This very weekend last year, my fiancé and I took off for a fun packed weekend at Universal Orlando. It might sound impossible to be able to get a lot done in such a short amount of time, but I am here to tell you that the opposite is true. Not only were we able to cross everything off our bucket list, we also managed to squeeze in some extra entertainment by celebrating Mardi Gras!
Day we left: Friday evening
Time stayed at Universal Orlando Resort: 3 nights
Where we stayed: Cabana Bay Beach Resort
Parks we visited: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure
Park Tickets Purchased: 2 Day 2 Park with Park to Park Access
Days spent at Parks: 2 full days
We arrived at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort around midnight on the Friday, due to our flight being delayed. Even though we were pretty tired from travelling, we were still very excited about the theme of this retro hotel. It had a strong 1950s – 1960s vibe, and we LOVED it. The check in went smoothly, and we were very happy with our accommodation – we had a Volcano Bay View standard room.
Knowing that we had a very limited time to get everything crossed off our list, we went straight to sleep in order to wake up early for park opening. The beds were comfortable enough to get a good night’s rest. We appreciated all the little touches in the room like the VO5 shampoo, Zest soap bar and old-fashioned alarm clock.
In the morning, we headed for breakfast in the hotel’s main restaurant – Bayliner Diner. Breakfast was tasty and there were several options to choose from. We really enjoyed watching all the retro TV commercials which played on giant screens, it really did feel like we were taken back in time. Once our bellies were full, we were able to get our 2 day 2 Park – Park to Park tickets at the guest service counter (which we pre-purchased) and we hopped on the bus which brought us to City Walk – and to Islands of Adventure Park.
It is important to get to the park when it opens especially when you are visiting for such a short time. This will allow you to do all the things you are hoping to. One of the advantages of staying in an on property hotel is to have Early Access to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Arriving early, when the park is less crowded means shorter lines! We definitely took advantage of that and aimed for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In doing so, we were able to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and even Flight of the Hippogriff before the lines got unbearable.
We grabbed a fast bite to eat at Fire Eater’s Grill – which served up some yummy gyros. We always had our Universal Orlando Resorts App available and relied on it to keep track of the wait times for rides, which helped us make the best use of our time throughout the day. By 5pm, we had ridden every ride on our list (which was mostly all of them), enjoyed some entertainment and even got to meet a few Superheroes! It was then time to take a ride on the Hogwart’s Express and head over to Universal Studios Park to get ready for the Mardi Gras celebration. We slowed down our pace and enjoyed the atmosphere, and the variety of delicious food offered at the different kiosk located within the festival. And finally, we danced and partied to the sound of Jazzy Carnival Music and swung our arms up in the air to catch plenty of colourful Mardi Gras beads!
The next day was spent at Universal Studios. We arrived early like we had done the day before, and once again directed ourselves to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Our day was action packed as we rode each ride, drank a few Ice Cold Butterbeers and met all of our favourite characters and Autobots! Once again, thanks to the Universal Orlando Resorts app and its ride wait time tracker, we succeeded in doing it all! We finished our second day by taking a late night swim in the main pool, and enjoying refreshing cocktails at Atomic Tonic – the Main Pool bar.
Our flight home was around noon on Monday. We checked out of the hotel at 8 am and made our way home, where we were glad to have enough time to get some well-deserved rest! We smile every time we reminisce back on the great times we had that weekend. It was high packed and energy charged, but having it all planned for in advance allowed for smooth sailing and wonderful memories!
Top Dining Experience: Gyros at Fire Eater’s Grill
Worst Dining Experience: Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks (save your money!)
Best Snack: Jacket Potato from the London Taxi Cart
Best Drink: Frozen Butterbeer
Best Dessert: Voodoo Donuts – we tried 6 flavors and they were all delicious!
Islands of Adventure Favourite Ride: Tossup between The Hulk Coaster and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
Universal Studios Favourite Ride: Escape from Gringotts
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