Theme Park Essentials: Strollers

disney stroller

Theme Park Essentials

We’ve all seen it:  the sea of strollers parked at Magic Kingdom.  While they can be a burden, they are a necessity when traveling with young kids to the Disney parks.  To ensure a stress-free trip, it’s best to know which kind of stroller will work for your needs. That’s why this installment of our Theme Park Essentials is covering Strollers.  The parks get crowded and hot  so you’ll want to make sure you have the right stroller for your trip.

1) Umbrella Stroller

We highly suggest a simple umbrella stroller.  There a few reasons these are great.  First, they easily fold up – which is huge especially when travelling to Walt Disney World.  At some point during your trip you will probably take a tram or a bus to your destination and you’ll need to fold up your stroller quickly and easily.  Second, umbrella strollers are typically cheaper than a more deluxe stroller.  Third, these strollers are easier to transport if you are flying.  Many people opt to rent strollers rather than bring their own when flying – which is a great option – but having a great umbrella stroller that you can just check for your flight and then have for your whole trip could save you money.

Here is one we highly suggest based on how easily it folds up.  Plus it only weighs 9 pounds!  If you are flying to Disney, you could either use this as a carry-on or pack it in a checked bag!  The only downside is the wheels are not as great as a jogging stroller.  However, the convenience of this stroller definitely makes up for it!  The link to Amazon below has all of the details plus check out the video below of the stroller folding up!

If you’d rather go for something less expensive, something that will just help get from point A to point B, this adorable Disney stroller is a great example of an easy to close stroller that will keep your little one from tiring out too quickly!

2) Deluxe Stroller

These types of strollers are obviously going to give you more for your money.  You get more storage, a comfortable seat, better handling, and better shading.  These are all factors that can improve your child’s and your experience in the park. If you’re going to bring a deluxe stroller, you want to keep in mind that you’ll need it to close easily.  These strollers are also great because they allow you to easily navigate the parks, even when it’s crowded.  These strollers allow you to take turns or get up and down curbs with minimal effort.  That’s important when you’re trying to squeeze through a crowd of people on Main Street U.S.A.

I can tell you from personal experience, I recently used this stroller for a day at Disney with my 8-year-old niece.  This stroller held up perfectly even though she’s older, the handling was beautiful, and she was able to have a morning at Epcot and an evening at Magic Kingdom with no meltdowns!  We even made it to fireworks after a long, hot day!  This stroller was a life-saver, so don’t overlook this option even for your older kids.  You’ll get more out of your day!

3) Double Strollers

When you’re traveling with multiple kids, double strollers are a great idea.  There are some great options for double strollers out there – we suggest using something of higher quality so your back isn’t killing you by the end of the day.  We also need to put a note of caution regarding triple strollers – don’t do it!  Double strollers are still somewhat easy to navigate through the parks but once you get into triple and beyond, the struggle begins.  Triple strollers that are three wide (side by side) get too wide to be able to easily get around the parks and crowds.  Triple strollers that are three long (one in front of the other) are just a disaster in the parks.  Most of them are not able to turn easily and just create frustration and sore muscles for the parent!

4) Stroller Accessories

No matter which stroller you choose to bring, we cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your child cool and out of the sun.  Orlando summers are HOT.  There are plenty of great accessories out there to enhance your stroller such as stroller fans, covers, and cooling pads.  Below are a few examples:

Stroller Sun Cover – click picture for more info!
Stroller Fan – click picture for more info!
Stroller Liner to keep cool – click picture for more info!

Have you found a great stroller to use while in the parks?  
Tell us about it below!

Be sure to check out our Theme Park Essentials:  Top Portable Fans post!


Universal Orlando Announces New Dining Experience at CityWalk

Universal Orlando

It was announced today on Universal Orlando’s official blog that there will be a new dining experience coming to Universal’s CityWalk.  Replacing the now-closed NBA City restaurant will be the Toothsome Chocolate Factory.  According to the blog, the theme of the restaurant will be a 19th century Steampunk chocolate factory.

A full menu will be offered including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and an all-day brunch.  The main feature, however, appears to be the desserts they will offer.  There will be a variety of unique milkshakes and ice cream sundaes to choose from.

An exact opening date for the restaurant has not been announced yet, but Universal has stated the restaurant is due to open later this year.

You can read the full blog post from Universal Orlando here.

Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest news about this new project!



Theme Park Essentials: Top 5 Portable Fans


Theme Park Essentials

It’s that time of year again when we start to put away the winter boots and break out the flip flops!  While it’s exciting, it also means we’re heading into the “sweaty season”.  That’s why this installment of our Theme Park Essentials is covering Portable Fans. Orlando gets hot, really hot.  If you are planning a Spring Break trip or a Summer Vacation trip – we highly suggest you grab one of the fans below! We promise, you’ll be glad you did when you’re standing on Main Street waiting for the parade and you’re 5-10 degrees cooler than the sweaty guy next to you!

1) Handheld Fan

A small handheld fan is a great option to help fight the heat and humidity while waiting in line!  A little rechargeable fan like this one can be a vacation-saver!  Typically one that costs a little more should have more longevity and a nice feature with this fan is that it can be recharged with a USB cable!  There are many USB charging stations throughout the Disney parks, so you’ll be covered!

(Click picture for details)

2) Misting Fan

This is where you get the ultimate cool!  Adding the water mist to your fan will help you achieve coolation much quicker!  Fans like this one are nice because they are sleek, can easily fit into luggage and backpacks, and can be recharged with a USB cable.

(Click picture for details)

3) Stroller Fan

We can’t stress enough the importance of having a stroller fan.  Orlando gets hot and you don’t want your children to get dehydrated or worse while trying to enjoy the parks.  There are many options out there, you can go for something more expensive that should last a while or something less expensive just to cover your trip.  Here are two great options:

 (Click picture for details)

4) Fans for the Whole Family/Group

These types of fans are a great option if you’re heading to the parks with a large group or several young children who will want their own fan.  These fans are no fuss, take 1 AA battery, and provide an easy way to get cool.  They are inexpensive and small, making them great for travel and theme park use.

(Click picture for details)

5) Aromatic Fan

Ever been waiting in line in a confined space on a hot day?  Didn’t you wish you had a Febreze bottle with you to clear the air of the fresh tourist sweat smell?  Fans like this one solve that problem!  Not only does this fan give you a delightful breeze, there is also a compartment to fill with your favorite aroma to be disbursed in those dire situations!  This item is theme park gold!

(Click picture for details)


Have you found a great fan to use while in the parks?  Tell us about it below!


Islands of Adventure Water Rides: How Wet Will You Get? | Islands of Adventure

Islands of Adventure


Islands of Adventure

One of the many great things we love about Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park is the amount and selection of water rides at the park.  This selection is especially appreciated during those very hot summer months!  There are a total of four very fun water rides in the park and are spread out through the various “islands”.

While water rides are fun and can provide a nice way to cool down, it’s also nice to know just how wet you will get on these rides.  You may just want to get a light spritz but end up coming off one of the rides with your drawers drenched!

Islands of Adventure Water Rides

That’s where we come in!  We have tested each of the four water rides at Islands of Adventure to show you just how wet you will get on each ride.  The four rides and their locations are:

Jurassic Park River Adventure – Jurassic Park

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls – Toon Lagoon

Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges – Toon Lagoon

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish – Seuss Landing

Read below to see whether you’ll walk off the rides lightly soaked or if you’ll walk off completely drenched!

Islands of Adventure Water Rides:  Soak Factor

First we must mention that each water ride is awesome.  Each one has a unique personality.  They are all super fun and we recommend experiencing each one during your visit to Islands of Adventure.

Our Guru, Bobby, rode each water ride and started off with dry clothes for each one.  Here are the results we found (before and after pictures posted below):

Jurassic Park River Adventure:  “Time. The ever flowing river.”  It is hard to capture this ride’s awesomeness by writing a few words, but here’s our best try:  Triumphant…Surreal…Heart Warming.  You can’t go wrong when the amazing music of John Williams sets the tone for your ride!  We noticed varying results depending on where you sit.  Bobby rode front and center and only got lightly soaked.  However, he noticed people sitting in the back of his ride car getting off pretty wet.  This ride gets a rating of light to wet soak factor.

Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls:  Bobby rode in the middle of the ride car, behind two people.  Honestly, the location of his seat didn’t really matter because he came off the ride completely drenched.  There are some who were able to make it off the ride wet rather than drenched, but it’s usually rare.  This ride gets a rating of wet to drenched soak factor.

Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges:  Known to be the wettest water ride in Islands of Adventure.  There are waters thrashing about and guests are able to shoot water guns at your boat.  This ride has a round ride boat, so again it doesn’t matter where you sit.  You pick a seat and hope you’ve chosen wisely.  One great feature of the round ride boat is that you’re able to laugh at the others while they are getting drenched with water…but watch out!  The next splash is probably coming for you!  Bobby got head to toe soaked and his drawers were drenched!  This ride gets a rating of DRENCHED soak factor.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish:  Looking at this ride, you may think it’s only for children.  It may have been intended as a kid’s ride, but this ride provides fun for all ages.  You pick a fish and based on the type of fish you picked, you listen to the ride song and fly the fish according to what the song says.  If the song tells Red Fish to fly high, then you are supposed to fly high to stay dry.  We have yet to prove that following the song actually keeps you dry, but it’s nice to keep imagining that it does.  Bobby chose Blue Fish, followed the song, got wet.  However, he did not get that wet.  Enough to feel cool for 10 minutes in the hot Florida sun but not so much that your shoes are squishing.  This ride gets a rating of light soak factor.

Theme Park Guru Tip

While riding these Islands of Adventure water rides is fun, sometimes it’s just not fun to have to walk around the rest of the park or ride non-water rides completely drenched.  Here are two tips we have:

  1. Bring extra clothes to change into after you’ve hit all of the water rides.  Plan to ride them all in the morning (the lines are usually shorter) and then change into your dry clothes to hit the other attractions.  You can place your dry clothes in a nearby locker (but have to pay), place them in one of the free lockers near the rides that require a locker (risky if you don’t get back in time), or place your clothes in a backpack and wrap it in a poncho or shopping bag on the water ride.
  2. Go back to the hotel room, change and recharge.  If you are staying at one of the Universal hotels or at a nearby hotel, it’s a good plan to hit the water rides in the morning and get completely drenched.  Then head back to your room to change but also take a break.  Chill out in your room and recharge while the other guests navigate the park during the busiest and hottest part of the day.  Then head back to the park in the late afternoon to hit the non-water rides and enjoy the park at night.

There you have it!  All of the soak factors for the water rides at Islands of Adventure!

Check out our Islands of Adventure page to learn more about the park!

What is your favorite water ride at Islands of Adventure?  Comment below!

Universal Orlando Official Water Rides Page





Jimmy Fallon Ride Replacing Twister at Universal Orlando | Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon Ride to Open

It has been announced on Universal Orlando’s official blog that Jimmy Fallon will get his own ride at Universal Studios Florida. It was also discussed by Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show on Tuesday night.

There had been rumors swirling around the closing of the attraction, Twister, which has been a low-attended attraction for many years.  Additionally, an attraction involving Jimmy Fallon, was discussed among theme park enthusiasts.  The discussion made sense because Fallon is connected to Universal through NBC.

It has now been made official that the new Jimmy Fallon ride will replace Twister, confirming those previous rumors.

Jimmy Fallon “Race Through New York”

The new attraction is set to open sometime in 2017.  It will feature a comedic journey of Jimmy Fallon racing through the streets of his beloved New York City.  This premise will fit in perfectly with the city theme of the attraction’s surrounding area.

This attraction should draw visitors.  Jimmy Fallon has gained a large amount of popularity after taking over the Tonight Show in 2014.

Excited Jimmy Fallon Discusses New Ride

Jimmy Fallon provided viewers Tuesday night with some details about the new ride, saying that the ride will be a 3-D attraction.  He compared the new ride to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction and stated, “It’s like that except instead of Harry Potter, it’s me.”

Twister Closing

It has also been announced that Twister will close on November 2, 2015.  The attraction opened on May 4, 1998 and had a nice run in the park considering the movie it was based on is almost 20 years old.

Click here to see Universal Orlando’s official announcement about the new Jimmy Fallon Ride.

Want to learn more about other Universal Orlando rides?  Check out our Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure pages!

What are your thoughts?  Are you excited for a new Jimmy Fallon ride?


Universal Studios Resources | Universal Studios

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure Florida

Universal Studios

Online Resources – Universal Studios

Here is a list of helpful Universal Studios Orlando links and resources:

Theme Park Guru Resources – Universal Studios

For more information on visiting Universal Studios, visit our dedicated Universal page.


General Info:

Universal Studios, located in Orlando, Florida, is a multi-faceted resort including theme parks, resorts, restaurants, movie theater and night scene. The two theme parks are Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure. Connected to these theme parks is CityWalk, an enormous plaza including restaurants, movie theater, bars, bowling alley, mini-golf course, clubs and water taxis that connect to three different resorts. The three resorts it connects to are the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The Cabana Bay Beach Resort is nearby as well, and this resort is connected to CityWalk and the theme parks by bus shuttle. CityWalk offers all types of dining options from expensive to affordable. Some of the popular restaurants include Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Emeril’s Orlando and the brand new NBC Sports Grill & Brew. The water taxis are a popular and unbelievably beneficial element to the experience of staying at one of the three resorts and attending the theme parks. The water taxis are small boats that fit about 40 to 50 people that arrive at your hotel’s dock and takes you right to the dock at CityWalk. From there, you are only a short walk to your next destination, whether it be a restaurant, theme park or movie theater. This resort exemplifies the idea of making fun as easy as possible.


Butterbeer – Cold, Frozen or Hot? | Butterbeer


Butterbeer at Universal Orlando

One of the great benefits of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando is the ease of access to Butterbeer.  The parks offer three varieties:  cold, frozen, and hot.  You can also choose whether to have your drink in a plastic cup or in a souvenir mug.  We also want to mention that they offer Butterbeer flavored ice cream.  While we won’t be discussing that in depth here, we do suggest giving that a try as well!

Which Butterbeer Variety is the Best?

As we said, you can order this drink cold, frozen, or hot.  While the cold varieties seem to make sense being that the majority of the year it is pretty hot at the parks, the hot variety has it’s brief moment in the spotlight. The cold variety is just served chilled and tastes similar to a cream soda. The frozen variety has the consistency of a slurpee.

This wizardly drink is delicious any way you order it.  There appears, however, to be disagreement about which way is the most delicious.

Butterbeer  Butterbeer

So here we go, we want to know which way you think tastes the best!  Tell us below and may the best Butterbeer win!


Which variety of Butterbeer is the best?

View Results

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We think Universal Orlando did a great job bringing this amazing drink to life.  They also make it easily accessible and offer it in many locations throughout the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley.

Butterbeer Away from the Parks

Can’t get to the parks? Check out this link:  Homemade Butter Beer Recipe

While a homemade recipe isn’t quite going to live up to what the parks offer, it can be a nice way to hold you over until your next trip.  As an added bonus, buy the souvenir mug while in the park and then use it when drinking the homemade Butterbeer at home!


Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando | best time to visit Universal Orlando

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando

Are you planning a trip to the Universal Orlando Resort?  If you are flexible on your dates and want to avoid large crowds, here is a list of the best time to visit Universal Orlando and the worst time to visit Universal Orlando:

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando:

September through Early November – especially during the week after Labor Day.  Walking around the parks and hotels, it’s amazing how low the crowds are.  You may deal with some crowd during the weekends for Halloween Horror Nights, but for the most part you’ll be able to walk onto almost all of the popular rides.  The weather during September can be hot, but not as hot as July.  When you get into mid-October, the weather is glorious.

Best Time to Visit Universal Orlando
Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel empty on a day in September

January through February – After everyone has overloaded on holiday trips to the parks, the crowds tend to slow down during these months.  You will have no problem riding your favorite rides multiple times without a line.  The downfall to visiting during these months:  it can get pretty cold, even for northerners.

May – Again, after everyone has taken their spring break trip to Orlando the parks tend to clear out in May.  Most people are back home focusing on finishing up the school year before summer begins or people are saving their vacation until summer.  The nice thing about the parks being in Orlando, it’ll already be hot in May, so you’ll feel like you’re already on a summer vacation trip.  In our book, this really is the best time to visit Universal Orlando.

The list above shows you the best time to visit Universal Orlando.  Keep reading to see the worst times to learn when to avoid the parks if possible.

Worst Time to Visit Universal Orlando:

June through August – We think it’s pretty common knowledge that the parks get busy during summer break.  Add the insane Florida heat to the mix and you’ve got a pretty rough combo.  We understand that for some this is the only time they can travel to the resort, but if you are able to visit during another time we highly suggest you do so.

Thanksgiving Week through New Year’s Day – For the same reasons above, people are off and so they take the time to head to the parks.  The holidays obviously draw people to the parks and we do recommend checking the parks out during this time because the decorations are great, but don’t expect to get on a bunch of rides.

March through April – This is Spring Break time and again you must avoid if possible.  The weather is still bearable at this point but if you can hold off until May, you’ll be able to experience all of the attractions without the hassle of crowds.

*Side Note:  While some of this can apply to the Walt Disney World Resort as well, the “off season” has become more limited at WDW due to its ever-growing popularity and Disney’s seasonal offerings such as Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Flower and Garden Festival, etc.

Is the best time to visit Universal Orlando during your favorite time to visit?

What is your favorite month to visit the Universal Orlando Resort?  Comment below!


Mel’s Drive-In Lunch Review

We recently had the chance to take time and have lunch at one of the coolest looking eateries in Universal Studios Florida – Mel’s Drive-In.  This restaurant is themed after the movie American Graffiti and is located pretty much in the middle of the park, which makes it easily accessible.

We actually arrived around 11:30 a.m. and we were glad we did.  We were able to pick a comfortable window seat and did not have to wait in line to order.  As we were finishing around noon, the restaurant started to get packed.



Ordering was pretty easy, you order with a cashier and then wait to pick up your food.  Once you have your food, you find your own seating and there is plenty of it.  This restaurant also has the Coke Freestyle machines, making it easy to refill your mugs!



We decided to each order a kids meal because the portions here are pretty big.  Josh ordered a regular kids cheeseburger with fries:

Kids Cheeseburger with Fries


I ordered a kids gluten free cheeseburger with fries:

Gluten Free Kids Cheeseburger with Fries



Our grand total for the meal after our passholder discount was around $14.00, which is not bad!  Plus we had plenty of food and were full afterwards.

The cheeseburgers overall were good – the only downfall to getting a kids cheeseburger is that you don’t get toppings.  The taste and size were good, though.  The fries were really delicious and had some sort of seasoning on it which made them tasty.

The experience eating there was nice.  They had 50’s and 60’s music playing, our view from our seat was great, and the decorations made you feel like you were on a movie set.  The one downfall – no working jukeboxes!  We were pretty disappointed.

IMG_8952 IMG_8949


We definitely recommend this eatery as a lunch or dinner option for the price, location, menu options, and ease.

Have you eaten here?  Tell us about your experience in the comments!