east coast Florida Pandemic Florida Trip road trip travel Uncategorized Universal Universal Studios

Orlando here we come – Day 5

Day five had us waking up early in Florida City at the Travelodge by Wyndham. I really got a great nights rest here and was ready to hit the road once again. The only difference from today and the other four days is I know I will be staying in Orlando for at least a week. It might even be longer.

I was up around 04:30am and I got my daughter up a short time later so we could be on the road by 5. By 5am we were already on the Florida Turnpike heading north towards Orlando and Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The great thing was I already did the mobile check in the night before so check in should be a breeze. I’ve been reading a lot of reviews about how horrible the check in process is at Cabana Bay. Hopefully by doing the mobile check in I can avoid most of that.

From Travelodge by Wyndham to Cabana Bay was a little over three and a half hours normally. Today it took about four since part of the Turnpike was closed and we got rerouted to I-95. We still made it to our new home for the next couple of days by around 9am.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort Lobby

Checking in to Cabana Bay was a breeze. I am so glad I did do the mobile check in. There was no one in that line. The regular check in line had about ten families waiting.

Now my room wasn’t ready yet and I didn’t expect it to be. However, they did have my room keys ready to go so I could enjoy the benefits of staying at Cabana Bay which included the pools and early access to the Theme Parks. Of course, I missed the early access today but for the next four days we would be able to get in early. Sadly, but not really, on our check out day we were going to Discovery Cove so we could only use the early access for three days. But hey that is still a great thing.

Once we checked in we parked the car and went back into the lobby to purchase Universal tickets. At first I was planning on getting a four day park to park ticket. This way we could do three days and another day when my family gets into town.

Now for a while I was thinking about getting Universal annual passes. Once I got up to the desk I ended up pulling the trigger and getting the annual passes. I figured with the free parking, discounts on food and merch, and being able to visit whenever I wanted for the next year was the way to go.

My daughter was thrilled that we were able to go to Universal today too. She just recently became a Harry Potter fan so she wanted to go to Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. She also wanted to get a new wand and pick up a robe. I bought her and my ex-wife wands up years ago. However, she still wanted a new one to match the house she was with. Some how she got picked for Slytherin and she just loved that.

Anyway, we picked up our new annual passes and walked to the parks. It was a short walk from Cabana Bay to CityWalk. It took us about 20 minutes to do that walk.

Once at CityWalk we headed right over to Universal Studios so we could go back to Diagon Alley. I was a little sad to see that the big Universal Ball wasn’t moving. I do hope it starts to move again before our vacation is up. I don’t know why but I do love to watch it spin. Anyway, we pushed on and went right through the front gates.

As we were heading through the park back towards London. She just kept talking about all the things she wanted to see and do in the Wizarding World. It was really amazing how excited she was. It’s been a while since she has been that excited about something.

Our first stop in Diagon Alley was Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. We looked and looked for a Slytherin robe in her size but had no luck. The other three houses had robes in her size. Just there wasn’t one for Slytherin House.

After that we headed over to Ollivanders to get a new wand. Since she was a Slytherin. She needed an “evil” wand. She ended up picking up a black one with a snake on the end. It definitely fit the feel for a witch in Slytherin house.

We walked around Diagon Alley a little more and got some frozen butterbeer (I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of it). I don’t know what it is about that stuff but it sure is tasty. We were a little hungry but figured we would first do some rides than grab a bite to eat at CityWalk.

Once we were done our butterbeer and checking out all the shops at Diagon Alley we rode a couple rides at Universal. After that we headed to Kings Cross Station to find Platform 9 3/4. We asked one of the workers at the station and they looked at us like we had two heads. He said we have platform 9 and 10. We don’t have 3/4 anywhere.

It is nice that they play along. Universal has really gotten better with that over the years. They really are starting to give Disney a run for their money and they better start paying attention soon.

We found Platform 9 3/4 with little problem. We ran through the wall between 9 and 10 and awaited for the Hogswart Express. It was there in no time and we were off to Hogsmeade.

We exited the train and could hear the bikes at Hagid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. We were unable to get in the virtual line today. Maybe we would have better luck later in the week.

As we walked through Hogsmeade we stopped in all the shops hoping to find a robe that would fit her but we didn’t have any luck. At this point the wait times for both Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff were 30 minutes or more so we decided to keep on walking and get something to eat.

Before we left Islands of Adventure for CityWalk we got on Skull Island and Spiderman. Both had under 15 minute posted waits. She never rode either ride and she really enjoyed both. I know in the next couple of days we will be riding them a bunch of times.

Once we got into CityWalk we had a couple different places we could go to. We could go to Bubba Gump, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, or a number of other places. She ended up picking Margaritaville because she wanted to sit in the outside section.

We quickly were seated and a waiter was over in no time. Now like most places recently they had a QR code to scan for the menu. They did have paper kids menus though. We ordered our drinks and looked through the menu.

To my surprise my daughter wanted the mac and cheese instead of a cheeseburger. She did want me to order a burger though. So I ordered the burger but I wasn’t too hungry.

The service at Margaritaville was quick and good. Our waiter filled our drinks a couple of times. It was really hot that day so we were drinking a lot of fluids.

The food came out quickly too! Both items nice and hot and cooked perfectly. The only thing I wish was different. I wish we had more fries. The fries on the plate seemed to be lacking a little.

We finished our meal and checked out the gift shop before we made the walk back. Again it wasn’t a long walk but it was in the afternoon and it was getting to be pretty hot. It was at this point that I wish I booked a hotel with one of the boats.

We made it back to the hotel and walked around a little bit. It was around 2pm so I was hoping I would be getting my text soon telling me the room was ready. After we walked around the entire resort and checked out both pool areas, all the food locations, and the Universal store. I still hadn’t received the alert that our room was ready.

So instead of keep waiting around we headed back to the park. This time we drove and boy am I glad I did. As a passholder of my level you get free parking to Universal. Otherwise it will cost you $26 a day. But that wasn’t why I was happy we drove.

The sky started to get darker so I knew sooner or later it would start to rain. I just wasn’t sure when or for how long. I figured the rain would cool us down so I didn’t worry too much about it.

After we passed security we headed back into Universal Studios. This time we went to the right and headed towards Springfield. Of course, we rode ET first and I had to take a picture of the Back the Future car.

From there we went on the Simpsons ride. Walked around Springfield. Took more photos around the park. Of course, we stopped by and grabbed a photo of Bruce.

We also stopped and talked to the shrunken head on the Knight Bus in London. Than it was back into Diagon Alley once again. One thing I do have to say is I don’t know how but it is so much cooler (temperature wise) back there than any other part of the park.

We checked the shops out again. Watched the dragon above the bank breathe fire. We also go a little snack from Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop. Let me tell you everything looked so good. I just knew I couldn’t get it all today because, well, it would melt.

After our snack we head towards the train. The wait was going to be over 30 minutes so we decided to just walk between Universal and Islands of Adventure. It was definitely hot out and you could see the sky getting darker in places. It was only a matter of time before those dark clouds would be over us.

We got right into Islands of Adventure and headed towards Seuss Landing. We got on the Trolley in the Sky and the Cat in the Hat ride. At this point the clouds were really rolling in but my daughter wanted to watch the Hulk roller coaster so we went over there.

She really wants to ride that roller coaster but I’m not so sure I can take it. I ridden it years ago so hopefully my brother will ride it with her when they come.

We watched the coaster go around a couple of times. Than it started to spit just a little and it was time to start heading back before the rain really started coming down. Luckily we made it just about to the moving walkway at CityWalk when the skies opened up. And boy did that rain come down.

I was so glad I decided to drive instead of walk this time. Sure I could’ve taken the bus back but who knows how long we would have waited. One thing the two of don’t like to do is wait. That’s why we try to stick to rides with low wait times.

We took the short drive to the hotel and parked the car. I checked my phone again and still didn’t receive a message that my room was ready. It was 7 at night and my room should have been ready hours ago. So I went back into the lobby to find out what was going on.

This time the lobby was packed. Of course, some of the people in the lobby were coming in from the pool to escape the rain while many others were checking in. I had three other families before me in the mobile check in line so we waited. We waited for about 20 minutes till it was finally our turn.

We meet with Louis at the front desk and asked him what was going on. He looked and said my room was ready a while ago and not sure why we didn’t receive a message or call or anything. He apologized for the mistake and ended up giving us a free meal each. It was really nice of him to do that and the food was pretty good. But you will find out more about that later.

As we were leaving the lobby to go to the car we were greet with a great site. It was a double rainbow. I can tell you that the pictures don’t do it any justice but it was the best I could get.

double rainbow, cabana bay, Universal Orlando Resort

We went to the car and pulled around to the building we would be staying in for the next few days. The building, hallways, elevator, and room where all nice and clean. No problems or major issues to speak of.

We unpacked our bags and started to relax. However, my daughter remembered that the Universal Store had robes down there and she really wanted one. We went down to the lobby to check out the store and buy a robe. Of course, they didn’t have her size. However, they did have an adult XS that fit. It was a little long but she could at least get a few years out of it. Plus she wants to use it for her Halloween costume this year.

We got back to the room. Kicked off our shoes and relaxed for the rest of the night. We had a busy few days coming up with visits to both the theme parks and CityWalk. Plus we would be swimming and probably hitting up Disney Springs at least once. We didn’t have anything planned for the next few days. It was just going to be a do what we want kind of plan.

I know it should be interesting and hope you come back tomorrow to see what happens on Day six. We have a bunch more days in Orlando and a lot of theme park days coming up.

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