First Vacay of 2017

No better way to kick off the new year than a family vacation in Orlando. Last week we packed up and headed out on a Thursday afternoon and made the 5 hour road-trip down to Orlando for some good family fun. We arrived, got settled in, and got a good nights rest in anticipation for a day of fun at Universal Studios.

We had planned to get to the park early, but the larger your group gets, sometimes things don't always go as planned and next thing you know, your park arrival time goes from 9am to 11am, lol. We arrived at the park around 11am and went to will call to pick up our tickets, which some of us had purchased online the night before. I was able to find my ticket using the confirmation number and credit card I used to purchase my ticket, but Zac had bought his ticket a couple nights before, and didn't have the same luck. The machine gave him an error message that his ticket couldn't be found. He ended up having to go wait in the line at guest services to retrieve his ticket. 40 minutes later, we were all set and ready to go.

My mom had purchased my sisters tickets on her Universal app and sent them the screenshots of their tickets, but the front gate workers wouldn't accept the screenshot of their tickets, so back to the guest services window we went, i-yi-yi. Another 30 minutes later, and we were finally back in line at the front gate entrance and everyone was good to go. The crowds were heavier than we anticipated they would be on a Friday, so we decided to purchase fast passes for the day.

My family visited Universal Studios when we were kids, so to my sisters, this felt like their first time here since they were too little to remember. My youngest sister will ride roller coasters, but she still gets very anxious and nervous about them every time. As we waited in line for Rip Ride Rocket, we couldn't help but laugh at Taylor. She was so nervous. She stood there rambling along, voicing every thought and concern that came to mind. Then suddenly, she'd get really quiet and you could see the anxiousness in her face, wondering to herself if she really wanted to ride this ride. We boarded the ride and she grabbed my hand and squeezed her eyes shut. The ride goes up in the air at a 90 degree incline and it almost feels like you're in a space shuttle getting ready to take off. Not that I know what that feels like, but I can only imagine that's how it must feel. As the ride peaked over the top of the hill and descended rapidly, Taylor screamed for dear life.At the end of the ride, you can review your picture and video of your ride, and we died laughing when we saw Taylor's reactions during the ride. The DVD came with a $20 price tag, but we knew we couldn't leave without it.

After Rip Ride, I was excited to take the girls on, Revenge of the Mummy. Zac and I rode it the last time we visited Universal and I thought it was fun and unexpected compared to other rides. As we stood in the line, the girls asked, "Is it scary? Do we go backwards? Is it pitch dark?" I just laughed and told them they'd have to wait and see for themselves. At the end of the ride, they were like, "Kaitlyn, we hate you!" Haha, what are sisters for?! They didn't find that ride to be as fun as I did. They weren't fond of the surprises.

After Revenge of the Mummy, we rode the 3D Transformers ride. It ended up being one of the girls's favorites! My least favorite part about those 3D rides, is when you get squirted with water. I hate that! I'm always anxiously awaiting that part, and then it gets me when I least expect it.

When we were done with that ride, we met up with my parents and bounced over to Islands of Adventure to tour Harry Potter World. We made a pit-stop at The Hulk roller coaster and had no idea what we were in for until take-off! The ride sling shots you out of the tunnel and immediately flips you around in a circle. I think we did 4 or 5 loops total. It was one of the smoothest rides there, and that's saying a lot because we were even in the last row. Usually, that's the worst row to ride in because you're on the tail end that gets the most whiplash, but I was pleasantly surprised! When we got off the ride we were all like, "WOW! Lets do that again!"

We got in line a second time and waited in line to ride front row. Our second ride was more intense than the first! After about the second or third loop, I felt myself starting to hit my max. Everything was going black and I felt myself fixing to black out. That would of been a first. When we stopped, we all were saying the same thing about how we felt ourselves almost black out. Crazy! We all had tears running down our cheeks too from all the wind that hits you in the face when you're in the front. Whew! I think we all got our adrenaline fix for the day.

Next, we visited Dr. Suess land, where we stopped for ice cream and got a family picture with my favorite characters.

From there, we went on to Harry Potter World and of course, your first priority in Harry Potter World should always be a cup of Butterbeer.

We enjoyed our Butterbeer while we waited in line for the The Forbidden Journey. One of my favorite parts about this ride is getting to explore the corridors of Hogwarts. You get to see Dumbledore's office, the Dark Arts Classroom, and even the halls have talking picture frames. It's such a neat experience if you're a fan of the movies. Little back story, my dad hates roller coasters. Never has, never will, I've never seen the man ride anything before. He'll always sit out and hold the bags and purses, than wait in line with the family so for him to actually get in line and ride this ride, was historical for him! I died laughing when we got his picture back. He looked so scared lol.

Next, we got in line for the Flight of the Hippogriff. My dad decided he wanted to ride this too. He looked at it and said, "That doesn't look bad. I can handle that." Zac and I laughed, as we knew it still had some speed and turns to it. But hey, the man said he wanted to ride it, so we're not going to argue with him. The ride takes off and my dad is in front hollering, "Ohhhh, ohhhh....ohhhh". Zac and I are behind him and my mom about to pee ourselves we were laughing so hard at him. We get off the ride and he's like, "Damn! This little thing is a lot more powerful than it looks." I was dead. That's forever going to be the most memorable thing from this trip is, my dad getting on these rides and hollering "Oh! Oh no. No no no!"

My parents sat the next ride out and waited while we rode The Dragon Challenge. We ended up getting the last row and by this time, it was dark out, so we were riding the roller coaster blind it felt like. When we got off I was like yep, I think I'm roller coastered out for the day. My poor brain had been jiggled around so much, I was starting to get a headache. After we got off the Dragon Challenge, we were all feeling done for the day. We took the Hogwarts express back over to Universal and stopped by Diagon Alley so I could show my family the dragon. It looks even cooler at night.

On our way out, we saw people eating huge pink doughnuts and Zac stopped to ask where we could find one. Turns out they're in Springfield at Lard Lad Doughnuts, right behind where the tall statue stands. Yum! It tasted just like a pink sprinkle doughnut from Dunkin Doughnuts.

Day one at Universal was a success. Join me on Wednesday for more on "Day Two @ Universal".

For more information on park and food prices, continue reading. 

Price breakdown for Universal Studios: 

$234/Adult, 2-day, park-to-park ticket. Ends up being $250 with tax. 
$99.99/person for Fast Pass 
$79/ 1-day Photo Pass or
$140 with tax, for a 2-day photo pass. 

Park food is around $10-$13 at the food stands. It was $12 for the hot dog and chip combo, $14 for a turkey leg, $3.99 for a pretzel. $10 for a souvenir bucket of popcorn and $1.49 for refills. $4.99 for the big pink doughnut. 

Three Broomsticks @ Harry Potter World was around $13-$16/plate, but you get an entree with two sides so I would say you definitely get the most for your money and appetite there, versus at the food stands. 

Butterbeer was $6/cup. 

*Note* you can bring drinks and snacks into the park

Acceptable items
Bottled water
Small snacks that do not require heating
Any food required for medical purposes and medically–indicated nutritional supplements
Any food required for special dietary needs
Baby food/baby formula
Soft-sided insulated bags no larger than 8.5" wide x 6" high x 6" deep

Prohibited items
Picnic lunches
Food that requires heating or refrigeration
Alcohol and glass containers
Hard-sided coolers
Soft-sided coolers larger than 8.5" wide x 6" high x 6" deep
Coolers, suitcases, and bags with wheels
Clothing with offensive language or content
Clothing that represents someone as emergency personnel


  1. Looks so fun! So jealous of your weather!

  2. What a fun family trip! We just become Universal annual pass holders so looking forward to visiting several times throughout this year but I'm too chicken for the big rides like the Hulk....but I do the Harry Potter simulated ride! Looks like you guys had a blast!

  3. I'm not a huge fan of rollercoasters, but I would definitely ride the Harry Potter ones! I want to go to the Wizarding World SO bad. Hopefully one of these days! I love the story of your dad on the rides LOL!


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