Showing posts sorted by relevance for query disney world. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query disney world. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query disney world. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query disney world. Sort by date Show all posts

Futuristic Architecture for Kids

Architecture with a Fun, Kid-Focused, Futuristic Atmosphere

So, I'm somewhat of an Architecture ophile (okay, I made that word up). I studied Architecture in college, back then futuristic architecture was an oxymoron of sorts. It meant buildings designed in the past to look futuristic, generally the architecture of the 1920's-1930's Art Moderne later termed the Art Deco style- think the Chrysler Building in New York City. We've come a long way, baby.

Futuristic Architecture for Kids Lesson
Futuristic Architecture Story Lesson for Kids.



What is the tallest building in the United States? Scroll down to find out. This is a great Homeschool Architecture Lesson.


Chrysler Building, New York City. Public domain photo from Wikipedia.
The era of 1910-1920 is termed a futurist movement. Everything since 1960 is considered Post-Modern Architecture. Futuristic Architecture is space age, like The Jetsons in the 1960's or Futurama in present day, it is impossible to believe these buildings could happen. But, happen they do.


futuristic reading nook library by Sako Architects
Futuristic Reading Nook for Kids by Sako Architects.
This is a popular children's bookstore complete with activity centers, book nooks, and lots of space to run around while playing hide and seek. See more pictures of Kid's Republic Bookstore in Beijing.


Interior of the Swan Hotel, upscale (more for adults).
Public domain photo from Wikimedia.

One of the favorite buildings I ever saw up close was designed by Michael Graves. The Humana building in downtown Lousiville, Kentucky is known to locals as the Milk Carton. Below, you can see why.

Futuristic Architecture Art Deco Michael Graves Disney Swan Hotel
Swan Hotel, Walt Disney World designed by Michael Graves.


Michael Graves Humana Building Louisville Milk Carton Futuristic Architecture
Humana Building, Louisville, Kentucky designed by Michael Graves.
Public Domain Photo from Wikipedia.









Many futuristic architects designed buildings in my little, old backwoods state of Indiana. The city of Columbus, Indiana is known as the architecture capital of the world. My favorite architect, Michael Graves is from Indiana. Think you don't know anything he's designed? Take a trip to Disney World and check out the Dolphin Hotel. He's also done an office building or two there.


Futuristic Architecture for kids Michael Graves Dolphin Hotel in Disney
The Dolphin Hotel in Florida. Photo from Wikipedia in public domain.


I stayed in the Dolphin hotel in 1992. Graves designed everything down to the disposable plastic cups which I still have in my curio cabinet today. 
Michael Graves Futuristic Architect Indiana for Kids NCAA Hall of Champions
Michael Graves, NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis, Indiana.  
Public Domain photo from Wikipedia.


I guess, I'm kind of lucky to live in Indiana- near Columbus and also Chicago. 

Hey, Architecture, remember Chicago? Yep, the old home of the famous Sears Tower (Now the Willis Tower). Completed in 1973, the one-hundred and eight story building was known as the tallest building in the world beating out the former title holder, the Twin Towers in New York City. 


Huh. I just realized I was also lucky enough to tour all of these buildings. And, you were all like- you aren't really an Architecture-o-phile you're just a Mommy blogger. :) Funny, because it took me by surprise too. These Mommy days sure wear on a person, making you think you are only good for cooking, cleaning, and hugging.

What is the tallest building in the United States? Sears Tower or Willis Tower


So, the Sears or Willis Tower is still the tallest building in the United States, but it is only the seventh (or ninth, depending how you count them) tallest building in the world and no; I haven't visited any of those buildings... yet. 

Click here for a ranking of the Tallest Building in the World per Wikipedia. Although it is always changing, it looks like the city of Dubai has it locked for now. 

What does the future of FUTURISTIC ARCHITECTURE have in store for us? How tall will they go? To the moon and beyond? I'd go there.

I'm just kidding. The World Trade Center (Twin Towers), the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Sears Tower (Willis Tower, today) were more than tall enough for me. I have NO desire to visit the others. In fact, after waiting in line to squeeze into the tiny elevator of the Sears Tower, I've had major claustrophobia and a tiny bit of Acrophobia. I can still feel the breathtaking view from the Empire State Building
Wanna come look over the edge? No thanks, I'm good let me just climb back into this tiny, killing contraption and get my feet on solid ground.









Recommended Reading:

Futuristic Field Trip for Kids

Graphic Design and Architecture, A 20th Century History: A Guide to Type, Image, Symbol, and Visual Storytelling in the Modern World*















ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products.

*We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)


Disney Tips and Tricks

Tricks and Tips Disney World

If you're planning a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, you want tips and tricks to make your trip less hectic and less expensive. We've got some simple Disney tips and tricks that will help you plan an unforgettable trip to Disney World! Enjoy!


As a member of the media, I received two media passes from Walt Disney World.*


Disney Tips and Tricks
Disney Tips and Tricks.

I wanted to take pictures of, It's a Small World, Space Mountain, and the Pirates of the Caribbean, but I forgot. Thank goodness! Instead, I got to enjoy the rides! Good news, YouTube is here for you! I'm sharing some of the best Disney World and Epcot rides through the eyes of popular YouTubers.

Important Notes:

  • Everyone gets FastPasses with their regular admission ticket. 
  • Disney Dining Passes are only for guests staying in the hotels. 


Tip #1

First tip... go to Epcot first. In the morning, everyone is rushing to the Magic Kingdom. Rush to Epcot. The lines will be shorter in the morning. The longest line we waited in was the security line to get into the park. We drove the car and parked it in the front lot, near the bus stop, just a short hop to the restrooms and then to Spaceship Earth!




Video by Mike Karschti.



Video by LiveFastDiePoor.

Tip #2

This way, you can take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom and make a grand entrance while enjoying the view.

Tip #3

If you have a complaint, be sure to let guest services know asap. They'll solve it- they want to make sure everyone is smiling, because it is the happiest place on Earth! My youngest was over waiting in the security line when we headed to guest services to pick up some passes. She was frowning! The rep asked her name, and then gave her a pass to go to the front of any line of her choice. That made her smile. Happy, happy, happy!

Tip #4

Split, then split it! If you have picky eaters, maybe don't plan on eating at Epcot. There's tons of food choices - too many. But, the kids were starving and we couldn't agree on one. We finally decided to splurge on French Food- the priciest food in the park. I was running out of money fast, and with my food allergies, and the picky eaters, I wasn't sure what to order. We split a chicken dinner. It was more than enough for the two of us. Chicken, veggies, bread, and dessert. The littlest one had a kid's meal.

What's great about this? Everyone is French! The chef came to assure me, I'd be okay. He was obviously very busy. It makes me uncomfortable when they do this... You can tell you are interrupting their work. I wasn't assured that I'd be okay, however, because he didn't stick around long enough to talk -- make sure you know your food allergies and steer clear. Mine are impossible to avoid, so I chuckled when he said, "You'll be fine." We could only hope.

We didn't visit the dome this time. I've been there before. There was a very long line, and I knew we'd visit Space Mountain which is a similar dome-y experience. If you want to do it, use your FastPass here.  FastPass Tips from Mousehints.

Tip #5

While you are in Epcot, don't miss the Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions. From the outside, it looks like a boring building, but it is a great place to cool off and relax. There is a lot for young children to do. My tweens loved designing their own ride in 4D. They wanted to immediately do it again, but it was our first ride and there was so much more to experience.

You'll get a card to visit Raytheon online.




Tip #6

When I visited Epcot as a teenager, Figment was my favorite part. Mostly, I think it was because he was a purple dinosaur with a rainbow. I don't know. It was an interesting experience.

I say, if you are short on time, skip this one. Unless, you love smell-o-vision. There are skunk and other smells pumped into the air for your enjoyment. When the ride is over, there is a fun, interactive, hands-on section for kids. We also liked that it was an air-conditioned wait in line.

Lots of Disney Movie "professors" and their experiments here.


Weebo.
While in Epcot, we also visted The Seas area and the Finding Nemo ride. If you have plenty of time, do it. The Seas have a nice ocean exhibit that includes rescued Manatees. If you are short on time, skip it. The line was long, and the ride was less than spectacular.

Tip #7

Remember that happy pass my daughter got for frowning? We used it at the Chevrolet Test Track. This was our favorite ride in Epcot. There's a little surprise at the end. We all wanted this ride to keep going. So much fun! Use your FASTPASS here!!!

When the ride ended, we spent an hour enjoying the interactive exhibit areas.


There is so much to see and do in Epcot! It was pouring down the rain, and a terrible storm was on the way, so we hurried through Epcot to have more time in the Magic Kingdom. You really do need a day or more to see everything in each park.

Since a storm was brewing, we didn't take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. Instead, we drove the car back to the hotel to take cover. Don't worry, Disney doesn't let a silly little storm spoil the fun. Everything keeps going... rain and all!






Disney Pop Century Hotel Most Affordable


We rested longer than we'd planned. Because beds. Because Disney Television. Because free wifi. Because vacation!

Then, we walked out to the main entry of Disney's Pop Century Resort and took a WDW bus to the Magic Kingdom.

Tip #8

Don't take a bus in the rain. People aren't happy on the bus. There are long lines. You might end up standing the twenty minute drive to whatever park you choose to visit next. The bus drives a little faster than you might expect. Park in one of the parks and leave the car for the day. Take the monorail between Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Parking was $20. You decide if that is too pricey. I think it was worth it.

I couldn't help worrying that everyone with a backpack was a terrorist. I've seen too many CSI's and Criminal Minds. There is no security check to get on the buses. Bus was my least favorite. So much so, that while riding the bus, I remembered I had ridden before and hated it then too. Apparently, I had blocked it.

Also, I just have to mention this, but I am hyperprotective. When we left the Magic Kingdom it was late. Some teenage girls were chatting up the bus attendants. I caught the older bus attendants (old men) making inappropriate remarks and letting their eyes wander.

Then, they caught my eye. Oops! Yep, remind your kids that, though it is WDW, you still have to remember about stranger danger. Seems like they just wanted to look and not touch...

Oh, that's not very happy. Just remember, we have to be aware of our surroundings and if we see something, say something.

On to the happiest place on Earth. There is nothing like the Magic Kingdom, even in the rain. Some things are better in the rain, because lots of people melt in the rain and go home.

What will you do first? It is so hard to decide!

Tip #9

Head to the furthest point in the park first and work your way back. Review the FastPass Tips above for the best rides to use with your FastPass. We planned to use it on It's a Small World, but we didn't need to and then somehow we lost our last FastPass option when we tried to delete it at the last minute.

Use it for Peter Pan! The lines are always long. Waiting until the last minute didn't help.



Video by SoCal Attractions 360.

Tomorrowland is underated and awesome.

Tomorrowland tips and tricks Disney.
Entry to Tomorrowland.
Sure, some things are outdated but still have charm. Other things are so cool, you don't want to miss out!

Laugh Floor
Are you a Monster's Inc. fan? Don't miss the Laugh Floor! The line wasn't too unbearable. Once inside, you'll sit in a comfy seat and enjoy an innovative show. The technology is super cool.


Stitch's Great Escape 
More Smell-o-Vision here. Cute. Shorter lines and it is a very unexpected experience.


People Mover
I love the People Mover. No stairs, no escalators- just moving ramps to a sit down ride. This is a low key ride that gives you a great view of Tomorrowland. You even get a sneak peek at Space Mountain.



 Tip #10

Here's a BIG TIP! While everyone else is watching the fireworks, catch as many rides as you can! We rode Pirates, Flying Carpets, and Jungle Cruise with no waiting!

Cinderella's Castle in the rain, just before the fireworks. 


Video by DAPs Magic.





Videos by Sharp Productions.

Tip # 11

I'm not a big fan of Splash Mountain. It is similar to water roller coasters at other parks. To me, the line isn't worth it. If you want to ride it, be sure to use your FastPass. I think it is a glorified log ride.

Tip #12

Don't miss Space Mountain. I'm certain, if this were an outdoor roller coaster, seen in the light of day, that I would NEVER ride it! Thank goodness everything is in the dark. It feels rickety. That's part of the charm.

The first time I rode it at sixteen years old, I held my breath and kept my eyes shut. The next time I rode it, I kept my eyes shut for just a second. This time, my nine-year-old kept her eyes shut the whole time. I think she held her breath too. She says she will never ride it again. I said that too.

It is pretty terrifying and pretty awesome. I didn't want my eleven-year-old son to miss out. I didn't want him to ride by himself... Confession, I really didn't want to ride it again. Ever. Funny, how much better it is when you keep your eyes open and breathe!

You can do it! It only lasts a few seconds, and you will never forget it! They've changed the line experience too. Though it is long, there is a lot to do along the way. There's not a better way to end your Disney experience.

So long, Magic Kingdom. We only had one day to explore. Don't worry, we'll be back for more.

Tip #13

It is expensive, but heed all warnings that you need more time. Four days should do it. Take advanatage of those multiple day passes. This year, we didn't make it to Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios. There are awesome things to see at both places. Toy Story, Cars, and now, Star Wars, await you at the Studios.

On the way out, don't miss the Mickey Mouse confections at the Main Street Bakery. If you've spent all your money, at least pop in to take a gander.


We stopped on Mainstreet to watch the parade. Again, more than enough to share at Casey's Corner. We spent about $9 on a combo meal that was more than enough food for two. They even shared with me!

Everywhere you go, there are friendly ducks! They want food. Don't feed them. How will they fly? Bread is bad for ducks.

Resting in the rain, sharing mini corndogs and fries from Casey's Corner. 
The Parade



Last photo op on Mainstreet.

Tip #14

Single parent with kids of the opposite sex? Send the kid's into the restrooms while you wait outside and listen or pop in as needed. Then, when they return, have them sit together near the entrance. There's safety in numbers.

The Pop Century Hotel is just as fun as the park... almost.

Disney Tips and Tricks
Yes, you can have a cupcake for breakfast!
The food is really good. Whenever they can, they make Mickey ears. It was expensive, but get a kid's meal with fruit and some ala carte items. There are lots of ways to be frugal.

Fun aracade inside the hotel lobby.
Cool interactive games.
Get your rock star on.
So, you saw the awesome pool pics above. We were too tired to swim. The rooms were small, but nice. The Mickey details are awesome! There is even a safe inside the room. We had a fridge but no microwave, that seemed weird. Read more about the room here: Universal vs. Disney.


Have a Happy Disney Trip!






ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products. *We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)


A Day In Kokomo at the Glass Factory

Things to do In Indiana: Kokomo,  A One Tank Trip


We visited the Indiana Glass Factory in Kokomo, Indiana. If you're looking for things to do in Indiana, this is a great idea for a field trip or a one tank trip in Indiana. Homeschoolers will enjoy learning a new skill for a possible future trade or art project.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Field Trip Idea: Things to do In Indiana: Kokomo, A One Tank Trip



A Day In Kokomo at the Glass Factory
Glass Factory.


Kokomo Opalescent Glass Main Office.

Things to do In Indiana: Kokomo,  A One Tank Trip
Beehive where they melt the glass.
Table where they roll glass to make panes.


Area where they roll and blow glass.
Sample of their panes of glass.

We got a guided tour of the glass factory. The kids saw it featured on a local news channel over Christmas break and really wanted to go. We all learned many things and we were all surprised to find out where the glass has been placed. One place is the Cinderella Castle at Disney. Apparently, the Kokomo Glass Factory produced all of the glass in the castle



Stained Glass at Cinderella's Castle in Disney World.


Stained Glass at Cinderella's Castle in Disney World.
Stained Glass at Cinderella's Castle in Disney World. 


The Kokomo Glass Factory has a beautiful shop where you can purchase hand blown hand blown glass items. Visit KOG.COM to see the shop (they ship) and if you live in the Indiana area, stop by and take  the tour. The Indiana Glass Factory makes a great family outing or field trip idea

Currently it runs Tues-Fri at 10 am and lasts about an hour. They even offer a class to make glass beads and accents. They also sell glass panes of different sizes and thicknesses if you need some for your home or craft projects.

This is truly a hidden jewel in Indiana.  We never knew about the glass factory until we saw it on the news. The kids loved the tour (which was a surprise) and apparently it was the highlight of everything we had planned over break. 


~ Angie


Recommended:

Things to do in Indiana

Books about Hand Blown Glass

More Posts by Angie

Thing to do in Kokomo

Get a Glass Craft for Kids



Disney on Ice Worlds of Fantasy Coloring Sheet Printable featuring Tow Mater

We've got a fun printable coloring sheet featuring Tow Mater, Tinkerbell, The Little Mermaid, and Woody and Buzz from Toy Story. 


Click the image below for a printable PDF.


Disney on Ice Worlds of Fantasy is coming to Banker's Life Fieldhouse January 23 - 27, 2013.

Rev up for non-stop fun with four of your favorite Disney stories at Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy. Thrill to high-speed stunts as Lightning McQueen, Mater and the crew of Disney/Pixar's Cars race across the ice. Dive into The Little Mermaid's enchanting undersea kingdom and enter the mystical world of Pixie Hollow with Tinker Bell and the Disney Fairies as they reveal the magic that lies within! The toys are back in town with heroic action when Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie, and the Toy Story gang escape from the rambunctious tots of Sunnyside Daycare and race for home, in their most daring adventure ever! From wheels to waves, playtime to pixie dust, your family's favorite Disney moments come to life at Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy with dazzling skating, special effects and beloved characters certain to create a lifetime of memories.



FFA Discount Code for Disney on Ice:
Code:  SAVE4
$4 off all performances (excluding opening night)
Valid on $24 tickets
Valid NOW - Jan. 22, 2013
Limit of 6 tickets
On-Line only
Worlds of Fantasy Coloring sheet Tow Mater Disney Woody

Phineas and Ferb Printables

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Disney on Ice World's of Fantasy at Banker's Life Fieldhouse: Tow Mater Steals the Show

Tow Mater Printable Coloring Page

We saw Disney on Ice World's of Fantasy at Banker's Life Fieldhouse last night, and Tow Mater stole the show! At least, that's what my eight-year-old son thought. He grinned from ear to ear astonished at seeing Tow Mater in the flesh. It was truly life coming full circle for us.

Disney on Ice Worlds of Fantasy Tow Mater



You see, in 2004, I attended Disney on Ice, Monster's Inc. when he was just a bun in the oven. I'd never seen anything like it. I couldn't wait to take him one day. Well, apparently, I waited one or two days too long. He hated  The Little Mermaid, growled through Tinkerbell, and complained Toy Story was boring and for babies. Good thing I brought his 6-year-old sis along. She loved Cars, endured The Little Mermaid, adored Tinkerbell, and giggled through Toy Story.





When asked, What was your favorite part? My son said, "The only thing good was Tow Mater, he had a real amber light just like on Daddy's plow." And, my daughter said, "The queen looked real and Tinkerbell really looked like Tinkerbell. Here's what I didn't like about Toy Story: the boy's hair looked like plastic, but the girl's hair (you know, Barbie) looked like real."

Maybe, I had too many years to build up my anticipation, but I preferred the magic in the Monster's Inc. version. The Little Mermaid was a beautiful display of skating artistry. In kid speak that spells boring. In fact, the daddy slept through it, but to be fair, he'd only had two hours of sleep the night before. My favorite part was also Tow Mater. Who doesn't love him? Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy hosted. As much as I hate to say it, I think they are has-beens. Please don't tell Mickey, I loved him. He was one of the very first dolls in my collection. I guess it happens to the best of us.

Goofy Disney on Ice

This show catered to the preschoolers and the princesses. Perfect, if you have either. My little, spirited "Princess" sat still all through Tinkerbell.  Now, that was truly magical!

Recommended:

Free Disney Pumpkin Templates

Tow Mater Blanket and Pillow Set*


Universal vs. Disney Orlando

Orlando, Florida Vacation Tips

Are you planning a trip to Orlando, Florida? Wondering which park to attend on limited funds? It can be quite a condundrum knowing that this could be your only family vacation to Orlando. Can you do both during the same vacation? Yes! In this Universal Studios Orlando Florida Review vs. Disney Orlando Florida Review, we share tips on the best rides, rides with the shortest lines, and which attractions to save for fast passes. Enjoy!


This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.*

Georgia rest park, just before entering Florida, Spring 2016.

First of all, everything in Orlando is better. The roads are better, the weather is better, the McDonalds is better! Only one thing isn't better, the traffic on the freeway.

Orlando Largest Best McDonalds
Orlando Largest Best McDonalds.
If you can't afford an amusement park, but you drive through Orlando, visit the largest McDonalds. The Play Place is pretty cool, and the food isn't just burgers and nuggets. The menu will suprise you.

Orlando Hotels

Should you stay in an Orlando theme park hotel or a theme park friendly hotel? Yes. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

While we were visiting Universal Studios, we chose to stay at a nearby Kissimme hotel. Kissimme, FL is similar to Pigeon Forge, TN --- Orlando's little sister. There's lots to do here. Many of the hotels offer buses or trolleys to the theme parks for FREE.

While FREE always sounds good, it might not be what you expect. You'll have to stick to their schedules and battle other tourists for seats. If you miss the bus home, your stuck. That means, you will have to shell out money for a taxi. Nope, you can't walk back.


We were planning to take the bus, but when morning came, we chose to sleep in a little later than the bus schedule allowed. We ended up driving. Regular Parking at Universal is about $20. Those extra hours for refueling were priceless. I call it worth it!

We stayed at the Seralago. It is bright and cheerful with a fun atmosphere. You will find many mixed reviews online. This is an older hotel. Even so, we thought it was just fine.

Room at the Seralago Hotel Orlando Kissimmee
Room at the Seralago Hotel Orlando Kissimmee.
The room included a fridge, coffee maker, and mini- microwave. We went out and purchased mac and cheese for our Disney stay, but the Pop Century hotel didn't offer a microwave. Aside from the age, there wasn't much difference in the two hotels. One was further away (Seralago) and one was somewhat smaller (Pop Century). Yes, the price is significantly different.

The Seralago offered a cafe that was open late, swimming pools, a hot tub, and a play space with video games and the like.

The negative would be reservations. They are VERY busy. They don't get back to you in a timely fashion or ever. I emailed and left many telephone messages before finally letting the operator know that I would wait to speak to a live person.

The same thing happens upon arrival.

Guests who have already checked in know the drill. Several of them cut the line for various reasons. Frustrating. Two even cut the line to ask for an extended stay.

Hey, I was going to do that!

Tip: Don't go during Spring Break, especially the last week of March which is typically the busiest time.

Next to the Seralago is an amuseument park, a mini golf-course, and a nifty shopping center called Old Town. Grab a flyer from the hotel lobby for discounts at Pirate's Cove mini golf, a nearby Chick-fil-a, and lots more local attractions.








Insider Tip: There are two Old Town Theme parks. Do not follow the ferris wheel lights to get home! One is in Kissimme and one in Orlando. Yep, don't.

Frugal Alert: The older amusement park is $99 per day. If you aren't going to one of the major theme parks, great. Have all the fun you want, get a pass out, and come back in the evening for more. If you are visiting a major theme park, you will want to skip this one.

Florida Theme Parks

There are so many theme parks in Florida from which to choose. On our last visit, we visited Tampa parks. The Lowry Park Zoo is a win! Don't miss it. We also visited Busch Gardens. It is okay, especially if you want to skip the major crowds. Clearwater Marine Museum - eh. It is nice, if you don't buy into the hype. It is also very crowded!

Universal Studios Orlando Florida Review Tip

Gringott's Bank in Diagon Alley area of Universal Studios: Harry Potter.

So, as a blogger, I got media passes. It was difficult. Okay, I didn't exactly get Media passes because it was Spring Break. I had tried on several occasions to get the passes, and it was always during their "busy season."

I never called, that's a no-no, but I did email a few different contacts many times. I wasn't getting a timely reponse from the online contact page, and I needed to know if I had scored tickets.

I did not, but rather than giving me another no, they offered fast passes and tickets to a Blue Man Group show. I took it! This saved us a considerable amount of money, however, I spent a considerable amount more.

Would I do this again? Probably not. At least, not if I didn't get regular passes. After going through a security check, we went to the reserved tickets kiosks. That took a minute, but it was faster than the ticket lines. Then, I had to go to guest services to get our fast passes. That took way longer than a minute.

Tip: Don't go to the first guest services you see upon entry. Find one less busy further into the park.

Then, I had to go to the Blue Man ticket office to pick up those tickets. That was a no. I saved it for the next day.

After all the waiting in line, I asked the kiddos what they wanted to do first. We hadn't eaten! What did they want to do? Of course, they wanted to visit Harry Potter Hogsmeade.


Universal Studios Florida Rides

This is the line for Gringott's Bank. It is long, but there is lots to see.



























We waited in line: tired, thristy, hungry, and eventually needing to go to the restroom. It was not pleasant. May I suggest finding a ride that is less popular for your first attraction so that you may have time to regroup after all of the rushing to get inside the park. I was too stressed to get pictures of this line.


Hogsmeade.

Gringott's Bank. Sorry, it was dark and everything moves. My camera didn't like it.

Still in line at Gringott's Bank.

Be prepared. The line didn't seem super awful. But, there are major issues with this one. Heed those claustrophoic warnings. Watch out for the lockers. Everyone is rushing to get a locker, others are rushing to retrieve their belongings in a very tiny cramped space. They ask you to send only one person to the lockers, the others are directed down the corridor. My others were my kids, 9 and 11.

I panicked. I rushed. I have allergies and claustrophobia. I smelled something. Maybe someone's perfume or deodorant? I was starting to react to the scent when I  saw a tiny corridor coming up. After the locker experience, I wasn't sure I could handle it. How would I escape? Then, I realized that I had followed their instructions and locked up everything in the locker.

Everything.

Everything for me was an Epi-pen, an inhaler, and liquid Benadryl in case of an ashthma attack or anaphalaxis. There was a lot of perfume, deodorant, and who knows what else. I have no idea if I was having a panic attack or an allergic reaction... One came on quickly after the locker escapade.

I didn't want to go back there until I had to.

I didn't want to leave my kids alone again. I tried taking many deep breaths. I was terrified and then we were outside in line again. The corridor was very short.

Okay.

The kids didn't like this turn of events. They both wanted to get out of line and do something else.

Are you kidding me. No way! And then, they announced that the ride was shut down but we were welcome to wait.

So, we waited.

Kids were not happy. I was not healthy, nevertheless, we waited.

Finally, as we got to the top of the platform, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was all slow going and then boom, get on this seat quickly, pull this bar down.

Hey, why is that strange man between me and my little girl? Hey, switch seats. What is happening. I think I want out of here. I feel like I can't breathe. I'm not scared, but I am terrified that I am having some sort of attack. Hey, can we lift this for a minute. I think it is too tight. Hey, If I could just get my hair out of my face. I- I-I think I need a med-

We went flying into the air. I couldn't catch my breath. I kept my eyes shut while counting and breathing. I didn't want to die on the ride with my kids locked in beside me. I thought happy thoughts. It seemed like eternity before I opened my eyes.

Then, I opened them and tried to concentrate on the scenery rather than the contraption I was locked into. Pretty cool. Worth seeing. Worth the panic? Not sure. Would I do it again, not sure. Not with just myself and two kids.

I needed another adult.

I was so glad it was over but the worst part wasn't. Now, I had to leave my kids in the gift shop while I retrieved our things from the lockers.

I wanted to hurry.

I didn't want to leave them alone. I had no choice. And now, people boarding the ride were in a frantic rush to find a locker. They wouldn't let me in. I finally explained to someone that if you let me use the screen first, I can get my things and then you can have my locker.

People weren't happy to see me "cutting in line."

People, this is how it has to work. Universal, you need a redo on the locker situation. There were lots of panicked parents.

Once you've ridden the ride and know what to expect, it isn't so bad.

My mother took my niece, she shared a similar story. She refused to leave my niece alone. The reason they do this is to keep the crowd out of the lockers, but it ISN'T WORKING!

What can you do to avoid the fright? Don't take anything that needs stored in a locker. Hide a fanny pack under your shirt. Don't leave your life saving devices in the locker!! Eat and pee first.

So, the kids felt like we were running out of time. They wanted to see the rest of Harry Potter and Hogwarts.

We must eat.

She passed on the Butterbeer at Three Broomsticks, but you shouldn't!
We had dining passes. We got in line at Three Broomsticks and waited for a good while and then decided that the restaurant wouldn't take our passes.

There wasn't anything else nearby. We went back and asked; they do take the dining plan. This was the one place that makes the dining plan worth purchasing. The food is expensive, but you get a lot. Our meal cost more than our dining plan, and we still had snacks left.

Turkey leg at Three Broomstick's in the Hogmeade area.

Jake got a turkey leg the size of his head.

Be sure to use the restroom next door to get the full Harry Potter experience.

After filling up on food, we got our drinks. Worth it. If you don't do a food plan, be sure to do a drink plan. Some places have long lines; some have none. Down point, you have to carry that cup. You have to put those cups in the lockers. If it is full it might spill all over your $50 wand bag. Dump it before you ride the next ride requiring a locker.

Boy, do I have another locker story. I'll save it for later. Best tip I can give - find a way to avoid the lockers and avoid the STRESS!

Best thing better about Disney - they don't make you use lockers!!!

So, the train was a 40 minute wait. I coaxed the kids into seeing a show. Sinbad! It was a nice way to relax, regain composure, and enjoy the park. It was a very hot day.

My kids wanted to go to Gringott's Bank and then leave.



Are you kidding me? No, way. This was hardwork to get here. I have things I want to see! Like, Shrek 4D, Minions, Simpsons, and MIB.

It was going to rain. The park closed at 9. We had to hurry to do everything.

I know what you are thinking- just use those express passes to save time. Guess what, you can't use them in any Harry Potter areas!

So, we tried out Jurassic Park. Great place to rest and eat. My kids weren't so impressed. My son is a huge fan, but we are TWEENS now. This was more for younger kids. Plus, we have the world's greatest children's museum in Indy. So, we felt like, been there, done that.

This is a giant puppet! You control the movements.

Once we did have the opportunity to use the passes, it was AMAZING. They are worth the extra cost. We used them on the SIMPSONS ride, which was my favorite part of the park. I think I felt about the Simpsons area the way the kids felt about the Harry Potter areas.

We ate there.

We ate chicken and waffles here. So good!

We photoed there.

Simpsons Universal
Jebediah Springfield statue at Universal.

We had fun there.








We didn't make it to MIB. Kids vetoed it!

We ran to Shrek 4D - which was okay. It was a nice place to cool off. There was a short line. The Minions line went on forever. We skipped that and went straight to the Transformers ride. With our express passes we felt like VIPS.




A lot of people left due to the rain. Anyone who had to catch a bus left early too. So, we saw more in the last two hours than we had the whole rest of the day. We buzzed through The Cat in the Hat and Spiderman.

I had to con the kids. Once they got their $50 wand and Butterbeer ice cream- they were done. We were soaked and their feet were covered in blisters.

I was not done.

This day, even with passes, had cost me nearly $1000. I don't have that kind of money to spare. We were going to ride as many rides as we could.

All the kids cared about was Harry Potter and Diagon Alley. Yes, it is extememly cool. The $50 wands (there are less expensive ones) interact with the store windows. The wand shop is like the real thing. You are there. It is awesome, but everything costs a lot!

We got chocolate frogs for the train ride. Get your frog, before you get on the train!

Eating Chocolate Frogs on the train. Magical.

Hey, can I just say that the train ride, despite the incredibly long wait and the creepy guy eyeing my kid, was the best part. On the way back there was no line. It was so very awesome.

Yes, creepy guy. I told him that I saw what he was doing. He wasn't the kind of guy I should have been interacting with, but he wouldn't stop. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't let your kids go to the restroom alone. He never said a word, never looked away, but looked guilty every time we made eye contact.

Never mind that, I didn't let the rain rain on my parade. No creep was going to ruin it for us.

Later that night, my son had to go to the restroom. He asked someone where the nearest restroom was and took off! Grr... I was waiting for an order and couldn't make chase. Luckily, he couldn't find it on his own, but found his way back. Yep, he got a talking to!

Don't give me a heart attack.

Don't miss the Hogwart's Express in Universal Studios.
Train ride back, awesome, even though walking to the gate was closer. No one cared, until we had to walk to the gate from the train. Their feet stopped working.

My son actually laid on the ground, "You just don't know how my feet hurt. Your feet have never hurt this way."

Yes they have! They do right now!

"No, they don't or you couldn't walk!"

Yes, they do. I have no choice. I have to walk, and so do you!

Oh my... how will we possibly visit the happiest place on Earth tomorrow?

We won't. We couldn't. We took a chill pill. We played golf, ate at Chick-fil-a, bought souvenirs, watched television, and then we went to the Blue Man Group.

I had to trick my son.

He didn't want to go back to Universal Studios...


After a relaxing day, he was okay with it. After the security check (where my daughter had to hand over her toothpicks), we rushed to the Blue Man ticket booth.

Hard Rock Cafe, Universal Studios, Florida.

Michael Jackson's jacket!

We were hungry, we had wanted to eat somewhere else on the main strip (which by the way you don't need a ticket to visit), but we ate at the Hard Rock Cafe next door to the studio.

We rushed back to our seats. It was air-conditioned. I had to pee again. The kids didn't want to go. I didn't want to leave them. I thought I'd wait until the show started. DON'T. JUST DON'T. LOL.

Luckily, I didn't.

Blue Man Group- Worth it! Totally awesome, best show ever! The kids loved it. There were ZERO complaints. They both THANKED me. Hear me? They both THANKED their mother!!!

Best night ever.

We thought we'd go to Disney the next day, but there weren't any hotel rooms available anywhere in Orlando or Kissimme under $400.

So, we went to Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was only an hour a way but we still hadn't regenerated. Going from winter to hot summer-like heat takes a lot out of you.























We recuperated at the beach.




I also had free media passes from Disney. I didn't think we were going to be able to do it. We were just so worn out after all of the rushing.

Universal Tip: Even though it might be possible to do everything you want to do in one day, don't do it. Especially, not on Spring Break, the lines are too long. Get two day passes. Take it slow. Stop and enjoy the Butterbeer! We missed a whole section of the park and many rides.

Will we go back? Probably some day. It was raining. We didn't get to use our $50 wands. They don't do anything special once you leave the park. Did I mention that our wands cost $50. I want you to know, because there aren't any prices anywhere. Once you pick out your wand- I mean, once your wand picks out you, you head to the cash register. It took my kids a good half hour to decide. They were looking for a particular wand!

ASK THE STAFF--- whisper if you have to, but ask! Time's a wastin'.

Jest aside, I was surprised how much visiting the wand shop in Diagon Alley meant to my son. It was really special to him. It was truly magical. He exclaimed that it was the best thing he's EVER done.

At eleven, he is at that stage where nothing is cool. Everything is dumb or boring. This was a special moment.

A memory that is truly priceless.

That is why, even though I hadn't budgeted for $50 wands, I charged them anyway! Being my son, he was concerned when he saw the price. He offered to get a $30 wand. It was plastic. It did nothing but cost $30. I said, no way, you only live once! Besides, where were you when I bought two, eleven dollar chocolate frogs?

"The frog cost that much?"

It sure did.

Yep, I had qualms at buying the frog. I was sure my money was going to run out, but how many times do you get to buy a magical, chocolate frog and eat it on the train to Hogwarts? This epitomizes the meaning of the word priceless.

Even if it takes me all year to pay off the credit cards.

Should you go. Yes. Should you go if you have to choose between Disney and Universal?

That depends.

How old are your kids? Are they Harry Potter fans? Harry Potter is a must see. I feel like, in general, Universal is better for older kids. If you have little kids, go to Disney first. Universal can wait.

Eventually, we felt like we could do it. We headed to Disney World. My parents told us to come back to their house to spend the night. It was only an hour drive, but it was an hour drive in the wrong direction. I wanted to keep moving forward and make the best use of my time.

There were still no hotels available. We even had an in at the Seralago, but no luck.

I downloaded the DISNEY APP ---- Best tip ever!

Don't go to Disney without the APP.

How was Disney vs. Universal Orlando? Find out here: Disney Trip Tips and Tricks.


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