So You’re Going To Universal Studios Orlando?

So You’re Going To Universal Studios Orlando?

You’ve watched Universal Studios Orlando featured on All-Star Celebrity Apprentice and decided:  This year, you are going to Universal Studios Orlando for your family vacation.    Yes, I know, if you are going to Orlando shouldn’t you visit “the House of Mouse?”  But, let’s get honest, doesn’t your family crave and deserve a new adventure?   It’s time to indulge your older child and explore a new “world.” Enter Universal Studios Florida, also called Universal Studios Orlando.

You’ve made the decision to go and and as the official “Family Vacation Coordinator” you are now wondering what your family should see and do first. My first bit of advice:  Assess with whom you are traveling: with or without kids?  Older, younger or all ages?  Are the grandparents joining you or are you on your own with your children?  These are important questions to ask because, at Universal Studios Orlando, there is no prescribed list of things to see or do and your itinerary can really depend on the ages of your entourage. 

So let me get this point out of the way: I am 100% convinced that Universal Studios Orlando’s target audience is not children ages 5 and under.  Yes, I know that there are rides (and islands) that cater to younger children but I found that I had the most fun when Lulu was old enough to take advantage of the more vigorous rides.  Now, I know that there are some people who would TOTALLY disagree with me but having visited this theme park a few times, I feel strongly that more fun is had being able to ride the adventurous rides like “The Hulk” and “Dragon Challenge” on the Islands of Adventure with your family than taking turns riding separately because one of your children is too young to partake in the adventure. (Am I being too harsh?  I don’t mean to–I’m just telling you how I see it.)   Those rides are not designed for the faint of heart or the small of age and stature.  If you want rides targeted toward your “wee ones” and have classic photo opportunities with memorable (and somewhat historical) characters, I know a park down the street that will be happy to oblige.  Lulu is the perfect age to enjoy ALL of the rides on the Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.  We got lucky–Adam and I wound up “fighting” over who got to ride with her on her first “big” roller coaster. As it turns out, thanks to a change in my center of gravity I get completely and totally ill riding roller coasters. Yet, one more reason that getting old sucks! So Adam and Lulu enjoyed the roller coasters while I sat out to “check Facebook.”

After five Disney Cruises, our little (okay, now big) adventurer was Disney’d out and wanted to see something new–and something for “a more sophisticated” traveler.  And guess what?  Universal Studios Orlando delivered!  We are both diehard Harry Potter fans: she loved the movies while I devoured the books almost on the same day as they were released. (Fortunately, Adam agreed to indulge our addiction to the world of wizards and witches.)  We were anxious to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!  But not before we had a chance to embrace our inner Lorax and pay homage to the man who taught us the fun of using words to rythme and teach us valuable lessons about respecting the trees: Dr. Seuss at Seuss Landing.

Looking for our list of great things to do while at Universal Studios Orlando? It’s coming. Check this site over the weekend and we will post a list of our favorite adventures!



Experiencing Valentine’s Day

Experiencing Valentine’s Day

How many people actually remember what they got for Valentine’s Day last year?  How about the year before?  I would venture not too many of us recall those gifts.  But, what if the gift was a trip to Napa Valley touring the wineries and vineyards?  Chances are pretty good that we would remember THAT gift, right?

Lulu’s Valentine’s Day party looms large in the Keats household.  Of course, because I work at a Stationary/Craft store that specializes in fantastic, creative and colorful cards and gifts, the pressure is on  to deliver something unforgettable for Lulu’s class. I’ve already spent a small fortune pulling together the Valentine’s surprises for Lulu.  Once I finished buying the stuffed animals, cards and candy, I started to wonder how much is too much to spend on Valentine’s Day?  Is it normal to spend $40 on specialty cards that our children must assemble and decorate prior to giving to her classmates? Is there a right amount?  How much should Adam and I spend on each other?  What, exactly is “love” worth on Valentine’s Day?  So, like any good mom addicted to google, I looked for an interesting infographic to share on my site:  


Courtesy of: CashNetUSA It’s Economic

I’ve come to a decision.  My love cannot (and should not) be measured with dollars.  I guess I can’t be included in these statistics because this year, it’s not for sale.  In lieu of tangible objects, I have requested that my loved ones shower me with great experiences.  It looks like  agrees with my preference too. (At last!  Some validation!) Today’s article entitled “Last Minute Valentine’s Gifting: Survey Reveals Consumers Want an Experience” identifies that more and more couples (or in our case families) are craving having experiences like going to concerts, musicals and other large group venues.   (Monster Trucks anyone?)  I guess it’s time to throw away that gift box and candy I was going to give Adam tomorrow for Valentine’s Day because we have decided to go tUniversal Studios Orlando for Valentine’s Day, President’s  Day, Mardi Gras and Purim: It’s a celebration of multiple holidays wrapped into one adventure.

We are hitting the road and venturing down to Florida to embrace:

  1. The sun (Sorry, but when you live in Chicago, it’s hard not to crave a warm sun shining on your white & pasty skin)
  2. The Despicable Me Minions
  3. Mardi Gras parade to rival the ones in New Orleans
  4. The Incredible Hulk Coaster
  5. And, of course, my personal favorite, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Best of all, I will toast Valentine’s Day with my two favorite people: Adam and Lulu.  Better yet, we’ll all be drinking butter beer!

butter beer

Mmm….Butter Beer. Lulu gets a Butter Beer Mustache in front of Hogwarts.

Wishing everyone a sunny, love-filled Valentine’s Day!  I can’t wait to experience my gift!