Sunday, April 7, 2019

Day 1 - Universal Studios Orlando

As previously mentioned, Darren and I had plans to do Universal Studios on Saturday and Islands of Adventure on Sunday BUT, we found out that our tickets were "BOGO:  buy one day at Universal, get another day at Universal for FREE!" We didn't find this out until we were standing in our hotel lobby picking up our tickets. SO, after we ate lunch, we headed to Universal Studios to begin our adventure.  We aren't those types of people that grab a park map and design a plan.  We just aren't planners normally, so we certainly didn't want to start become a planner on vacation. Truthfully, I think our days are filled with so much routine and so much scheduling as it is, that it would have been more like work, instead of fun to "map" it all out.  

Our travels to the park consisted of walking through our hotel's pool side gates, down a beautiful scenic walk, into a really small security check point, and then BAM! You are at Universal Studios check point. The walk is less than 2 minutes.  You could even take a bike taxi, offered to Hard Rock Hotel guests for FREE, and that would only take about 45 seconds to get to the first security check point.  We did do that one night! It was so fun and such a cute memory.  Of course, I documented it, so stay tuned.
The first ride that we hit up was the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride. It's a 3D - 4D animated, assimilated ride, so I could join in on the fun.  Haha.  I am not a thrill ride rider. The premise of the ride was for us to join Gru, his daughters, and the mischievous Minions on an unpredictable 3-D ride. Our journey started in Gru's home, where we were recruited for his latest scheme, one where we became an actual Minion. The "inside of his home" was pretty detailed, very similar to the movie. The video below is an explanation from Gru about what we were about to experience.  
Above our heads were loads of details to replicate the inside of his home, like the CANNON.  
But when things don't go as planned, you’re launched into an unforgettable trip through his super villain laboratory. Gru, Margo, Edith and Agnes race along with you through every twist and turn. The laughs keep coming after the ride with an interactive, Minion-inspired dance party. It's heartwarming and humorous family fun for everyone.
I love getting off the rides and being greeted by the characters themselves aka photo opportunities. The minions were true minions. They were acting all wacky and doing all kinds of funny things to the twins. Can you imagine being in that costume all day?
And speaking of characters, look who's below. "SD" (Scooby Do) himself. As you can see in the photo below, occasionally, Jax was too cool to say hello to the characters.  We all know the characters are fake, but they are simply a cool part of the experience, so we I always wanted the kids to say hello.
Here, Scooby was asking Lilah if if was her birthday.  The birthday shirt and pin must have given it away.  Haha. 
Lilah was pretty good at appeasing me, by taking photos with the characters.  Personally, from that beautiful/natural smile below, I think she loved every minute of it.
One of my favorite "rides"/"shows" was the Jimmy Fallon ride/show. I want to visit New York City pretty bad but, Darren isn't interested in the least, so I felt like I received a pretend visit to NYC and primarily the Jimmy Fallon Show.  I don't stay up to watch Jimmy's show, my eyes can't stay open that late, but there are a few times I have seen the show and I really do find him quite entertaining and funny.  
Hey look, it's Studio 6B! Everything is an EXACT replica of what you experience either outside of or inside of Jimmy's show. There has even been a few times that his show was filmed in that building because it's close enough to the real deal, everything is just smaller.
As you walk into Studio 6B, there is a mini museum that displays each talk show host that once worked for NBC.  Each comedian had their own glass box that contained an outfit worn on their show, a few other fun mementos, and then the actual TV that was from that era that people would have watched the show on.  My kids couldn't believe what the older televisions looked like.  (Below) You could even take a ride on the NBC elevator.  We chose to take the stairs.  
After walking up the stairs, we were entertained by Hashtag the Panda and a the Ragtime Gals!  They performed a hip-hop, Barber Shop Show.  You truly felt like you were getting a taste of Jimmy's Tonight Show. After the show, we joined Jimmy Fallon and all of his characters from the show for a fun-filled race through, below, and above New York City.  This ride was also a motion simulator ride.  I enjoyed it.  I think my gang enjoyed it too even though they don't know to much about Jimmy and all of his characters. Below, enjoy the ride's RULES, rapped by Jimmy Fallon.  
I wish I was a bigger fan or had more knowledge about his show because his gift shop is amazing.  Truthfully, that's what I love about these park trips.  I love the unique foods, character photos opportunities, and gift shops. One thing that I do know about Jimmy's show is his "Thank You" funnies.  I had to take a photo of this T-Shirt because it is so TRUE!
I made sure to purchase the PHOTO pass plan. I knew if I didn't, I would be in ZERO photos because there is no way my family members would allow me to ask a stranger to take our photo. If you are going to any of the parks, I HIGHLY recommend factoring this amazing park feature into your budget. It allows you to have fun, takes the PRESSURE/HASSLE of off of trying to document your trip, OR worse being tempted to pay $25.00 for ONE really cool roller coaster ride photo.  See the photo of our family below? That was taken by a park employee, after the photo was taken, our photo pass was scanned, and in just a few short hours the photo could be retrieved, downloaded, and shared on social media from an app on our phone.  
We stayed at the park for several hours, but we knew that we would have two more days to dig knee deep into the parks and their rides, so we brought the kids back to the hotel and let them enjoy our resort's pool.
The trail that I was telling you about in the beginning of this post, that leads from our hotel to the parks is sorta featured in the above photo. See how pretty the view is in the background? The pool's water was warm and I cherished watching my children just frolic and be kids. It's rare that these three are doing something TOGETHER anymore. In fact, that seems to be non-existent unless we are traveling to church, eating dinner, or laying in bed watching Impractical Jokers, so it was a pure joy seeing them play in the pool together.  
After the pool, we freshened up and headed to dinner at City Walk.  Man O' Day, City Walk's nightlife is simply ALIVE and beautiful.  It is filled with restaurants and shops galore and it just provides a really fun atmosphere.
We chose to "EAT" at a food court the first night, but it wasn't just any old food court. The food court had some familiar and some unique eateries.  This food court leaves you not only saying "Yum", but "WOW!" I chose to eat at the BreadBox. Truthfully, it was just the least crowded out of the other venues, but it was so delicious.  
If you know me by now, you know I am a documenter, so I had to snap photos of all of the details of this cute restaurant . 
Darren and the kids ate at Panda Express, which happens to be their absolute favorite place to eat anyway, so they were super excited.  
We had a fabulous days collecting memories instead of things.  The twins were truly treated like royalty.  Both the shirts (from our ETSY seller) AND the pins (from our resort) created endless birthday attention and birthday wishes . I loved that we were able to enjoy the parks, our resort, and City Walk.  The longest we waited for a ride was approximately 16 minutes, thanks to our Express Passes. You know it was a good day when you hear your child say, "I just want to get in my pajamas and go to bed!" He was exhausted from all of the excitement.  
I apologize that it has taken me so long to post about Day 1.  I am preparing for my trip to Tulsa and I just haven't been able to make blogging a priority, but I promise you to document the entire trip EVENTUALLY.  I hope you enjoyed experiencing our first day on vacation.  

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