Tips for Planning a Family Universal Orlando Vacation

 

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Here are a few easy tips to help you plan a family Universal Orlando vacation.

Strongly consider staying at a Universal on-site  hotel. You will get some great benefits that will help you enjoy your vacation

  • Guests of all four hotels get early entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This includes Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.  Only one area is open earlier each day.  This is a HUGE benefit since these attractions get extremely busy.  Wait times can easily be over 2 hours or more later in the day.
  •  Guests of the deluxe hotels  including Loews Portofino Bay Hotel receive Universal Express Ride Access.  This allows you to skip the regular lines and use the Express entrance. This means you can  see and do more in less time! Who wants to spend their day waiting line?  Unfortunately, the Harry Potter attractions are excluded from the Express Ride Access. That is why the early entry is such a great benefit. 
  • Priority seating at select restaurants throughout both theme parks and enjoy first available seating at select Universal Orlando® and CityWalk® restaurants. This is a great perk.

 

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Watch movies and read books highlighted in the attractions before you arrive.  This helps increase your enjoyment and anticipation of the trip. We are heading to Universal Orlando soon  with Mom It Forward and had family movie marathons. It has been great to spend quality family time together even before our trip.  We watched all of the Harry Potter, Despicable Me, and Shrek movies. If you have little ones, you will want to be reading Dr. Suess so you can fully enjoy Suess Landing.

 

Check out the ride height restrictions before you arrive and prep your kids for what they can and can not ride.

 

More  Orlando vacation tips coming soon!

 

Cedar Point Reviews – Roller Coasters & Dinosaurs

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Looking for Cedar Point Reviews? Check out this review of our day at Cedar Point with roller coasters and dinosaurs.

Right now there are some great Cedar Point ticket specials, you will want to check out. [Read more...]

Cedar Point Discounts and Coupons

cedar point discount coupon

 

I absolutely Love Cedar Point but visiting can be very expensive.  That is why I wanted to let you know about the most recent Cedar Point discounts and coupons. [Read more...]

Kid Travel Games – Fun On The Road & On Vacation

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Looking for some great kid travel games?  You found the right place. Some of these kid travel games can be played on the road while driving to your travel destination and others are small enough that you can pack these kid travel games and play them once you arrive. It is always great to have a few games on hand if you have a rainy day or just to play in the evening when you want to relax a bit. [Read more...]

Disney Tip – Make Your Own Personalized Disney World Maps

Free Personalized Disney World Maps - Great for Planning or a Keepsake

 


One of my favorite planning Disney  World tips is to determine which attractions at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom are most important for your family.  When you have a plan, you can be sure to see your most important attractions.  Not sure how to decide, here is the perfect easy way to make personalized Disney World maps with your favorite attractions.

 

These maps are great for planning your trip,  as a souvenir from previous trips or even if you are just dreaming of taking a trip to Disney World. I loved checking out the new FantasyLand attractions at Magic Kingdom.

How does it work?

First you get to pick which Disney park you want to make a map for. Then  you will get to choose the age of the people in your group. For example,  preschool, teen, family and so on.  This helps you pick the top attractions for your individual group!   It will show you appropriate rides and help you by making suggestions if you needed.

If you need help deciding which  attractions to highlight, simply select an age category using the blue tabs  and they will  show you the top Favorites for that park based on age category. You then place a check in the box next to any attraction you’d like to add to your map.

 

Once you have completed your customized Disney World maps, you can either have your map mailed to you, or you can print off as many copies as you like! They are beautiful maps and really fun for the kids.  You can even have your take a pretend trip and make up maps as if they were in the parks.

 

Click the moving image at the top or bottom of this post to get started making personalized Disney World maps with your favorite attractions.

 


Fun & Frugal Staycation Ideas Across The United States – Almost 100 Cities!

 

Yesterday I shared some of my favorite fun activities in Oakland county Michigan and Metro Detroit.  I know that many of you live elsewhere in the country, so I have teamed up with a bunch of other great bloggers to bring you ideas for your city too!

 

Check them out below.  Hope you have a wonderful summer! [Read more...]

Fun Staycation Ideas in Oakland County Mi

 

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Michigan in the summer is a great place.  Even though most of Oakland county is suburbs and cities, there is still plenty of great wildlife and outdoor activities. With the cost of gas, having a Staycation sounds like a wonderful idea. I have lots of great fun and frugal activity ideas here in Oakland county. (The links at the beginning of each section will take you to more detail on all these activities.)

Do you live elsewhere in the country and are looking for fun and frugal activities?  Come back tomorrow for links to Staycation ideas across the country.

 

 

 

Metro Parks - Did you know that there are 13 different Metro parks in Oakland county or right nearby. They have tons activities including everything from hiking and biking to swimming and geocaching. The Huron-Clinton Metropark Annual Motor Vehicle permit gives you unlimited access to all 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks in the five-county Southeastern Michigan region throughout the year for just $25.00!

Even though you are staying home you can get that “up north” feeling at top-rated Stony Creek Metropark. The park is 4,461 scenic-acres and has all kinds of outdoor activities. You can spend an afternoon boating or swimming in 500-acre Stony Creek Lake. You can hike, bike, run or in-line skate through lush woodlands, serene wetlands and tall grass prairies. In the winter, you can walk, cross-country ski or snowshoe across marked trails. There is also a winter sports area which includes snowboard, sled and toboggan hills.
stoney creek metro park beach
Our favorite is to enjoy a summer day in the water at Baypoint and Eastwood Beaches at Stony Creek Metropark. The beaches are open 10 am to 8 pm throughout the summer, with lifeguards on duty at Baypoint Beach, Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are food bars available but I like to pack a picnic.
The Metropark also features a nature center, mountain bike skills course, disc-golf course, 18-hole regulation golf course, baseball diamonds, playgrounds, soccer fields, volleyball and basketball courts. Picnic areas with reservable shelters, grills and comfort stations are located throughout the park. You can enjoy the best of nature and outdoor fun at Stony Creek Metropark.

 

 

Heritage Park Splash Pad –  I have heard great things about this splash park and community park. With its rolling hills, winding nature trails, amphitheater, splash pad, playground and picnic facilities, Heritage Park offers activities for every season. This 211-acre park is home to the Vagnozzi Visitors Center in the historic Spicer House, Nature Center Day Camp, the Heritage & History Center in Farmington Hills and the Longacre House, a community center. The large picnic shelter is open on a first-come, first-served basis, but it may be reserved for a small fee.

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Michigan Activity Pass –  This is a great program is where Michigan residents with valid Library cards will have reduced cost or free access to over 60 arts and cultural organizations across Michigan.This is part of the Michigan Activity Pass presented by The Library Network (MAP) program, a partnership between The Library Network, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Library of Michigan Foundation, CultureSource, Michigans 400 public libraries, and arts and cultural organizations across the state.

To participate in this program, log into http://michiganactivitypass.info with your Library card number. Then print a pass to the institution you want to visit. Some cultural partners offer complimentary or reduced price admission; others offer discounts in their gift shop or other exclusive offers for MAP pass holders only.

Participating organizations include:

 

Buick Automotive Gallery
Cranbrook Institute of Art
Detroit Institute of Arts
Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center
Holocaust Memorial Center
Meadowbrook Hall
Oakland County Historical Society
Performance Network Theatre
Troy Historic Village
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame/Museum
Yankee Air Museum

 

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Adventure Park of West Bloomfield - Fun in the Great OutdoorsLooking to Zipline in Michigan? Look no further! There’s nothing like a day at The Adventure Park at West Bloomfield! Located in the trees adjacent to the JCC you will find an amazing “aerial forest park.” Experience “adventure in the trees” perfect on your own or with friends, family and parties. Experience “adventure in the trees” on your own or with friends and family.  Ages five to adult are welcome!

 

 

 

Park It Family Fun Night – Park It evenings consist of an Outdoor Concert, kid’s activities, sponsor giveaways, followed by a family-rated movie under the Stars on our giant LED Video Screen! Check out the schedule of where they will be this summer.

 

A great source for more information is Destination Oakland.  They list all kinds of fun family activities throughout the county. Last year we went to  Red Oaks Water Park and had a great time.  Unfortunately, they no longer offer discounted tickets but $10 for residents is still a great price.  Waterford Oaks does still offer discounted tickets.  We may try it this year. It looks great too!

Free Summer Concerts -The Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission provides FREE concerts at Addison Oaks and Groveland Oaks county parks. Check out the schedule here.

Detroit Zoo – You can’t have a Staycation and not visit the zoo. You will want to check out the new warthog piglets  that were just born this spring.  One of my favorite summer zoo activities though is the The Zoo’s Wild Summer Nights concert series.  Performances will take place at the Main Picnic Grove to give concert goers plenty of space to spread out with their blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets. A wide variety of food — including burgers, pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages — will be available to Wild Summer Nights patrons. All performances begin at 6:30 p.m. and conclude at 8 p.m., the Zoo’s closing time.

baby warthogs detroit zoo

A friend told me that a stop at Taste Love Cupcakes in Royal Oak is a special treat.  You  can grab some after your trip to the zoo or bring some in your picnic for the Wild Summer Nights concert.  Taste Love Cupcakes won the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.

 

 

Biking and Hiking Trails – There are bunches of biking and hiking trails in Oakland county.  My favorite is Paint Creek Trail. We usually start our ride at Rochester Municipal Park which is has a nice playground, spot  for picnics and a friend has even fished here with her kids… catch and release of course.

 

 

 

 

 

Another way to get stay-cation activities frugally is to watch the daily deal sites. Groupon, Living Social, CBS Local Offers and Deal Chicken often have local activities at 50% off or more. I have seen daily deals for laser tag, bounce play areas, mini golf,  tours and more.  Be sure to like the Bargain Shopper Detroit page where I will be adding local deals to help you save in the Metro Detroit area.

 

Lots of the activities I mentioned are great if you bring a picnic lunch.  Since it a stay-cation you may want to buy treats your normally wouldn’t from the grocery store to make things special.  You can usually grab some great deals on junk food and convenience foods with coupons.

 

Hope you use some of this information to enjoy all the great activities in Oakland county. What are your favorite things to do in Oakland county?

Castaway Bay Indoor Water Park Day Pass Giveaway – $100 Value

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Today is the last day to enter. Don’t miss your chance to win!

 

Did you read my Castaway Bay Indoor Water Park review?  We had such a great time. It was especially nice considering the horrible winter. We left the polar vortex behind and were in 82 degree warmth. [Read more...]

Castaway Bay Indoor Waterpark Review & Trip Report

 

castaway bay review indoor waterpark sandusky ohio

 

Be sure to enter to win 4 day passes to Castaway Bay Indoor water park here!!!

Every winter I start to daydream about a tropical island vacation when the snow is on the ground here in Michigan. However, actually going to the islands is not always in the budget.  That is why most winters, we head to the next best thing – an indoor waterpark.  It is the budget alternative to an island getaway. [Read more...]

OnStar Introduces 4G LTE Connectivity In Your Vehicle

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This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and OnStar blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

 

“How much longer?” or “Are we there yet?” if you have taken a road trip with kids and maybe even adults, you have heard this more times than you can count. Road trips can seem endless without distractions for little ones and older kids alike. What if I said that this could be a thing of the past? Would you believe that your car could become a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot and everyone in the car could connect their devices including smartphones and tablets and that the signal is powerful enough that you could stream videos and even watch live TV via an app? It seems like science fiction or something the Jetsons might have in their flying car. However, the future is almost here. [Read more...]

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