Monday, March 28, 2016

St. Patrick's Day at Universal Studios Orlando {2016}

Our Spring Break began with a little road trip south on Interstate 95 headed towards Florida.

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We were excited to pass the North Carolina/South Carolina line but hated we didn't make a quick stop at South of the Border.  We loved seeing that big sombrero.  In all my 35 plus years of living in North Carolina and making many trips in this direction, I have actually never stopped at this "tourist trap."  I really do want to do so at least once before I die.  Haha!  When we stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel, Evan was happy to see this Air Force Museum and some planes on display outside nearby.  There was a Soviet Mig and a U.S. fighter jet.  

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Once we hit the Florida line, there was plenty to see.  When we passed through Orlando, we noticed that our very own Charlotte Hornets were playing the Orlando Magic that night.  Eddie thought the Mickey Mouse power lines were a bit excessive, but I did feel just a tinge of regret that we didn't take the exit for Disney World.  We will be back again one day.  I have actually never been to Sea World either, but it really isn't a big deal to me.   

After driving all the way to Florida on Wednesday, our Spring Break vacation officially began on Thursday the 17th which also happened to be St. Patrick's Day.  Although we aren't technically Irish, St. Patrick's Day is a fun day to wear our green, and I have always thought Evan was a special little leprechaun with his red hair and March birthday.  Now, I have two little March leprechauns, and we do think Mattox's hair is looking a little more reddish in color these days.  I packed the boys' matching green shirts to wear on Thursday, and they got lots of approving looks and compliments all day.  Their shirts said "Irish" on them so they also got lots of questions about whether we were from Ireland.  Ha!  And then the day after we actually met a family on the hotel to park bus that was from Ireland, and they had a boy about Evan's age with red hair.  I thought it would have been funny if we had run into them on St. Patrick's Day.  Anyway, we got up early to head to the park because we had big plans for the day.  This post will only cover about half of the days' fun because I want to save the other half for its own post.

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When you arrive at the Universal theme parks, you enter both through an area with lots of restaurants and shopping called City Walk.  Evan really wanted to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, but we just didn't have the time.  It was a really cool looking one that was modeled after the Roman Coliseum.   We did eat at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. one night. 
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We stayed at a Universal resort because the package deal was a much better deal, and we love the transportation back and forth to the parks without worrying about parking and too much walking.  There is no other feasible option with young children.  Plus, the hotels always have so many fun amenities.  I wish we could have utilized more of the amenities at our hotel, but we ended up needing to stay way later most nights at the parks to do everything the kids wanted to do. 

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Some obligatory St. Patrick's Day pictures to start the day. 

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We arrived at the park early to begin the day at Universal Studios.  There are two main parks, and we would explore the other one the next day.  We had special reservations for breakfast so we had to arrive early.  This park actually opened early for special guests this day so we got to get in before most of the crowd.  And we had to take the very important pictures in front of the big globe. 

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There weren't too many rides open yet when we entered the park, but we decided to see the Minion 3D ride before we headed to breakfast.  Mattox and I got to sit on the front row where the seats didn't move, but we enjoyed the show.  I tried to hold his 3D glasses on so he could actually get the visual awareness of the action.  I reached out trying to touch the minions or something flying by my face a few times.  Ha!  I did kind of wonder what Mattox was thinking of all that craziness. 

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Evan enjoyed seeing the Back 2 the Future DeLorean and the Doc's train he hijacked in the third movie. 

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We just passed through the Simpson's area on our way to breakfast, and Brody just thought Krusty the Clown was too cool.  He asked to go into Krustyland.  Ha!  I am not a big Simpson fan at all, but I thought it was hilarious that he thought Krusty the Clown was cool.  

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I am skipping over most of our morning fun for another post.  After we left that special area of the park, Evan and I went to ride the Mummy ride which was a bit extreme.  It was fun though.  Evan was a little nervous to ride this one although he loves The Mummy movies.  He was just nervous that it would be a fast roller coaster ride.  It did have some thrilling moments, but he loved it.  

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Both kids wanted to just have a little fun in a kids' area in the afternoon so we hit Woody Woodpecker's Kid Zone and Fievel's Playground.  I remember watching Feivel's American Tails when I was a kid, but I don't think my kids have seen it.  I'm not sure Brody understood he was supposed to be like a mouse seeing normal stuff as really big.  He just liked the water as it was actually pretty hot that day. 

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We enjoyed going down the water slide, and my backside got pretty wet. 

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Brody and I rode his first little roller coaster.  He was very brave although his little face shows that he was a little scared.   I don't like to let my kids' natural anxieties prevent them from trying things, and they are always so happy after they do something they were nervous about.  After the ride was over, Brody was so proud of himself for riding it. 

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We took a walk on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. 

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And we visited Duloc to see Shrek and Princess Fiona and Donkey.  Poor Lord Farquad was now a ghost after his unfortunate encounter with Donkey's dragon friend.  Ha!  Evan was the biggest fan of these movies when he wasn't much older than Mattox, and it was the first movie he laughed out loud.  He has always had a well-developed sense of humor though and just got the "disgusting" humor of this movie.  Haha! 

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Evan was definitely looking forward to the Transformers ride, but Daddy and I both felt that we got whiplash from this one.  It was a rough one and definitely made you feel like you were the main character of the movie, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf), when he is thrown all over while the Transformers are fighting the Decepticons.  There is just no way anyone would actually survive that as a human. 

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On our park explorations, Evan saw The Mystery Machine.  He actually does like watching old Scooby Doo episodes on Netflix.  One of Brody's favorite rides that he asked to ride again was the Men In Black ride.  He loved getting to shoot at aliens.  I had the highest score the first game with 126,000 points.  None of us knew how to get the bonus points that game.  Evan had actually heard the instructions that said you were supposed to hit the red button to try to kill a big alien to get 100,000 bonus points so we all tried that the next game.  I got the bonus points that round, but Eddie supposedly got more points that round.  We had to ride separately and use the parks' Child Swap option because of Mattox.  Evan and Brody enjoyed getting to ride most rides twice.  By the time we left the park, it was already dark. 
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We didn't take our double stroller this time so Brody got tired of walking after a very long day.  Mattox didn't mind sharing his ride.  I just love those pictures of them.  Mattox looks so happy to be near Brody. 


  1. Awe! So much fun! I am incredibly jealous of your whole trip and I haven't even read about all of it yet. I think I got enough sneak peeks on Facebook though that I can accurately say that.

    We're going to Tampa in June but we have already decided we're staying in Tampa and not going to Orlando. The whole point of the trip is to see and visit with family so we don't want to take a bunch of side trips. It would be really fun to do a lot of the things in Orlando though. Oh well. Another time.

    Love your green outfits and love all of the pictures. I'd be here for 6 hours if I commented on each one I want to, but well done with your collages.

    1. I totally get what you mean about your trip being about family time. We did that on our California trip to see my Grandma and are so glad we spent most of our time with her and the family even if we didn't do as much sightseeing. I suspect you will get lots of beach time. Which beach will you probably go to? Be glad you are driving. It seemed that every interstate in Florida through every big city was undergoing major construction and traffic was terrible. It took us twice as long as it should have to get out of Florida from St. Petersburg. Ugh!

  2. I so wish we could have joined you on this trip. It just wasn't feasible with our Ottawa/Montreal trip already planned and the way my vacation time is working.

    Sadly, Tim and Janice and their family were in Florida at the same time as you guys (you may all have visited Harry Potter world on the same day) and it would have been AWESOME to be there with all of you.

    And this looks like SO MUCH FUN!!! What an excellent day.

    1. And you all totally look Irish. I love it!


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