One more post about our vacation and I'll move on (probably!)
This was our third trip to Florida with our primary destination being Disney World. This time we did two days off-site - one for Legoland and the other for Universal Studios. Here are some of my observations about our trip.
*We splurged on our hotel this time around (we usually go cheap and stay at an All Star resort at Disney - and have had great experiences there) and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and got a room with a view of the savannah. It was well worth the expense. Our weather was nice enough that we could sit on our little balcony and watch the animals and just relax. The hotel does have some nice viewing spots if you want to stay there but don't want to spring for a room with a view.
*Since my son was old enough to not need a nap on this trip, we got tickets for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and the Candlelight Processional, two evening events. They were fun, and I'm glad we did them, but I'm not sure they would be "have to" activities next time.
*On the one day we started at Disney Hollywood Studios, we went to the new Toy Story Mania ride, got a FastPass, and then hopped right into the 30 minute line. The queue was a lot of fun which made the wait go pretty quickly. The ride itself was fantastic - you spin in your car and shoot at different fair-style games, hitting different objects for different point values. I would have ridden it all day, it was that much fun. But the lines were usually over an hour, so on the day we went, we did a few other activities, came back and used our FastPass for a second ride and that was it for the rest of our vacation. This will be top on my to do list the next time we go.
*Legoland was not all I had hoped for in my head. The Lego sculptures were pretty cool, but I had envisioned some great Lego-based merchandise and frankly, I find better things at my local Target than I did at the park. In fact, the Lego store in Downtown Disney had cooler/newer sets available and a great engraving service (get a personalized Lego brick!!) than the park did. Some of the things in the park looked run down/broken. My husband said the rides were not built for tall adults. Ask my son, and he will tell you the park was awesome. I was ready to get back to Disney World.
*Universal Studios was something I'm glad we did, but I don't feel drawn to return. We met the Grinch, saw the Grinchmas show (cute!) and rode some of the Seuss-based rides. Our primary goal was to check out the Harry Potter portion of the park, and we spent about 2 hours there. The themed pieces were well done - the merchandising, the setting. We didn't love the butterbeer, but we all tried it. We all rode the main castle ride. The warnings about people with motion sickness NOT riding it made me pretty anxious about the whole thing, even though I had already taken my Dramamine, but I really didn't feel sick from the bouncing around and climbs and drops. I did not care for the creepy parts of the ride and didn't feel the need to ride it again.
*I announced on this trip that there is nothing about being scared or sick that says "vacation" to me, so I happily skipped Test Track and Mission Space and several rounds of the Star Wars ride (I did go on that two or three times) and Tower of Terror, and I closed my eyes on anything I didn't like on the Harry ride. Call me a wimp, I don't care. That doesn't say "fun" to me. We all finally got to try Soarin' at Epcot and I loved it. My son was not a fan, so we only did it the one time, but I was content with that. It was great to finally experience it.
*I love that Disney has the PhotoPass system (although I have discovered several pictures that didn't get on our account) which allowed us to have lots of family pictures taken from our vacation without us having to bother other park guests. And we could get all of our pictures on a CD (for a price) whereas the other parks wanted you to buy each picture opportunity separately. (And our picture from the Harry ride was horrible. There was no way I was spending money for that kind of memory!)
*I also realized that the souvenirs are a big part of vacation for me - the t-shirts and the trinkets that will remind us of our adventure together once we are back into our usual routine.
Our vacation was a joy and I'm looking forward to getting our pictures back and getting them in books so we can look through them any time we want to re-live our trip!