Two 50-somethings and Their Relaxing Trip to Universal (Better Late than Never) - Nov. 9-17, 2018 (Completed)


May 6, 2013
Great report so far! We were there the same week. I'll keep a lookout for us in your pics419949 Loved the TN rest stop, very inviting. The birthday surprise looks delicious. Love the photo pass pics. I am thinking about getting that for our trip next month, hopefully they will have a sale again. Looking forward to reading more.


Jan 25, 2005
Day 4: November 12, 2018 (Wandering IOA Continued)

I really liked the King Kong ride and made a note to make sure DH rode it. I wondered over to the Jurassic Park area. I knew I wouldn't ride the ride but I love that area of the park.

IOA Camp Jurassic.JPGIOA Camp Jurassic 2.JPGIOA River Adventure.JPGIOA River Adventure plunge.JPGIOA Jurassic Discovery Center.JPG

After getting my fill of the dinosaurs, it was off through Hogsmeade. 20181112_095135.jpg20181112_095327.jpg

Since we had spent time there yesterday, I didn't really do anything there other than walk through to the Lost Continent.
  • Like
Reactions: DLo


Jan 25, 2005
Day 4: November 12, 2018 (Wandering IOA Continued)

So I took a stroll through the Lost Continent. This used to be my favorite part of Islands of Adventure. I loved the vibe it gave off. Since they have really cut it back with the addition of Hogsmeade, there really isn't many reasons to spend much time there. Poseidon's Fury is cool to do once but I've done it a dozen times. Thus, no stopping today.
IOA Another Guard to Lost Continent.JPGIOA Poseidon's Fury.JPGIOA Poseidon's Fury Entrance.JPG

I realized that I never took a picture of what I think is the best part of Lost Continent still left, Mythos. In the spirit of things, here is one I took in 2005.
IOA Mythos Restaurant.JPG

Very soon I was in Seuss Landing. I love this whimsical world. I rode the trolley but have no pics of it. I really wasn't with it in my picture taking this trip! I also rode Cat in the Hat which is one of my favorites. I loved how the ride brings the story to life.

IOA Seuss Landing.JPGIOA Seussacel.JPG
IOA Seussacel 2.JPGIOA One Fish, Two Fish.JPGIOA the Cat in the Hat.JPG

At this point it was getting hot and I was hungry. It was time to leave IOA and head to City Walk for lunch.
  • jeanelle

    Jan 25, 2005
    Day 4: November 12, 2018 (Lunch is Calling)

    It was around noon or so now and I didn't want to wait in a line to be seated to eat. As I have never eaten at the NBC Sports Grill & Brew and could immediately get a seat at the bar, that is where I decided to have lunch. I had the Grilled Citrus Chicken salad. It was really good and was exactly what I was wanting. I texted my husband and he was feeling a bit better and was actually down in the lobby waiting for them to clean our room. As I was right next to this place:


    I felt that donuts were required. My DH was all for it so off to get in line I went. The line wasn't bad. Unfortunately, it started pouring while I was in there. I waited it out a little bit and then headed to the boat in the pouring rain. My lovely donut box survived but just barely. :)

    The donuts were good.20181112_123028.jpg


    My DH loved the Maple Bacon Bar and the Oh, Captain, My Captain. However, he said the Captain Crunch cereal was a little stale. We will definitely be back next year.

    Now that I looked like drowned rat, it was back to the room I went. My husband was still in the lobby. We waited there for a little bit in front of the Kitchen Restaurant before heading back to our room for a little rest before our one reservation of the trip, The Palm Restaurant.


    We relaxed a bit and then got ready for dinner. I have no pictures of the restaurant or the food. All I can say is that it was delicious. It is definitely on the agenda for next year! Our plan was to go out dancing this night. We were both really tired and a little tipsy by the time dinner was done, plus my DH's back still wasn't feeling good. We scrapped that and just went up to our room to watch some TV and get to bed early.

    Tomorrow was set to be a relaxing day at the pool. I got a great deal on a cabana and we planned to make good use of it.


    Jan 25, 2005
    Day 5: November 13, 2019 (Pool Day)

    Today was the same as every other day. We woke up early-ish. As we couldn't get our cabana until 9 :00, we relaxed a bit and eventually wandered down to the lounge for breakfast. It was a little more crowded today as we were there at a later time. After eating and being sufficiently caffeinated, we went and grabbed our pool bag and headed down to the gym where we would pay and be led to our cabana.

    We are normally not pool people. We enjoy the pool but since I practically glow in the dark, I burn really easy. Obviously, my DH doesn't have that problem but he doesn't like the heat or to swim. However, he wanted a down day to just do nothing. He would have been fine in the room watching TV but that wasn't for me. We compromised on a day at the waterpark when we were first planning. If we were going to spend a day at the waterpark, which would consist of basically the lazy river and wave pool, I wanted a cabana. I then priced the cabanas at Volcano Bay and went into sticker shock. Time to rethink this plan! I saw that Hard Rock had cabanas at the pool. I called and found that at the time we were going they were relatively cheap. I ended up paying $150 for the cabana for the day. Perfect solution.

    So back to our adventure. We went to the gym and the nice attendant charged my credit card and escorted us to our cabana. We were in Cabana #2, which is very close to the Beachclub. There were waters and pop in the fridge and the attendant said she would bring us our basket of fruit. We were very happy with it and settled down to enjoy our relaxing day. We had nothing really planned other than eating lunch poolside and relaxing. I had my kindle and he had his laptop so everything was good.

    Here are some pics of the cabana.


    We spent time just lounging until we got a little hungry. I will mention that the only real complaint I had is that the waitress (or whatever they are called), did not seem to come around very often. Most times when we wanted food or drinks, we went up to the bar and ordered it and they delivered it. It wasn't terrible but it would have been nice if there would have been a way to call for them. :) We really aren't needy people but we never needed her when she came by and she wasn't there when we wanted something.

    For lunch, I knew exactly what I wanted. The nachos. I had heard a lot of good things about the nachos here and throughout the different hotels. We ordered them (without the pico as I cannot stand raw tomatos) and some drinks. I believe my DH ordered the Mai Tai and I ordered a frozen Margarita.20181113_112308.jpg20181113_112330.jpg20181113_112344.jpg

    He liked my souvenir cup and I liked his so we ended up ordering different drink later so we ended up ordering more drinks later. We got a little crazy with souvenir cups/glasses. We like our mixed drinks and just are not beer and wine people. It seemed like every drink we ordered came in a souvenir glass. I have a collection of souvenir glasses from my different travels so it was nice to add to it.

    We just basically hung out at the pool all day.
    hard rock pool 2.jpgHard Rock Pool.jpg

    We wandered over to the arcade and played a few games. I like claw machines and DH likes shoot them up games. As I said, we really are big kids at heart. We went up to the room once for a short nap and then came back down for a little bit. We had had our fill by about 5:30 or 6:00. I don't know what it is about a pool day but it seems to exhaust you. We wandered back up to our room and grabbed some food from the lounge for dinner. We then called it an early night.

    Tomorrow our plan was to hit IOA and maybe even wander over to US.

    Will my DH's back handle the walking? Will we follow the plan? More to come...


    Jan 25, 2005
    Day 6: November 14, 2018 (Visiting the Parks)

    Today was just a repeat of the previous days. We woke up, got ready, had breakfast in the lounge and headed out for the day. My DH said his back was feeling better today after the couple of days of rest and he was ready to visit the parks. We once again took the boat over to City Walk and walked over to IOA.

    We took all of the obligatory entrance photos. Gotta get use out of that pass I paid for.


    We knew what our first stop would be. The Christmas Shop. When we were on our honeymoon, we purchased a special personalized ornament to commemorate the occasion. We wanted one to commemorate this vacation. We picked out the ornament and had it sent back to the hotel when done. This is where it would have been a good idea to actually pick up the ornament so we could look at it. Despite me carefully spelling my name as it is somewhat unusual, they spelled it incorrectly.

    Unfortunately, since we had it sent to our room and we didn't want to unwrap it in the room because it was wrapped so nicely, we didn't notice this until we were home. I have to say that Universal Customer Service was wonderful. I emailed them right away with pictures of the ornament and receipt and they shipped us a new ornament with the correct spelling.

    I have to say that I like the replacement ornament a bit better as everything is larger on it.

    So having bought our ornament, we headed off on our trek around IOA. We rode Spiderman and the walked through Toon Lagoon just looking at the sights. Neither of us felt like getting wet so those rides were skipped. We next rode King Kong. I had really liked it the day before and wanted DH to experience it. He also liked it.

    We then wandered through Jurassic Park. Again we skipped the ride as we had no desire to be wet for the rest of the day.

    We did stop and do some self photos with the Dino. It took us a couple of tries to get it right but we finally did it.



    Jan 25, 2005
    Day 6: November 14, 2018 (Visiting the Parks - Continued)

    We did stop on the bridge between Jurassic Park and Hogsmeade for some more pics.61699_111418_000972960.JPG61699_111418_000972963.JPG61699_111418_000972958.JPG
    This last picture was our favorite from our entire trip. We had it made into an 8 x 10 and have it framed in our living room.

    DH had no interest in riding the Forbidden Journey again nor the Flight of the Hippogriff. We wandered through a few shops and hopped on the Hogwart's Express over to Universal Studios. Again the ride was enjoyable and it was nice to see the different storyline. I definitely recommend riding the train both ways at least once.

    We didn't go into Diagon Alley as we planned to spend a lot of time in there the next day. We were getting a little hungry at this point and decided that Krusty Burgers might be the way to go. On the way over to Springville, we passed Men in Black and since there was no line, hopped on the ride.


    It was here that we found out that there had been a mess up with our Photo pass. When I went to the counter to get the ride photo added, I was told that our pass had expired. Instead of putting in 5 days that would take us to the end of our vacation (and that I had paid for), they only had us down for a 3 day package, which had expired the day before. I was more than a little upset. We had taken pictures all day using the card. Would we lose those? We hadn't picked out our free photos yet. Would we lose those? The girl at the counter was very nice. I showed her my receipt that was in my email. She said she couldn't just add the 2 extra days but was able to add another 3 day package to my account at no extra charge. I went away happy only to have more issues the next day (stay tuned for the never ending photopass saga).

    So after this little sidetrack, we were back on our way to Springville and lunch. We stopped again to do the auto-photo at the Dolorean. We were better at this time and it only took us 2 tries to get a decent picture.


    We actually ended up with this picture as our poster option.

    After the many distractions, we made it to Springville and ordered our Krusty Burgers. I had wanted to try a Flaming Moe since I had heard about them. The Springville area was still under construction when I moved so I had never had one or seen the whole food court. It was a fun experience. The burger was okay. It was your basic theme park burger. The Flaming Moe was good.


    With our bellies full, we were ready to go again. Both of us wanted to ride the Transformer ride (again a ride that I had never been on) so we headed in that direction, stopping for a few photos.


    I wanted pics of the Transformers but didn't want to wait in line so these are some random families.

    We both enjoyed the Transformer ride. DH said he liked it better than Spiderman but Spiderman is still my favorite.

    At this point I could tell DH was in pain again. I knew we had a big day planned tomorrow for our last day so I asked him he wanted to go back to the hotel. He said that he did want to but he know I wanted to ride a few more rides. We decided that he would go back and I would stay in US to ride the few rides that I wanted to ride.

    He headed back to the room and I went exploring on my own.
  • Lynne G

    DIS Veteran
    Mar 29, 2009
    Awesome report, and great deal on that cabana. Looks like perfect weather too.

    Glad to hear your DH was feeling better some of the trip.


    Jan 25, 2005
    Day 6: November 14, 2018 (Exploring US on my own and Dinner)

    So DH headed out of the park and back to the hotel. I tried to decide what I wanted to do next. There were 2 rides in the park that I hadn't done yet as they were not there the last time I had gone. These were Jimmy Fallon and Fast and the Furious. From all the reviews, I did not have high hopes for either but wanted to try.

    My first stop though was another one of my favorite rides...The Mummy. It was great as always. I'm not a huge coaster fan but I love this ride.


    After that it was off to Jimmy Fallon. I think I have only watched the Tonight Show a couple of times since Johnny Carson was the host (definitely showing my age). I loved watching Johnny and seeing these props brought back fond memories.


    After spending some time looking at all the displays, I headed upstairs. It was nice to wait in the air conditioning. I saw a little bit of the show and played a game and then my color was called. I think I waiting about 30 minutes total from the time I walked in until I was on the ride. The ride was okay. It isn't something that I must do every time but it was nice to experience it this one time.

    Next stop was Fast and the Furious. I trekked over there only to find that it was closed for technical difficulties and they didn't know when it would reopen. I shrugged and headed over to another of my favorites....ET. I know this ride is dated and many kids may not know the story but it brings back fond memories and I love it. After saving ET's home planet and being thanked by name by ET himself, I was off to another ride that I liked that I knew I would not get DH on, the Minions.

    Again it was fun and brought back memories. I have never seen any of the movies but unless you live in a cave, you know who the minions are. Again no pics here. I have several of the outside of the ride and felt no need for more. I thought about riding Shrek (or seeing Shrek) but there was a line and I didn't want to wait for the next show. I wandered by Fast and Furious and it was still closed. I wasn't quite ready to go back to the room yet so I headed to Hollywood Blvd. DH is a huge Batman/DC fan and I had seen pics of a shop that had a lot of DC comics and things. I found it pretty easily and spent some time looking around.


    Since DH loves Batman and I'm partial to Harley Quinn, I picked us up some coffee mugs. I made a note to show this place to DH tomorrow when we would be back in US.


    I wanted to show DH the mugs right away so took them with me instead of shipping them back to the room.

    In my travels I also ran into this guy.


    At this point I was getting a bit tired and was missing my DH. I headed towards the front and stopped into the Hello Kitty shop and also the main gift shop. I have to say that I miss the Lucille Ball display. My mom was a huge Lucille Ball fan and she just gushed over everything in there when we visited there. Lucille Ball always brings a smile to my face and makes me think of my mom and our trips. I did stop by Fast and Furious one more time and it was still closed. It would be a no go for this trip.

    Again, I took the boat back to Hard Rock and went back to the room to show DH my finds. We were both beginning to get hungry and he said that he felt good enough to venture into City Walk for dinner. He was in the mood for seafood and wanted to try Bubba Gump Shrimp. I know it isn't the best seafood place in the world but the food turned out to be good and the drinks were delicious. I did tell my husband not to fill up too much because there was somewhere I wanted to go to for dessert.

    So after collecting our souvenir glasses (just more to add to our collection). We headed out for dessert.


    Now where to go for dessert in City Walk? Where does everyone rave about? Where do you go when your DH loves milk shakes? There was only one place on my mind.


    I have to say that the milk shakes were really good but huge!


    I ordered the Brownie and DH ordered the Cookie Jar. Both were very rich and neither of us finished them.

    We took the boat back to the hotel and got ready for bed. Tomorrow was our last day at the parks and we wanted to make the most of it.


    Jan 25, 2005
    Day 7: November 15, 2018 (Immersing Ourselves in all things Harry Potter)

    We woke up a bit sad. Today was going to be our last day in the parks. We wanted to get to the park early so we could be get back to the room and pack. It was supposed to be cooler today so we wanted to wear our robes. We got dressed, ate breakfast in the lounge and took the boat over to the parks.

    We were planning on spending most of our time in Diagon Alley. There were a lot shops that we hadn't visited. We wanted to catch a show if possible, get more butter beer and some more potions. We had each gotten a potion on our first day there and we wanted to try the other 2. We liked all of them though they were pretty sweet.

    I also wanted to take more pictures today. I felt like I hadn't taken enough the first few day we spent here.

    We missed getting our photo at the entrance. I think we were in a hurry to get to Diagon Alley.

    First stop was the Knight Bus.

    We then looked for Kreacher in the window but I didn't take any pics of it.

    Off to Diagon Alley we go. Through the brick entrance.


    It was now time to put on our robes and immerse ourselves in the area.


    We spent the rest of the morning wandering through Diagon Alley, taking pictures and doing spells. As DH is a good Slytherin, we had to go visit Knockturn Alley and Borgin and Burkes. We saw the vanishing cabinet, Mad-Eye Mooney's chest, and of course the Hand of Glory.


    We didn't purchase anything here but did enjoy looking around.
  • jeanelle

    Jan 25, 2005
    Day 7: November 15, 2018 (Immersing Ourselves in all things Harry Potter- Continued)

    We next headed to the Magical Menagerie. I looked at all the stuffed animals but I knew what I wanted to buy and there was only 1 place that I wanted to buy it.


    We stopped and had another butter beer at this point. I did some spells and DH tried to capture a picture of the dragon breathing fire. He did capture one which I posted earlier. There were many failed attempts.


    We wandered the streets, looking in the shops. We ended up buying these:


    We actually love these and use them all the time. They hold A LOT!

    We took our time and sat and relaxed when we wanted to and just soaked up the atmosphere.


    There was something that I had wanted ever since I had seen it in the movie. Even though they are sold throughout the park, I wanted to get it at one particular shop. It was the only shop they were available in the movies.


    I had to have a pygmy puff. I thought they were so cute. Here she is. I named her Penelope.


    As we had done and seen everything we wanted to and were getting hot in our robes, we decided it was time to head out.


    Jan 25, 2005
    Day 7: November 15, 2018 (Our trip is almost over)

    We headed out of Diagon Alley but stopped to ham it up a bit on our way out.


    We sadly left Diagon Alley and took off our robes. We sat down for a bit to talk about what else we wanted to do. DH was ready to head out but I knew there was a couple of more things that I wanted to show him. Both were on our way out of the park.

    The first is my favorite show in US, the Monster Make-up Show. I have seen this show dozens of times and it still makes me laugh. I convinced DH that it would be a nice rest in air conditioning so he agreed to go. He ended up liking it a lot.

    The next stop I wanted to make was to show DH the shop with DC comics in it. We looked around there and headed out of the park. We had one final stop to make before we completely left the park. We needed to go choose and pick up our free photos from our photopass. Remember how they messed up my package and then supposedly fixed it? Well it turns out that they hadn't gotten it right. They had added the days but we had lost all of our free photos. We were entitled to a free 5x7, 8x10, and a poster print. Luckily I still had my receipt in my email and had taken a screen shot of what the package came with. The gentleman was very nice and honored this. He even helped us pick out our prints and gave us advice as to which would turn out the best. We ended up leaving with our photos and happy overall. Would I do the photo pass thing again? I'm not sure. I think that if I can get the deal I had this time next year, we will give it a try again. I will make sure that I confirm everything is right when we get it activated. There isn't as many photographers around Universal as there are at Disney but we like the quality of the pics and as a couple, many times this is the only way to get pics together.

    We stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. It was your standard Hard Rock Cafe lunch. I believe DH got a hamburger and I got the Mac and Cheese. We talked about our trip and how much fun we had had, even with DH's back acting up. DH wanted to come back which was a good thing but wanted to wait a year or more. We also ended up buying the photos. This is the only pic i have of them.

    After lunch we headed back to the room, got organized and packed. We wanted to be on the road early the next day. Even though the trip was fun, we were ready to be home. We either skipped eating dinner that night or grabbed something at the lounge as there are no receipts for dinner.

    Next up traveling home.
    Last edited:


    Jan 25, 2005
    Days 8 and 9: November 16-17, 2018 (Travel days)

    We were up early. We grabbed breakfast in the lounge and called bell services to help with our luggage. We were driving to Dalton, GA tonight which was an 8 hour or so drive. It was uneventful drive. I took a couple of pics on the way.


    I collect penguins so liked this.

    I believe this Atlanta. This is why we dread Atlanta. The traffic is always like this.

    We arrived safely in Dalton, GA with no incidences. We stayed at the Comfort Suite & Inns. We had a room with a jacuzzi tub again. I didn't take any pics of it. I think I was tired of taking pics. The room was newer than the one in Macon but much smaller. I don't remember what we did for dinner. I think we went to Applebees. My DH lived in Dalton for many years so we drove around a bit and he showed me where he used to live. We headed back to the hotel. We enjoyed the soak in the tub and a bottle of wine (we like one type of wine and we always bring a couple of bottles with us).

    We slept okay. We were both ready to get home. We were up super early. The breakfast wasn't even being served then. We hit the road and grabbed something along the way. Probably Chick Fil-A, which is DH's favorite. We were home by like 3 or 4 in the afternoon. We unpacked the car and collapsed. The next day was spent unpacking, doing laundry and preparing ourselves to go back to work the next day.


    Jan 25, 2005
    Final Thoughts:

    We truly enjoyed our trip. It was relaxing and fun. We didn't get to do everything that we wanted to do but we were okay with that. We knew that we would be back again. We had hoped to get back this year but it has already been a very rough year for us. My stepmother passed away in March. My dad passed away in May and I had unexpected surgery in June. We have now lost all of our parents in the last 3 years. We have decided that we will definitely be back next year in November. We are going to plan a day at Disney during that time to see Galaxy's Edge at Hollywood Studios.

    Some things that we will definitely do again:
    1. Dinner at the Palm Restaurant. The food was so good even though it is pricey. It felt good to have one very nice dinner planned.
    2. Spend time in both Harry Potter areas. This was really a joy to us. We explored so much and still felt like there was more to do.
    3. Rent a cabana at the pool for one day. It was so nice to have that down time and the shade was glorious.
    4. Stay Club Level. Even though we didn't use the lounge as much as we could have, it was worth it to us to have it there for breakfast and for drinks and snacks throughout the day. It allowed us to not have to bring a case of water and pop with us.
    5. Attend the Luau. Even though the food was okay. We loved the atmosphere and the show. We really want to do it when we are so exhausted.

    Things that we will do differently:
    1. Not plan anything for the first night we arrive. The long car ride wears you out. We plan to leave a day earlier this time so we can rest up for a day before the luau.
    2. Arrive at the hotel after 4:00 pm. Waiting for the room was not fun for us. We knew we weren't going to a park and all we wanted to do was get to our room and relax before dinner. This didn't happen. Next time we will leave the hotel later in the morning and maybe stop more on the way down.
    3. Visit City Walk more. We really didn't see a lot of City Walk. It was just a place we had to walk through to get to the parks. There is so much there to see and do. We are planning on spending a day there on our next trip.
    4. Make sure our photopass is correct from the beginning.

    There are really no things that we won't do next time.
    1. Try to avoid so many souvenir cups. Here is the collection that we ended up with (plus the Bubba Gumps ones)!20181117_121546.jpg

    2. Buy the dining plan. We purchased 2 days of the dining plan. One with the refillable cups and one without. We used the meal portions but I didn't like being limited to where we would go and I really don't think it saved us any money. We used the refillable cups one day and never reactivated them. We may bring them with us next year but we aren't positive yet.

    Here a few other souvenirs we bought throughout our trip.

    DH's shirts from Hard Rock.

    My shirt from Hard Rock.


    Shot glasses. I collect them along with souvenir cups.

    And finally our Gilly Water and potions. We brought the 2 home with us instead of drinking them in the park. The Gilly Water was our snack credits for one of the day on the dining plan.

    I hope you enjoyed our trip report!


    Wizard momma living in a muggle world.
    Sep 5, 2013
    It sounds like you had a great trip! I'm sorry it's been such a rough year.

    With audits and year-end responsibilities, summer is an impossible time for us to get away. Thanksgiving week is our favorite time to go and Hard Rock is our home!

    Lynne G

    DIS Veteran
    Mar 29, 2009
    Enjoyed reading your take aways, and glad you are planning another visit, even if over a year away from now. So sorry to hear of all the sadness and health issues you've had this year. The late Fall is a great time to visit the parks.

    And yeah, we don't buy the meal plan most of the time. It's usually minimal savings. But once in awhile we do, and usually to get a bit cheaper refillable cup. We tend to also only use it that day, as it's a day, we don't do many of the rides, so no need to jam it in a locker.


    Jan 25, 2005
    Enjoyed reading your take aways, and glad you are planning another visit, even if over a year away from now. So sorry to hear of all the sadness and health issues you've had this year. The late Fall is a great time to visit the parks.

    And yeah, we don't buy the meal plan most of the time. It's usually minimal savings. But once in awhile we do, and usually to get a bit cheaper refillable cup. We tend to also only use it that day, as it's a day, we don't do many of the rides, so no need to jam it in a locker.
    My DH will only go in the Fall. He does not do the heat very well. I think we saved money at the Leaky Cauldron using the dining plan and I think that is why I got it. I thought we would use the other day at the 3 Broomsticks but we did not end up eating there.

    I like the rides much more than my DH. He loves going into all the shops and just soaking up the atmosphere. I think next year, we are going to try to catch more of the shows. With his back hurting so much, we really didn't get as much park time as I had hoped.

    We are excited to go back. :)


    Disney News and Updates

    Get Daily Email Updates