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! 😉
  • 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!

 

5ive List: Tools for Christmas Shopping

Christmas is going to be here in no time! I honestly have not been as prepared this year compared to years before, but this year has been busy for me!

Here are 5 amazing tools I use for Christmas shopping. The best part about these though, is that they can be used year round, especial the first one. 🙂

Amazon.com
I love Amazon and being a Prime member (5+ years and counting)! Prime members get free 2-day shipping with no minimum purchase price. They have a variety of products and competitive pricing. For example, Fry’s Electronics will price match anything they have that is sold by Amazon (not third party sellers). Furthermore, you can track prices on Amazon by placing items in your cart. It’ll update you on any prices changes each time you check your shopping cart. (You can also use the Camelizer plug-in mentioned below.) I have always had great customer service with Amazon too.

Google Docs
I use a spreadsheet to track who I am giving presents to. Mine is sorted by family, but you can just list by category too (i.e. coworkers, neighbors, siblings, friends, etc.). My columns are:

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5 Things: Best Events of 2011

These “end of 2011” lists are kind of corny, but I still decided to do one anyway. It’s even more corny that I waited until 2 months into 2012 to do it. Nevertheless, I think they are beneficial and useful in some ways. It’s a good way to reflect on all the good & bad events of a specific year. Plus, you can look at them later in life to reminisce.

 

Note: These are in no particular order.

1. Parents Moving to the Philippines
It’s been more than 6 months now. The first few months were really hard. I would leave the house to go shopping or hang out with Prentyce, and I would just cry in the car. It’s usually because I either invite my Mom to shop or we eat with my parents. Holidays and birthdays were a lot different this year, but not worse. I’m counting the days until they come back from the Philippines, which should be early 2013.

What I Miss Most
I miss my Mommy because she’s so fun and happy all the time. I miss her cooking, especially her pancit molo and lumpia. I miss my Daddy because he always looks out for me and handles things for me. I miss debating arguging with him and helping him learn new things on the computer. I miss visiting them. I miss their presence.

2. Hurting My Back
This was the absolute, hardest event of my life. I know that seems a bit dramatic, but when your life takes a 180-degree turn and you can’t do anything about it — it will break you. It’s not like losing a job, because you could just go do “something” about that. I could not make the back pain go away or make my body heal faster or make myself feel any happier. This was a blessing in disguise. I treasured it and learned from it. I’m so glad to have had my big brother and his wife, my sister-in-law, help me through this traumatic time. Even my nieces and nephews would get me food, run upstairs for me, pick up stuff off the ground for me, etc. Prentyce had to help me go to the bathroom and shower me (and no, not in a romantic way.), drive me around, etc. Health is something money cannot buy, NOT even billionaire Steve Jobs could afford it. RIP.

3. The Phenomenal iPad 2
My iPad 2 is the most useful electronic device I have purchased all year.(I haven’t bought that many this year… Ha.) I use it for school and leisure. It is so awesome; I’m serious. You probably know that already if you have one. It’s a time-killer with all the fun games, but it really helps me to be more productive. I can fax documents, annotate PDFs, check out my Evernote account, and so much more. Did you hear the iPad 3 is being released in the Q1 of this year? Continue reading