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Old 10-05-2009, 11:34 AM   #16
klacey1
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i'm reading! please continue!
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Old 10-05-2009, 02:14 PM   #17
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i'm reading! please continue!
Yay, thanks for reading along, I was starting to wonder if anyone was even seeing this!!

Ok moving on...since Men In Black had such a long wait we headed over to the new Simpons ride which is right near it. I just loved the fun & colorful Simpons ride so I had to get lots of pictures!

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Jaden posing by the lagoon...
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I stayed back with all our gear so I cant give you a first hand account, but my mom and the kids really liked this ride! They ended up waiting close to an hour, but considering they all loved it I guess it was worth the wait! At this point we decided to split up for a so that we could take Jaden to the kids play area. The older kids were happy, they had been begging to go explore on their own!! I guess we're just not "cool" enough for them, lol!
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Old 10-06-2009, 03:13 PM   #18
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Great report. Really looking forward to hearing about kids play areas.
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Old 10-06-2009, 05:12 PM   #19
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Enjoyed reading about your trip, lovely pictures
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:50 PM   #20
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Smile Ok, I'm back...

OK, where was I? Oh yeah, so the older kids decided to go on their own for a bit while we took the princess to the kids area.

During this time (about 3 hours or so) my son & niece went to Fear Factor Live and the Animal Actors show (my son is a huge animal lover). They thought fear factor was OK, they said it was more funny than anything but they talked about it for hours so I think they liked it more then they let on...typical teens I guess!

While they were enjoying their freedom, we took Jaden to the Kidzone. This area was packed when we arrived!! But once again it started raining and a lot of people cleared out! As soon as my daughter saw the water area she was ready to get her swimsuit on! Here's the water play area:

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There are lots of fun things for them to play with in Curious George's interactive playground, like water guns & squirter's, the huge buckets that empties on them every so often and in the back they have an area where they can use these air gun things to shoot soft foam balls at each other. The kids all seemed to really enjoy that area (sorry, I didn't get any pics of that area)!



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Here's what the kids really love!! The huge bucket of water that is dumped about every 20-30 minutes!! There are two of these, one on each side of the structure!
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and a view of what it looks like when you are under that bucket, lol!
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After the water area, my mom & Jaden rode Woody's Nuthouse Coaster. There was a long wait, about 45 minutes. After the coaster we watched a little dancing/singing show right in the kids area, she played in Fievels playland. And then we ran into....

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Jaden was a bit upset because she was not able to "meet" George, he had to go back in before we made it to the front of the line. The older kids weren't back yet so we decided to catch the last Barney show, so we ran over to the Barney theater about 5pm. Believe it or not though, they are serious about being on time. We were at the entrance about 3-5 minutes after the show began and they would not let us in. There was a worker guarding the entrance and we were turned away. Jaden had wanted to See it, but she wasn't terribly upset (she doesn't even watch Barney anymore).
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We did take a peek into the store & "backyard area". Now that is an awesome play area for the little ones! Here's a pic of Jaden when we were walking through.
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About this time the older kids met back up with us. The kids rode ET, this had about a 45 minute, the kids really liked this ride. After this ride we headed back over to the San Fransisco area. We decided to ride Disaster...when we entered the sign said a 20 minute wait so we were excited, but we ended up waiting over an hour! I liked this ride when it was Earthquake, I love watching everyones reaction to all the effects! So I thought it would be fun to see the new changes.

Well I was not entirely impressed. I mean we were all getting tired, the kids were getting bored with the long lines and this was probably not the ride to get on at this point. It's just such a long process...first you wait in line for an hour, then you are herded into a room where you wait another 15+ minutes and they select volunteers. Then you move over to another room where they do some stunt demonstrations and such, and I do have to say the "Frank Kincaid" illusion is awesome, it really looks like he is right there on the stage!! So then you are moved to another room (now in the third room) and a few more effects are done. Then it's time for the ride, finally, after what about 30+ minutes? The ride part is good, I actually don't think they changed anything about this part since it was Earthquake, and the "surprise" video you see at the end is cute! Sorry to be vague, I tried not give away too much and spoil the surprise for those who have not rode it!

Jaden waiting to see Disaster...
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Don't get me wrong, I expect to wait in lines, this one just takes so long if there is long line, so plan accordingly! Anyway, at this point we had spent almost 2 hours on just this ride and the 360 Cinesphere Spectacular would be starting soon!!!

I'll be back tomorrow to finish up our day at Universal, and start on Day 2 (Downtown Disney & the new T-Rex restaurant)!
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Old 10-08-2009, 06:52 AM   #21
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Wow, 3 hours in Kids zone. This answers our concerns about not enough things for younger children....and dad may get to escape to ride a few roller coasters. As much as I enjoy the "adult" TR's, I really appreciate your emphasis on the kids because that's why we do these vacations.
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:00 AM   #22
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My family is such a Universal family-- until this year, when DBF and I took a Disney-Only trip. Your TR is making me sad I didn't go to Universal/IOA!!
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:38 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbear View Post
Enjoyed reading about your trip, lovely pictures
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nahanni View Post
Wow, 3 hours in Kids zone. This answers our concerns about not enough things for younger children....and dad may get to escape to ride a few roller coasters. As much as I enjoy the "adult" TR's, I really appreciate your emphasis on the kids because that's why we do these vacations.
Glad you are enjoying the report. I too noticed most of the Universal/IOA trip reports focused on the bigger kids when I was looking for info. But my daughter wanted to go here for her 7th birthday so it was all about her this time! I guess most people with young kids automatically just think "Disney" when they pick parks, I dont know, but we love them all!!

Oh and yes, there is plenty to do in the kids area, we could have easily stayed there a few more hours, but we only had one day so we tried to squeeze as much as possible in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by klacey1 View Post
My family is such a Universal family-- until this year, when DBF and I took a Disney-Only trip. Your TR is making me sad I didn't go to Universal/IOA!!
I'm sorry, I hope you can visit Universal/IOA soon!
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:56 PM   #24
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Last hours of Universal visit...

So as I mentioned before, we were in Disaster for quite a while. When we came out we realized the 360 Cinesphere Spectacular show would be starting soon, so we might as well grab a spot. We would have about a 45 minute wait for the show to start.

So we walked behind Richter's, there's a nice boardwalk type area that overlooks the lagoon. Thought I would mention, around this time it was really starting to get cold again and this area (by the water) was very windy/cold, so you may need a jacket or blanket in the cooler months. But it's a great spot to view the show!

For anyone who has never heard of or seen this show, it is an amazing laser light, pyrotechnics type show. There are 4 HUGE spheres in the lagoon that clips from blockbuster movies are projected on while you watch/listen to music. We loved it, it was really cool! I think they only do the show certain times of the year though.

Here are the ever-changing-colored globes before the show (that is the Men In Black ride behind it)...
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While we were waiting we decide to go in the San Fransisco Candy Store, which is connected to Richter's, we were actually sitting right behind it. OMG, this place is pure heaven for those who have a sweet tooth! They had tons of fudge and yummy flavored popcorns! Of course the kids loved it and we all ended up spending way too much $$$ (the prices are really high)!!

Some images taken while we were waiting for the show to begin;
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My son with his $10 stick of sugar, lol! Ok, I think it was more like $7 but for an over sized pixie stick, it's crazy! But he used his own $$ so whatever!
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Ok shows starting....
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Isn't that neat? I loved how they projected images onto the buildings. You just cant get the whole effect until you see it live, the musics blaring, the lasers zooming all around and fireworks going off...it's just a fun show!! But now our day at Universal is over, so we join the rest of the crowd and head to the exit.

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After we left the park, we had plans to eat dinner at the new Burger King Whopper Bar that had recently opened. We walked around the City Walk area briefly, the kids were all tired and extremely cranky and because of that we decided to just go to the hotel and eat some of the snacks & stuff we had brought instead.

So we found our way to the hotel (Howard Johnson Enchanted Land), quickly checked in and made ourselves at home. The hotel was easy to find, not a 5 star resort or anything but it was ok and would do for a few nights (and for a grand total of $152 for 3 nights I couldnt complain much)! We had room #118, it was at the end of a hall on the lower level. There was plenty of parking and we always got a space right in front of our room.

Next up is Day 2 @ Downtown Disney & dinner at the new T-Rex restaurant!!
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Old 10-13-2009, 10:34 PM   #25
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Talking Day 2--My baby girl's birthday!

Tuesday 4/7/09
After a long day at Universal we all slept in a bit (well I slept in a lot, lol!), my niece and daughter went to the breakfast buffet at the hotel, it was about $6 and they said it was good. When they returned my son joined them and they all went to the pool with Grandma. I continued to sleep in, lol! Hey what can I say, I was TIRED, I worked overnight Sunday came home, drove to Orlando and spent the day at Universal Studios...what was I thinking?

So when I finally managed to drag myself out of bed and get ready, they all returned from the pool and showered. We then headed to Downtown Disney and decided to go to McDonald's for lunch. Not much to report here as McDonald's is McDonald's! The whole DTD area was PACKED, wall to wall people everywhere. I've never been here during the busy season so I'm not used to that, and finding a parking space was ridiculous!

After lunch we started visiting the shops...

The Lego store is always fun for the kids! For anyone who hasn't been, if you have a Lego lover in your family then you have to check it out! They have a HUGE wall of Lego's of every shape, size & color you can think of and you can fill a large cup/container full for about $15. We managed to escape without buying one!
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After the Lego store and an hour or so in the "World of Disney" store we stopped to have Jaden's face painted at one of the kiosks outside. They do a fantastic job, this cost Grandma about $12.

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While Jaden was having her face painted, I ran over to guest services to get her a birthday button and some Disney Dollars that my niece wanted to give her as a gift. It only took a few minutes, they are quick!

After this we headed over to the "Once Upon a Toy" store so Jaden could pick out a birthday gift. We were in here forever as well. She finally choose a GIANT Mr Potato Head that you fill with as many parts as you can for $50. And this thing can hold a lot of parts, it took forever to fill it!! And just for reference here is a pic, it's about 2 ft tall!!

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After this we basically just walked around looking in the shops and snapping pics. The girls rode on the carousel a few times and then the train ride (yes my niece is too big to be on the train, but Jaden didn't want to ride alone, lol!). The rides cost about $2 per ride/per person.

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A hidden Mickey?
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Too funny not to post, he hates when his sister tries to kiss him, lol!
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Next up, dinner and....dinosaurs?...
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:00 PM   #26
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Cool Dinner at T-Rex Cafe (Part One)...

When making our trip plans, my daughter chose to have her birthday dinner at T-Rex cafe. We had never been and were excited to try it. Our reservations were for 8:45 pm, I knew this was too late for the kids but it was all I was able to get, Spring Break and a new resturaunt made for very limited availability. So around 6:30 we decided to head over and see if we could get in early.

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The (silly) girls waiting patiently to get in...
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After a 30 minute wait in line we finally made it to the front where you can put your name on the list for a table. We were told that we could cancel the reservation and be seated with 45 minutes or so as a walk in. Ok, sounds better than waiting until alomst 9pm!

We make our way into the store area and look around a bit to kill time, it is packed wall to wall in here so we quickly exit to the Paleo Zone. But I had plenty of time to take pictures...
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As I mentioned before, we made our way out to the Paleo Zone. Jaden was kept busy in the Discovery Dig area, she enjoyed digging in the sand. It was a nice sized area for the kids to play and it's covered so you can get out of the sun for a few minutes! They also have an area where you can pan for gems, fossils or stones. You have to buy a bag of dirt in the store (about $6) and then you bring it out here to a worker who helps the kids.
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At this time we were all starting to get really tired & hungry, so we went to see where our name was on the list. We were directed to another line, where we waited about 20 more minutes. We were now going on almost 3 hours and I was starting to get annoyed. I mentioned this to one of the hosts who was doing the seating and after some confusion we finally got a table. I think they misplaced or lost our names or something, because they all seemed confused about who we were and where we were supposed to be. Anyways, we get seated in the Coral Reef Room. I was dissapointed. This area reminded me of the Rainforest Cafe, it's nice although very loud as it is right next to the bar and kitchen entry/exit. We had really hoped to be in one of the Dinosaur themed areas...I mean it is the T-Rex cafe, so how did we end up in the Ocean??
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The girls ordered some frozen drinks...my DD got some sort of icee in a plastic yard glass (or whatever they are called) and my neice tried a smoothie. They were both happy with their drinks.
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:57 PM   #27
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Cool Dinner at T-Rex Cafe (Part Two)...

By this time we are all so hungry it doesn't take long to decide what we wanted to eat. Once we were able to get our waitresses attention we placed our orders, then the kids were able to check out the different the rooms. About every 30 minutes or so there is a "storm", the lights change and it gets very loud with lightning and sounds of rain.

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Our food arrives rather quickly compared to all the other service around here! And for the foodies, here's a little food pron, lol...

My mom had the "Stegosaurus Steak & Cheese"...a version of the Philly Cheese-steak with onions, pepper, mushrooms, Monterey Jack & Swiss cheese. I don't recall her exact thoughts, but I don't remember her having any leftovers either, so it must have been pretty good!
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My son & Niece choose the "Paleo Shrimp"...parmesean crusted shrimp with linguine tossed on pomodoro cream sauce. They both ate it, but I think they didn't realize what they were ordering and wished they had something else. But at $18 a plate they knew they better eat it all!!
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Jaden had the Mac & Cheese from the kids menu. She liked it, although I wish she would have got something else. I just can't stand ordering mac & cheese as a dinner. It seems crazy to me to pay $6+ for a bowl of mac & cheese, I know kids like it but I'd prefer she get the chicken tenders or something. But it was her birthday so I digress...

And last but not least I had the "Paleozoic Chicken Sandwich"...fried pizza dough with grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, bacon, avocado, & lemon aioli. This was delish and I highly recommend it!!
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Ashley giving Jaden her bday gift...Disney Dollars! Yay!
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And since we were here I was not able to buy Jaden a birthday cake...so I ordered her the "Chocolate Extinction" desert! This thing is HUGE and was more than all 5 of us could even eat! It has 4 large slices of ultra rich chocolate cake, scoops of vanilla ice cream, whip cream and hot fudge and caramel drizzled all over it. They bring it out with a cup of dry ice so it's quite the effect (notice no one could keep there hands out of the smoke, lol)!
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After we paid the bill (can't remember the exact amount about $125-150 for all of us) we made our last stop of the night. Build a Dino was calling the kids name, they just had to have one. It is located inside T-Rex, in the back behind the store. Dino's are $18+ and more if you add sounds or accessories.
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decisions, decisions...
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The girls and their new friends!
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And that was the end of our night, it was well after 10PM, actually it was close to 11p and they were closing the place down...we were all so ready to go get some rest!

*~*My overall thoughts on T-Rex Cafe*~*
-Wait times were horrible, hope that gets better as the novelty of being new wears off.
-Servers were not very friendly and service was slow.
-Food & drinks were great!!
-Prices are comparable to Rainforest Café (average about $20 per person).
-Love the kids play area
-Very loud and chaotic atmosphere, may not be good for kids who scare easily.
-Decor is nice, be sure to walk around and see everything.

All in all it was a great day at Downtown Disney. I completely busted the budget today, but it was worth every penny for my baby girl!

Next up will be the final installments of the report, we have a day of Islands of Adventure ahead of us!
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:47 AM   #28
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Love your trip report and your pics are beautiful. What kind of camera do you have?

Too bad you had to wait so long for T-Rex. I think they were just overwhelmed with the Holiday crowds, but that is just crazy.

Waiting to read about the rest of your trip.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:02 PM   #29
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Nice pics. We are going to U/S for the 1st time in Aug and your report has been helpful! LOVE the face paint. She looks so pretty!

My kds would LOVE the dino cafe!
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:52 PM   #30
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Sorry you guys didn't have a great T-Rex experience-- we were a forrest room, which you guys probably would have enjoyed more. Lots of dinosaurs!
Our food was really delicious and we had a terrific waiter. Try it again and maybe you guys will have better luck!!
Excited for the next installment!
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