I can’t quite believe six months has passed and my David Lloyd Leisure Nottingham membership at the West Bridgford Club has come to an end. Time to review the goals I set myself in this post:
Last time I looked at Universal Resort Orlando as a whole, the hotel, parks and dining. This time I promised to share the moments that really moved us at the two parks – Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Orlando – the magic that brought completely uninhibited smiles, cracked any scepticism and allowed us to play together and to suspend our disbelief. There are too many to choose from, but I have picked ten awesome moments that I believe really crystallise what Universal Resort Orlando is about.
In my last post I left things at the Galaxy Bowl – my 7yo offered to take my go as I was eating still, and got me a strike – result! We’d arrived at Universal Orlando Resort Cabana Bay Beach resort hotel, chilled out in our rooms and started to explore the hotel a little. Today I want to explain what’s on offer across the whole of Universal Orlando Resort and what makes the parks unique. And who better to do it than a theme park cynic? That’s me of course.
We all woke up early on our first day, still on UK time, it was still dark and we lay in bed watching the sun gently warm up the palm trees. Florida sunrises are unforgettable, tinged with promise. I swallowed motion sickness tablets and a berocca to gently encourage my body to embrace time and motion…
We were transported back to the iconic beach resort era of the 50s and 60s at Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Orlando. A fantastic base within Universal Orlando Resort for 4 days of immersing ourselves in all that the epic Universal parks and resorts have to offer families, thanks to Universal Orlando Resort, Virgin Holidays and Mumsnet Bloggers. Shimmering palm trees, blue skies, vintage cars, retro signage, 50s music and film clips, Jetsons-esque giant murals on the walls – step into our time machine, let’s go!
When you are already packing for a half term holiday, Halloween costumes can feel like one more thing to stress about. However, some of our best Halloweens have been celebrated on holiday, one of the most memorable was our ‘Halloween Cruise’, actually just a day within a 2 week Mediterranean cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines, filming as their ‘funnest family’ – but Halloween fell on the last day of our cruise, so it was the kids’ lasting memory.
Chatsworth is my nearest Capability Brown garden. I love seeing it appear through the wild scenery of the Peak District, as it might have done to Jane Austen when she wrote Pride and Prejudice*. It makes me take a sharp intake of breath, just as a cab driver told me the Downton Abbey fans do on first seeing Highclere appear from behind the trees, that or they scream. Capability’s dramatic reveals are still thrilling people 300 years later.
Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, designed gardens at some of the country’s greatest stately homes including Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth and Highclere. This year is the Year of the Garden, the 300th anniversary of Brown’s birth. I was lucky to spend a day at Highclere Castle earlier this year, location of Downton Abbey, learning lots more about Brown’s work from Lady Carnarvon and her team of experts.
Bunnies hop in the Oxfordshire greenery, ducks waddle over to say hello, the kids run around and collect conkers, a pair of red kites circle and call out just above us. We’ve arrived at the campsite early and wait excitedly as the finishing touches to our accommodation are prepared. Over the tops of ordinary motorhome roofs we spy an RV quite unlike the others. It’s blue, with go faster stripes and a giant satellite fixed to the roof. The roof rack is loaded with lots of spare fuel tanks.
To celebrate the new Ben 10 episodes airing on Cartoon Network, a replica of Ben 10’s Grandpa Max’s motorhome – fondly nicknamed The Rust Bucket – has been created. We’re lucky to get to spend a night in it. You could too, more info below.
‘Mum! It’s a baby deer!’ The 7yo comes crashing into our bedroom in the lodge, where we’re reading, savouring the fact they are able to roam outdoors safely and completely happy to do so.
‘They’ve killed a baby deer!’ Mr A announces, ‘We should never have let them cycle in the forest on their own’.
‘No we haven’t!’ laughs the 7yo. ‘We’ve seen one, outside, come on!’
I follow the very excited 7yo into the forest where my 10yo daughter and 11yo niece are hiding in the ferns.
We saw it run off this way, says my 10yo. ‘It was adorable, can I…’
‘No you can’t have one as a pet.’ I jump in swiftly, ‘but let’s see if we can see it again’.
So we take a dusk walk around some of Kelling Heath’s 300 acres, looking for the adorable baby deer. Sadly I don’t see it, but I am pleased the kids did, and seeing their eyes dancing with enthusiasm for nature is magic. We soon spot lots of rabbits and begin the process of narrowing down which lodge we would buy if we could…