Monday, May 22, 2017

Family Vacation - Universal Studios Orlando!

We went to Universal Studios in Orlando again - we still had our annual passes, and there was one week in May that worked for everyone's schedule to take vacation, so we decided to go ahead and book another trip.  I will say that it helped getting super cheap airfare on Southwest Airlines for Allie, Jeff, and I; it was well worth the drive to Dallas to fly out of Love Field (our first time doing that) - we had a nonstop flight to Orlando, and the difference in flying from that airport vs. DFW was incredible...much more of a relaxed atmosphere, plus flying Southwest was great considering you can check your luggage for free.  Sam drove to Orlando from North Carolina and picked us up at the airport, which was very nice.
Our building
Beachside - located right next to the sand area, pool, and lazy river!

We decided to stay at the Cabana Bay resort again - we really enjoyed it last time, plus it was quite affordable.  This go-round, we chose a family suite instead of two separate rooms that adjoined; the cost was not much more, but the amount of space we had made it really comfortable for the four of us to be together for a week.  We ended up in a brand new building at Cabana Bay and we were the first people to stay in our suite, so everything was brand new as well.  We had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a little kitchen area, and a nice living room:
Our home away from home for a fun week!

The best part of our room was that we were on the ninth floor and had an incredible view of Volcano Bay, which is Universal's newest theme park.  It's supposed to open on May 25th, but I'll be honest - despite watching a huge construction crew working day and night (thankfully our rooms had blackout curtains, because they had some bright lights going all night long - but it made it easy to watch the action 24/7), I have my doubts as to if the entire park will be ready.  It looks gorgeous with a neat tropical theme, and the volcano is very cool, but there was a lot still to be done when we were there:
One day the water area on the left was being filled, and then we saw waves being generated...
Then it was drained...
Refilled and incredibly murky...
Looking much more appealing now.

I am not a water park person anyway, so this particular park isn't on my agenda.  I'm much more of a lazy river person - give me a float and let me drift away!  We usually hit the pool area at least once a day while we were there; some days we had breakfast at the hotel, then spent the morning at the pool before heading over to the park or to other activities:
Jeff and Sam on the lazy river; Allie and I enjoying beverages poolside.  We also usually ended up with an order of pool fries every afternoon...ahhh, vacation eating!
We also went bowling one afternoon in the retro bowling alley at the hotel.  I haven't bowled in forever and my scores reflected that - first game I got a 33 and the second game a 70.  No worries, it was still lots of fun - luckily I'm not competitive.

We had a great week together - it was wonderful to have my family unit all together again.  It's funny...you have kids and they are with you all the time for years and years and years, and then they grow up and get jobs and have lives in other cities and states and suddenly you're down to getting the family together once a year if you're lucky.  So this week was extra special and we all really enjoyed spending time with each other.

I'll do another post with more pictures of our time at the parks - we went every day, but most days managed to be done by early afternoon, so we could get out of the direct sun...besides, the pool was calling by then!  But I can't end this without some pictures of the ridiculous - yes, ridiculous desserts that we indulged in at the Chocolate Emporium, which is a really cool steampunk-themed restaurant that we went to twice - one time for a meal and dessert (and that was the only time we ate all day...believe me it was enough food), and a second time just for dessert:
 
Espresso milkshake
Peanut butter and jelly ice cream with a piece of cheesecake
S'mores delight
Milkshake with a rice krispy treat topper
Milkshake with a chocolate covered frozen banana topper
Milkshake with a red velvet cupcake topper
Allie trying not to die after eating some of her milkshake.

We never could finish any of the desserts, and we shared them, and yes, they were over-the-top, but it was our vacation and we had fun choosing and indulging in them.  Go big or go home right?  To be honest, I'm full just looking at the pictures again!

20 comments:

  1. Wow, those milkshakes!
    I am so glad your family had a great time. The whole part about family living far away and not being able to get together more often and share those small everyday moments has been quite a struggle for me lately! I guess it's just a way of life now.

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    1. Yeah, it's the way it is now, family being far apart geographically. Not ideal, but we're making it work.

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  2. Vacation eating is the bomb! I can understand why you went back for desserts - those are amazing.

    That a fun time you guys had. That whole lazy river/pool setup might be the end of me visiting any parks. I could just hang out there all day!

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    1. And now I wonder why we don't have a lazy river in our backyard?! It's big enough...

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  3. How fun that you got to go away with your grown kids! My youngest will go anywhere with us, but my oldest is still resistant. Hopefully that will change--he's really coming around.

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    1. Glad your oldest is coming around; pick someplace he wants to visit and I bet he'll be on board!

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  4. What a fun time. I am drooling over those desserts.

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  5. Boy, that lazy river appeals to me too. And pool fries :) The Chocolate Emporium--love the style, and it would be so fun to try some of those desserts. I know it would be hard for me to decide which one to get! I'm glad you had so much fun with your family. Oh, and that's very interesting about Love Field. I never once went there when I lived in the DFW area. I've always wondered about it. I love flying Southwest!

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    1. I think Love Field is a hidden gem among airports!

      I think I could vacation on just pool fries and desserts. What's not to like about that? ;)

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  6. I'm with you...keep the water parks and give me a lazy river!

    Those desserts look to die for!!!!

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    1. A lot of the lazy river was in the shade, too - that helped with the Florida sun.

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  7. This sounds and looks like an incredibly relaxing and yummy trip! I've never been to universal so I always enjoy others pictures and opinion on the resort/parks! :)

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    1. I know you're a Disney person, but Universal is really fun, too. :)

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  8. I love steampunk - that restaurant is so cool! Southwest is really the way to go for travelling. We fly that almost exclusively.

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    1. Southwest doesn't fly out of our little podunk airport, so I kind of have forgotten about using them, but they are worth the drive!

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  9. What a fun trip! We may pump you for advice in about six months, we're going to spend the winter in St. Pete's this year and plan to make a pilgrimige or two over to Orlando for the theme parks. I'm guessing there are Deals to be had if one is in the know, and lots of strategy that goes in to timing etc. (If you guys are as OCD about optimizing vacation as we are, and I suspect you are!)

    Glad it was a blast, and hope there are more pics coming?

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    1. I'm happy to help - there are definitely some tips and times to go to the parks that we've figured out. And LOL - yes, there will be many more pictures coming. It's like you know me or something. ;)

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  10. I know what you mean about the kids growing up and moving away. Yesterday was the first time I didn't see Buddy on his birthday (he turned 24 down in LA - he probably loved it...) and it was hard! I never moved further than 40 miles from my folks, so I was spoiled by seeing them at all the important holidays. We'll need to get creative like your family does and just make it happen. Looking forward to more theme park pictures - living vicariously LOL

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  11. Oh my those desserts: so delicious!

    And I love the hotel suite, it looks so bright and big.

    Great to see that you had a fun family week again.

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