I decided to make this a completely separate post. I have visited Disney before but never Universal. Both were pretty much the same as far as preparation. I traveled while 5 months pregnant with a 4 year old and a 15 year old...as well as my husband and we had a very smooth journey. I loved standing people watching. We went in January of 2012 and I could hear so many people speaking different languages. Everyone was from so many different countries...and states...I had a few comments on my southern Texas Accent.
If you are a regular reader who rarely travels with kids...don't read this post....It will not hurt my feelings.
I am going to ramble out some thoughts...I hope it will help any other moms out there. You know what is best for you and your family.
1. Pack light. The airlines charge a $25 bag fee...My family packed 3 Jeans (one pair of shorts), and all of the shirts we needed (of course underware and PJ's )for a 5 day journey...We also brought shorts and gloves and jackets(and glad we did it was cold..32 degrees one day the rest was in the 50's). We were able to get everything in one bag with lots of room to spare for sovineers. We carried on backpacks...that were extremely light. Our hotel had a washer and dryer so we washed our clothes. (I double checked) It was cheaper than triing to carry around a million clothes. Since airlines are charging for bags everyone is caring on and shoving as much as they can in one bag...Leaving little room for anyone on the flight to use the over head bins. I don't know about you but keeping up with the kids is all I want to worry about in the airport...not tring to wrangle the kids and everyone bags. On this note. Exiting the Orlando Airport is the WORST airport security line EVER...It takes so long and there are only 2 lines. You will thank me when you don't have to carry on bags. I got threw the line easy....so did the kiddos. We had a connection, so it was so nice to have the airline get our bags to our location...and not us tring to drag eveything through the airport. If you are pregnant like me with a 4 year old. It makes a bathroom break so easy.
As far as packing a bag for the Parks...I used a small kids backpack it was about 12 inches tall, and had 2 compartments. It cost about $8 at Wal-mart.. When I was a new mom I would bring this huge backpack with a huge camera bag and I really didn't like carrying it. It really impared my good mood. Most of the stuff in my backpack I didn't use. lesson learned...
Here is what I carried in my backpack to the park. A small camera bag with extra batteries and SD card. I have a super nice and super heavy DSLR Nikon camera. but for the trip I used this. It takes really nice photos, and video. Here is a list of things that I must have:
Sunscreen (I used the little tube that looks like a large chapstick)
Chapstick (gave my teen one to put in his pocket)
Travel baby wipes (the flimsy bag not that box)
small travel tissue (for noses)
cereal Bars...for a snack) the Quaker ones were really easy to carry.
a bunch of empty ziplock bags in the bottom of my bag (came in handy when my kids only one half of a few of something)
1 small Water bottle with filer.(We shared, but I know most families don't like drinking after each other...my son and husband didn't want to carry a bottle so they purchased drinks but my daughter and I shared)to fill. Water is $3 a bottle.
Ibuprofen travel bottle...for the adults...I used this alot.
I refilled my bag each night. I couldn't find anything I needed to add.
2. Stollers & carseats can be a nightmare...I am so lucky I haven't used a stroller since my 4 year old was 2. I make her walk everywhere. It is good exercise. She didn't need a stoller but held our hand everywhere. Neither Disney or Universal is a Stroller friendly enviorment. (the monorails and the trams are a nightmare for stollers) To rent a stroller is $24.99 and $31.99 for a double. Make those kids walk if you can. At the airport I saw families checking and strollers...I kept wondering what was the deal??....It would seem cheaper to buy a $12 stroller at the nearby Wal-mart or target in Orlando. and leave it or pass it on to another family... Instead of paying $50 to check it on the plane. Again if you pack smart you can use a carry on as a stroller... Same goes for carseats as well. Wal-mart sells booster car seats for only $12. Rent a car companyies rent them as well. I carried on my booster car-seat. The planes seemed really strict on the carry on items...I was lucky I didn't run into any problems. I saw some folks getting away with junk I couldn't...but evetually I know they would run into problems.
At the parks....It would break my heart to see a mom with a stoller packed down with lots of stuff....the kid running around out of the stroller and her pushing a stroller tring to keep up...Let's face it moms...we always get stuck holding things...Not a very fun vacation. I cannot stress how crazy it was for moms with strollers. I saw lots of awful situations..Mainly just tring to navigate in the crowd....Again I have always made my daughter walk. She never gets to ride. But I know each of you moms will do as you see best. If you need a stoller...there are lots of options...Think about what works best for you. I found that making her walk (all of the time) made her more aware of her surroundings...and we took lots of sit down breaks. Mommy needed those breaks as well.
3. Sovineers buy them at the very last minute as you are going to leave the park...better yet wait until you get to the airport...The local Walmart had lots of official Disney Merchandise as well. The Downtown Disney is a great shopping area. All of the same shops as in the parks for the exact same price. I tell my kid way ahead of time..you can only have 1 thing...for ??dollars and that is IT....
4. Eating. Eating at the parks is extremely expensive. Expect to pay no less than $10-$20 at the walk up eateries, and $20-$50 per plate at the sit down restruants. I don't eat very much fast food and niether do my kids. Fast food is sooo much better than the crap that is served up...Here are some helpful eating tips.
Universal Studios I had a chicken sandwich at Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous it sucked so bad....It don't think it could be considered food it was cardboard inside of 2 extremely stail buns for $10...I had just 3 bites and a tummy ache all day. My hubby had a burger that was just as bad and my son said the pizza was like the worst microwave pizza ever...We complained...they didn't care....If you eat at Universal Island of Adventure...and you don't want to pay $20 or more a meal at one of the restraunts....you can find fresh fruit in the Wizzarding world of Harry Potter. IT is very fresh and very AWESOME.. ALL OF THE FOOD SUCKS....NO JOKE..If you took the worst fast food EVER and let it sit for a day under the light this is what you would get. I hate McDonalds...but it would be 100% better than this food...The only hope you have is Blondie's: Home of the Dagwood They sell subway type sandwhiches or Nathans hot dogs. Not the best food but better than anything else. My daughter and I visted the Jurrasic park are and went into a museum with a restruant. It smelled good. It looked like you could buy a burger or chicken burger and top it how you want with a fresh salad bar. I am not sure about the other restruants in universal. You can use YELP as a review helper. they offer a meal deal for all day eating but if you get sick...Is it worth it? Again I saw lots of folks eating in the Jurassic park area. The food must be better but I don't know....
Or eat on the city walk. If you have a party of 4 or more...make a reservation. Before you enter the park...or get a number and call...Wait times can be hours or more...we Wanted to eat at Jimmy buffets Margaaritaville but it was a 2 hour and 30 min wait.
DISNEY EATING I have ate several times at the character brunch at Animal Kingdom and it is YUMMY, YUMMY...and totally worth the price...about $12-$16 for kids and $24-$30 for adults. It is a buffet with fresh fruits and veggies and fritattas, and waffles, oatmeal, lots and lots of breakfast lunches and pastries. AND the characters come to your table for a photo and signature op. So so So yummy
In 2006 I had a Cinderella Dinner at Magic Kingdom. It was pretty fancy and the food was good. My son wasn't to interested in the princesses but we went with out family and he has 3 girl cousins. I have no idea how much it costs. We were someones guests...
Magic Kingdom I ate in frountieer land at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café and it was pretty good. It was a location where you could order....a buger or taco salad and they had a fresh salad bar you could add all of your own toppings...(that is why I thought maybe the jurrasik park thing was going to be good to eat) It was cold and they had a corn chowder soup for $2.99 that was AWESOME. My son had a taco salad and he loved he could top it how he wanted....My daughter had an uncrustable PBJ with apples and loved it. If you follow the link on Magic Kindom you can find more information.
Epcot. is my favorite park. Mainly for the food. I loved the Biergarten Restaurant...Is it just me or is saurkraut yummy. It is a buffet...You can get what you want....
In 2006 I ate at La Hacienda de San Angel and I am from Texas so it is very hard to make Mexican food I like...it was okay but come to Texas for the real good stuff. I have also had fish and chips that were super yummy at Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room.
This time we ate at Via Napoli The best PIZZA ever. Loved it. I had the 4 cheese pizza and added a side salad. Every thing was super yummy. Also when you are in Germany stop for a Fresh Prezel...Not the vending stand prezels...a REAL prezel. I also had a pastery at a small shop in france. I normally don't eat alot...but I could gain lots of weight at Epcot. I had a park hopper pass and went 2 times to this park. I love just taking photos of my kids in the diffrent areas...I like just to look as a pregnant lady....who can't ride rides it was fun.
I did go to
Hollywood Studios, My son is a huge starwars fan. In 2006 we at at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and it was really neat...I don't remember anything else we ate there...but click on the studio for more info
Again Animal kingdom was great place for character breakfasts or brunch....but they also sell fresh fruit in the park...perfect for anyone.
5. PHOTOS my very frist visit I spent so much of my time with my camera surgically implanted to my face I didn't have fun...I missed so much...even my childs face. MY advice PUT THE CAMERA DOWN...ENJOY YOUR TIME. I can honestly tell you me and my kids don't ever ever look at the videos or photos taken in the past...TAKE THE important photos. I asked my kids this time what characters do you really really want to see....and those were the lines we waited in...and those were the photos we took. My son is a teen...he didn't care about any characters...but I waited for 45 min to see Repunzel...BUT it was what my little girl really wanted...We also waited about 10 minutes to see Cinderella, Belle, and Sleeping beauty..All in one place. It was so easy at the magic kingdom theater. right as you enter the park. If I got another photo with a charachter it was because the long was very short...I have about 100 or more photos...and all of them are ones I really want..All will be on my scrapbook pages..In the past I took about 2,000 photos and only used about 20-30. Besides Harry Potter if I took a photo it was of my kids or my entire family. I got to see the shows where as before I was snapping away. Really cut out the photo taking and both kids seemed happy that I did as well. They said it was fun not to have to pose all the time...or at least my teen did. So when I did get a photo it was with a real smile. If you take a photo of your kid...don't let them know...Just get photo of there reaction. Again I have a nice expensive DSLR nikon camera that would have taken AWESOME photos...but I was just as happy with the photos I have. I plan on making a 8x8 digital album. Only because I have so many photos...Disney also has photographers EVERYWHERE. Photos are $14.95 each...and about $150 for a CD of all of your photos...I personally refuse them...Tell them before you get in the line...It is to expensive...but maybe not so bad if you can get them all on a CD just note that the other CD is extremely low resoultion. it is about $49.99. A friend ordered them. Was very disappointed.
When my son was younger I would spray his hair blue or green....with Halloween hair spray. He had Autism and he could really get away from me....or should I say he could run much faster than me...I figure if I lost him it would be to find a blue hair boy...than a brown hair boy...I could also see him with blue hair...He is a big boy now and no problems running away....but this is my little tip for those moms out there traveling with kids with special needs...or those little ones that like to give you the slip. Now you can't get that spray on the plane but they sell temporary hair color that will wash out...in lots of fun colors. Your kids will think you are being cool when you are being safe.
I am sure I forgot something...but have a great vacation and feel free to let me know if you have any tips...
I wish I knew then what I know now.
I remember when I usto stress about every little sneeze. Now I am expecting my 3rd and final baby and I only get concerned when things are not coming out either or both ends and if they have a fever. My how things have changed.