I was able to go to Universal Studios Orlando for work over Labor Day for a week. Even though I was really busy with work I had time to have a lot of fun.
I arrived in Orlando on Tuesday evening without any luggage because my bags were sent to Texas. I was the first one to arrive so I picked up the rental car. It ended up being a minivan. If you know me, you know my aversion to minivans, I just hate them. I owned one and drove it for almost 4 years until I just had enough and got rid of it. (I feel like minivans have the illusion of more space, when in reality they are just bigger vertically.) Anyway, I asked the guy for the best minivan they had and he steered me toward the “sweetest ride in the garage”. Uh-huh. It was fine, drive-able even, but it was not a “sweet ride” as he said.
I checked into the hotel, and hit up the local grocery store before heading back to the airport. After some distractions (picking up my luggage, rental car issues) we finally made it back to the hotel at 1:30 am, and headed right to bed at 3 am.
In the morning a couple of us headed out shopping to get a few items that were needed before I went to an afternoon of meetings with the resort and the event planner. After the meetings I was back off to the airport to pick up the rest of our work team. Their flight was late getting in so I got to circle the airport for 30 minutes. We got back to the hotel just in time to jump into our Towncars to head over to The Hard Rock Hotel for dinner. The food was really good. Sometimes you just need a burger!
The best part was our surprise guests that came to visit during dinner. I am pretty sure that I was WAY more excited about these two than anyone else. After dinner we checked out the Hard Rock Hotel pool before walking back to our hotel, The Loews Portofino Bay in time to get to bed by 2 am.
The next morning was a late wake up with work at 10 until 6:30 when we left the the VIP Exclusive Event at Jurassic Park and Diagon Alley at Universal. We were able to ride the new ride Harry Potter and The Escape From Gringotts without having to wait in line. It was awesome! After the ride we had time to shop and have some treats and frozen Butterbeer.
The next day was a full day of sessions with the bloggers and their families. Once the sessions were done we headed over to the newest hotel on Universal property, the retro-themed Cabana Bay Beach Resort for a pool party. Unfortunately it began raining with thunder and lightening right when we arrived so the pool part was out. Luckily Cabana Bay has a bowling alley and arcade so all of the families could still have a good time. The hotel is SUPER cute. They had a pizza and salad dinner with cookies for dessert all set up for us.
We couldn’t stay at the Cabana Bay for long because we had tickets to go to Blue Man Group that night! After a quick change we headed over on the water taxi to Universal City Walk to see the show. It was a great show. I have been to BMG in Vegas a few years ago but this one was a little different with some fun extras.
We walked back to the hotel and got to bed by 3 am once again. We had to be up early to catch a ride to our Saturday morning character meet and greet on the red carpet followed by breakfast on a sound stage. After breakfast we all learned a flash mob dance (I kept calling it the Flash-dance until everyone was saying it too). Then we went out into Universal and danced to Happy. It was so fun but it was so hot!
After we danced everyone got their tickets and headed out into the park. We rode a bunch of rides, had churros, ate in Simpsons Land, saw Jaws, shopped, and bought a big ass doughnut.
We headed back to the hotel early in the afternoon so that we would have time to relax before catching the bus to Give Kids The World in Kissimmee. After dinner I headed back to the hotel to get some work done, and hopefully get to bed early. I think it was about 2:30 am when I turned the lights out. So much for catching up on sleep 🙂
The next day was Sunday so we got up early to head into the park early. We wanted to get to Hogsmeade and ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey before the crowds were allowed in the park. The place was pretty empty and it was AWESOME! The ride was by far my favorite or maybe second favorite after The Mummy.
After riding everything Harry Potter, shopping, and playing we headed out to Universal City Walk in search of a Sunday brunch because it was only 10:30 am. Did you know that not one restaurant on Universal City Walk has a weekend brunch? What a waste! So we headed back to the hotel where I made a trip to the airport and then met the ladies by the pool for lunch. We were at the pool playing on the water-slide for about an hour when the clouds rolled in and ruined our fun. It was okay because we needed to head up to get ready for our dinner that night.
We had a great Italian dinner (can you say really fresh pasta?) followed by a VIP final event and dessert bar inside of Universal Studios to watch their firework/movie spectacular at the end of the night.
Monday was our last full day at the park so we got up really early and headed out. We were able to hit Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express, ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey again without a long line, have breakfast at The Three Broomsticks, ride more rides, shop some more, ride The Mummy FOUR times, shop more, and then head back to the hotel so I could take another group to the airport. That night we headed back into the park to hit Diagon Alley one more time for a frozen Butterbeer and to ride The Mummy once more. We headed to The Hard Rock for dinner followed by some time in the pool and hot tub before packing and bed.
I caught a cab early on Tuesday morning and was home by 6 pm to sleep in my own bed. It was a fabulous week of hard work and fun.