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On our last trip to Mexico, we rented a condo through Airbnb. Unfortunately, I booked in a hurry, and didn’t notice that our condo didn’t have a washer or dryer. Argh!
There I was, washing clothes in the sink and bathtub on holiday, with water everywhere, when we needed clean clothes the next day. Definitely not much fun.
So, when the folks at Scrubba , a portable wash system, reached out to us for a review, I was curious to try it.
What is Scrubba? It’s a pocket sized device for washing clothes anywhere, that claims machine quality wash in minutes.
Scrubba Wash Bag Review
In this Scrubba review, we give the Scrubba a real world test washing our clothes, and tell you what we like, and what we don’t like.
Who is the Scrubba good for?
Even if you’re not a traveler, I could see Scrubba being useful if you don’t have a washer or if you’re on a budget.
How does the Scrubba work?
The Scrubba is pretty easy to use. Just add water, laundry liquid and clothing. Roll shut, and release excess air. Then rub gently to wash, rinse and then hang clothes to dry.
There are a few tricks to make using the Scrubba a bit easier – check them out.
Tips for using the Scrubba
First, put your clothes inside the Scrubba washbag.
Fill with water to the level marked on the bag. Make sure the water is warm, and not too hot. You can use cold, but it won’t work quite as well, and you’ll need to wash for longer.
Add liquid clothes washing soap. Solid clothes washing powder takes longer to dissolve, so we don’t recommend it unless you don’t have liquid soap around. Of course, when we’re traveling, we rarely carry clothes washing liquid, so in a pinch we’ve used shampoo or dish washing soap to clean our clothes. Both work well, but liquid washing soap works best.
Roll the top down, and clip the buckle. Make sure the buckle is secure!
Release the air from the washing bag using the valve by twisting it open. Left to open, right to close.
Rub clothes in Scrubba for 30 seconds for a quick rinse, or 3 minutes for a full wash. Bulky items like jeans or sweaters can take up to 5 minutes. You can see what’s happening through the see through panel.
Empty dirty water, and rinse with clean water. You might need to rinse it twice if a lot of soap remains.
Once the clean water is poured out, roll the clothes inside the Scrubba to get rid of the excess water.
Once out of the Scrubba bag, hand wring the clothes one at a time to get rid of most of the water.
We like to roll our clothes in a dry towel after we’ve wrung them out to get even more water out. We found this can really aid in the overall drying time.
Now hang up the clothes to dry.
Don’t forget to turn the Scrubba inside out and allow it to dry as well.
How much can you wash in the Scrubba?
We found that washing 2 adult t-shirts, 2 pairs of underwear and 2 pairs of socks at the same time was about the max we could wash without overfilling the Scrubba. If you’re doing kids clothes you can fit a bit more in there.
If we overfilled, we found that clothes just didn’t wash or rinse well. It’s better to do a few loads of fewer clothes, than try to jam them all in one go.
Thicker and heavier items like bulky jeans and heavy sweaters may take a few washes to get fully clean.
What we like about the Scrubba
There’s a lot to like about the Scrubba.
Here’s a closeup look at what the internal washboard looks like.
What we don’t like about the Scrubba
You still have to wring dry your clothes. I find this is always the hardest part for me of washing clothes when we travel, since we want them as dry as possible before we have to get up and pack in the morning.
Of course, this really isn’t the Scrubba’s fault, since this is a problem no matter how we wash our clothes. I’d absolutely love to see some sort of way to dry clothes faster while we travel, other than our tried and true method of squeezing water out with a dry towel. I’d definitely pay if Scrubba came up with a gadget, like a portable laundry wringer, to do this!
Scrubba does make a travel towel that would help with this. It weights about 6 oz, and is big enough to use as a beach towel at a little over 25″ x 54″.
Tip: You can buy a Scrubba wash kit that includes the Scrubba wash bag, travel clothes line, travel towel, inflatable coat hangers, and carrying bag. See the Scrubba Travel Wash & Dry Kit on Amazon here.
It’s a bit expensive. That said, the Scrubba is similar in price to a quality dry bag. Since dry bags need to be made of high quality materials and well made to avoid any leaks they can be expensive however the Scrubba is also engineered for washing clothes so the difference in price is minimal in our mind.
You can only wash small loads, with a maximum of a couple of adult sized t-shirts, socks and underwear per load.
We travel as a family of four, so we need to do multiple loads to just wash our t-shirts, socks and underwear. Even if you were a single person, it would take about four loads to wash 4 t-shirts, 2 pairs of pants, 4 pairs of underwear, and 4 pairs of socks. Big, bulky items like sweaters or light jackets take two washes.
Final thoughts on the Scrubba Wash Bag
Overall, we really love the Scrubba! It’s easy to pack and light, and definitely gets our clothes cleaner than washing in a sink or bathtub. Plus, it’s a lot easier to use!
I’m definitely adding Scrubba to our backpack whenever I think we’ll be without a washer or dryer on our trips. I can think of more than a few trips we’ve taken where the Scrubba would have come in handy, especially overseas, and, when the kids were younger and going through their clothes way faster than we did.
If you travel often and want to cut down on the amount of clothes you travel with (or cut down on checked luggage fees altogether), I think the Scrubba would more than pay for itself.
What cleaning liquid do you use in a Scrubba?
Ideally, you’d use a liquid laundry detergent in the Scrubba.
Since we didn’t have any on hand when we tested our Scrubba the first time, we used Dawn dish washing detergent, and our clothes washed perfectly well. You can also use shampoo or hand soap in a pinch.
We’ve heard great things about concentrated camping all purpose cleaners (we haven’t tried them yet). You can use them for washing clothes, dishes, and even hair in a pinch. Just make sure you grab a small enough bottle that you can take in your carry on luggage. Campsuds gets great reviews.
Want to find out more about the Scrubba?
from The Barefoot Nomad https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/travel-blogs/scrubba-wash-bag-review-does-this-portable-travel-washing-machine-really-work/
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Summer Camp for Kids in Cabarete-Sosua
Summer Camp at Sea Horse Ranch in Cabarete, Dominican Republic is open for all children ages 6-12, and will be held June 24 to July 26, 2019.
The Summer Day Camp at Sea Horse Ranch is held Monday through Friday, from 8:30am – 4pm and offers many fun and educational activities, such as art, music, water sports, tennis, and horseback riding, and weekly field trips. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are included in the price.
Summer Camp is created for long term residents and tourists alike. We can help our guests coordinate trips to places such as the Samana Peninsula, or the nation’s Capital, Santo Domingo, ask us for more details.
Summer Villa Rental Deals in Dominican Republic
A 20% discount on villa rentals are available for guests participating in Summer Camp at Sea Horse Ranch.
Call us today at 1-800-635-0991, or email us.
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Wondering what to do in Dubai with kids? We have some great ideas to get you started.
We’ve travelled the world with our kiddos, and it’s always wonderful to find a city like Dubai that’s so accommodating for kids.
Dubai is a fantastic destination for kids, with attractions, theme parks, and pretty much almost anything you can imagine.
There are so many unique things to do in Dubai you’ll never be bored.
Dubai’s the kind of place where you can go hiking in the dessert before dawn and indoor snow skiing before lunch. Since it’s likely hot out, not much beats spending the afternoon at a water park and after a world class supper, you can visit one of the many gardens in the early evening with the kids.
The Best Things to do in Dubai with Kids
If you’re thinking of heading to Dubai with kids, definitely check these top things to do in Dubai as a family.
You can also opt to take a tour in Dubai to make things even easier. WithLocals has some cool experiences, including a street food tour of Dubai, a scenic tour on a private yacht, or even a private desert safari tour!
Dubai Miracle Garden
If you think a trip to a garden is boring, then you haven’t visited Dubai Miracle Garden. There are over 50 million blooming flowers here, all showcased in elaborate sculptures and designs.
Like the rest of Dubai, the Miracle Garden is over the top, colorful, and fun. Kids pretty much universally love it. You can find the Miracle Garden in the district of Dubailand. Tickets run around $11 USD for adults, and $8 USD for kids.
Have you ever wanted to ski in the desert? Well, Dubai has you covered.
Ski Dubai is a 22,500 square meter indoor ski resort. It runs year round, and it’s part of the Mall of the Emirates.
Tickets to the snow park, which includes the snow plough playground, ice caves, tubing run, bobsled, and climbing wall, run around $50 USD for adults and $45 USD for kids.
If you want to hit the slopes themselves, a 2 hour skiing pass is about $55 USD for adults and $50 for kids.
Want to hang with the Gentoo and King Penguins? That’ll set you back a cool $62 USD however know that kids under 14 aren’t allowed.
Check out what Will Smith has to say about Ski Dubai in the video below.
Adventure Zone in Dubai
Adventure Zone by Adventure HQ is a blast for kids. It’s an indoor adventure facility with a skate park, boulder wall, cable climb, zip line, and trampoline park.
It’s not cheap at $38 USD for a 90 minute session, but you can save with all day passes or group packages.
There are several locations around Dubai.
The Dubai Fountain is a spectacular choreographed music, light, and water fountain show. If you’ve ever seen the fountains at the Bellagio in Vegas, well, this is a lot bigger.
The Fountain is set on the 30-acre man made Burj Khalifa Lake in downtown Dubai.
Tickets are about $18 USD per person.
Burj Khalifa is a mind-bending 160 story tall skyscraper. It cost a whopping 1.5 billion USD to build.
There’s a spectacular water fountain show, a lot of shopping, and a must-see 360 degree view from the top.
The normal tourist tour only goes to the 124th and 125th floors, and it can be quite crowded. A more expensive option is to go all the way to the top.
Be prepared that lines to get in or out of the tower can be long at peak times.
Tickets for the 124th and 125th floors are $55 USD for adults, and $27 USD for kids. Kids under 4 are free. Prices are higher in peak hours.
Access to level 148 (plus the 124th and 125th floors) is an eye watering $100 USD for adults and kids alike. Prices are higher in peak hours.
IMG Worlds of Adventure
IMG Worlds of Adventure is an indoor amusement park. There are all the rides, eateries and shows you could ever want, with Marvel and Cartoon Network themes in abundance.
The facility is 28 football fields large and the attractions include rides with your kid’s favorite characters, such as the Powerpuff Girls and friends from Marvel’s unique universe.
This place is huge, so wear comfy shoes, and be prepared to walk.
Adult admission is about $78 USD, and kids (under 1.2m in height) are about $70 USD.
Creative Fun at OliOli
Designed for kids between the age of 2 and 11, OliOli’s divided into eight separate areas, each featuring a different theme. These include a hanging play area, an area where cannon balls are launched and a Creative Lab area where kids can do all sorts of fun things.
Tickets cost $32 USD for the first two hours, and $8 USD for every hour after.
The Dubai Aquaventure water park has something for everyone in the family. The bravest can try thrilling rides, such as the tube that takes riders through a shark lagoon, while the younger ones or those who prefer a milder sort of entertainment can splash around in the children’s play area.
The Aquaventure Waterpark is part of the Atlantis resorts, however you can luckily buy a day pass. However, if you stay at the all-inclusive Atlantis resorts your ticket should be included.
Day passes are about 78 USD if you’re over 1.2 metres tall, and $64 if you’re under 1.2 metres tall. Kids age 0 to 2 are free.
A Desert Adventure
Dubai has everything that humans can make, but it also has a very special, natural feature that cannot be left unexplored: the desert.
The activities that you and your family can enjoy on the arid landscape include shorter or longer rides on camel back, henna-painting and sand-boarding. Longer trips can include a night spent under the star-studded desert sky, falcon shows, dune rides and much more.
Visit the Dubai Safari Park
IMPORTANT: The Dubai Safari Park is currently closed, but set to re-open in 2019! Check the Safari Park website for details.
When the Dubai Zoo closed in 2017, the animals were shifted to the Dubai Safari.
Today, the Dubai Safari occupies 100 hectares of diverse landscape.
There are pedestrian walkways lined with lush vegetation, driving tracks and desert plains, and they all make for an unforgettable experience. The park is home to over 3,000 individual animals, belonging to 250 species .
A visit to the park offers great opportunities to spot giraffes, hippos and zebras and the kids can play with the smaller, friendlier creatures in the petting zoo.
Tickets are about $14 USD for adults, and $6 USD for kids.
IMPORTANT: The Dubai Safari Park is currently closed, but set to re-open in 2019! Check the Safari Park website for details.
Explorations of Virtual Reality
Dubai is a world-renowned center for entertainment technology as well. So, if your kids are in for hi-tech adventures, a day at the VR Park in Dubai’s Mall is a must see and if you have the time, a must try.
VR Park Dubai is the world’s largest VR park.
It’s on level 2 of The Dubai Mall.
It costs $24 USD for one of seven of the VR experiences.
Looking for more Dubai help? Check out the best time to visit Dubai.
Visiting KL with kids, too
It’s hard to talk about Dubai without bringing up great memories of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for me. They’re both incredible cities, with so much to offer.
We still haven’t had the chance to visit Kuala Lumpur with kids, though it was our hub on our first year-long adventure together as a couple.
On our next visit to KL, we’re definitely going to visit with children.
We may even relax a little from our usual standard of independent travel and take a tour in Kuala Lumpur to get a better feel for the local culture and food. There are some fun options, including a family-specific kick-start tour (which sounds like a perfect option for us!), a tasting tour of KL, and even a layover tour if we’re short on time!
Have you visited Dubai with kids? Do you have anything to add to our list of kids activities in Dubai that you shouldn’t miss?
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Summer Luxury Villa Specials are exclusively available for families attending our famous Summer Camp. Enjoy 20% off all villa rentals for participating guests.
Summer Camp at Sea Horse Ranch in Cabarete, Dominican Republic is open for all children ages 6-12. Summer Camp is held in June and July every year. Summer Camp at Sea Horse Ranch is perfect for vacationing guests and long-term residents alike. Summer Camp offers a great range of educational activities for children, such as art, music, water sports, tennis, horseback riding, field trips, and optional Spanish lessons.
The Summer Day Camp at Sea Horse Ranch is held Monday through Friday, from 8:30am – 4pm, and is five weeks long. A week-long break is held after the first two weeks of camp, giving families time to travel and explore the island. We are happy to assist our guests in coordinating trips to area attractions, contact us for more details.
Please contact us for accommodation options, special long-term summer rates are available. Call us today at 1-800-635-0991.
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Canyonlands National Park was the 5th and final stop on our Utah hiking trip with kids. Entering Canyonlands Canyonlands National Park is an immense and sprawling region with several unique areas to explore. Broken into four districts which require hours of driving to traverse, Canyonlands is more like a series of parks than a single […]
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Looking for Universal Orlando tips to make the budget last longer, save you time and reduce the stress load? Planning a major holiday with the family to Florida and suddenly overwhelmed by it all? We can help!
We visit the Universal Orlando theme parks every chance we get and each time compile notes and tips on the best way to maximize our time there for the next outing.
Like a lot of families visiting Orlando, some of our favorite family memories occurred during our time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m honestly not sure who enjoyed it more – us or our kids! Universal has done a stunning job of making the entire experience special and memorable!
While we’re huge fans, it’s no doubt a visit to Universal Orlando is expensive, so you’ll want to make the absolute most of your visit to the three Universal Parks, and come home with wonderful memories for yourselves!
Top Universal Orlando Tips
It’s no secret that you could spend weeks at Universal and still not see every show, enjoy every ride, and snack at every restaurant. We’ve got tips that can help save you money, and just as importantly, help save you time and hassle.
Now that Universal’s added the spectacular Volcano Bay water park, there are now three full sized parks here: Universal Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay.
Visit for at least three days, but four is better
Each of the three Universal Orlando parks is huge, and you’ll only get to sample a portion of the rides, food, and activities in a park in one day.
Three days will let you dedicate a day to each park, while four days will give you a chance to go back to your favorite rides and attractions, and catch anything you missed the first time around.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll need two days to check out Hogsmeade (in Universal Islands of Adventure) and Diagon Alley (in Universal Florida). You can visit both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley in a single day, but it would be a rushed affair, and you would miss a lot of the details that make each experience unique.
Save money by buying tickets online in advance
The last thing you want to do on your trip to Universal is spend a lot of time waiting in line buying tickets. You can save a lot of time, and even a fair bit of money, by buying tickets online in advance.
We’ve heard great things about buying passes in advance on Undercover Tourist. Unlike a lot of other sites, taxes are included up front (so no surprise fees at the end), AND shipping is free. Plus, you’ll save $42 over paying at the gate. See all of Undercover Tourist’s Orlando ticket deals here.
One of the best deals Universal currently offers is a buy a two day pass, get two days free deal.
You can get this deal in two variations: four days for the price of two with a 2 park ticket to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You can also get four days for the price of two with a three-park ticket for Universal’s Volcano Bay, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal Studios Florida.
If you’re only going for three days, you can still save with Universal’s special, where you get one extra day FREE if you buy a two day Park to Park pass. See prices for the two day Park-to-Park pass with one day FREE here.
Our Top Harry Potter Tip: Get a Park to Park Pass
Get a two day Park to Park Pass if you want to access all of the shows, rides, restaurants, and attractions at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split between the two Universal Florida parks (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios). Hogsmeade is in Universal Islands of Adventure, and Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios. Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Ally have unique shops, rides and experiences, so you’ll want to go to both. You’ll also need a Park to Park pass to ride the Hogwarts Express!
You could do both parks in one day, but you’d miss a lot, and you’d definitely be exhausted! On our last trip, we spent two days almost exclusively checking out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and we still didn’t see and do everything in both areas!
You can check out more of our specific tips for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter here.
Save time with the Official Universal Orlando® Resort App
The free Official Orlando Resort app is a must. We used it to help plan our itinerary for the parks, and to let the kids mark the attractions they didn’t want to miss. In the park, the app was indispensable! We used it to figure out where we were and to help decide where to go to next.
Even better, the app is instantly updated with wait and show times. It’s also great for finding rides, and sorting out which restaurants to visit. Since the restaurant menus are included in the app, it also makes it really easy to pick a spot everyone in the group will enjoy.
Another bonus for the app is that you can save your parking spot so you can remember where your car is located. (Which might not sound like a big deal but trust us it is. The parking lots are huge!)
Here’s an extra helpful, time saving app tip! You can set up alerts for when ride wait times drop, saving you a lot of time waiting in line.
Universal Tip: Go Early
There’s so much to do at Universal Florida, and tickets are pricey enough, that you’ll definitely want to maximize your time. Go as early as your ticket allows, and stay right until closing, and you can maximize your time at the parks.
We’re not early birds, but we make an effort to go as early as possible, because we always find crowds to be much lighter in the morning before noon. Try to be at the park at least half an hour before opening, or get early access. Parking opens well before the gates to the actual park does so don’t be afraid to come a few minutes earlier.
Also factor in the fairly long walk (around 10 minutes) from parking to the entrance, plus the time you’ll need to pass through the entrance line. Depending on which lot you’re coming from, there are motorized walkways from many of the parking areas that will speed your arrival.
There are also a few ways to get early access to the parks, including staying at onsite parks, or getting Unlimited Express passes, which we talk about a little later in this post.
Stay late at Universal Florida
We find that crowds at Universal really dropped off around 6 pm, in the three hours before closing, and stayed quieter until the park shuts down. This, or early morning, is the perfect time to take in the busier rides and attractions at Harry Potters Wizarding World. Since most people have experienced and left this area of the park by 6 the lines are way shorter.
If you really want to enjoy that time, I suggest you grab an early supper (Three Broomsticks is our favorite Harry Potter restaurant) at around 4:30 pm and start checking out the rides around 6 pm.
Stay at an onsite Universal hotel
We actually stayed off property during our last visit, since we had plenty of time to visit. Ocean Florida offer a range of villas within Florida, including some nearby to Universal.
Many of the Universal Orlando hotels include Unlimited Express Passes and early park access to help you beat the morning rush. Since the hotels are on site, you’ll be able to use the free shuttle, saving money on parking and time driving to the parks.
All on site hotels offer Early Park admission (one hour before regular opening hours) and free transportation to the Parks and CityWalk. Other perks include complimentary delivery of merchandise from the Resort to your hotel, appearances by Universal Orlando characters, and priority restaurant seating (for Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Royal Pacific Resort).
There are a few hotels onsite, including Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Leows Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel, and Leows Portofino Bay Hotel. The hotels include a Free Universal Express Unlimited, which is worth up to $89 per person, per day (not offered at at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort or Cabana Bay Beach Resort).
Get an Express Pass at Universal
An Express pass lets you skip the normal lines and jump in the express line.
We love the Express Passes, as they save us plenty of time in lines during the busier afternoon lineups. They’re not cheap (around $50 a person) however, when you factor in all it’s cost you to get to that point, that $50 could be the difference between getting to go on all the rides you wanted to and not.
I’d say the Express Pass is almost essential during times when the Parks are crowded like Spring Break or Christmas. That said, if you’re going during a particularly quiet time, you may want to save some money and skip the Express Pass altogether.
Go during a quieter month
If you have the flexibility, try to avoid traditionally busy times like weekends, Christmas, Spring Break and summer holidays. Mid week during the off season could be your best bet.
Orlando Informer has a helpful Universal Crowd Calendar.
Use child swap at Universal Orlando
If you have kids, child swap is one of the best time savers around. You’ll need two adults for this, but it’s a fantastic perk.
With a child swap, the entire family stands in line together. At the last moment, one adult waits with the children at the front of the line, while the other adult rides. When the first adult is done, the adults swap, and the adult who waited with the child first now goes to the front of the line.
Just tell the greeter at the front that you want to use child swap. They do this all the time, so it’s a quick and efficient process. Our son also joined both of us when our daughter decided she didn’t want to go and got to ride twice with no lining up!
For example, we used child swap on Escape from Gringotts, when our eight year old decided at the last moment that she didn’t want to go. That ride actually had a designated area for parents with small children off to the side complete with activities and monitors playing Harry Potter movie snippets.
Since a lot of the Harry Potter themed rides have unique and entertaining happenings (like walking through Gringotts bank and having the goblins give you the evil eye), the designers at Universal have filled the lineup areas with plenty to see and do as you wait for your ride. If you don’t get in line, you might miss out on more than just the ride itself.
Take the single rider line
If you want to get onto the rides even quicker, and don’t mind riding without the rest of your group, use the single rider line.
This saves a lot of time waiting in line, especially on the busier rides like Escape from Gringotts and The Hidden Journey. Though it’s usually a different line than the normal one, you can still walk in with someone and hang out with them in line and then only do the ride on your own at the end. This is a great way to go if you already went on the ride together the first time and just want a quick second or third ride for yourself.
It can also turn an hour and half Hulk roller coaster ride into a 15 minute ride! Just make sure to ask the attendants if there is a single rider lane since not all rides have it.
Pay for Preferred Parking at Universal
We get prime parking whenever we visit. It’s a great perk to have a short walk to our car at the end of a tiring day and it gets us out of the parking lot before most others.
Preferred Parking also makes the walk to the gates entrance a lot faster and gets us into the park quicker. Preferred parking is currently an additional $10 a day more than regular at $30 (it’s $20 for regular parking).
The only time I’d consider skipping Prime Parking would be if the parks are especially quiet (which is almost never!) or if we stayed in a very nearby hotel and took a taxi or Uber over. Of course, if you stay at one of the on resort parks you not only get in earlier but you also get free transportation.
Buy a wand for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
We debated getting the wands for our visit, but I’m so glad that we decided to buy one for each kid.
Wands bring shop displays to life, and really bring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to life! Our kids used their wands at both parks. You can also bring your wand with you the next time you go to Universal Studios, so you only need to buy them once.
Wands cost about $50 USD per wand, so they’re not cheap, but our kids spent hours casting spells in shop windows at Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
Don’t forget to look at the special map in your wand’s box! The special map that comes in your interactive wand’s box will guide you to wand spots in both worlds!
Most articles will tell you to buy your wands at Ollivanders in Hogsmeade or at Wands by Gregorovitch in Diagon Alley. They both have a good selection of wands and the choosing ceremony as well however both places can be ridiculously busy!
If there are big lines at Ollivanders or Wands by Gregorovitch (there always are), buy your wand at a cart instead, like we did. There are wand stands located throughout both Harry Potter Worlds with practically no one in line.
We picked our wands up at a cart in Hogsmeade at the Islands of Adventure, near Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Since the wand chooses the wizard, Dumbledore’s wand chose our daughter, and Sirius Black’s wand chose our son. The stand attendant was patient and helpful, and our kids got their wands much more quickly than if we’d stayed at Ollivanders.
Take the Hogwarts Express train between parks
Even if you’re not a huge Harry Potter fan, taking the Hogwarts Express between Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida will save you a lot of time, and let you rest your weary feet.
Try to take the train both ways, since it’s a different experience each time but be weary that the lineups can be slow! The train was down for most of the first day were there and opened only sporadically the second day. That made the lineups when it was running especially long. Also note that
Eat in the Parks or at Universal CityWalk
There are so many places to eat at the park, and it’s such a huge walk to parking, that you’ll definitely want to stay onsite for meals. There’s something for every taste at Universal.
You can save some money by getting one of several different dining plans that are offered by Universal. What you get really depends on your appetite, who’s in your party, and how long you’ll be at the parks. Check the different options.
Tip! You can get ice tap water free throughout the park! Just ask!
There are so many places to grab a bite here that we haven’t been able to try them all (or even a good percentage of them), but here are a few we loved.
As you’d expect, there are plenty of Harry Potter themed restaurants (and butterbeer!) at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We really loved the Three Broomsticks, but the Leaky Cauldron gets great reviews as well.
If you’re looking for a good burger, we liked Crusty Burger in Universal Studios. It’s a Simpson’s themed restaurant, with a big selection, and a lot of seating. We had the vegetarian black bean burger, and a regular burger, both of which come with tasty Cajun onion rings. Our littlest had a cheese pizza, and we washed it all down with incredibly thick chocolate milkshakes .
Our go to snack is always Auntie Annie’s Pretzels at Universal Studios for a warm bucket of cinnamon sugar pretzel nuggets to share. The only negative is that there’s almost always a line during busy times.
There’s a huge selection of restaurants at CityWalk, which you pass when you first walk into Universal Orlando on your way to the main entry gates.
CityWalk is a great choice for a bite at the end of the day, since it’s on your way to the parking lot. There are dozens of restaurants here, including Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Hard Rock Cafe, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Johnny Rockets and so much more.
While you’re grabbing a bite to eat at CityWalk, you can also check out mini-golf, clubs, shows, movies, karaoke and concerts. You don’t need a ticket to Universal to get into Universal CityWalk so you’re free to come on your off days as well.
Plan your meals ahead
If you have any special dietary requirements (vegetarian, gluten free, allergies, and so on), choose your restaurant wisely. We had three vegetarians in our group, and there were veggie options at every restaurant we visited, but we were definitely limited in what we could eat.
For example, at the Leaky Cauldron in Universal Studios, they only had soup and salad as a vegetarian option, so we decided to eat elsewhere.
Take a day off from Universal
Yes, I know you’ve traveled all this way to go to Universal Studios in Orlando Florida however, most multi day passes are good for a week. That means that if you bought a 2 day pass, you can go on day 1 and day 7 instead of going back to back days.
Why, you might ask? Between the miles and miles of walking, the crowds, the sights, the rides and the food, a full day at Universal will be tiring. Doing two full days back to back can overload even the hardiest of theme park lovers.
Our suggestion, if you have the time, skip a day or two and take in quieter sites for those days or sleep in and enjoy the pool and food at your hotel. That way, once you’ve gotten your wind back, you can fully enjoy your second or third or fourth day at the park with renewed vigor!
If time is limited, consider the VIP Experience
If you only have a day at Universal Orlando, you’re going to need to maximize every second. One way to do this is to splurge out a little with the VIP Experience. See VIP Experience prices and more on the Universal website here.
With a VIP experience, you can skip ALL of the lines. You can also get a personal Universal Orlando tour guide. It also includes a continental breakfast, plus you can choose several other options. The VIP Experience is definitely pricey, but worth considering.
A VIP experience gets you priority front-of-the-line access to all rides and attractions, including all of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions and experiences. Plus, you can get behind the scenes tours, complimentary valet parking and reserved seating at shows.
You can get a private VIP experience, with just you and your party (which includes two full service meals), or a regular VIP experience. I didn’t know about the VIP experience option when we visited, but it sounds amazing.
What to wear and bring to Universal Orlando
Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes.
You’re going to be walking all day long within and between parks, and when you’re done, you’ll be walking back to the front entrance and the parking lot. That’s a lot of concrete and if you don’t have good shoes you’ll be done by lunch.
I wish I’d worn my Fitbit when we were at the parks last time. I bet I easily put on 20,000 plus steps a day!
Since the weather in Orlando can vary depending on the season, bring along a jacket or even a rain poncho if you think you’ll need it. During our last visit, the mornings were cool enough for a jacket, but afternoons were warm enough for shorts and a sleeveless shirt.
Don’t forget sunscreen! We forgot ours during our last visit, and I got a mild sunburn just from being outside during 65 degree weather and light cloud cover!
Some of the major rides include free lockers right before or after the ride however most of the larger rides won’t even let you take along a phone and wallet with you. Having a backpack isn’t a bad idea but you will be forced to locker it often. We found having clothes with lots of zippered pockets to be helpful and being able to split the family up occasionally meant we didn’t have to rent a locker for the day either.
Check for deals before you buy tickets!
Before you buy your tickets, be sure to check out Universal’s deals and specials. They often have some fantastic deals, and offer special rates for Florida residents as well. Right now Universal has a fantastic special, where you get TWO extra days FREE if you buy a two day Park to Park pass.
from The Barefoot Nomad https://www.thebarefootnomad.com/north-america/universal-orlando-tips-to-save-you-time-and-money/
via Tumblr https://cabaretedr.tumblr.com/post/182620390198
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