I am SO busy at the moment it’s ridiculous. I’ve taken on a huge project with a really short deadline, but I’m absolutely loving it, although everything else has completely gone out the window: the laundry pile is overflowing from the basket, and don’t get me started on the ironing. No Christmas cards have been written, very few pressies have been purchased, and to add insult to injury, Charlie is learning to drive, so I’m living in a permanent state of ‘OMG I’m so busy!’ mixed with ‘oh god, he wants to go driving again – my poor nerves’. My Dad is also in hospital having had a hip replacement. So… yes, I’m feeling lucky and stressy and busy busy busy! One thing I really must do, though, is tell you about Grinchmas and my AMAZING trip to Orlando last week to visit Universal Orlando Resort and experience their magical 2015 Holidays Celebration.
Christmas is obviously HUGE out there anyway (I love America, and I love how everyone smiles and says ‘happy holidays!’), and the clever chaps at Universal really know how to celebrate in style. We stayed at one of my favourite hotels over there, the awesome Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which is literally like living in an episode of The Jetsons, with its funky fifties styling:
On our first day there, we had loads of time to really explore Universal, which is split into two sides. We split our day into two, with the morning spent exploring Universal Studios, where we started with an invigorating whoosh around on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, then laughed ourselves silly on Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, where you’re transformed into a Minion for a hilarious and hair-raising 3D adventure. I won’t spoil it, but check out the amazing screen inside!
Another ride I really love is the quite retro ET Adventure, that takes you soaring over twinkly towns on your bike, just like Drew Barrymore all those years ago. It gets quite trippy when you get to ET’s home planet and it’s just the most delightful ride.
Moe’s Tavern is a must visit, and the chicken waffle sandwich with maple mayo is highly recommended, washed down with a Flaming Moe:
Another must-experience is the fabulous MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, a brilliant ‘shoot ’em up’ game, and a great way to spend a while letting those chicken waffle sandwiches go down before you get whizzed about and have a good scream on the terrifying Revenge of the Mummy, an indoor coaster that’s the perfect mix of scary and exhilarating.
Finally it was time for Diagon Alley and after one of my favourite rides, the technologically brilliant Harry Potter and The Escape from Gringotts, we visited Ollivanders for a quick wand lesson and to allow our wand to choose us. There was just time to sip a hot glass of Butterbeer before we were off on the Hogwarts Express to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, disappearing through the wall at Platform 9 3/4.
After lunch, we took the Hogwarts Express across to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where beautiful Hogwarts looms large over the landscape of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, with its pretty, snow topped shops and houses:
The ride inside Hogwarts: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is awesome but makes me feel horribly sick – worth it for the walk around Hogwarts as you’re queuing for the ride. We also walked to Jurassic Park and had a rather terrifying encounter with a Raptor (sadly my picture didn’t come out).
After a fab evening out at CityWalk, a lovely area of pubs, shops and restaurants, where we ate incredible coconut tempura prawn rolls and spiked shakes at Burgushi, and then had a couple of drinks and an ill-informed go at karaoke on stage at CityWalk’s Rising Star, we were up bright and early for the Christmas festivities. Grinchmas is an incredible stage show featuring an adaptation of Dr Seuss’ classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas and is so slick you’d think you were watching a West End Show (we were lucky enough to meet the Mean Green Grinch himself and it’s LITERALLY like you’re talking to Jim Carrey – amazing):
The highlight for me, though, apart from meeting The Grinch, obviously, was the Macy’s Holiday Parade. It’s the 14th year that the Macy’s parade has been performed at Universal Studios, and we were lucky enough to go behind the scenes, meet some of the people and discover just how much hard work goes into this beautiful, festive pageant. The ‘balloonicles’ (I love that word) are just incredible. I’m deliberately not going to post too many pictures as you really must just go and see this for yourself!
Massive thanks to Fi and everyone at Universal for making the trip so incredibly enjoyable, and hugs and kisses to my lovely fellow trip members, Hannah, Brian, Carl and Lizzie, who I now miss terribly after our fabulous adventure:
If you’d like more information, please do get in touch and I’ll do my best to answer any questions. If you’d like to recreate my epic Grinchmas adventure:
The 2-Park Bonus ticket gives you admission to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme parks, plus access to the live entertainment at Universal CityWalk, for up to fourteen (14) consecutive days. Prices from £129 (child), £139 (adult).
7 nights in Orlando at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort from £924 per person
Seven nights in Orlando with Virgin Holidays, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick direct to Orlando, room only accommodation at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and car hire. Price is per person based on 2 adults and 2 children travelling and sharing a standard room and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure on 15th December 2015.
Start your holiday before you’ve even taken off in the v-room at Gatwick or Manchester Airport… adults £24.50, kids from £14. Virgin Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. To book: www.virginholidays.co.uk, 0344 557 3859 or visit one of our 110 stores.