Last year’s ice storm turned into our 1st Universal vacation

Disney Addicted

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Aug 29, 2011
Hello, hi, welcome! My family is going to Universal Studios Orlando for the first-time late August. Although it was not planned this way, I consider it my birthday treat as I turn 50 a month before we leave. When the heck did this happen?? :scratchin Anyways, guess what date is my birthday. Hint: Harry Potter and I share the same date. I think it’s pretty cool. My daughter was only maybe 3 years old when I discovered the Harry Potter books – I think when the 2nd or 3rd book was released. It’s hard to tell who is more excited now. I’m pumped that our decision to go means she is *finally* listening to the Harry Potter audio books I got her years ago. She is consistently amazed how much more happens in the books than the movies. 😊 I wish I could get my son to read the books. I’m sure he would love them but lately if it’s not anime, he won’t read it. What happened to the kid who loved Geronimo Stilton books? How did he get to be 15 without reading my beloved Harry Potter books? (sigh)

So now we are just over 7 weeks away from our trip to Universal Studios. Myself, my husband, our 20 year old daughter and 15 year old son. There were times I didn’t think we would go through with this trip as we seem to have a lot of expenses lately. However, when I offered to forget about it, my husband insisted we go. As he pointed out, this will probably be our last family vacation. The kids will be moving out before we know it. Thankfully I managed to save a huge chunk of change off our vacation cost!!

Thinking back, while we have done many day trips, we have only had 1 real vacation we fully paid for. Ten days in Disney (NOT long enough) 9 years ago. Other than that, a couple of weekends to Great Wolf Lodge. Luckily, we have been blessed with what I call my subsidized vacations - contest vacation wins! This was them young once upon a time.


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While this is primarily a Universal vacation, we are skipping off to Animal Kingdom for a day; Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party; Gatorland; and maybe some shopping. On our one and only Disney World vacation we missed Animal Kingdom. Both my daughter & I woke up with minor colds and our family ended up leaving the park 3 hours after we arrived. I spent the day in bed while the rest enjoyed the pool at the resort. After a good long rest I was able to enjoy our Boma dinner and the Pirates & Pals voyage. So, yes, I had Disney gift cards left from previous surveys and I hit up more surveys so we can redo our Animal Kingdom day!

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I asked my husband if there was anything in particular he wanted to do and he would like to attend MNSSHP. We did on our 1st vacation and he really enjoyed it. That works for me! I felt we missed out on so many rides and shows as the kids wanted to meet characters and collect candy. But hey, they were 11 and 6 after all. This time the focus will be on rides, shows and the parade!

As for Gatorland, we have never been there either. Heck, until we went to Disney World we never set foot in Florida and we stayed completely on-site. My kids loved watching.. GatorBoys I think it was called? I was disappointed we never saw a ‘gator at Disney. This will be a surprise. They don’t know we are going to Gatorland.

I would like to thank Mother Nature for throwing us a last minute-ice storm April 2018. :cool1: This trip would not have happened without WestJet giving us credit for a future flight as we drove two days to Florida to catch our cruise (mostly paid for with Air Miles). A week before our flight I kept reading online chatter about a last minute winter storm hitting the weekend of our flight. I started talking to my husband, my father and our friend (3 family cruise) about driving. The cruise was paid through Air Miles 2 ½ years earlier. I was NOT going to miss our first ever cruise. Three days before our flight we made the decision to drive. I think if my husband had not ended up with an ear infection he would have held out for the flight. First time I have been grateful to an ear infection! The cruise was on Sunday; the flight on Saturday; and Friday morning we started driving (3 families, 2 cars) to Florida. I phoned WestJet to cancel the flights as we hit the highway. The guy I spoke to was super nice and gave us a full credit even though WestJet had not put out an advisory yet. I think they knew darn well the ice was coming. Anyways, it turns out the ice storm hit our area in the wee hours of Saturday morning and our flight was cancelled. We had never driven to Florida before either. 16 hours the first day; 12 hours the second day. But we made it by Saturday night and were on-board Sunday afternoon. Whew! Here's a couple photos a neighbour sent of our street on Saturday, and a photo of my husband & I dressed up for formal night on the cruise.


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Of course, as we drove to Florida, I started plotting ways to use the flight credit, Air Miles and PC Optimum points for a vacation. Whenever my husband caught me with a dreamy look in my eyes, he would roll his eyes as he knew what was going through my mind. Hey, how come he can’t figure out my mind most other times? :confused3

Also, a big thank you to Air Miles Canada, PC Optimum, various survey sites and my euchre league. :goodvibes These saved us a huge amount of money in attraction tickets and other expenses. For those unfamiliar with PC Optimum, the program gives “points” for purchasing groceries and things. The points can then take money off your total purchase in $10 increments. I “cash” them out by taking anywhere from $10-$50 off my grocery total and then taking that $10-$50 I “saved” on groceries and putting the money into our vacation fund bank account.

I am really excited at how much I was able to save! I’ll get to that in my next post.
 
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bobbie68

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Hi following along. A nice beginning to your future trip. Glad you are sharing it.

We go to Orlando almost every year. we did take a break two years ago to go to Cedar Point. Our 17 year old DD has very bad ear problems with flying. We started driving from CT to Florida two years ago. we drive about 15 hours then 4 the next day we are exhausted after that I couldn't imagine going from Canada.

I celebrated my 50th birthday at Universal and Discovery Cove in 2017, it was really nice. You are going to have a great birthday.

Harry Potter is our favorite in this house. We have been so many times and never get tired of it. My DD and I could spend all day in that part.

We have read the books and saw the movies, but I think after you watch the movies then step inside those lands the magic hits you.

Where are you staying? Staying on property at Universal is our favorite. They have some of the best resorts.

This year for my DD's HS graduation she picked Discovery Cove and the Sea World parks. The whole time she missed Universal.

Look forward to hearing more of your trip. It sounds like you did really good with saving money for your trip. I always love to hear some good advice!
 


nwcutie

Earning My Ears
Joined
Nov 22, 2013
We went last Aug 16-22 and it was HOT, HOT, HOT, but we had FUN, FUN, FUN! It was the second trip for my mother and I, first trip for my boys 19 & 26. We split our stay between Cabana Bay and Portofino and had a marvelous time. You will too. Also, the 19 yo was not a Harry Potter reader like the rest of us, but he watched the films and thus really enjoyed those sections of the park. Have a great trip!

~ Marci
 
  • schumigirl

    It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
    Joined
    May 15, 2007
    Nice start DA........

    You have some lovely plans in there and look forward to reading more about your trip.......it is so close!!

    Nice pictures too.......:thumbsup2
     

    Disney Addicted

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 29, 2011
    Hi following along. A nice beginning to your future trip. Glad you are sharing it.

    We go to Orlando almost every year. we did take a break two years ago to go to Cedar Point. Our 17 year old DD has very bad ear problems with flying. We started driving from CT to Florida two years ago. we drive about 15 hours then 4 the next day we are exhausted after that I couldn't imagine going from Canada.

    I celebrated my 50th birthday at Universal and Discovery Cove in 2017, it was really nice. You are going to have a great birthday.

    Harry Potter is our favorite in this house. We have been so many times and never get tired of it. My DD and I could spend all day in that part.

    We have read the books and saw the movies, but I think after you watch the movies then step inside those lands the magic hits you.

    Where are you staying? Staying on property at Universal is our favorite. They have some of the best resorts.

    This year for my DD's HS graduation she picked Discovery Cove and the Sea World parks. The whole time she missed Universal.

    Look forward to hearing more of your trip. It sounds like you did really good with saving money for your trip. I always love to hear some good advice!
    Thank you for the birthday wishes bobbie.

    That's unfortunate for your DD. Will she outgrow it (so-to-speak) as she gets older or hopefully go away?

    I have to say I actually like driving although I was worried about driving to Florida. Only because we had never done it before and it was going to be a such a last-minute rush. See, we were originally going to drive and take 3 days. Give us a little time and a chance to get out of the cars, stretch, and maybe see a bit along the way; and take 4 days to drive home. Then our friend changed his mind and wanted to fly due to a variety of personal family issues. I thought it very ironic we ended up driving in a mad rush after all.

    I am unsure which resort as yet. I actually have 3 resorts booked... :rolleyes1 First I booked Cabana Bay, then I booked Surfside Inn, and a couple of days ago I booked Sapphire Falls. I have a problem, I know. :blush: I'm trying to sort it out and make a decision. I watched so many videos yesterday. As much as I like the cool blue colors and want those 3 beds at Surfside Inn, it's food court area does not appeal; the pool seems so small/shallow; and I like being able to walk to the parks and the idea of the boat. As much as I love the look of Sapphire Falls I think we'll end up at Cabana Bay after all for those plus the bit of extra seating room. Too bad I can't just book 2 rooms at Sapphire Falls!

    We did book 1 night at Royal Pacific for two days of Express Passes.

    I would love to visit Discovery Cove. It looks nice.

    We went last Aug 16-22 and it was HOT, HOT, HOT, but we had FUN, FUN, FUN! It was the second trip for my mother and I, first trip for my boys 19 & 26. We split our stay between Cabana Bay and Portofino and had a marvelous time. You will too. Also, the 19 yo was not a Harry Potter reader like the rest of us, but he watched the films and thus really enjoyed those sections of the park. Have a great trip!

    ~ Marci
    Great! I'm glad you had fun! I'm always reading how hot it is and advice to pick cooler times. But, well, I figure we will have fun and should be in & out of the sun. Drink lots of water; have some ice cream. I don't mind the heat as much. I figure we only get maybe 5-6 weeks of glorious hot swimming weather here so I'm looking forward. The only part of the heat I don't like; the worst part for me; is getting dressed after showering while it's HOT. Once I'm dressed, I'm fine. When we went 9 years ago, it was mid-September.

    Yes, my son has watched all the movies and loved them. I just wish I could get him to read the books as well. LOL that's the book worm I am talking though.

    I'm having a hard enough time picking ONE resort. My husband will kill me if I announced a split-stay, though that does sound appealing.

    Nice start DA........

    You have some lovely plans in there and look forward to reading more about your trip.......it is so close!!

    Nice pictures too.......:thumbsup2
    Thanks! By the way, it's totally your fault I ended up booking Sapphire Falls (as a 3rd resort!) a couple of days ago. :rotfl2: Your photos of the resort are gorgeous!
     

    Disney Addicted

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    Aug 29, 2011
    Oh my gosh, it's almost 8! I have to dash my son off to school (he's taking Grade 10 English so he can take a different course instead in September). Then help my Dad and beg a shower at his house. I will be back later!
     

    schumigirl

    It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
    Joined
    May 15, 2007
    Thanks! By the way, it's totally your fault I ended up booking Sapphire Falls (as a 3rd resort!) a couple of days ago. :rotfl2: Your photos of the resort are gorgeous!
    lol.....I`m happy to take the blame for that choice......it`s a good one!!!!

    Sapphire is the nicest of the resorts you mentioned......and glad to see you have the RP booked too for one night......good choice!!! Both are stunning resorts.
     
  • Disney Addicted

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    Aug 29, 2011
    What a busy weekend this was. My family was not happy there was no A/C. Though honestly, with a couple of fans placed around the living room and computer desk, plus ceiling fans in the bedrooms & kitchen, it wasn’t bad. Last summer was worse when we had no A/C all summer. At the moment the A/C has been removed from the fuse panel. The fuse panel is being replaced by a breaker system on Wednesday.

    We got to cool down outside Saturday evening at a friend’s house (pig roast) and enjoy a bonfire. Where I promptly discovered I missed the Women’s World Cup 3rd and 4th place game in the morning. I can’t believe I actually forgot!! ☹ I watched all the other games!

    Yesterday my husband & I watched the final World Cup game and what a game that was!! It’s going to be a long 3 years until the next Men’s World Cup. I’m going to be hounding every contest site I can find for a trip to the Men’s games. I would love to surprise my Dad.

    Then, this morning, we woke up to discover no hot water! Hence the shower at my Dad’s. EnerCare will not have anyone out here until Thursday evening. Ugh.

    Tomorrow I need to clear out the fridge; prep some meals for Wednesday; and bring stuff to my Dad’s to be stored in his fridge until Thursday. Fun, fun… LOL Oh, I guess I should get laundry done as well.


    Well, today’s not tomorrow so I’m going to ignore all that needs to be done until tomorrow and do some trip planning! As I said, I’m really excited about how much I saved (meaning, do not have to spend cash/real money) so lets start off with that! :goodvibes
     
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    Disney Addicted

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    Aug 29, 2011
    I made this list to show my husband the money saved. Listed in Canadian funds unless stated otherwise.

    Saved - all rounded to nearest dollar
    $ 406 ---- Flight: used credit but had to pay $406.53 extra – paid from vacation fund
    $1,930 ---- USO tickets: (B2 days G3 days free, 3 PTP tickets) – paid through air miles *
    $ 250 ------- upgrade tickets to Seasonal APs – will pay from vacation fund
    $ 449 ----- 4 MNSSHP adult tickets – paid through Air Miles *
    $ 711 ---- 4 Animal Kingdom tickets – paid using Disney gift cards/vacation fund *
    $ 493 ---- ($368 US) remaining in Disney gift cards for meals, drinks, etc
    $ 87 ---- FIDO: roaming charges while in States – will pay using vacation fund
    $ 189 ---- Pearson Airport Parking: 11 days – paid from vacation fund
    $ 83 ---- Luggage: checking 1 bag (rest carryon) – will pay from vacation fund
    $ 170 ---- RT ground transfer (Tony Hinds) – will pay from vacation fund
    $4,768 / 3,570 US

    * The tickets are in the process of being ordered/paid for. I was able to order 2 MNSSHP tickets on my Air Miles card. The other 2 MNSSHP tickets and 4 Universal Studio tickets cannot be ordered on my husband’s Air Miles card until he gets another 87 or so miles posted. The miles should be posted by the end of this week so I can order the tickets. The Animal Kingdom tickets I’m going to order this weekend. Air Miles has been huge for us this year. Besides these 8 tickets, I also ordered a new computer for myself in April and a Samsung Galaxy S5E tablet for my husband last month using the miles on my card!

    Now we have had money saved and sitting in a US funds bank account for a few years. Once in a while we would use it for a quick trip across the border; occasional shopping; and spending money for some trips I won. Since there is still money in the account and we are using it towards the trip, I am not sure if I should count it as out-of-pocket money or not. This is money that was already saved and waiting to be used on a trip eventually. We’re spending it and it certainly was not free, so I guess it is OOP expenses. In any case, that money is paying for:

    1 night Royal Pacific (Express Passes) - price dropped & scored AP rate – already paid = $344 CAN / $224 US
    Universal Photo Package (Black Friday sale) – 5 days – already paid = $81 / $60 US

    Finally, whichever resort we stay at as well. I still have to decide between Cabana Bay, Surfside Inn, or Sapphire Falls. The money in the US account will pay pay off the balancing owing for the resort and leave $521 - $1,043 US (depending on the resort chosen) for other expenses such as Ubers, meals, etc. Ohh, plus it will pay for Gatorland. I almost forgot about that. As long as I can keep a tight grip on expenses over the next 2 months, we will have an additional $1,000 US towards those extras. Money left over will be put aside for next year’s cruise I won.


    There's just no way this trip would have happened if I could not have gotten all those items above without paying "cash" for. I'm so happy!
     
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    marchingstar

    DIS Veteran
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    Jun 18, 2014
    Following along!

    I always mean to make a pre-trip report, but I haven’t done it yet. Good for you for funneling your excitement into this so we can all join along for the fun :) and it’s really great to see your AM/PC savings!
     
  • Pumpkin1172

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    Sep 14, 2016
    Great Trip report so far!!!!
    Your planning sounds like mine. Just trying to maximize the saving of the rewards programs. I'm just waiting to see if Universal does another winter promo of the buy 2 days get some free for early next year. I don't think we could swing a trip again this year. I'm willing to keep the second job to fund another trip, but it won't be until after
    Christmas and towards the end of February (as the daughter is expecting - I'm going to be a Gammie!!! ) so we have to wait until the little bean is born before we made any trips south. So it gives me a little time to save more PC points, and get working on the airmiles again.
    Last weekend when the hubby and I were shopping, he looked at how many PC points we had, and he's like...I wonder what I can buy myself with all those- jokingly because he knows that it will tick me off to hear him say that and he knows he will be an injured man if he uses them. I looked at him with my don't even think about it eyes...and said " those are my points. I've planned and bought and earned for them. Don't touch them. I don't touch your precious Canadian Tire points...the PC points are MINE!!!!! " :laughing: :lmao: Don't even think about it buddy lol. Hands off lol

    I'm just glad there is a way to be able to bring the cost of a vacation with the horrible exchange rate, and prices rising so much for flights, park tickets, food etc etc etc etc lol. Maximize the rewards we have ( Airmiles, PC points, and credit cards for rewards on flights ) so the out of pocket money doesn't sting so much

    Great job on maximizing the rewards. Can't wait to hear more!!!!
     

    Disney Addicted

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    Aug 29, 2011
    @Disney Addicted, following along!

    For as much as we hate on having to chase down air miles, it's all worth it in the end when you see the savings pile up :)
    Isn't it though?! It's kind of sad to think I'm starting from scratch again but the possibilities of our next reward are fun to dream about. I would love to save up for another trip. But then it would be great to order a 65" TV for the living room. Hmm... I might assign one to my card and one to my husband's card. :scratchin

    Following along!

    I always mean to make a pre-trip report, but I haven’t done it yet. Good for you for funneling your excitement into this so we can all join along for the fun :) and it’s really great to see your AM/PC savings!
    Thanks! I just realized in 7 weeks today I'll be rushing everyone over to Royal Pacific to check in and get our Express Fast passes and hitting the park for the first time. Goosebumps!

    Great Trip report so far!!!!
    Your planning sounds like mine. Just trying to maximize the saving of the rewards programs. I'm just waiting to see if Universal does another winter promo of the buy 2 days get some free for early next year. I don't think we could swing a trip again this year. I'm willing to keep the second job to fund another trip, but it won't be until after
    Christmas and towards the end of February (as the daughter is expecting - I'm going to be a Gammie!!! ) so we have to wait until the little bean is born before we made any trips south. So it gives me a little time to save more PC points, and get working on the airmiles again.
    Last weekend when the hubby and I were shopping, he looked at how many PC points we had, and he's like...I wonder what I can buy myself with all those- jokingly because he knows that it will tick me off to hear him say that and he knows he will be an injured man if he uses them. I looked at him with my don't even think about it eyes...and said " those are my points. I've planned and bought and earned for them. Don't touch them. I don't touch your precious Canadian Tire points...the PC points are MINE!!!!! " :laughing: :lmao: Don't even think about it buddy lol. Hands off lol

    I'm just glad there is a way to be able to bring the cost of a vacation with the horrible exchange rate, and prices rising so much for flights, park tickets, food etc etc etc etc lol. Maximize the rewards we have ( Airmiles, PC points, and credit cards for rewards on flights ) so the out of pocket money doesn't sting so much

    Great job on maximizing the rewards. Can't wait to hear more!!!!
    I'm kind of dreaming of swinging a second trip next year, even just a quick few nights, since we are upgrading to APs, but I really doubt that will happen.

    And wow, good for you on a second job to fund a trip. My kids are all grown up. I really do need to get a job again myself now.

    Congratulations!!! Wow, a Gammie! Is this your first grandchild? How exciting! I was in Wal-mart last night (Loblaws was OUT of cooked whole chickens) and this father with a little baby girl was ahead of me in line. Man... I can hardly believe how old my kids are now when I look at little ones. It's so sad.

    I would kill my husband if he used the Air Miles or PC points and he knows it! :rotfl2:
     

    Disney Addicted

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    Aug 29, 2011
    So this morning I was able to place the rest of our attraction tickets order! I finally hit enough in survey rewards on a particular site to cash in and get 200 Air Miles. I deposited those into my husband’s account and dashed off replies to the Air Miles Personal Shopper program. Two more MNSSHP tickets and our 4 Universal Studio tickets. Now to wait for the confirmation of order placed from them and impatiently wait for the tickets. :-) I still need to order 4 Animal Kingdom tickets but cannot today.

    Guess what? I have no idea why but our hot water tank started working again! Of course we discovered this sometime after I gave the kids the choice of driving over to Grandpa’s for a shower or having a cold one here. They chose to have a cold shower. :rolleyes1 It’s odd that it stopped working the last time the Electrician was here and then started working again yesterday after he came back. I’m still keeping the EnerCare appointment for tomorrow. Maybe the motor is on the fritz.

    I had better sign off for now. The Electrician said he would be here at 7:30 AM and sometime between 8-9 AM our power will be disconnected. Who knows when it will be turned on again. LOL I imagine very late. Our Electrician was not happy about the late disconnect as he said it would take at least 12 hours. I got up early (5:30 AM) to make sure I could have a shower and cook some hot food. Now I have a lot of rushing around to do for the next hour or so.

    I’m so excited. It’s costing a pretty penny to switch over to a breaker system but at least we will not worry about burning the house down anymore, which is pretty important. :P


    Have a great day everyone and try to keep cool!
     
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    Disney Addicted

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    Aug 29, 2011
    So much has happened in the past week. It took 3 days but everything is up and running and we now have a breaker system. My husband is happy to have A/C again. As I’m typing this, the A/C is shut off and the computer window beside me is open. :rolleyes1 It’s not hot out right now and I dislike being shut-in the house all day.

    Ohh, and the hot water tank? Turns out there was a dirty connection somewhere causing intermittent hot water/heating issues.

    Did I mention I had booked us at three different resorts? Yes, you read that correctly. Three. Originally I booked Cabana Bay for the family suite. Then Surfside Inn came along and temped me with its 3 queen beds, extra sitting space and serene blue colors. Then I saw schumigirl’s beautiful photos of Sapphire Falls. Well, hell. I want to stay at all three locations! :-) I finally made a decision and cancelled Surfside Inn and Sapphire Falls. I decided Cabana Bay fits us better as first-timers staying at Universal. 1) I want the ability to walk or take the bus/water taxi as we choose. 2) CBBR’s pools/lazy river look fun rather than wading in a 3’ pool at Surfside Inn. 3) Not allowed to pool hop. 4) The food sounds better at Cabana Bay then Surfside Inn, plus we can easily walk to Sapphire Falls/Royal Pacific/Citywalk for meals. 5) I tried to talk myself into Sapphire Falls (additional $220 US) since we would have to share beds regardless, but with two teens it’s better to have the extra space the family suite at CBBR offers. Finally making that decision took a large weight off me that I did not realize was there! If we come back as a family, then we will probably try Surfside or Dockside. If it’s just my husband & I, then Sapphire Falls or Royal Pacific.

    Also, we have 2 sets of our tickets! :cool1: A couple of days ago they arrived by e-mail from Air Miles. I was surprised, but very happy, that Air Miles sent us the Universal tickets by e-mail. I was afraid they would ship through Canada Post or some other company and arrive late or get lost. I’m so happy that was not the case. I have the MNSSHP tickets linked to my Disney account and am just waiting now to make a couple of FP+ selections in a couple of weeks.


    Next up is the Animal Kingdom tickets. I have not had time to purchase them yet and that has turned out to be good. I’m second guessing the day I planned for us to go. If we go on a weekday (instead of Sunday), the price drops $68. That extra savings would cover lunch/snacks/drinks and really, wouldn’t going on a week day (ie, Wed) mean less crowds then on a weekend?


    I just figured out how to play with the HEX colors. Since I don't have a favourite color per se, rather that it depends on my mood and the particular shade of color, my posts will most likely be a different color every time. I hope you all don't find that irritating. Think of it as an interesting quirk instead. :P Now to edit my prior posts...
     
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    Disney Addicted

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    Aug 29, 2011
    Good morning! I was playing around with numbers (dollars) this morning for Gatorland while waiting for an oil change. I discovered that purchasing 4 general admission tickets online costs the same as purchasing 1 annual pass online and then 3 general admission tickets 30% off at the gate. The cost is the same either way ($115 US) but the AP will gives us a little bit of savings on some extras we will probably do. BOGO bird stick at the Aviary (only a $4 savings, but hey); 10% off food/drink at Pearl's Good Eats & Snack Bar; 20% off gift shop purchases; and, if we decide to buy a photo, 20% off in-park photo stations.

    Then it occurred to me I could use Air Miles to purchase that Annual Pass at Gatorland and save $48 US! I still have 888 air miles left (nice number, isn't it? :) and my math thinks it will only cost 685 air miles. I'm happy with that!
     

    crabbymom

    Slythermom to 2 'claws and a Princess
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2012
    Did I mention I had booked us at three different resorts? Yes, you read that correctly. Three. Originally I booked Cabana Bay for the family suite. Then Surfside Inn came along and temped me with its 3 queen beds, extra sitting space and serene blue colors. Then I saw schumigirl’s beautiful photos of Sapphire Falls. Well, hell. I want to stay at all three locations! :-) I finally made a decision and cancelled Surfside Inn and Sapphire Falls. I decided Cabana Bay fits us better as first-timers staying at Universal. 1) I want the ability to walk or take the bus/water taxi as we choose. 2) CBBR’s pools/lazy river look fun rather than wading in a 3’ pool at Surfside Inn. 3) Not allowed to pool hop. 4) The food sounds better at Cabana Bay then Surfside Inn, plus we can easily walk to Sapphire Falls/Royal Pacific/Citywalk for meals. 5) I tried to talk myself into Sapphire Falls (additional $220 US) since we would have to share beds regardless, but with two teens it’s better to have the extra space the family suite at CBBR offers. Finally making that decision took a large weight off me that I did not realize was there! If we come back as a family, then we will probably try Surfside or Dockside. If it’s just my husband & I, then Sapphire Falls or Royal Pacific.
    DA - I am not trying to change your mind (I LOVE Cabana Bay and have stayed there twice in the last 18 months!) I just want to make sure you have all the correct info.
    1 - Staying at Cabana Bay you will always have the bus and they are plentiful and frequent. You can walk the path, its lovely and shaded mostly but Cabana Bay is the furthest away from the path and August is HOT!! Same issue with the water taxi, you will need to walk through Sapphire Falls to get to the water taxi stop. There is a bridge over the main road, so no issue walking, but it is a walk.

    3 - Pool hoping is always allowed at Universal resorts. There is no key card check and you can go to any of the pools as long as you are staying somewhere on Universal property. That being said, I think Cabana Bay has the best pool anyway! We are going in August to Sapphire Falls and I plan to pool hop to Cabana Bay.

    Overall, I loved the retro theming of Cabana Bay and would stay there again in a heartbeat and you will love the family suite with teenagers!! We will be staying at Sapphire Falls this August...wave if you see us! :wave:
     

    Disney Addicted

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    Aug 29, 2011
    DA - I am not trying to change your mind (I LOVE Cabana Bay and have stayed there twice in the last 18 months!) I just want to make sure you have all the correct info.
    1 - Staying at Cabana Bay you will always have the bus and they are plentiful and frequent. You can walk the path, its lovely and shaded mostly but Cabana Bay is the furthest away from the path and August is HOT!! Same issue with the water taxi, you will need to walk through Sapphire Falls to get to the water taxi stop. There is a bridge over the main road, so no issue walking, but it is a walk.

    3 - Pool hoping is always allowed at Universal resorts. There is no key card check and you can go to any of the pools as long as you are staying somewhere on Universal property. That being said, I think Cabana Bay has the best pool anyway! We are going in August to Sapphire Falls and I plan to pool hop to Cabana Bay.

    Overall, I loved the retro theming of Cabana Bay and would stay there again in a heartbeat and you will love the family suite with teenagers!! We will be staying at Sapphire Falls this August...wave if you see us! :wave:
    Hey, hi and thanks! I love all the information. I'm glad to hear you love Cabana Bay! What did you think of the food in Bayliner Diner? Are the hot breakfasts hot and tasty?

    Do you remember how long it took to walk to the water taxi? I read about the walking path but it also looks like you can just cross the street to Sapphire Falls. Can we?

    The deciding factor between Sapphire Falls and Cabana Bay was really room space. You said the magic word - teenagers! I remember (when my kids were only 6 and 11) we were always tripping over each other in our Coronado Springs Resort room. Then a couple of years ago we stayed a couple of nights at a hotel in Ottawa, which also had a separate living room. The extra space was glorious! So... I had to say sorry and goodbye to Sapphire Falls. I think my family would kill me (more space for them) if I booked us into Sapphire Falls. :goodvibes If just my husband & I ever go back, it would be a king bed at Sapphire Falls or Royal Pacific. If we go back as a family, then I would like to try Endless Summer.

    Unfortunately Universal (or Loews?) decided guests of Sapphire Falls are not allowed to pool hop. Universal announced it on Twitter and then put this blurb up on the website (towards the bottom, under the bolded Experiencing the other Universal Orlando Hotels ). Considering all the other resorts are allowed to, I wonder how they will enforce this. Do they ask for room keys as proof right now? Will we need to bring a room key with us?

    By the way, when in August are you going? Aug 27 - Sept 6 for us. Have a great time!
     

    crabbymom

    Slythermom to 2 'claws and a Princess
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2012
    Hey, hi and thanks! I love all the information. I'm glad to hear you love Cabana Bay! What did you think of the food in Bayliner Diner? Are the hot breakfasts hot and tasty?

    Do you remember how long it took to walk to the water taxi? I read about the walking path but it also looks like you can just cross the street to Sapphire Falls. Can we?

    The deciding factor between Sapphire Falls and Cabana Bay was really room space. You said the magic word - teenagers! I remember (when my kids were only 6 and 11) we were always tripping over each other in our Coronado Springs Resort room. Then a couple of years ago we stayed a couple of nights at a hotel in Ottawa, which also had a separate living room. The extra space was glorious! So... I had to say sorry and goodbye to Sapphire Falls. I think my family would kill me (more space for them) if I booked us into Sapphire Falls. :goodvibes If just my husband & I ever go back, it would be a king bed at Sapphire Falls or Royal Pacific. If we go back as a family, then I would like to try Endless Summer.

    Unfortunately Universal (or Loews?) decided guests of Sapphire Falls are not allowed to pool hop. Universal announced it on Twitter and then put this blurb up on the website (towards the bottom, under the bolded Experiencing the other Universal Orlando Hotels ). Considering all the other resorts are allowed to, I wonder how they will enforce this. Do they ask for room keys as proof right now? Will we need to bring a room key with us?

    By the way, when in August are you going? Aug 27 - Sept 6 for us. Have a great time!
    I actually rarely eat breakfast so I do not know how Bayliner compares, but the food in the bowling alley was surprisingly tasty and unique to Cabana Bay.

    The walk to the water taxi, if you follow the walking path, is 10 maybe 15 minutes. The other option is to just cross the street out front and not take the pedestrian bridge over Adventure Way which is quicker by far, but feels a bit like a game of Frogger with the drivers!!

    Sapphire Falls is considered a Preferred Hotel so pool hopping is allowed. Only the two new value resorts, Endless Summer Surfside and Dockside, are "prohibited" from pool hopping.

    I last stayed in a family suite in Cabana Bay in February with my two sons (21 & 16) so the extra space was amazing!! This time we are staying in a Kid Suite at Sapphire Falls: one king bed and a separate bedroom with two twin beds. We will see how that works for the 6' "kids"!

    We will be there August 15-19. Nothing like the FL heat in Aug! Still, it was 99 degrees here today so its really not that much of a difference! 8-)
     

    crabbymom

    Slythermom to 2 'claws and a Princess
    Joined
    Nov 28, 2012
    While this is primarily a Universal vacation, we are skipping off to Animal Kingdom for a day; Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party; Gatorland; and maybe some shopping. On our one and only Disney World vacation we missed Animal Kingdom. Both my daughter & I woke up with minor colds and our family ended up leaving the park 3 hours after we arrived. I spent the day in bed while the rest enjoyed the pool at the resort. After a good long rest I was able to enjoy our Boma dinner and the Pirates & Pals voyage. So, yes, I had Disney gift cards left from previous surveys and I hit up more surveys so we can redo our Animal Kingdom day!
    Next summer (labor day) we are headed to AKL for a week!! Total dream of mine to stay there so I am hoarding Disney gift cards like a fiend! I do wish Universal had a way to get discounted GC's! I'd never leave!
     

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