Mom and Hannah 4th of July Craziness~First US only Trip! PTR


Jun 29, 2014

Hello and welcome to my first attempt at a Universal Pre-Trip Report! I have attempted on a couple times to do a Disney one, but they have failed miserably! But since this is going to be our first time doing a US only trip, I thought I would try and do one here!

So here we go! The Who, The Where, and The Why!


The Who:
My name is Kara and I am a full time mom, family activity coordinator (with 3 kids it seems like a full time job!), an Early Childhood Educator, and wife! We have been to Walt Disney World often over the past 5 years and made our first trek to Universal over Christmas break this past year along with our Disney trip. It was a completely different experience than our Disney trips but that's okay! Along on this trip is going o be by oldest daughter, Hannah, for our mom and me trip! (This picture is of me and my son on his mom and me trip a few years ago. I really need to take more pictures of myself because it was really hard to find one!)

This is my oldest, Hannah, who turned 14 in February and is my crazy child who keeps us on our toes. She just finished with her 8th grade musical, Peter Pan Jr (hence the bright eye makeup!) taking on 3 parts, one as a Mermaid, Pirate, and an Indian. She loves thrill rides and is excited to do a mom and me trip so we can try and do as many of the thrill rides as she wants (her favorite ride at US is the Hulk!)

The Where:

We are going to be leaving hot and humid Iowa to head to hot and humid Florida July 2nd and returning late the 9th. We are flying out of Omaha (about an 1 1/2 from home) on Southwest with a stop in Chicago on our way to MCO!

Once we are in Orlando we will make our way to Cabana Bay Beach Resort! Over Christmas we stayed here in a family suite and loved the feel of the resort and Hannah wanted to stay here again, but she chose to do a Volcano Bay view room this time. We do know that we won't have EP, but with as many days as we are going to have in the park we are okay with that. I actually upgrade to an AP when we were there in December so we could have discounts and I am going to get Hannah an AP too, so we may even upgrade to Premier so we can an EP after 4pm for our trip.

We are making our way over to Typoon Lagoon for an H2O glow night on the 6th, but this will probably be the only trip that we take offsite. The rest of the time will be spending time in the parks and taking our time to look and take in our resort.

The Why:

Mom and me trip! Our every day lives seems to be crazy and insane and there are times that I feel we don't get to spend as much time with our kids as we want. My husband is not a huge theme park fan, but will go with us when we go as a family and has fun, but doesn't mind staying home and letting me take the kids. This will be the 3rd time that I have taken a child (or children) on my own. My son got to do his first for his 10th birthday (only boy stuck in the middle of 2 girls and birthday the week before Christmas so mom was feeling guilty that sometimes he got the shaft) then next year was to be a girls only trip but Hannah was being a 13 year old and didn't want to go so the two youngest got to go with me (she regretted it when we were gone), and now this trip! The other ones have been Disney, so this is a whole new experience for us!

Well I hope that I didn't ramble on too long and make you all run away! I promise I will try and be more exciting as the trip gets closer and have more information to share!



Jun 29, 2014
Well I am back here to do some more rambling! Once again last night I decided to add more onto my plate and take over as the team manager for my sons club soccer team. The coaches have been struggling this spring with trying to do their coaching duties and keep the team running (which is not part of their contract but no one else would do it) and I couldn't let my son down! So on top of full time work, taking kids to and from practices, I now get to do this and also help with my younger daughters competitive cheer team with fundraising and helping those coaches. I swear I am sucker for this stuff (when my oldest was little I helped to co-lead a girl scout troop of over 30 girls....let me tell you cookie time was worst time of year!)

So a little back story on our first trip to US/IOA. We drove (yes drove, flights for 5 people at Christmas was more than our whole trip!) 1500 miles to the sunny state of Florida and checked into Cabana Bay. With the 5 of us we decided that a family suite would work best for us even though we didn't get the EP, but we went in with the same state of mind that we do for Disney. We will be back so if we didn't catch something the first time that's okay! We really enjoyed the resort and our time at the parks. It was extremely packed (which we knew it would be) but a neat place to see. We did a few rides and explored each of the Harry Potter areas. I know that we didn't even scratch the surface of what is all offered in the parks which is the one thing that I really love about both Universal and Disney. They put so much into the parks and lands that no matter how many times you go you will find new things to see.
I will be the first to admit that we are more of a Disney family, but am not one of those families that won't explore other parks and places just because Disney is our happy place. I am excited to try a longer trip at US to explore more and spend more time figuring out the parks and all that they offer.

For this trip since it is just Hannah and I we are flying! I love to fly Southwest and the ability to have 2 free checked bags per person. I don't get the EB when we fly. I just get on at our 24 hour mark and check in. The only time that I didn't get to sit right next to someone in my party was when my son and I went on our trip and all of the flights for Southwest were majorly delayed due to a computer issue and they had to rebook our flight at the airport and our assigned numbers were toward the end of loading and the flight was completely full due to the computer issues. It was okay though because we were close to each other on aisle seats and he had his tablet (he was 10 and didn't need help with anything). Our flight is due to arrive around 5:30pm and decided to use the shuttle service that is offered through UO. I know we could use UBER or Lyft, but since it is just the two of use I decided to try the shuttle. We don't have anything planned for this night so it really depends on what time we actually get to the resort on what we want to do. Since I have an AP and we are upgrading Hannah when we get there we may head over to the parks and walk around or spend time at the resort. This trip is really going to be pretty relaxing and not planned (which is completely new for me) so go with the flow is going to be our motto!

One of our biggest draws to coming to UO is Harry Potter. Some of Hannah's favorite things that we did when we were there in December was to walk around both Diagon Alley and Hogsmead and look at everything, see the dragon breath fire and get at both the Three Broomsticks and the Leaky Cauldron. I have a feeling that these are going to be the main areas that we are in during our trip. She already has her wand so I know that we are going to be doing some of those (I may bring one of the other kids so I can do them too!) and do a Shutterbuttons video.

So off I go back to work (break is over!) . I hope to be back later with more plans and maybe some pictures too so it isn't all rambles! Have a great afternoon!



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