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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.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios trip report – May 2013 (Star Wars Weekends opens, special characters & events)

My family decided to go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios this past weekend for our next trip report. We were excited it was Star Wars Weekend and thought it would be fun to see the characters and merchandise available during this very popular annual celebration. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – May 2013 (tour around the park and some incredible photos of Hogsmeade station)

A few days ago my family and I went to Islands of Adventure and had a delightful time for our May trip report. Crowds were moderate and the weather was sunny and warm. As we arrived in the Port of Entry, we took note of the colorful pedicab prop available for photo opportunities. Do you […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – May 2013 (Transformers, Wizarding World & Simpsons updates)

My family and I went to Universal Studios Florida recently for this month’s trip report and had a very enjoyable visit. The crowds were moderate and the weather was warm with one quick afternoon shower. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with 35 […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – April 2013 (new experiences & beloved adventures)

Although I’ve visited this park many times, I went to Islands of Adventure last weekend and was able to experience some new adventures. The crowds were moderate to busy, especially in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Toon Lagoon. The weather was cloudy with a pleasant temperature. In Seuss Landing, a fun and whimsical […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – April 2013 (construction updates, Megatron, Sledge Homer & free wifi)

I was able to visit Universal Studios Florida this past weekend. The weather was almost perfect with temperatures in the 80’s. The crowds were moderate during the time I was at the park. I was not able to stay for the Mardi Gras celebration and concert when the crowds are typically much larger (more on […]

Disney’s Animal Kingdom trip report – April 2013 (take a walk on the wild side)

Last week my family and I decided to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  We were really looking forward to our adventure since our last visit to this park was in November! [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with 45 images at the bottom of […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – March 2013 (an auditory exploration of the park, Spring Break excitement)

Every time I enter Islands of Adventure (IOA), I can’t help but notice the sound of the Incredible Hulk Coaster as it roars nearby. It’s a feature of IOA that is especially exciting to me. With that in mind, on this month’s visit to IOA I thought I would focus on the sounds that enhanced […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – March 2013 (construction updates, Transformers meet-and-greet, more Mardi Gras fun)

It was a beautifully sunny day in March, and with great anticipation I was looking forward to seeing and experiencing all the changes at Universal Studios Florida since my visit last month. I arrived at the park in mid-afternoon and the crowds were starting to increase with people celebrating the Mardi Gras festivities and Matchbox […]

2013 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival trip report (includes over 100 images!)

This past weekend I took my mother to the 2013 International Flower & Garden Festival (FGF) at Epcot. This is the festival’s 20th year and hats off to Disney for creating a very enjoyable experience for us both. The impressive topiary garden at the entrance to Epcot is entitled “Party with Mickey & Friends” and […]

Sail the happy seas: My very best tips for your next cruise vacation

My family recently took a cruise with Royal Caribbean on their ship Independence of the Seas out of Ft. Lauderdale. Because I now have a fair amount cruising experience (I’ve been on four cruises recently), I wanted to share my best tips for those who are thinking of cruising as an extension to their Orlando […]

Magic Kingdom trip report – February 2013 (construction updates, New Fantasyland & Dapper Day)

This past weekend was a fun one for my family. Even with a forecast of rain and my son wanting to stay home, my husband and I decided the whole family would go to the Magic Kingdom. On the drive down, we encountered spotty showers but no heavy rainfall. As we arrived at Magic Kingdom […]

Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas: Our cruise trip report with over 100 images

We are avid theme park fans but my family also loves to cruise.  Since we are still relatively new to cruising, we like to choose our cruises based on the ports the ship will visit. We recently took a cruise with Royal Caribbean on their ship Independence of the Seas out of Ft. Lauderdale.  This […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – February 2013 (full tour around the park, refurb update and over 50 images)

As guests enter into the Port of Entry in Islands of Adventure (IOA) at Universal Orlando, “The adventure begins” is etched overhead on a stone overhang. Our recent visit to IOA was just that, a fun adventure for my family and me. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – February 2013 (construction updates & lots of Mardi Gras coverage)

Saturday marked the opening of the Mardi Gras festivities at Universal Studios Florida. The celebratory feel started right away as I approached the entrance of the park and saw 2013 Mardi Gras medallion. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with over 40 images […]

Disney’s Hollywood Studios trip report – January 2013 (MyMagic+ construction, ride recaps & new photo ops)

For this trip report my family and I visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS). This is my son’s favorite park at Walt Disney World. We were last there to enjoy the wondrous The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights (a must-see if you are in Orlando during the holiday season). The weather for this trip to Hollywood […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – January 2013 (new WWoHP live performance stage, possible lagoon show prep & more)

Over the long Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend my family and I visited Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando. Crowds were heavy on Sunday, with wait times about an hour for the Amazing Adventures of Spider-man and The Incredible Hulk Coaster rides. In the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Dragon’s Challenge was temporarily shut […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – January 2013 (construction updates, Superstar Parade & Transformers merchandise)

During my recent trip to Universal Orlando, the crowds were heavy, most likely due to the long Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. Wait times for the major attractions at Universal Studios Florida on Saturday were at least 45 minutes and at one point, Despicable Me had a posted wait time of 80 minutes for […]

Epcot trip report – December 2012 (new Test Track walkthrough & holiday festivities)

My family and I recently visited Epcot primarily to ride the revamped Test Track and experience the Candlelight Processional.  We were very pleased with both experiences in addition to all that Epcot typically has to offer their guests. [wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember that you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the photo […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – December 2012 (Holiday fun, Grinchmas, low crowds)

For this trip report I went to Islands of Adventure to see all the holiday decorations and experience Grinchmas for the first time. I was also interested to notice if any progress was occurring with the construction near the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. From the turnstiles at the park’s entrance, you could easily see […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – December 2012 (construction updates, holiday festivities and more)

Since I have never visited Universal Orlando Resort during the Holiday season, I truly looked forward to this month’s trip. As I arrived at Universal Studios Florida, I couldn’t help but notice the impressive holiday decorations including the large Macy’s Holiday Parade ornament spanning the Universal Studios’ entrance. Photo opportunities with holiday decorations abound here […]

Disney’s Animal Kingdom trip report – November 2012 (the holiday celebration has gone wild)

I recently participated in Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and only got a glimpse of the park during the race. Since I haven’t been to this park in several months, I went back with my family in order to truly enjoy the park. Holiday decorations are up at Animal Kingdom. The first […]

SeaWorld Orlando provides “Holiday Splash” to hundreds of Children in Central Florida

More than 1,000 children across Central Florida were invited to a special evening at SeaWorld Orlando last Friday evening to enjoy a ‘first look’ of SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration. A number of charitable organization that serve needy, ‘at-risk’ or disadvantaged youth were invited to bring children they help to SeaWorld. I work with Children’s Home Society […]

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K: I found the perfect way for theme park fans to get in shape

It all started about a year ago. Due to health reasons and the fact that my autistic son needs me to live a long time to help care for him, I started losing weight. However, I needed to begin exercising to continue improving my health. My family enjoys all of Orlando’s theme parks and prior […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – November 2012 (great things are on the way)

Visiting Islands of Adventure is always a fun experience for me and my recent trip was no exception. Although very early in the season, I noticed that holiday decorations were up inside most of the shops throughout IOA, but were not yet outside the attractions, even in Seuss Landing, the home of Grinchmas. In the […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – November 2012 (incredible Transformers construction photos and so much more)

It’s been six weeks since our last Universal Studios Florida trip report. The first thing that caught my attention was Bumblebee from the Transformers movie standing guard outside the entrance to the park. He was there to promote the recent announcement that the construction area at the old Soundstage 44 location is in fact Transformers: […]

New Fantasyland dress rehearsal: A breathtaking reveal for Disney fans (includes over 100 photos)

My husband, son and I were lucky enough to visit the New Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World during their dress rehearsal this past weekend. It was an enchanting and exciting experience for Disney fans like us. The entrance to the new section of Fantasyland, located across from the Prince Charming […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – September 2012 (WWoHP construction and more)

I recently went to Islands of Adventure and noticed a few changes since my last trip report. The crowds at Islands of Adventure were moderate, even for a weekend. The wait times for most rides were less than 30 minutes and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey had a wait time of only 30 minutes. […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – September 2012 (HHN decor, construction updates, new merchandise)

There have been some interesting and fun changes since my last trip report for Universal Studios Florida. The PYQ store in Citywalk has opened. I took a quick look inside and found it had a selection of unique, quirky items from toddler shirts to adult themed soap. The store reminded me of a modern boutique […]

Islands of Adventure trip report – August 2012 (Lost Continent, WWoHP construction)

Several changes have occurred at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure since my last visit. In Seuss Landing, I was happy to find the Green Eggs and Ham counter service restaurant open. This unique restaurant is open seasonally but has not been open consistently during this season. It is always fun to see it open since […]

Universal Studios Florida trip report – August 2012 (Transformers, ParaNorman, Back to the Future is back!)

During the last month at Universal Studios Florida, several changes have occurred. Some of these are minor changes for now but will eventually lead to a significant change with the entertainment offerings and services to make your experience at Universal Orlando more enjoyable. The construction progress at the former Soundstage 44 is noticeable from several […]

Celebrating a special birthday across Orlando: Typhoon Lagoon, Universal CityWalk & Universal Studios Florida

My teenaged son’s birthday was a few days ago and since Orlando’s theme parks are his favorite place to be, my husband scheduled a vacation day and we planned to spend the day celebrating at one of the parks. Some background information to better understand our experience: my son has severe autism and is non-verbal. […]

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain at Downtown Disney: A sweet spot for an afternoon treat

A few times a year, my retired parents visit us from Atlanta for a few weeks. Our plans during their visit always include going to Downtown Disney one afternoon and enjoy a treat at Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop. We went back in March and recently we visited Ghirardelli’s during Memorial Day weekend. After […]

Be a Fan and attend the 40th annual Special Olympics Florida State Summer Games Opening Ceremonies

When our family isn’t visiting one of the theme parks in Orlando, we will most likely be at our son’s Special Olympics practices or competitions. Special Olympics Florida is an outstanding organization and provides year-round sports training and competition to children and adults with intellectual disabilities at no cost to the athlete or their caregiver […]

Don’t forget the headphones! Items to take to the theme parks in Orlando

My husband and I have a teenage son with autism, but that doesn’t stop us from having fun at Orlando’s theme parks almost every weekend. However, we must remember to bring certain items in order for our non-verbal son and us to have an enjoyable day. Most of the following items can help anyone when […]

Realistic expectations while visiting Orlando’s theme parks with your developmentally disabled child

You’re very excited about your decision to travel to Orlando and experience a thrilling time at the theme parks with your family member who has a developmental disability! I have a teenage son with severe autism who absolutely loves the theme parks. A key to having a fun and successful vacation is to have realistic […]