It’s been pretty quiet around the house lately so I don’t have much to share on that front but I wanted to tell you guys about the awesome vacation we went on earlier this month with Kyle’s family (which is different than the vacation on our 2016 goal list). We spent 3 1/2 days in Orlando at the Loews Royal Pacific with park-to-park passes for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I’m basically just going to dump a ton of pictures and then mention a few things at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!
So here are some of my thoughts/tips/whatever:
The hotel was beautiful inside and out. I tried really hard to figure out a way to sneak our king mattress out of the hotel but I don’t think we could have fit it in our Kia. Seriously, that was the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. The hotel had a large pool and beach area that was nice. I only spent one afternoon there and I really enjoyed it but I enjoyed napping in the bed more so that’s how I spent most of my afternoons outside of the parks.
We got into Orlando on a Wednesday afternoon and spent the late afternoon/early evening at the parks until they closed. The crowds were really low so we were able to get a bunch of rides in without waiting at a single one which was insane. The crowds really picked up by Friday though and we had to contend with a whole bunch of school groups.
If you’re thinking about getting the express pass, just do it. We had it and it was so worth it! There were times we didn’t need it and not all rides accepted it but it came in handy a lot, too.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan (or even if you’re not), you should go to both parks. Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are both so cool and it would be a shame to miss out on either one. If you have passes to both parks you can take the Hogwarts Express to get from one to the other which I highly recommend doing at least once each way. After you’ve ridden it once each way I would say you’re safe skipping it and walking between parks if the wait is long. If it’s a short wait, ride it as many times as you can.
If you can only choose one park, I would vote Universal Studios solely based on Diagon Alley. Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventures is really cool and that’s also where Hogwarts is but there’s just something about Diagon Alley that feels special. I think it’s because when you’re there, you feel completely separated from the rest of the park so it really feels like you’re somewhere else. Plus, Escape from Gringotts is in Diagon Alley and it’s my favorite Harry Potter Ride.
If you can swing it, stay at an on-site hotel. It makes it so easy to come and go from the parks as you please. We would go to the parks when they opened, stay until lunch, head back to the hotel for a few hours of rest/relaxation, and then walk back in the late afternoon when the crowds had died down some.
Favorite rides/neighborhoods in Islands of Adventure: Jurassic Park (water), Ripsaw Falls (water), Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Spiderman
Favorite rides/neighborhoods in Universal Studios: The Mummy, Escape from Gringotts, London, San Francisco, Duff Beer Garden
We ate at several restaurants in City Walk that were good and I would eat at again: NBC Sports Grill and Brew, Vivo Italian Kitchen, and Red Oven Pizza Bakery. We also ate at Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food but I don’t think any of us really liked what we got and the atmosphere wasn’t all that great.
We had so much fun on this trip (thanks again to Kyle’s parents!) and we can’t wait to go back! Especially since the Chocolate Emporium will be open next time 🙂 Now we’re just counting down the months until our big Caribbean vacation!