Schools out and we just returned home from a whirlwind 10 day visit to Orlando and the Eastern shore of Florida. We went to Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure, The Magic Kingdom & Animal Kingdom that was 5 days of non-stop fun and exhaustion.
I had priced out our trip many ways including staying at 2 hotels, Disney property and a Universal property, to maximize on the on site advantages. I was almost ready to put my money down when I got a Costco coupon booklet in the mail and a lightbulb went on in my head reminding me that they have travel services. I got on the phone with them and priced out my options. Lo and behold it was $1000 cheaper in the long run to book through them, plus I get cash back on the trip by using my Costco Amex Card. Have to say my Costco Executive Membership just paid for itself 10 times over.
Having now taken the trip I can admit that I've learned some things about the parks that I'd like to share.
Bring 2 pairs of sneakers!!! There are many water rides at both parks and your shoes will not dry overnight.
I don't know about the Universal Parks but a friend we met at Disney showed me that you can get free cups of ice water or Ice at the food stands throughout the park; all you do is go to the cashier and order a cup of water, they ring it as free and you go to the counter to get it, she said they'll even fill your water jug for you. (thanks Lisa).
Get to the parks before they open, this will give you a better chance at getting on the "must do" rides in your itinerary before the lines build up. If you're at disney, get a fast pass for one of the rides and go ride the other. Getting to Universal Islands of Adventure early and waiting on line at the park entrance got us an unexpected bonus. Our son was approached by the gentleman who opens the park and he asked our son if he would like to help him. Jake is 7 and he was thrilled. He got to make a speech on the public address system to all the people wating for the park to open. Truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Since we were there early we were able to ride the Harry Potter ride two times and take a tour of the castle in under 40 minutes (that's without buying an express pass) I think that really was the key to getting to do and see everything we wanted to.
In retrospect I think we wouldn't have gone to the parks back to back like we did. Jake has boundless energy and limitless wonder, but we parent were utterly pooped way before he was. I think next time we'll take a break between Theme parks and sit at the pool to recharge.
All in all it was a fabulous first family trip to Florida and I am looking forward to planning our Deleware beach trip. I wonder what deals I can find for that trip.
Yours in Saving,