Home Maureen

Maureen

Maureen is married with a teenage son who has autism. Since she and her family moved to Orlando in 2007, they have visited Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld almost every weekend. Maureen recently created AutismAtTheParks.com to help vacationers who have a family member with a developmental disability to better navigate and enjoy the theme parks.

Universal Orlando October 2015 trip report

My visit to Universal Orlando Resort started out with a few glitches but ended up being a great day. Arriving at the Universal parking toll booths, I realized my annual pass was sitting on my desk at home. I didn’t have the time to make the round trip home to get my pass so I explained […]

Ten things discovered during a weekend at Disney World

Over Columbus Day weekend, my family and I visited Walt Disney World. We went to the Magic Kingdom (MK) on Saturday and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) Sunday. I wanted to pass along ten things I discovered during our adventures this weekend. Columbus Day weekend is now a popular holiday to visit Orlando’s theme parks. Although […]

September 2015 Universal Orlando Resort Trip Report

This month I visited Universal Orlando Resort solo without my family. Visiting the park by myself doesn’t happen often but it enables me to do things at my own pace and at my own discretion. Rain was predicted the day I went to Universal Studios Florida (USF). It was hot and muggy that day so […]

The quest for character photos with Disney’s Memory Maker

When we vacation, photos have become one of our preferred souvenirs. Every few years, we take photos with as many Walt Disney World characters as possible and add these photos to our collection of memories. These character photos are a great way of documenting how we have changed and our son, who has autism, has […]

Universal August 2015 Trip Report

My family and I recently visited Universal Studios Florida (USF) and Islands of Adventure (IOA). We spent two afternoons experiencing the thrills, adventures and summer heat and humidity that only Universal Orlando Resort (UOR) in August can provide. Walking through CityWalk, construction on the NBC Sports Bar and Grill continues and is expected to open […]

10 steps to enjoy your summer vacation at Universal

Many guests who visit Universal Orlando Resort have little choice regarding the time of year they can visit Orlando and must do so in the summer because of school and work schedules. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, guests will likely encounter large crowds, wait in long lines, endure oppressive heat, experience violent thunderstorms and […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – July 2014 (Hogsmeade Station, Kongstruction, fun in Toon Lagoon + a CityWalk update)

The summer always brings many tourists to Orlando to enjoy all the world-class attractions, especially Universal Orlando Resort. Over the weekend, I joined my fellow travelers and toured Islands of Adventure. But before I got to the park, I took a brief stroll through Universal CityWalk.   Universal CityWalk As CityWalk continues to expand its […]

A very special Universal Studios Florida trip report – July 2014 (Diagon Alley is here!)

On Saturday I visited Universal Studios Florida, and what an awesome day it was! The crowds were surprisingly moderate for summer, but the weather was very warm. As I entered the park, I picked up a Diagon Alley Grand Opening commemorative park map (still available, although the actual Grand Opening was July 8) and decided […]

Universal Orlando trip report – June 2014 (Hogsmeade spell markers, Diagon Alley dragon, Kong-struction & more)

While I am impatiently waiting for possible soft openings of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, I decided to report on the most recent updates at both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida from my visit last weekend.   Islands of Adventure In Seuss Landing, the Cat in the Hat vehicle is […]

Universal CityWalk trip report – June 2014 (VIVO Italian Kitchen review, Hot Dog Hall of Fame update, more construction)

CityWalk expansion I recently visited Universal CityWalk and took note of the construction progress in many areas of this entertainment hotspot. The new additions to the area over the past several months have taken it to the next level. Guests, as well as Orlando residents, have whole new reasons to visit and explore – the recently-opened […]

Disney’s Expedition Everest Challenge 5K: A personal transformation and an exhilarating time

Over 18 months ago, I set a goal for myself to go from being a 48-year-old couch potato to training for and finishing all the 5K races offered at Walt Disney World. Once I successfully completed my first 5K, the Jingle Jungle 5K in November of 2012, I had the runDisney “fever” and began my […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – May 2014 (Hogsmeade Station, King Kong construction + CityWalk update)

I visited Islands of Adventure this past weekend, and to say I enjoyed my time at the park is an understatement. But before I get to IOA, let’s take a quick stroll through CityWalk.   Universal CityWalk Entering CityWalk from the parking deck, I noticed the construction progress at several locations, including Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – May 2014 (Diagon Alley is almost complete, media invites sent out for a preview event, the joy of Springfield)

With so many changes happening, it feels like it has been forever since I visited Universal Studios Florida. (In reality, it’s only been a few weeks.) As you know, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I obsessively follow Orlando Informer and others on Twitter and Facebook, along with the Orlando Informer Rumor Round-Up posts concerning […]

Magic Kingdom trip report – May 2014 (Festival of Fantasy is lyrical, Frozen is dominating & Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is almost here!)

Take five days in early May, add in three theme park enthusiasts and one condominium a few miles from Downtown Disney, and you’ve got the recipe for a tremendous “staycation” at Walt Disney World. As part of our “staycation,” my family and I visited Magic Kingdom on several days, and even though it rained for […]

Disney’s Animal Kingdom trip report – April 2014 (FastPass+ progress, World of Avatar construction & best tips for touring)

For this month’s Walt Disney World trip report, I spent a “wild” day at Animal Kingdom this past weekend. The weather was beautiful, with temperatures in the low 80s, a calming breeze, and plenty of sunshine. Upon entering the park this visit, I noticed the FastPass+ kiosk lines were dramatically shorter than my visit in […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – April 2014 (Hogsmeade Station looking good, Zonko’s looking sad & a heart-warming Seuss story)

This past weekend we visited Islands of Adventure, and it turned out to be one of those days where everything was fantastic! I enjoy sharing my IOA experiences each month with Orlando Informer readers. I am always anxious to see and photograph the ongoing progress with the construction of Hogsmeade Station for the new Hogwarts […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – April 2014 (CityWalk & Diagon Alley construction, parking fee increase & inside Curious George Goes to Town)

Wouldn’t you agree that spending a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Universal Studios Florida is a great way to spend a spring day? I just did that, and I’m delighted to pass along the latest details from USF and my trip.   Universal parking garage and CityWalk changes Given the recent Orlando theme park price increases, […]

Epcot trip report – March 2014 (more FastPass+ benefits & problems, Flower & Garden Festival in full bloom)

Have you ever partaken in the beauty of Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival? Have you navigated the new, although very limiting, tiered FastPass+ system at Epcot and used its reservation system from the convenience of your own home? I experienced all of these elements and more this past weekend as I toured Epcot for […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – March 2014 (Harry Potter construction woes, Me Ship the Olive + CityWalk’s new Starbucks & Cold Stone)

On Sunday, I visited Islands of Adventure (IOA) at Universal Orlando and spent a beautiful spring day walking around the park. But before I entered through the IOA turnstiles, I took a quick stroll around Universal CityWalk to see how its developments are going.   Universal CityWalk construction Right away, I noticed that the construction […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – March 2014 (price increases, Mardi Gras, Beetlejuice & Horror Makeup Show)

Editor’s note: 2014 price increase Last Wednesday, Universal raised its prices uncharacteristically early, mostly to answer Disney’s rate hike from the weekend before. And while the price increase was instituted at the gates right away, Universal Orlando’s website was left at 2013 pricing for some inexplicable reason – until now. As of today, here are […]

Disney’s Hollywood Studios trip report – February 2014 (more FastPass+ observations & problems, Beauty and the Beast)

My family and I recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) on a pleasant day with temperatures in the low 70s – perfect for visiting one of Orlando’s theme parks. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with 38 new full-screen images at the bottom […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – February 2014 (Hogwarts Express inside Hogsmeade Station, Starbucks, Cat in the Hat + CityWalk updates)

My family and I visited Islands of Adventure (IOA) this past weekend. It was a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the lower 70s.   Universal CityWalk Prior to entering IOA, I took a few photos of the changes taking place in CityWalk. Construction was progressing on the new Starbucks location. In addition, signs for […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – February 2014 (Mardi Gras parade, Daughtry in concert, construction updates)

The holidays are long over and the Celebration of Harry Potter is a fond memory. What’s next at Universal Studios? Mardi Gras! I visited Universal Studios Florida (USF) this past Saturday, which was the first day of the highly popular Mardi Gras celebration. Although the weather was substandard for Florida – cold rain with the […]

My magical experience at A Celebration of Harry Potter: Day 3 (and two additional stories from guests critical of how Universal handled the event)

We now pick up Maureen’s “A Celebration of Harry Potter” trip report at the beginning of Day 3. If you missed our post covering Day 1 & Day 2, you can view it by clicking here.   A Celebration of Harry Potter – Day 3 On Sunday, January 26, the third and final day of […]

My magical experience at A Celebration of Harry Potter: Day 1 & Day 2

This past weekend I enthusiastically participated in “A Celebration of Harry Potter” at Universal Orlando. To understand my perspective on this weekend, I think I must explain how big of a Harry Potter fan I am. With 10 being extremely obsessed with the Harry Potter franchise, I consider myself an 8. I started reading the […]

Walt Disney World trip report – January 2014 (guide to using FastPass+, top 10 tips & more)

Last weekend my family and I visited Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I was very interested to learn how the new FastPass+ system was working for guests and Annual Passholders who do not stay at a Walt Disney World property. As you may have heard, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom have removed all […]

Year-end Universal Orlando trip report (holiday crowds, Diagon Alley construction, and great new shots of Hogsmeade Station)

My family and I visited Universal Studios Florida (USF) and Islands of Adventure (IOA) yesterday, the Sunday after Christmas. Knowing this time of the year is the busiest for area theme parks, I was very curious how crowded the parks would be and how long the wait times would be for all the attractions, with […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – December 2013 (Grinchmas, Wholiday Spectacular, Seuss Trolley + CityWalk updates)

I visited Islands of Adventure (IOA) this past weekend for the opening of the 2013 holiday season, and as always, I truly enjoyed this thrilling and entertaining park. But before we talk about IOA, let’s check out a few things happening outside of the parks.   Parking rotunda & CityWalk As I entered the rotunda […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – December 2013 (construction updates, The Mummy, Macy’s Holiday Parade & Mannheim Steamroller)

Last Saturday I visited Universal Studios Florida (USF) for the opening of their 2013 holiday season, and I had a very enjoyable time. The Christmas season is my favorite time of year to visit Orlando’s theme parks, and USF didn’t disappoint. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss […]

Disney’s Hollywood Studios trip report – November 2013 (holiday decorations, Osborne Dancing Lights, Star Tours & FastPass+)

My family and I recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS) late one afternoon and evening, and we had a great time. Right away I noticed the approximately 65 foot tall decorated Christmas tree that greeted guests in front of the park’s entrance. Hundreds of oversized ornaments adorn the tree. Disney character cutouts and a holiday […]

ICE! featuring Frosty the Snowman: A classic Christmas tale becomes Orlando’s most unique (and coldest!) holiday event

ICE! 2013 featuring Frosty the Snowman opened November 23 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee. I was invited by Orlando Informer to attend the media premier, and I’m excited to tell you about my first-ever tour of ICE! Before previewing ICE!, we were directed to the Emerald Plaza area of the […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – November 2013 (Jurassic Park midway games open, Hogsmeade Station construction & more photos of the Hogwarts Express)

My family and I visited Islands of Adventure last weekend on a sunny afternoon, and we greatly enjoyed our adventure. Walking through the lively and entertaining CityWalk, I observed the ongoing construction for the new Starbucks location rumored to be replace the former Endangered Species store. For now, Starbucks continues to be fully operational on […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – November 2013 (Hogwarts Express in full view, holiday decorations & Chief Wiggum’s Patrol Car)

It was a beautiful fall day at Universal Studios Florida when my family and I recently visited. Temperatures were in the low 80’s with a lot of Florida sunshine, and we had an enjoyable day. As I approached the entrance gates, I immediately noticed the absence of the Halloween Horror Nights décor. As a result, […]

Magic Kingdom trip report – October 2013 (Halloween decorations, construction updates, our first visit to Princess Fairytale Hall & talking Mickey!)

Our family recently visited Magic Kingdom over two days and truly enjoyed ourselves. I was delighted to see the Halloween and fall decorations throughout the park. Main Street and other areas featured pumpkins, scarecrows, and additional fall decorations that also creatively incorporated Disney elements. Both days that we were at the Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – October 2013 (Wizarding World & Jurassic Park updates, fun character interactions + CityWalk construction)

I just visited Islands of Adventure over the weekend and had a fun time exploring the park and noticing the changes since my last visit. As I walked through CityWalk on my way to Islands of Adventure, I noticed that the Endangered Species store is gutted, and rumors indicate that Starbucks will be moving into […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – October 2013 (changes in Springfield, Diagon Alley construction update & more)

Last Saturday I spent an enjoyable and warm fall day visiting Universal Studios Florida. I experienced an unexpectedly higher crowd level as soon as I entered CityWalk, but I soon realized it was Columbus Day weekend for U.S. residents and Canadian Thanksgiving weekend for our friends to the north. (For some schools, principally those in […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – September 2013 (Starbucks, Hogsmeade Station, JP midway games & more)

My family and I recently visited Universal’s Islands of Adventure and spent a fun day at the park. I noticed several changes as construction continues on a few fronts, starting right away at the entrance. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with 37 […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – September 2013 (HHN props, construction updates & gorgeous photos of the real Hogwarts Express)

My family and I recently visited Universal Studios Florida and spent a fantastic day enjoying the attractions and shows. During our visit I noticed a number of changes and additions to the park — let’s take a look! [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo […]

Disney’s Animal Kingdom trip report – September 2013 (Wilderness Explorers, Gardens Kiosk, Bamboo Man)

My family and I recently visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom on a very hot and humid day. As I entered the park, I was reminded of the vast transitions that take place here; more so than other theme parks in Orlando. The transition from the harsh, paved parking lot through the decorative safari-themed entry gates, the […]

Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort at Walt Disney World: Tranquility in the midst of tourist mayhem

My family and I recently stayed at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort and truly enjoyed our long weekend getaway with the convenience of staying practically on-site at Walt Disney World. We were in a well-appointed two bedroom/two bath suite that accommodated up to eight people. It had a spacious living room with sofa bed, dining […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – August 2013 (Hogwarts Station construction, Jurassic Park midway games & a peek at the new CityWalk renovations)

Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando provided an enjoyable afternoon for me recently as I visited for August’s trip report. Upon entering the park gates, I decided to spend more time in Port of Entry than usual, and I enjoyed browsing through the shops and seeing the unique merchandise and delicious food available for purchase. […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – August 2013 (Springfield USA opens, prep for HHN & the first images of the real Hogwarts Express)

Although the weather was very hot and humid — and the crowds were heavy — I had a great time during my recent visit to Universal Studios Florida. As I entered the park, I enjoyed the talented Studio Brass Band. They were performing television and movie theme songs. At the same time, Men In Black […]

Epcot trip report – July 2013 (new construction walls, FastPass+ entrances & lots of Disney characters)

Last weekend we visited Epcot and enjoyed many attractions I hadn’t experienced in quite a while. I also took note of additions and changes that have happened at the park since my last trip report in March. Entering Epcot, construction continues in the turnstiles area. Those guests with RFID admission tickets and passes are directed […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – July 2013 (Jurassic Park midway construction begins, summer crowds & more)

I recently visited Islands of Adventure (IOA) at Universal Orlando Resort, and I was curious about any visible changes I could find this trip. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Quick note about the photos in this post: I accidentally left my good camera at home, so today’s images are sort of murky. That being said, remember you can click […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – July 2013 (construction updates for the Universal Store, Simpsons & Diagon Alley, plus Bumblebee Man’s Tacos)

I recently visited Universal Studios Florida on a hot July day. I looked forward to experiencing the fun features of the park and also seeing any changes since my last trip! After passing through the entry gates, I went to the Universal Studios Store. The remodeling looks complete, and I predominantly noticed the new floor. […]

SeaWorld’s Summer Nights 2013 kicks off: Bring the whole family for a night of rides, shows & new chills

SeaWorld’s Summer Nights 2013 premiered last Saturday and I was invited by Orlando Informer to attend the kickoff celebration! After a nice dessert reception hosted by SeaWorld along the lake, guests headed to Sea Lion and Otter Theater for the Sea Lions Tonite show starring Clyde and Seamore. One of my favorite components of the […]

Magic Kingdom trip report – June 2013 (construction updates, A Pirate’s Adventure, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train)

My family and I visited Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World late one afternoon last week. It was fun for us all. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with 59 new full-screen images at the bottom of the post! [/wptouch] After arriving at […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – June 2013 (stunning images of the Hogsmeade train station under construction & more)

I recently visited Islands of Adventure (IOA) at Universal Orlando Resort (UOR) on a hot and stormy afternoon. The crowds were heavy, although surprisingly the wait times for the different rides and attractions indicated a more moderate crowd level. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – June 2013 (Transformers first ride, The Simpsons Fast Food Blvd first taste, much more!)

Anticipating the many changes and new experiences at Universal Studios Florida (USF) this month, I was looking forward to my visit and could hardly contain my excitement as I pulled into the parking deck at Universal Orlando Resort (UOR). [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete […]

SeaWorld’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin – an immersive & chilling attraction like no other in Orlando

Today SeaWorld’s biggest and most expansive attraction in its history — Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin — opens to the public. I was invited by Orlando Informer to experience the new area first-hand yesterday, and I can’t wait to tell you about it! This new section of SeaWorld Orlando provides an immersive feeling for guests […]