Category Archives: Travel

Universal Studios with A Baby

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

We are die-hard Disney fans. We have annual passes and have taken Gracie 4 or 5 times already (oh my, I actually lost count). We love Disney and everything about the parks. However, we’ve been dying to take her to Universal Studios! It sort of felt like we were cheating on our first love, Disney. But we had so much fun! A lot of things are different in Universal than Disney World. So, I wanted to share 10 tips for taking a toddler to Universal (for Disney Fans).

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation! Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

1// EXPRESS PASS – The express pass is SO necessary. Disney fans know that you get three free fast passes for any ride. However, at universal you have to buy an express pass if you want to skip the long lines. This was SO worth it. We got the unlimited express pass, which means you can ride any ride (except a few Harry Potter rides) any amount of time. I don’t think you necessarily have to get the unlimited pass- but definitely purchase the extra express pass! You won’t regret it. 

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

2// DON’T GET THE MEAL PLAN –We LOVE the Disney meal plan. We always get it when we go. So, naturally we wanted to get the Universal Studios meal plan too. Bad idea. The meal plan works so differently than disney. We got the plan where you can get 2 quick service meals, 2 snacks, and 4 drinks. First of all, this was way too much food. But second of all, you can’t use your “snack” at a lot of places. For example, a “snack” on the Disney meal plan can get you ANY DRINK and any size at starbucks. On the Universal Dining plan, you can only get black coffee with your “snack”. Um, no. It’s really not worth the value. I would just pay for each meal and snack. 

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

3// THE RIDES- At Disney, there are SO many rides that you can go on with babies and toddlers. It’s actually easier to tell you the rides baby CAN’T ride at Disney. However, at Universal, it seems like they have a more strict height policy for their rides. Most rides require riders to be at least 36″ tall, although most were 40″ tall. The rides that you can take baby on are the Harry Potter Train, Despicable Me (only the stationary seating), Shrek, Caro-Suess-El, Dr. Seuss One Fish Two Fish, Twirl and Hurl. There are also a few shows that your baby or toddler would love. Gracie loved the Barney Show. 

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

4// PLAY AREAS –One thing we fell in love with at Universal was all the baby play areas around the park! Disney doesn’t really have spots for kids to just RUN AROUND. We ran into several play areas that Gracie loved. She just started walking a few months ago, so for her to get out of the stroller to play and run was huge. These play areas were some of her favorite moments on our trip! Our favorite play area was in the Dr. Seuss land! We had a blast. 

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

5//CHILD SWAP –In Disney this service is called Rider Switch. Basically if you have a baby or toddler that can’t ride a ride because of a height requirement, your whole group goes up to the line and tells the cast member you need to use Rider Switch. The Cast Member gives the waiting portion a pass (sort or like a FastPass) and the riding portion of the group waits in line. When that group is done, the other half (waiting with baby) doesn’t have to wait in line. Universal has a similar system, although instead of the waiting group waiting wherever they want, you have to wait in the Child Swap room. It’s actually kind of nice because then your party can be inside, in the cold air waiting. 

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

6//SWIM SUIT NEEDED – As we walked around Universal, we kept stumbling upon water play areas for kids. I mentioned all the play areas for kids to run around in earlier. Well, lots of those play areas have water and splash pads. This is so awesome for HOT, sunny, South Florida. Just make sure you bring a swim suit or a change of clothes for baby. We definitely forgot, and totally regretted it. The Curious George town is like full of water everywhere. 

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

7//BUG SPRAY- While we were at Universal, they provided bug spray! There were several stations throughout the park with complimentary bug spray. Now this was most likely due to the Zika outbreak, but anyways- it was awesome! Definitely bring sunscreen though. 

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

8//NURSING ROOM? – I’ve written before about Disney’s amazing baby care centers. They really are amazing. Universal does not have luxury rooms like Disney, but they DO have a room for nursing moms near the entrance! There are a few chairs and a changing table 🙂

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

9//FOOD – We loved the food at Universal and were pleased at how many healthy options they had! Our favorite restaurants were Mythos (nice sit-down meal) and Monster Cafe (quick-serve style). DELISH! The taco food truck in the Simpsons land was also great! 

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

10//CUSTOMER SERVICE – We are used to Disney World, which means we are used to Disney’s level of customer service. We did notice that there were some not-so-friendly staff members, however for the most part everyone was nice! We ARE used to everyone saying “have a magical day” though. Hehe. 

Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!Universal Studios with a baby or toddler! Some excellent trips for an upcoming vacation!

Disney World in the Summer

Tips on doing Disney World in the summer (with a BABY!). Great tips to read for later!

Tips on doing Disney World in the summer (with a BABY!). Great tips to read for later!

We just got back from a week-long trip to Disney World. We went the last week of June. Yes, summer. I had at least 5 people ask me “you’re going to disney in this HEAT?” or “Wow, good luck doing Disney in the summer”. Summer in Florida is known for being very hot, very humid, very rainy, and super sticky. All of this can make doing Disney World unbearable and uncomfortable. However, with a few tips + tricks you can actually have an amazing + semi-cool trip in the summer!

So here are my 10 tips for doing Disney World in the SUMMER with a BABY!

1// Go at night – When we went to Disney, we didn’t start our day in the parks until AFTER 4:30pm. This may seem crazy to some people, but honestly it’s my best trick for staying comfortable during the summer. After 4:30, the sun is significantly cooler and the majority of the big crowds leaves at this time. Most lines were 30 minutes or less at this time. We would start our day at the park at 4:30 and stay until it closed. Most nights this meant 11pm – but we had extra magic hours (park is open for disney hotel guests only) until 1AM! How’d Gracie do?? Actually awesome! She’s super flexible with her schedule. She ended up staying up late with us, and then sleeping in until 11 AM. During the day you can always check out the different Disney hotels! One day we ate lunch at the Polynesian hotel- it was great!

Tips on doing Disney World in the summer (with a BABY!). Great tips to read for later!

2// Bring a fan – I recommend bringing a clip on stroller fan from home- you’ll probably save a bit of money this way. We ended up forgetting ours, so we picked one up at the park for $15.99. But now it’s mickey mouse themed! So cute. This really helped keep Gracie cool in her black stroller.

Tips on doing Disney World in the summer (with a BABY!). Great tips to read for later!

3// Eat inside – One way to stay cool is by eating inside. Lots of restaurants in Disney World and Disney Springs have outside seating. Cool yourself off a bit by eating inside. Gracie was always happier this way!

Tips on doing Disney World in the summer (with a BABY!). Great tips to read for later!

4// Pack light clothes – Everyday in the park I wore shorts and a tank top. I tried to pack my “coolest” clothes. I packed all my lightweight shirts so I wasn’t extra hot. This helps for baby clothes too. There were some super cute Disney outfits I wanted to get for Gracie but they were just too hot. We kept her in a onsie or a tank and shorts most days.

5// Use the baby care center – Every park in Disney World has an air conditioned baby care center! This is a great place to change, feed, or just cool baby off. They are usually pretty empty, so take advantage of this great space!

6// Take advantage of FASTNESS – If you’re staying in a Disney World hotel, you can set up all of your Fast Passes on the My Disney Experience app. This is so helpful because it really minimizes the time you wait in lines. And, most lines are outside. We never waited more than 20 minutes for a ride- with our fast passes, the rides/character meet-ups were 5-10 minute waits. It’s just not fun waiting in line with a hot & sweaty baby! If your not at a disney property hotel, you can still use the Fast Pass system. You just have to set it up the morning of! Which means you have to be at the park in the Florida heat 🙁 which is my first no, no (see number #1). My advice: stay in a Disney hotel!

Tips on doing Disney World in the summer (with a BABY!). Great tips to read for later!

7// Seek the shows – If you or baby ever gets hot while your there, just slip into one of the shows! Every park has many different show options. Here’s our favorites at each park: Magic Kingdom: Mickey’s PhilharMagic , Animal Kingdom: Finding Nemo, Epcot: Living with the Land (more of a ride), Hollywood Studios: Frozen!

Tips on doing Disney World in the summer (with a BABY!). Great tips to read for later!

8// Go after the rain – Almost everyday we were there it rained around 4pm. This just happens in Florida. We took advantage of the rain and started heading to the park when it started raining. When we got to the park the rain stopped and most of the people had left (because they got rained on). It was perfect!

Tips on doing Disney World in the summer (with a BABY!). Great tips to read for later!

9// Or bring ponchos – Bring ponchos from home. You’re gonna need them. We forgot ours and spent $10 for each one at the park. You can pick these up at the dollar store and save a lot of money. While everyone else is huddled under stuff and waiting in shops, we strolled through the park in our ponchos to our next ride. We had no wait because everyone else was inside waiting of the rain to stop. Consider packing an extra poncho to put over the stroller when your eating or on a ride. That way your stroller doesn’t get soaked outside!

Tips on doing Disney World in the summer (with a BABY!). Great tips to read for later!

10// Frozen drinks! – To cool off in the park you can always get a yummy frozen drink! Or you can bring water bottles that are filled and frozen about 3/4 full. By the time you need your water, it will be nice and cold! We also did this trick for Gracie’s apple juice. We brought a frozen bottle of juice in and it stayed cold until she wanted it!

Disney World is such a magical place! Don’t let the Florida heat keep you from having an awesome trip! I hope these tips help you out!

Tips on doing Disney World in the summer (with a BABY!). Great tips to read for later!

Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost

Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.com

Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.com

Dave, Gracie + I just got back from our quick weekend getaway to the Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach. It was such a fun little trip, and we enjoyed every second with our princess! The hotel was awesome. They upgraded our room to a suite when we checked in! YAY! The hotel was right on the beach, so we spent a lot of our time there. It was a very cold weekend, so we didn’t get to swim, but we did enjoy walking on the beach and enjoying the hotel hammocks :). Check out all of our pictures below, or watch our vacation video!

Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.com

We ate breakfast at Guy’s Gulfside Grill- and it was delish! Gracie was being adorable, as always… and the chef actually noticed how behaved and cute she was. He cooked her up her own minnie pancake and brought it out to her himself!! It was so cute. Gracie loved trying her very first pancake! Thanks Chef!!

Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.com

There were so many hammocks around on the property. It was probably my favorite part to just lay and relax in the sun with Gracie + Dave. That’s what vacation is all about. Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.com

We also loved playing in the sand and on the little chairs they had. So fun! Gracie is such an easy baby that she really likes anything we do. LOL! She loves being outside because there is plenty to look at. And she always takes an awesome nap after being outside for a while.
Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.com

For dinner, we ate at the RumFish Grill. What makes this restaurant special is the GIANT fish tank they have inside. Actually they have 3 fish tanks in the restaurant, but one is like massive. HUGE. It was actually built on the TV show Tanked, and it was one of their largest tanks ever. So that was cool! Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.com Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.com

The hostess sat us a little far from the tank, so we asked if we could move closer and they were so accommodating. Our waiter moved us literally in front of the tank. Gracie had so much fun during dinner. She loved watching the fish in the tank! I think we need a fish tank in the house to keep her busy while we eat! Just kidding, but it was awesome. We got to enjoy our meal without worrying about Gracie at all. She loved every second.
Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comAfter dinner, we got to see the most beautiful sunset. It was super cold outside, but still lovely. Like I said before, Gracie loves being outside, so she was in heaven.
Family Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comFamily Vacation: Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach - More details at Gracefulmommy.comWe loved our mini getaway to St. Pete Beach! I would definitely recommend staying at the Guy Harvey Outpost. And if you do, you have to eat at RumFish grill. It’s awesome. Make sure to make reservations though! To see our wonderful trip video, click below!