5ive List: Universal Studios Orlando Planning

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There are not very many websites dedicated to planning your Universal Studios Orlando trip. The ratio of Disney World to Universal Orlando planning websites is at least 100 to 1, if not more.

I know that I’m only a first timer for both WDW and Universal, but I felt like I need to write this article because Universal Orlando doesn’t get the love that it so very much deserves! My husband and I had an amazing time there!

1. Find Pinterest boards

There are a ton of pins on Pinterest about Universal planning! Search ‘Universal Orlando’ or ‘Harry Potter Wizarding World’.

2. Podcasts

There aren’t very many good podcasts dedicated to Universal Studios Orlando planning, but you will find some episodes dedicated to Universal on Disney World podcasts! When you find a Disney World podcast, look at their episode list to see if they mention Harry Potter World or Universal Studios Orlando. They can can give you some decent tips in regards to getting there and back if you’re also going to Disney World and comparisons between the two parks.

3. Use Undercover Tourist.

The best things from Undercover Tourist that I used for Universal Orlando were the following:

a) Map – it is easy to read and understand; I wish I could make graphics this nice!
b) Touring plan – the 2-day plan was the one we used as a template
c) Crowd calendar – this helped me decide which park to go to on which days; very useful

P.S. I have heard that Undercover Tourist is a reliable seller for tickets, but I purchased my tickets from TicketsAtWork.com through my job’s affiliation.

4. Download apps before you go! 

Use an app to track wait times! The app made by Universal Orlando is not the best, I would recommend Magic Guide for Universal Orlando. I only used the free version. I used the app to track wait times mostly in the afternoon and early evening, the wait times were very minimal for us early birds!

I also used an app for weather called AccuWeather. They have a MinuteCast feature that will let you know rain is coming, e.g. “Rain in 60 minutes.” This will help you plan accordingly! Luckily for us, we went in the beginning of December and didn’t encounter much rain.

Undercover Tourist also has a nice app! The layout is decent and very modern.

P.S. Don’t forget to have adequate memory on your phone for pics! I backed up to Google Photos while on the trip nightly.

5. Create your own touring plan and use it as your screensaver!

We had a four-day park hopper at Universal Studios Orlando. Since our flight got in late on arrival day, we were not able to go to the park, so we only did a total of 2 1/2 days. This was enough time for us to get to see and do most of everything we wanted. We could’ve stayed more, but I only would have used that extra time to guzzle down some more butterbeer.

Here are photos of my touring plan. (These are sized for an iPhone 6 wallpaper. To size it to your phone’s dimensions, you will need to adjust the size of your Microsoft Word document.)

Some things to note about our touring plan:

  • We are two adults that can move fairly quickly, so we were able to get a ton done in a short period of time (e.g. less potty breaks too)
  • We woke up early for the first two days for Universal Orlando and were there for rope drop (which was about 20-30 minutes before the scheduled opening time); the last day we took our time
  • We didn’t stay at a Universal Orlando resort, it was too pricey! We stayed at a La Quinta that was literally 5 minutes away! We were able to get up later and go home sooner because it was so close!
  • I knew I wanted to meet characters
  • We paid extra for the Photo Connect plan, which is why it is referenced on our touring cards
  • We did all the water rides at once (with ponchos that didn’t really help)
  • We were flexible, so if we rode or did something the day before or needed to ride it the next day, I just edited my touring plan on the Microsoft Word app on my phone and saved a new screenshot of the plan
  • We did a ton the first day, we had so much energy since it was day 1 of our 10-day honeymoon. Instead of doing more, I wish we would have slowed down because I ended up getting horrible and painful blisters!
  • We didn’t wait for any ride for longer than 20 minutes
    • A few of our longer waits were: Grinchmas (45-60 minutes wait – it was opening day), meeting the Grinch, Raptor Encounter, and Poseidon’s Fury show
  • The numbers in the parentheses after each attraction (on my touring cards) is how long the attraction is, i.e. (7m).  I got these values from TouringPlans.com
  • The colors mean something: black for rides/shows; orange for Harry Potter stuff; and purple for meet & greets. Lastly, pink is for snacks, which is the most important part! ūüėČ
  • Remember, not everything will go according to plan! But, you’re an adult and you already knew that!

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I hope you guys find this useful. Good luck with your planning! I’ll be posting more planning posts soon!

 

Our perfect little flower girls #TYGHT2015

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Not to take anything away from the rest of our wedding party, but the flower girls were the cutest flower girls of all time. (I said of all time!) I might be a little biased, but I don’t care.

Hana Р8 years old, Filipino with a hint of Chinese

Isabella – 6 years old, African American and Mexican

Nia Р3 years old, African American and Filipino

The dress I chose for the girls was ombre and floral and they were purchased from PinkPrincess.com. This website has lots of reviews, is well-organized, and has nice photos. Click here to see the exact dress we bought. My flower girls’ parents ordered the dress on their own and didn’t report any problems to me. That doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t have any, it means they are awesome.

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Depotting LA Colors Eyeshadows

If you don’t depot, are you human? Just kidding, but seriously. Depotting is for makeup freaks/hoarders/organizers. There’s a plethora of information about it (how to do it, when to do it, how often to do it) on YouTube and other blogs, I’m just here to show off my work.

These LA Colors eyeshadows are cheap, but are still very pigmented. I especially love the glitter versions of these eyeshadows.¬†LA Colors has been stepping up their game lately too, especially with their lipsticks. I can’t remember where I purchased these eyeshadows since it’s been so long, but they don’t retail in any stores in Las Vegas that I’ve seen/remember. I’m pretty sure I got them at the swap meet or in the L.A. Fashion District.

Supplies:

Empty 15 mm x 26 mm palette

Nevertheless, I got my empty 15 mm x 26 mm palette from here on eBay. (I also use Z Palette’s magnetic palettes, but they are pricier.)

Darice magnets

I use magnet sheets made by Darice. You can find them at Michaels and sometimes Walmart.

This are the aftermath leftovers of my depotting in all its glory.

If you don’t depot, you should start!!! Have fun.

10 Wedding Dresses I Said No To

Wedding dresses are so fun to try on, especially when the dresses you’re trying on are ones you can actually afford. When I used to watch ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ on TLC, I was mortified about going dress shopping because some of those girls would pay $10,000 for a dress. Yikes! Luckily, dresses are actually much more affordable than that show makes it seem.

Here are 10 dresses I tried on at David’s Bridal and Celebrations Bridal. In order to find my wedding dress, I tried on less than 15 total dresses. Kind of crazy, right? I thought it would be a lot more. But, trust me, you will tire of trying on dresses and you will tire of dragging your family out to watch you try on dresses. Or, is that just me?

Anyway, on to the rejects!

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For awhile, I thought I wanted a long-sleeved dress to hide my ginormous upper arms. I thought I would look sleek and classy. The long-sleeve dress I tried on didn’t fit (too small, as you can see), but it just made me feel old. So it was a no-go. The dress on right has some nice layering, but it felt as if it was made for a beach wedding. Plus, it didn’t feel like it had much support.

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Oh ballgowns… How I love thee. These two could have been poofier. (Is that a real word?) If you’re going to wear a ballgown, why not a huge one, right? The neckline on the dress on the left was unique and I liked that it hid my cleavage. The neckline on the dress on the right seemed tacky to me for some reason. Maybe it was those straps?

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This dress on the left does nothing for anyone’s shape. Unless you are ridiculously curvy – this dress won’t help at all. I felt like it held me in, but I felt like it didn’t add anything. The dress on the right was on top of my list before I went to Celebrations Bridal. Looking back now, I don’t know that I would’ve like how loud the ruffles are, but after trying this dress on, I knew I wanted the¬†fitted waist all the way to my hips.

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You all have to excuse the faces I make when I tried on these dresses. I love lace, but these dresses just looked horrible on me! Plus, I hated the neckline on the dress on the right.

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This simple ballgown dress (on the left) felt like it had a nice fit. I would’ve added sleeves, but looking at it now, it looks boring. The dress on the right is like someone’s 90’s prom dress. The fabric felt cheap and I’m pretty sure it was cheap.

If you’re planning to go dress¬†shopping soon, these are a few helpful hints:

  1. Try on dresses you can’t afford
  2. Try on dresses you don’t think you will like
  3. Take a picture of yourself in every dress, front and back
  4. Bring shapewear and a strapless bra
  5. Remember that alterations can do magic – like add sleeves!

Choosing My Wedding Dress…

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I purchased my Maggie Sottero bridal gown¬†from Celebrations Bridal in Las Vegas.¬†I was never actually going to go to Celebrations Bridal¬†and was planning on just¬†going to go to David’s Bridal and Alfred Angelo. I only decided to browse their selection¬†because a David’s Bridal employee, who was also a bride, said she wasn’t going to get her dress from David’s Bridal because they were too typical. I did not feel the same way, I think David’s Bridal¬†had some gorgeous dresses. However, after actually seeing the gowns at Celebrations Bridal, I thought they were¬†on a different level. Plus, the atmosphere¬†and aura inside of Celebrations Bridal made you feel like you were on that TLC show Say Yes to the Dress. Seriously! My sisters (Roselle and Rosalie) even attested to this. After I found my dream dress at Celebrations Bridal, I never followed through with an appointment at Alfred Angelo.

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My dress budget never really existed. I knew I didn’t want to spend more than¬†$1000 for a dress, not including alterations, accessories, or shoes. What I did, though, was spend more than double that. I got the okay from the hubs to do so, which was a blessing. He said there was no point in spending all this money on photography and videography if I didn’t wear a wedding dress that was worthy of being photographed. I agree!

In the end, I guess I could’ve spent less on a dress, but I was IN LOVE¬†with my dress. It was sparkly, covered in lace, and made me feel like a million bucks!

Here’s the dress in all its glory. Excuse me as I wipe my tears of joy.

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Here’s the back of the dress and the train.

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Here are more detailed photos of my wedding dress.

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I purchased the belt from Celebrations Bridal that eventually went on the dress. I felt like I wanted more bling and this was the perfect extra shiny piece on my dress. I like the belt¬†because it made my waist seem more cinched in. I need all the help I can get y’all!


Here are the two dress runner-ups that I had to say no to. It was so hard! 

1) I didn’t select the ballgown because it made me feel like a little kid. ¬†What I did like about it was that it made me look way thinner. I think ballgowns do this for everyone. Wearing this type of dress would have been 100 times more comfortable at the reception too. I showed this to Prentyce (after the wedding was over) and he said he liked it as well. Knowing that, I should have purchased both. This dress was less than $1,000.

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2) I liked this dress and its shape, but it didn’t have enough bling for me. The ruffles were so modern and stylish, but when I ended up showing this to my now-husband after our wedding, he said they looked tacky. Good thing I didn’t pick this dress!

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If you go to Celebrations Bridal, the person that helped me choose my dress was Hailey. She was so sweet and so helpful. She taught my sisters how to tie up the corset back of my dress.¬†I think she’s so great at her job. I loved her upbeat attitude.

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I only had to go back for alterations twice, which I personally thought was not a lot. I had a really great alteration specialist (Cindy) who understood me and was good at her job. I had sleeves attached to my dress and they also had to make me a bustle, because my dress did have a thick train. The bustle was ginormous, but I think Cindy did an amazing job of making it work and teaching my matrons how to put it together. We did practice a few times! I suggest you do the same.

These are some photos from my final fitting. This was exactly 10 days before the wedding!

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A special shoutout goes to my sisters and my mommy for helping me find the dress of my dreams! Thank you for your honesty, patience, love, and support. I could not have asked for better sisters!

Thanks for reading friends. Don’t forget to read the related articles if you love wedding stuff just as much as I do!


 

I also tried on a slew of dresses that I quickly said no to. Check out that blog article here.

Read about my wedding day accessories here. [ COMING SOON ]

 


 

Photo credit to Cassidy Zellman Photography (our official wedding photographer) & my sisters and matrons of honor Rosalie and Roselle.