TumbleMonkeys' August 2022 Offsite, Extended Family Trip Report!

Hi everyone! Inspired (as always!) by the trip reports of the great @missoverexcited, I am here to document my recent trip to WDW! It was a lot of fun and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about it, and maybe even get some ideas - I know my planning benefited so much from things I learned here and on Lines chat!

GENERAL:
I’m TumbleMonkeys (aka Robin), 46 year old wife to Mike (48) and mom to Megan (17) and Josh (14). We live in the DC suburbs of Northern Virginia. Together we’ve been to Disney World five previous times, in 2012, 2016, 2016, 2017, and 2021.

Also traveling with us were my parents (both 75), my sister Amy (43), her husband, and their kids, my nephews DN10 and DN 6, and niece DN8. My parents live in Cincinnati and had not visited Disney World, or any theme park, since 1990! My sister and family live in South Carolina. They’re Universal Orlando passholders, and frequent King’s Island and Carowinds visitors, but their kids had never been to Disney World. Our extended family traditionally spends a week at the beach together every two years. After our 2019 beach trip, we decided we would switch it up and go to Disney World instead of the beach in 2021. I have a friend with a rental house in Emerald Island (which would allow us all to stay together and mimic a lot of what my parents love about the beach trip), and our plans fell into place - but then got derailed at the last minute. The 2021 trip ended up being just my immediate family, and we rescheduled the big trip to the same week in 2022.

This trip included:
2 nights at Universal, staying at Royal Pacific Resort (Amy’s and my families only)
2 day Universal tickets, one park per day
7 nights at Emerald Island resort, near WDW, in a 7 BR rental house
4 day Disney tickets, no park hopper, with Water Park option and pre-purchased Genie Plus

Additional trick up our sleeve:
We booked a one night, onsite stay (3 rooms at Pop Century, since we were a group of 11) spanning our first two Disney park days. While 2021 had almost no disadvantages to being offsite, as our 2022 trip approached, I was worried about missing out on Guardians and FOP ILL without an onsite stay. In actuality, it probably wasn’t necessary for either of these, but it was good peace of mind. This splurge was worth it to me to create a stress-free, “once in a lifetime” trip for the people I love. For those two days, we took some advantage of early entry, and got free parking at the parks.

And one more tip:
I moved our Hollywood Studios day from a Monday to a Sunday after learning that ILL and LL availability are better on the weekends. I was able to snag a Rise ILL (even though this was an offsite day for us), and we got in all the LL rides I had hoped for. Definitely recommend this tip to anyone staying offsite!

More soon! Thanks for following! (That’s me all the way on the right)

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What an awesome family photo :star_struck::star_struck::star_struck::star_struck:

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Thank you! I was determined to stop for group photos at every park, but as you’ll see, those plans fell away after the first day.

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Can’t wait to follow along! Love that you did a multigenerational trip.

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DAY 0: TRAVEL DAY AND UNIVERSAL’S RPR

Travel Day:
The less that can be said about the drive from DC to Orlando, the better. We didn’t hit traffic. It took about 14 hours. I think DD17 drove some of it. It was uneventful but still difficult. We arrived at Universal’s Royal Pacific at around 8 PM on Monday, August 1. My sister and her family had driven in from South Carolina (a much shorter drive) on Saturday, spent Sunday at the beach, and spent Monday in the Universal parks, so they were in much better spirts than we were! We connected over text and met at the TukTuk, the grab and go in the lobby of the Royal Pacific.

The food here was good even if the ordering process was a little confusing (Are they different stations? Can I order food from the cashier? These questions are challenging and even emotional after 14 hours in the car!). I enjoyed a Vegan Salad from the self-serve area. DS14 had a pizza that we all agreed tasted “like a box.” I don’t remember anyone else’s order, but this place was a reliable stop over the next few days for quick and good, if overpriced, food. There was a Coke Freestyle machine set to dispense chilled water, and that was a frequent stop for us, too.

We visited with my sister’s family, taking over a few of the picnic tables in the TukTuk for our impromptu family reunion. We don’t see them enough, especially the last few years, and were all looking forward to our time together.

Royal Pacific Resort:
The lobby of the RPR was very nice. We checked in easily and got our room assignment and our keys, which would double as our Express Passes in the parks. The resort was organized into several towers, which meant it was possible to get lost if you took the wrong staircase or elevator, but it was still compact and convenient. Our room was on the fourth floor next door to my sister’s room. It was a regular two queen room with a rollaway bed for DS14. We are normally a two hotel room family but were willing to squeeze in to get the free Express Passes for the price of one room (we were also only paying a passholder rate since my sister’s family all have passes). There was not a lot of floor space with the rollaway down, but the room was clean and stylish.

In their 18 months as passholders, my sister’s family has decided RPR is their favorite of the Premiere resorts (the ones that get the included Express Pass). The only downside they’ve mentioned is that the pool doesn’t have a slide! But they like the location, tropical vibes, and compactness of the resort. We liked it a lot, too!

We went to bed early, with the plan of being up for Early Entry at Islands of Adventure!

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I’ve still to try PB, but so far I agree!!

It would be better with a slide at the resort you’re staying, but at least pool hopping is allowed :+1:t2:

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Ooh, I didn’t know that about the pool hopping!

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Yes, all resorts included apart from Endless Summer.

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I love the way you put this–so true!!

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Thanks! I see from your username that you also have daughters. :sunglasses:

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Yes, DDs 15 (almost 16), 13 and 6 :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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DAY 1: UNIVERSAL’S ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

Welcome to my first day at a Universal park since 1994! I visited Universal Studios once with my parents and my sister, Amy, during my senior year of high school. So it had been a while! Mike and Megan had been to both parks in 2017 at the height of her Harry Potter phase, but Josh had never been. After my many months slogging through the ever-changing Disney planning, it was fun to start off the trip in a place where I was not the expert! We let Amy and her family decide how to best spend our Universal park days. We didn’t have park to park tickets (although her family has APs), so we’d need to pick one park per day. She picked IOA for our first day (our only full day) because neither Hagrid’s non Velocicoaster take Express Pass, so we would have more time to fit them in.

With 4 adults/near adults sharing a bathroom, I made an early exit from the room and went back to the TukTuk for coffee. Then I sat in the lobby for a while and caught up on Lines. I went exploring a bit around the resort. Eventually, the rest of the gang found their way downstairs and we all headed off on foot to Islands of Adventure! The resort also has water taxi service, but we found the walk very manageable. DN6 knew the way completely but kept disappearing from view to chase lizards in the bushes!

We arrived at the gates before the start of early entry, but we were in a big crowd and decided not to try to run to Hagrid’s (apparently you can actually run at Universal!). My tickets were printed out from an email but the QR codes didn’t work. Luckily, I quickly found them on the Universal app. It was not that difficult for 4 of us to scan in using my app, but it did mean we couldn’t split up (more on that later! :joy:).

We headed for Hogsmeade to do Hippogriff and Forbidden Journey, zipping through a lot of the park on the way. Hogsmeade lived up to all the hype. I’m not a Potterhead but I love a good Gothic castle (and surrounding village)! Forbidden Journey was probably my favorite ride of the day, although parts of it scared me (my scariest Disney ride is DINOSAUR, so I think I just don’t like things popping up near me when I’m in an open vehicle!). DN6 is on the shorter side and not (at this point! :wink:) much of a thrill-seeker, but he was completely content to wait in the child swap room. All our child swapping also saved us the trouble of dealing with lockers most of the time!

The Hagrid’s line was even longer leaving Hogsmeade, so we backtracked to Marvel Super Hero Island and rode - wait, no, we went to Starbucks. My teens love Starbucks and were thrilled to learn that Aunt Amy builds in coffee stops (Mom generally does not). After Starbucks we did go to Marvel Island. We rode The Hulk, Dr. Doom’s Fearfall, Spiderman, and Storm Force Accelatron. With Hagrid’s still commanding a long wait, we went to get in the 60 minute standby line for Velocicoaster.

Here I have to say another kind word about DN6. This line was long and hot and he was not riding (and he’s six!). But he was perfectly content to stand and wait with us. I enjoyed the ride - it was smooth and crazy! But, like with Hulk, I didn’t re-ride it with the child swap (our whole group was welcome to go again). I’m sure it’s my age talking, but I felt like I wanted to pace myself and limit my head rattling around on this, day 1 of our ten day trip. Plus, I felt like the child swap rooms are really tempting places to sit and relax.

We were hungry for lunch, but getting lunch seemed difficult. The indoor Jurassic lunch place was a madhouse. The other quick service places we checked had “at least 30 minute waits” (I don’t know if my sister saw this posted somewhere or if she was guesstimating?). We decided to head back and get food at RPR, but as we were leaving the park, we decided to do a walk up at Cowfish at Citywalk instead. This was the antithesis of the crazy crowded QS places. Quiet, cool, great menu and service. We enjoyed everything we ordered, including some sushi.

To be continued!

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Pictures for Day 1, Part 1:








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Sounds like a great start!!

I am glad to hear positive things about RPR as we are booked in there next year on a wicked deal I got!

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DAY 1 PART 2:

We were resting at the resort for a bit when Amy and DN8 invited us to go back to the park to ride Hagrid’s. Mike was in for the night and the kids and I wanted a bit more chill time, so we declined. Then, my brother-in-law and the boys asked if we wanted to go back with them in about an hour, so we decided to do that. They were going to the pool first, which we also decided not to do at this point. The forecast for the evening didn’t look great, but the weather was still stable at this point. We took the water taxi over to IOA. It was a nice ride.

Since Amy and DN8 were still in the line for Hagrid’s, we did a little shopping in Hogsmeade and also bought frozen Butterbeer. I thought it was amazing! It definitely exceeded my expectations. We wandered around and took some pictures until they emerged. Then it started to rain.

Our tentative plan to hop back in line for Hagrid’s was put on hold when the ride went down. And then most of the cousins’ usual IOA activities went down, too. We talked about going to King Kong, but it was down. The rain intensified and we ducked into Poseidon’s Fury. This was a hoot! It was a long wait, but since there was nowhere else to go, I didn’t really mind. The show was even more epic than I could have imagined. I’m so glad we did it, even though it was a bit intense for DN6 and DN8.

The rain had cleared a little but Hagrid’s was still down. We spent the rest of the evening practicing our wand skills with the cousins’ wands, and took one more ride each on Hippogriff and Forbidden Journey. Hagrid’s never came back up, and we were disappointed to have missed it, plus we were cold and wet. So we went back to RPR for another late dinner at the TukTuk, this one featuring a lot of their delicious mac and cheese. Then off to bed on our final night at Universal.

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Pictures for Day 1, Part 2:




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DN6 sounds like a champion :muscle:t3:

What a shame about your weather, but jumping into Poseidon’s Fury was a great move. We thoroughly enjoyed that show. Glad you did too.

I bet the folks behind you were delighted that your QR codes didn’t work :woman_facepalming:t4::rofl::rofl:

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It wasn’t too bad. The printouts were from a year earlier when we changed our dates, so I had my doubts and made sure I knew how the app worked just in case! Definitely didn’t want ruining rope drop to be our first act at Universal!

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Always happy to inspire a trip report! Great photo, looking forward to reading.

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DAY 2: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS AND MOVE TO RENTAL HOUSE

Unfortunately, travel was starting to wear on my immediate family by this morning. We were in the lobby by the appointed meeting time, but none of us had eaten, and we still had to take some stuff to the car, and store some stuff at bell services, since it was our check out day. No one was excited about my suggestion to eat another Clif Bar. We finally split, with me feeling the need to represent and go to the park with my sister’s family. However, I did not get far with that plan before I remembered their tickets were on my app! So I had breakfast at the TukTuk, too.

We met my sister’s family at Rip Ride Rockit, but in the hubbub, Josh had brought his overstuffed string bag to the park, so we found a locker to store that, first. Then we rode RRR a few times with Express Pass. This ended up being my favorite Universal coaster. I liked the unique uphill climb, the fun of selecting a song, and the backdrop of the cityscape underneath.

I think our next stop was Diagon Alley for Gringotts. But as we walked through New York, I got stopped by a “camera crew” who wanted me to be Captain America for a movie they were filming (I was wearing a Captain America shirt). They cheered me on as I said the line “I can do this all day.” It was fun!

Diagon Alley was every bit as impressive as Hogsmeade. DN6 had been working up his nerve to ride Gringotts for the first time, which meant we needed to use the lockers. Wow, that was a crowded mess! But we all enjoyed the ride, and he immediately wanted to do it again, which we did. I liked the bank and all the details in the queue. I did like Forbidden Journey a bit better, because more of the elements seemed real, as opposed to screens.

My niece and nephews did a little bit of shopping, and then we decided to visit Florean Fortescue’s for ice cream. I continued my Butterbeer streak with Butterbeer soft serve - delicious. We walked into Knockturn Alley and enjoyed the A/C and the dark for a bit. But we were basically melting and everyone was tired and grumpy. I’m not sure why, but we decided to go ride Jimmy Fallon and then figure out lunch. I really liked the pre-show entertainment, and a lot of the street performers we saw along the way at Universal Studios. The ride itself was clever but not memorable.

Since it had worked out well the day before, we left the park and went to Citywalk for lunch. My brother-in-law suggested NBC Sports Grill and Brew. Once again, we got in without a reservation and had a relaxing meal with excellent service. Our waiter wowed us by taking all 11 of our orders, not writing anything down, and then going to another table and taking their orders! He also impressed my DH and BIL by encouraging them to take additional beers in to-go cups.

We didn’t have a ton of time left before we needed to be at our Disney rental house for a grocery delivery. All the attraction lines looked long, even with Express Pass, and somehow, we ended up picking The Fast and the Furious. I think maybe because this was one DN6 had ridden before? Anyway, we went and did that. It was funny but wasn’t anyone’s favorite.

One of my goals for the day was to get a picture, for my dad, of all the grandkids with the statue in Springfield (he is a longtime Simpsons fan). I was somewhat successful. After this, we were melting again. We went to do RRR a few more times before leaving. Then Josh remembered he had wanted a donut in Springfield, so he and I power walked back there while everyone else waited. He is always such a good sport and does not ask much, so I was fine doing that. But we were all even hotter after that! It was time to begin the multi-step process of leaving Universal, starting with the water taxi, then on to bell services, and finally the RPR parking lot.

We headed down I-4, ready for the second leg of our trip! To be continued.

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