday – Islands of Adventure
We had originally planned to go back to Seaworld but no one wanted to. Breakfast consisted of nut bars and dried fruit that I had brought from home, and concierge kindly changed our mythos reservation to today. We left at about 9:15 am. Spider-Man first, DH thought it OK, but DD9 wasn’t overly impressed as she doesn’t know the film. DD7 and I sprayed a few people with water, found a cool playground and then met up with the others at the Jurassic learning place, we had fun creating our own dinosaurs that superimposed our faces onto them. DH and the girls rode Flight of the Hippogriff twice and we checked in early for our lunch at Mythos, very enjoyable meal, I had fish tacos that were delicious. Next up DH & DD9 tried Poseidon’s Fury, should have all done this as there was no ride or screens, DD7 and I bought some melon and found a quiet shady spot in the Lost Continent. Then it was time for the water rides, my favorite. We loved these though I had to bribe DD7 with the promise of ice cream to ride the Jurassic park one twice, she had accidentally bitten her tongue. We then called it a day and spent another afternoon around the pool. We stayed too long and ran out of time to get dinner, so the nutbars and dried fruit were brought out and we headed back to the parks around 7:30 pm. Saw Hogwarts Castle at night, which we had to queue for and were packed in like sardines, the girls and I sat on the stage to the side but it meant we couldn’t see part of the castle. It was nice, but now we’ve seen it we wouldn’t go out of our way to see it again. We only did one spell as there were way too many people and caught the train over to Studios for the cinematic experience. DH thought it rather lame, his comment afterward was ‘Disney does it better’, but the girls and I enjoyed it. Having a buggy and express pass meant we totally bypassed all the queuing at Hogwarts express, which was fortunate as otherwise we would probably have missed the show. DD9 was reminding us that we hadn’t had dinner, so we headed for the Beach club pool bar and restaurant at HRH. Lovely place, excellent service, but it’s expensive. Nice way to end the day.

Day 5 Thursday – Islands of Adventure
Think we had waffles for breakfast, left around 8:30 am, walked through Studios and caught the Hogwarts express. First stop was the Pteranodon flyers as it’s one of the few rides that you can’t use the express pass on. The girls loved this and rode a few times before the line started to build up. Next was King Kong, DH and I enjoyed this, though the girls were scared, DD7 was fine as she just kept her eyes closed but DD9 kept trying to watch. We explored Toon town and let the kids play on Olive’s boat, I wanted to ride the barges however no one else wanted to get wet. Ice creams next and then onto Suess Landing for the carousel and One fish 2 fish, which the girls rode a few times and I insisted on another trolley train ride. We hit Citiwalk at midday with no particular place in mind, this wasn’t a good idea, and then it was back to the hotel for pool time and a load of laundry. We couldn’t get a reservation for Cowfish but we turned up just after 5 pm and got a table almost immediately, hotel guests do get preferential treatment over other walkins. We all liked this place, special mention to the tuna nachos and PJ&B milkshake. We finished with one more parade and positioned ourselves near the beginning so we could make a quick escape. While we were waiting we allowed the girls to go see the Minion show on their own, this was a bit scary as it took longer than expected but they were fine and found their way back to us before the parade started. We were back in our room shortly after 8 pm, and I started packing for our move to Disney World while DH and I enjoyed a cup of decaf tea and the girls played on their Kindles. Visually the parks and Citiwalk are as detailed and impressive as Disney, but we all prefer the rides and shows at Disney, with a few exceptions. Staying at HRH with the express pass made our time here very relaxing and completely stress-free.


Thank you for the report! I especially liked the info about Discovery Cove. Why did no one want to go back to SeaWorld?


It wasn’t that we didn’t want to go back to Seaworld, just that a day mainly spent around the pool was more appealing. Seaworld also meant an uber and not having an express pass.


Sounds very relaxed! We loved staying at HRH.


I have a long weekend booked next February and I am trying to figure out what we will do! Thanks

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I could spend three days at SW.


Thanks for sharing!
We haven’t been back to Seaworld since DS15 was small…the boys just don’t want to go!
I’d love to do Discovery Cove at some point, but I’m always out voted :roll_eyes:


Day 6 – Animal Kingdom & Epcot
There was no rush, but after lying in bed awake for a couple of hours I got up at 7am, the process of washing and packing stirred the others and we were ready to leave shortly after 8am. Uber only took 2 minutes to arrive and we were checked into the Beach Club by 9am, stored our bags with Bell Services and had a little explore before we headed to the bus stop. This was the beginning of our unlucky streak with buses and boats, they always seemed to pull out just as we arrived, and the boat to HS wasn’t running a couple of mornings and that caught us out twice. That said the longest we ever had to wait was 20 minutes. We had some time to kill in AK so we took a few photos, explored Pandorra, DD9 joined in with the drummers and were waiting for Satuii Canteen to open at 10:30am. Liked this place, though you need to have seen a menu before you reach the cash register, which I missed as there was no queue. Next up was Navi River, we all thought it beautiful, it was so good that seeing Pandora at night became a must do. The girls had picked up their Wilderness Explorer booklets and we had fun picking up badges, enjoyed Gorilla Falls, and loved the Safari, despite it being midday there was lots to see, including a few baby giraffes. Just made it for the Bird Show, the birds were brilliant but the script was poor. Found the lockers and donned Ponchos for the rapids, this was a first for us and we loved it. Tried Flame Tree BBQ for a late lunch, this was the only time I ever got mobile ordering to work, but the internet failed and I didn’t get a your food is ready message, so after 15 minutes I went to ask and it had been ready for ages. Liked this place, lots of space, but I wasn’t raving about the food. Back to the Beach Club for a quick swim before we hit the food booths. At 3pm I was waiting for the same day Fast Pass Plus drop at Epcot and picked up Test Track. DH & I had done this on a date night previously and it had been a once and done, however with the girls it was much more fun as they adored this ride, every part of it. I picked up evening FPP’s twice more and it was one of our regular FPP’s for our last morning. Before this holiday I had listened/watched a few podcasts/Youtubers and I had a mental list of food I thought we should try. I was very impressed with the fried green tomatoes on a crab salad, chicken tandorri flatbread, lobster tail and crispy chicken were also delicious. Staked out a good spot near Canada for Illuminations and we all played on our gadgets while we waited. Also ordered the citrus flavoured beer flight, which both DH & I thought were all disgusting and we chucked them away. I enjoyed Illuminations far more this trip, it’s the 5 minute walk back to the hotel that does it for me every time.

Day 7 – Saturday Magic Kingdom
I had canceled our 8am Be our Guest reservation in favor of the extra sleep. We left our room at 7:55am, 10 minutes later than I’d hoped but despite waiting 20 minutes for a bus we were still one of the first on Buzz, we rode it twice with a bathroom break for DD7 in between, next was Barnstormer, and Little Mermaid before we started using our FPP, Enchanted Tales with Belle, 7 Dwarfs Mine train, Winnie, Peter pan, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, you can guess which ones were for DD7 and me. There was lots of extra FPP availability just after 11am, but My Disney experience was playing up, which was a daily problem, so we did Country bear Jamboree. It’s a nice place to get out of the heat while you refresh your phone, we then did Aladdin’s Flying Carpets twice with FPP before our lunch reservation at Skippers Canteen. We all enjoyed this place and we only shared 2 Table service credits and an appetiser. While we’d been waiting for our table I scored a Jungle Cruise FPP for straight after lunch, and then while we were waiting for JC I got another for Flying Carpets. We were pooped by then and headed back to the resort. The girls just wanted to play on their kindles so we hung out in our room, and DH and I might have had a nap. Our holiday package included a $200 gift card but it had to be picked up from the world of Disney shop in Disney Springs, there was no wriggle room, I did beg. We caught a cab, picked up our gift card, tried and failed to use mobile ordering, took one look at the queue for Polite Pig and the crowds and headed for the bus stop. We just missed our bus so caught the Broadwalk one instead. The sky looked stormy so we grabbed a table at Ample Hills and had ice cream for dinner instead, we then walked back to the Beach Club. DH & DD7 called it a night and DD9 and I watched the Starwars fireworks from the beach in the drizzle, it was lovely and DD9 would have stayed out longer but I was getting a bit damp. I played the late night FPP lottery with trying to predict which rides would go down and this was the only night it worked, with Fantasmic as it didn’t run during the storm, we were able to use it on Toy Story Mania the next day.


Day 8 Sunday – Hollywood Studios
I’d picked up breakfast sandwiches, and decamped our tea into paper cups and the girls and I headed out at 7:45 am with DH only a couple of minutes behind us. Unfortunately he went to the bus stop instead of the boat landing, which actually turned out to be correct, because even though the boats were running they weren’t stopping at HS that morning. There was a scurry of texts with us both saying where are you and there’s a boat/bus coming. We got the next bus, from the lighthouse where the boats go from it is quicker to walk through the foyer of the Yacht Club to their bus stop than go back to BC. We arrived at HS with no bags, signed up for Jedi training 5 mins later, found a seat to eat our breakfast, and were among the first onto Toy story Mania, this ride is still up there among our family favorites. We rode twice, tried the pop tarts at Woody’s Lunch box, which none of us thought much of, then we used our FPP on Alien Flying Saucers, this was naff but the girls loved it. Back to TSM to use our bonus FPP and then over to see Vamperina, she chose that moment to go on a break, so we watched the storm troopers and picked up some popcorn. DH used a FPP on RNR coaster, DD9 changed her mind when she found out it went upside down. The girls and I saw the Disney Junior Dance Party instead, DD7 really enjoyed this. Afterwards we got in the queue for Vamperina, this was the only character she wanted to meet, so I thought it best to make sure it happened earlier rather than later. DH found us in the queue, we switched magic bands and he took DD9 to Star tours. I picked up drinks and ice creams and we all met up at the entrance to Indiana Jones to use our last FPP and at 12:01pm I snagged another for TSM. We all enjoyed the show and it was a pleasant wait in the shade beforehand, only issue was chewing gum on the seat, I had to scrub it off before I could sit down, made me whole heartedly approve of Disney not selling gum. Next was Jedi training, which was fun, though they didn’t want to do it again on our second day at Hollywood Studios. The timing worked out well here, as DH waited with the girls while I grabbed food from Backlot express and found a table where I could see the Jedi Training, afterwards they were pleased to find I had cold drinks and food ready for them. TSM for the 4thtime was just as good, and DH and I enjoyed riding together and competing on each round. I should mention I only beat DH once over the whole holiday. We then headed out and just missed a boat. I decided to go find a loo, which involved going back through security into the park, it was fine as I had 20 minutes until the next boat but it would have been nice if there had been one on the outside. We spent the afternoon around the pool, and headed out around 5:30pm. I’d managed to score another Test Track FPP and then it was time for dinner at Biergarten. Very enjoyable meal, one of DD9’s favorites as she loved dancing to the music, we saw the show twice and were there for about 90 mins. We didn’t bother with Illuminations tonight and opted for an early night instead as we had an 8am BOG breakfast the next day.

Day 9 Monday – Magic Kingdom
We left our room about 6:50am, just missed a bus, but we were still through security and waiting to be let in by 7:30am. We had time to find a photographer for a family photo in front of the castle, and we checked into Be Our Guest for breakfast just before 8am. We had pre ordered so it was very quick an easy and our food arrived at about 8:05am. We were meeting friends for breakfast so we found a large round table, they were a bit late but it didn’t matter as we had 2 separate reservations. You help yourself to drinks here, so I like to order a bottle of water as you can take that with you and still have another drink with your meal. What is labeled tea, is cold tea, and DH had to ask for normal tea bags as there weren’t any out. The server came back with only 4, which DH and another Brit quickly claimed. I thought our breakfast here was better than last time, we all enjoyed it, though if we hadn’t been on the dining plan it would have been very expensive. We stayed with our friends the first hour and rode Peter Pan, Small World and Barnstormer, the queue was already a bit long for Dumbo so we skipped that and used our first FPP of Seven Dwarfs mine train, next was the carousel and our other 2 FPP, which were for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. They weren’t DD7 favorite rides but she enjoyed herself. I had picked up an extra FPP for the Haunted House but we had 20 minutes to wait so we caught some of the Muppets show. In hindsight I should have made our lunch reservation for midday because my family gets tired of theme parks after about 3 hours. I knew that our afternoon plans weren’t going to happen so we headed for the people mover next, 20 mins queue but I did enjoy this. The girls wanted to ride barnstormer again which is an easy extra FPP to pick up and modify and then it was lunch at Cinderella Royal table. This was probably our least favorite meal of the whole trip, DH and I found the whole experience rather lacking and the girls weren’t enthusiastic either. Meeting Cinderella was nice, but then we had a 30/40 min wait surrounded by crying babies and toddlers. The food was fine but they brought the main course out before we had even finished our starters, and the desserts 60 seconds after they took the mains away. The only character that said more than hello and do you want a picture was Ariel, and none of our photos came out as the sun was behind the girls. I had scored a Buzz FPP but no one was interested and we headed back to our hotel. Had a quick swim and then the rain came The girls just wanted kindle time so we vegged in our room and I took them down to Hurricane Hanna’s for a snack around 5ish. I loved how bold all the birds are here but I can imagine some people being bothered by them always being underfoot, and the baby ducks came over for some fries too. DD9 finished first and wanted to go back to the room as she couldn’t see the kindle in the sun, I said fine and let her go as DH was there having a nap. 10 minutes later DD7 wanted to go back, I double checked she knew the route and room number and let her go. She didn’t make it and was found by another guest wandering the halls randomly trying to get into rooms. DH got a call in the room and had to retrieve her from reception, he was a bit embarrassed and DD7 wasn’t allowed to go anywhere on her own again. While she was waiting to be picked up they let her choose something from a box of probably lost property, so she gained some bunny ears. I had picked up a FPP for Soarin and we headed out at about 7ish. We love this ride, definitely a family favorite, while we were waiting I snagged another for 40 minutes later and in between we had a second dinner at Sunshine Seasons. It had been raining in the afternoon and was still drizzling so Epcot felt very empty compared to other visits and standby on Soarin was only 10 mins. The second time we requested B1 and it was nice to not see any feet. I’ve always ridden on B but never the front row before. I wanted to see Illuminations again so we headed for the bridge between England and France and found a big enough space for DD7 to stand by the rail only 5 minutes beforehand, a kind couple next to us let the girls stand in front of them. I said they didn’t need to and that we were fine, but they were insistent which was nice. And afterwards it was a lovely quick stroll back to our room.

Day 10 Tuesday – Epcot
We left our room at 8:45am, a little later than planned and we reached Soarin by 9:05am with a 10 minute wait, then it was onto Living with the land and Figment which we all enjoyed. We were behind schedule so couldn’t play in the Figment area for as long as I’d hoped but I promised we would come back another day. Next was our FPP’s Spaceship Earth that we normally love but this time the ride kept stopping and was stationary for at least 20 minutes at one stage. What was most annoying was the constant voice recording asking everyone to stay in their seat, do they really need to repeat it every 30 seconds. Then onto Mission Space, this was my first time as I’d been worried about motion sickness, and I was fine, though obviously we only did green. I loved that as a family of 4 we were all on a mission together. I had bought the egg and spike scavenger hunts and with the food booths that was the plan for the afternoon. We had an excellent spiced beef taco in Mexico, found the egg, rode the boat with no queue and moved onto Norway for our last FPP at Frozen ever after, I know many think this ride is rather naff but I find it a lovely family ride. We found a bit of shade in China and sent the girls off to find the egg, we liked the cheese wontons and we picked up some extras from Lotus blossom as there was no queue. In Germany we picked up a beer, found the egg and admired the miniature train track. We stuffed ourselves in Italy, everything on the menu was great and saw a street show. By the time we reached America just before 1pm everyone bar me just wanted to hit the pool, so we called it a day and headed back to the hotel. We finished the egg hunt online and gave the Spike’s exploration trail to our friends as we hadn’t found a single one. DH and I were definitely more interested in the Scavenger hunts than the girls. We spent some time in the Arcades at the hotel and I found the massage chairs, I loved these and came back on my own a few times in the next couple of days. $10 for 25 minute massage and a beer that I’d saved from breakfast, total bliss. We had a dinner reservation at California Grill and I had been undecided on whether to take the girls with us. We did as it was cheaper and less hassle but I fed them beforehand and it was the only meal during our holiday that I let them take their kindles. We took the bus to MK and walked, this isn’t a pretty walk compared to BC to EP and HRH to Universal and you have to go through MK security to reach the walking path. We checked in 30 minutes early at 7pm and were seated immediately, something to keep in mind if you are trying to see the fireworks during dinner. This was a lovely meal, nothing special but very relaxing and we had an excellent server. For anyone who hasn’t been before it’s surrounded by massive glass windows that overlook Magic Kingdom and the lake. Amazing views, and for a while the fog/cloud rolled in and we couldn’t see anything, which was pretty cool. We shared the large cheese ravioli as a starter that was delicious. DH had the bison and I think I had the fish. We ordered a pepperoni flatbread for the girls but even DD9 found it too fancy, I think it was the pesto on top that did it. They were happy though and the server brought them more bread. And we all shared 2 desserts, the crème Brule was fantastic because of all the little extras on the plate. We took our time and finished about 9pm and then headed onto the terrace to see the fireworks. They were very impressive only slightly marred by a guy behind me who was trying to record the whole thing and literally had his camera resting above my shoulder. I ordered an Uber as we left and it was waiting for us by the time we reached the ground floor.


Day 11 Wednesday – Blizzard Beach and Animal Kingdom
We had a relaxing start to the day and headed to our bus stop about 9:15am, perfect timing as we arrived just after they started letting people in and had time to change and find lockers before they opened the waterpark. We took the ski lift up to the top and did the teamboat rapids, loved this as we could all ride together and we rode a few times before trying the lazy river. The river is brilliant at this time of day. If you can’t find an empty ring, just swim, as after you go through the tunnel there is a stockpile of rings to choose from. DH & DD9 got out half way round to try some water slides and DD7 and I completed a lap before we headed to the under 12’s area with the icebergs that have to be crossed to reach the other side. We then met up with the others, picked up some towels and food and had the difficult task of finding a free sun lounger, we found a few chairs near the wave pool and had a quick lunch. We tried the wave pool, went back to the icebergs and had one final lap of the lazy river. DH and I didn’t enjoy it so much as it was completely full of rings even though half of them were empty. I don’t understand why the staff doesn’t remove the empty ones when there are that many. The girls had a great time as they decided to ditch their rings and pretended they were all monsters that had to be avoided. We had FPP for Dino & Everest but the kids voted for a round of mini golf instead. It was included in our ticket and as it was right next door. It was fun but if I’d had to pay for it I might have been disappointed. We had planned to take the bus and check out the Animal Kingdom Lodge but we just missed one, so we ordered an Uber instead. This was a longer ride than necessary because the driver took us to the back entrance first, not his fault as he was simply following satnav. We arrived about 3pm and headed to the bar in Africa, DH & I enjoyed a beer while the girls had ice-creams and we watched some street performers until it was time for our Lion King FPP, excellent show as always. Someone tried to film it right in front of us with their hand above their head, until DH told them off and no one lifted their camera in the air for more than a few seconds after that. We had an excellent dinner at Tuskers, the characters were brilliant and the food tasty. Next up was the much awaited Flights of Passage (FOP), brilliant ride and I totally understand why everyone is raving about this but I did turn green and need to sit down for a while afterwards. I wish they could create a version that just glides with no swooping. While we were waiting for FOP I picked up an extra FPP for the Rapids and modified it until we had no wait. I was still feeling a bit shaky when we got there so I found a nice stone to sit and wait. DH was insistent that they didn’t need ponchos, I should have insisted but I knew I had a change of clothes for the girls so I let them go on without them and unsurprisingly DH and DD7 got rather wet. I changed DD7 and DH wished he’d worn a poncho, though it was a warm evening and he didn’t suffer much. We found our Dining package River of Light seats, we had a little wait before the show but it passed quickly as we picked up some ice cream, went to the loo, and the girls wrote in their scrap books. It was a nice show, my favorite bit was just before it started when the trees were lit up and they made it seem like Elephants were walking around the edge of the lake. Now we’ve seen it I doubt we’d go out of our way again, it would be a lovely background while you were having dinner. We made a speedy exit afterwards as DD9 & I were keen to see Pandorra at night, it was beautiful but we didn’t stay long as it was rather crowded, same at the tree of life so we only saw one show and called it a night. While it was long day, it felt very relaxed.

Day 12 Thursday – Hollywood Studios.
My app told me there was a bus at 8:03am to HS, but we arrived to find that only boats were running this morning, being given wrong info is even worse than no info. We of course arrived at the dock to just miss a boat. It’s a nice place to wait though and I wasn’t worried as we weren’t trying to sign up for Jedi training or ride Slinky Dog dash. We were one of only 3 families that headed to Alien flying saucers first, the girls had been insistent. Next was Toy Story Mania and DH beat me again, the wait was only 5 mins when we came out but the girls choose food instead, who chooses food at 9:15 in the morning! As we had already turned our noses up at the pop tarts we tried the toasted smores sandwich which the kids liked, and DH and I enjoyed our turkey breakfast sandwich. Next was Slinky Dog Dash, we all loved this, and it’s so smooth and quick I didn’t get the chance to feel queasy. DH asked if we could meet Chewbacca, this was the first time he’d ever requested a character meet and greet, so we headed straight there, Only a 5 minute wait at 10am, and it was fun. No one wanted to ride Tower of Terror or RnR Coaster so I changed our FPP to the Muppet Movie. It was sweet and I’m glad I saw it before it disappears. Having a FPP there is of no benefit as you all wait in the same area, and I doubt it’s ever full. I had moved our Star Tours FPP up to follow straight on and while the others were riding I picked up some chicken strips to share from Backlot Express. We were finished and heading out around 11:30am. Another relaxing afternoon around the pool, we shared a burger and a seafood roll from Hurricane Hanna’s, both very nice and of course there was ice cream from Beaches and cream. DD7 and I loved how tame the squirrels are, usually it takes weeks of patience but Disney squirrels will happily feed from your fingers. We headed out about 5:30pm and spent some time in Innovations, the girls loved Colormania and the magnifying glass. Yet another FPP for Test Track and then it was time to meet our friends at La Hacienda for dinner. Excellent meal and company, very relaxing way to see Illuminations and the food was delicious.

Day 13 Friday – Animal Kingdom
Relaxing morning. I made the kids eat breakfast on the balcony as I didn’t want to clean scrambled egg off the floor again, and we headed to AK. We only did our FPP’s, Flights of Passage, Safari and the Rapids and had lunch at Yak & Yeti counter service. No one wanted to ride Dino or Everest and we were a bit damp so the air conditioning at the Nemo show didn’t appeal, still haven’t seen this show. It was a very hot day and we arrived at the pool later than usual, this was the only time we had difficulty finding a couple of free sun loungers. We ended up on the platform above Hurricane Hanna’s where there is a pool table, which was great once we’d cooled down. The girls and I had worn shoes/sandals down to the pool on our first couple of days and hadn’t bothered after that. We regretted it today as the stone was boiling, and it added to our frustration at not being able to find a place to sit. We had dinner at Cape May, this was our favorite meal, and if we’d come at the beginning of our holiday we would probably have canceled something to do it twice. Unlimited crab claws and fried fish and calamari were delicious, DD7 loved the spaghetti and meatballs and pizza, and the kids eyes always light up when they see a buffet dessert table. I made a start on the packing after dinner and then we watched the fireworks from both Illuminations and Hollywood studios from the beach at 9pm, it was a lovely way to spend our last evening.

Day 14 Saturday – Epcot and traveling
The girls didn’t want one last swim so we finished packing and headed to France for breakfast, this was something I’d imagined doing many times but the reality even when you’re staying at the Beach Club meant it nearly didn’t happen. It was relaxing, delicious, and we found Kermit and Miss Piggy, who knew they were French! We then headed for the Figment playarea/shop and DD9 spotted Rackit Ralph & Penelope, this and Vamperina were definitely our longest queues at around 30 mins, and the only characters the girls requested. DD7 & I bought some sweets and a fridge magnet and played with the gadgets, our favorite was making music with our hands. Spaceship Earth didn’t break down this time and was excellent, same for Mission Space and Test Track. We then took the Friendship boat across the lagoon and checked in for our final meal at Teppan Edo. It was a fun and entertaining end to our holiday, the food was nice but nothing I’d choose if it were part of a buffet. We walked back to the Beach club, retrieved our bags and boarded the bus to the airport just before 4pm. We were sad to be leaving, but after 2 weeks we were theme parked out and looking forward to the girls not sharing our bedroom. We’ll be back, though not for a few years. It was a brilliant holiday, probably our best ever, and it was filled with amazing experiences every day, that we will hopefully never forget.


In hindsight I would have paid for lockers at Seaworld, been more vigilant about reapplying sun cream, avoided trying counter service in Citiwalk at lunchtime, booked a dining reservation in Disney Springs as we had to go there to pick up our voucher, used our water shoes which we did have with us, and booked Cinderella Royal Table for midday instead of 1pm. I avoided a few fractious moments by organising/producing snacks and drinks and a place to sit, sometimes this was because I hadn’t ridden something and DH and the girls would get off to find a Whatsapp message telling them where I was, or simply picking up drinks and ice creams when on our way to an outside show. We do prefer the Disney parks but our first week at Universal was much more relaxing. I know the Disney system so we never did a ride without a FPP after 9:45am but the Express pass at Universal meant I didn’t even need to think about it. My Disney Experience is an amazing app, but if it’s playing up or the wifi is rubbish, which it is, especially at AK, then it’s rather annoying. While none of that mattered at Universal.

The girls had to write in their scrapbooks every day and once home I made them write about their favorites of everything.

Day – DD7 the first Friday when we spent all afternoon and evening at the pool. DD9 the first day when we saw the Harry Potter worlds, and received our wands at the ceremony, though every day was amazing. DH & Me Discovery Cove.

Meal – DH Cape May. DD9 Waffle breakfast at Hard Rock Hotel, Cape May where the food was heaven, and Pat O Briens and Biergarten were a draw. DD7 Donuts and ice cream, Cape May, Pat O Briens and Teppan Edo. Me Cape May and La Hacienda.

Park/Lands – DD9 Diagon Alley, Hogesmead, Toy Story Land, Blizzard Beach, and Pandorra. DH Epcot. Me Discovery Cove, Pandorra, and Epcot.

Moment – DD9 Wand ceremony, riding and kissing a dolphin. DD7 pool time. Me swimming with a Dolphin.

Rides – DD9 listed about 20, and couldn’t choose a top 3. DD7 Slinky Dog Dash, Alien flying saucers and 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. Me Soarin and the water rides.

Shows – DD9 Indiana stunt show, Cinematic Experience and Illuminations. DD7 Frozen sing along. Me Watching the fireworks from a sun lounger at the Beach club with a beer.



What a beautiful picture!


I loved your report. Thank you for sharing. Sounds like an amazing vacation!


great report. thanks for sharing

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I think the second scene is terrifying. When the woman falls into the swamp thing and horrifying creatures emerge. It’s literally the stuff of nightmares.


Do you love how not a thing here is Disney Dependent…? I honestly think I put more emphasis on Disney than it really deserves.


If we had to choose, my DS would pick Universal every time. At 7 on his first trip he hated MK because he said it was full of baby rides and only enjoyed the thrill rides at the other parks, and Universal has lots more. Plus he’s a huge Harry Potter fan. Oh he does love FoLK.


I know, but I’m not sure I could go to Orlando and not visit WDW

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