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    • Taylor Strickland

      (IMPORTANT) What's next for our community   03/24/2016

      Today we're excited to announce the start of our new Facebook group: Universal Community by Orlando Informer. We're also announcing we're closing our forums. This is probably the hardest decision I've made so far with Orlando Informer. This week marks the 2nd anniversary of our forums. Monday will mark 2 years from when I first applied to work with Orlando Informer. I was entering a pool of over 50 applicants, didn't meet the requirements, and didn't think the odds were very high that I'd get the position of Forum Moderator. It never even crossed my mind that not only would I get the position, but that position and these forums would be the start of being able to do what I love as a fulltime job. At its core, our forums have always had two goals: A ) Help families receive specific answers to specific questions, feedback from folks who have been in their shoes, and help them maximize their investment into their vacation. B ) Build a community of people who love to visit Universal, with a foundation of respect and tolerance. I can speak for our entire team on our forums (both past and present), especially our Community Manager @Chuck Plagmann, when I say that we have devoted hours of time every day of the year working towards these two goals. We feel that we've made major strides towards both of our goals, but see the opportunity to help a significantly greater amount of people plan their vacation and add on to our established (and amazing) community. Unfortunately, as time goes on, forums like ours have a tendency to slow down and be replaced by social media. It's the cycle of life for forums. We believe that this Facebook group is the logical next step for our community. Our forums and the content within will remain browseable for the foreseeable future, however you will not be able to submit new content. Our Facebook group, Universal Community by Orlando Informer, will be curated by our same team that ran the OI Forums. @Chuck Plagmann and I will be on the group daily to provide insight and help families plan their vacation. @debi will be monitoring for any Special Needs questions. Our (very talented) authors, like @Marc N. Kleinhenz, will be on the group to talk about their latest articles and your feedback. Finally, @Park Beast will even be dropping by from time to time to talk about our weekly podcast. You can access our Facebook group by searching "Universal Community by Orlando Informer" or visiting UOR.community from any webbrowser. We know this is a substantial change from our forums, but are hopeful you'll be willing to give it a shot. Additionally, we're launching a Facebook group for Universal Hollywood: "Universal Community by California Informer" or visit USH.community. This is the end of the forums, but it is just the beginning of our community. One thing we consistently hear from members of our forums is how different our community is from some of the others found online. We are committed to maintaining this reputation in our Facebook group. I have met a countless number of people, many I call friends, from our OI Forums. I know real bonds (and even relationships) have resulted from the time spent on these forums. I'm looking forward to seeing these bonds develop and new ones form on our new outlet. Please know that this decision was not made lightly or without considering the amount of time many of you have spent on here. I fully believe this is the next step forward to growing our community and helping as many people as possible have the best trip to Universal. I'm looking forward to interacting with everyone for many years to come. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with feedback -- taylor [at] orlandoinformer.com See you on the Facebook Group, Taylor P.S., Unlimited likes on Facebook, you can thank me in advance.
tirfaie

tirfaie and thehollows have fun at Mardi Gras

19 posts in this topic

I really do love Cabana Bay!  The firepits are amazing and I have many fond memories around them!  And I love love love the lazy river and the pool on that side.  It's such a great place to say!  I'm glad you liked your room location and how close it is to all the fun stuff.  I wonder what they're going to do with the new towers they're building.  More firepits?  No extra pool tho I'm sure since Volcano Bay is coming.  Okay, more trip report!! :)

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2 hours ago, Narcissa said:

I really do love Cabana Bay!  The firepits are amazing and I have many fond memories around them!  And I love love love the lazy river and the pool on that side.  It's such a great place to say!  I'm glad you liked your room location and how close it is to all the fun stuff.  I wonder what they're going to do with the new towers they're building.  More firepits?  No extra pool tho I'm sure since Volcano Bay is coming.  Okay, more trip report!! :)

I do too. We stayed at HRH in November and while it was nice to be close, we did miss CBBR a lot and were happy to get back to it. You know, I'd never realised that there was a firepit on the lazy river side as well. The room we had was only a couple of minutes from the firepit and the hot tub. We were very happy about that. Hm yeah that's a good question. I do think they need more firepits. I was tempted to try to scare off the dancers for a spot by it the Sunday night. lol 

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Day 3 (February 27):

We knew that day would potentially be crazy because of FOB that night so we headed out for EPA so we could do a few spells around Diagon Alley while it was still somewhat quiet. It’s a good thing we weren’t planning on riding EFG again because it wasn’t running that morning for some reason. I was keeping an eye on twitter because @Bern was going to be in the parks and I had missed her the day before. I was determined to get to meet her! However by the time EPA was over, we were heading out because BFF’s friends (let’s call them R and A) were meeting us at the front of the park to spend the day with us. We were going to drop something off to the locker we had gotten for the day and that’s when I heard my name, turned around and who was there? @Amy G! It was nice to get to meet her, finally! It was short but still, I was happy.

We walked around for a bit and went on Transformers with R as A doesn’t do many if any rides at all! So she held onto our wands while we did that. Once we were done with that, we headed back to Diagon Alley to show it to them. As we got there, who do I spot? @Bern!! And so I quickly rush over, plop myself next to her and then tap her shoulder. Hehe. Finally got to meet her! I think we were both very determined to make it happen by that time. We chatted for a bit while BFF took her friends to see Olivander’s. It was a very short meeting but I was happy it happened. After that we parted ways and BFF and I took our little group to ride E.T. and then amused ourselves taking pictures at the photo op.

We were all getting pretty hungry by that time so off we went to have lunch at NBC (what can I say, we love that place) and relax for a bit and generally having a good time. They were really nice people and very happy I got to meet them. Once we were done, we headed over to IOA for to ride the Caroussel and the trolley. Yes, they are kids ride but they are still fun! I’m not even a Dr Seuss fan but I absolutely love that area. I find it relaxing. We wanted to ride Dragon Challenge again but when we got to Hogsmeade, it was a little crazy and the wait time was 45 minutes, something we weren’t willing to wait for. So BFF and I decided to get a Hog’s tea( which had a very long wait, btw) and then since the other two had never been on the Hogwarts Express, we took them on it to head back to USF. One quick ride on the Mummy and then they sadly had to leave around 3:30. Turns out we had kind of exhausted them. Lol

Not gonna lie, we were also getting kind of tired so we got ourselves our blinky cups and then headed over to Finnegan’s where we found Chuck, Neecie, Daddy0 and Bern and family. So we sat down and relaxed for a while. We needed to rest as we had a long evening ahead of us, what with the parade coming up and the concert.

We picked up beignets on our way to the locker to drop off our blinky cups and pick up our sweatshirts and off we were to the holding area. We were going to be on the gator and seeing that it was color coded, I already knew we’d be on the same float at Narcissa, Daddy0 and Bern. The waiting was kind of long and after a while, I just wanted things to get moving already! When we finally did, the excitement started to kick in as we were taken backstage to our float. The gator really is an amazing float. So pretty and shiny.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried about the throwing beads part of the parade because my right shoulder has been a problem of mine for over 10 years and if I over use it in a repetitive manner, it can hurt me for days or weeks. However, it turned out that I was doing a lot better throwing with my left arm so I didn’t have to worry. And the rush during the parade was amazing. Seeing all the people bouncing and screaming for beads, I felt like a rock star! Lol and there were just so many people. It was crazy. What a fun time it was. I really want to do it again, if I ever have a chance to. Simply amazing. And even more amazing was finding out later on that Matthew Lewis was on another float! According to his Instagram, he was on the 4th of July float dressed as Aladdin. You can bet I will now say I was in a parade with him.

Once we were let out of the backstage area, BFF and I rushed over to the concert area. But of course we couldn’t get anywhere near the Music Plaza because it was at full capacity. Because by that time, the entire park was. So we headed down the street by Transformers and slowly inched our way closer and closer to the concert area. We started really far back but eventually made it to a point that we could see the stage if we stood on our toes. Lol But with the screen, I still got to drool over my Patrick and sang my heart out during Save rock and roll. We also became friends with a lot of people around us and there is even a selfie with them because it was simply too amusing lol. By the time they stepped off the stage before the encore, we decided to head out and a family we had befriended decided to do the same so we clung to them as we made our way out.

Our view:

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I was fully expecting the shuttles to be crazy busy by the time we made it to the transportation hub but to our own surprise, we managed to get on a bus as soon as we got there, getting us back to the hotel by 11. We were pleasantly surprised because by that time, we were so completely exhausted, we wanted to crash. We’d been out at the parks since 7 that morning!

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2 hours ago, tirfaie said:

We walked around for a bit and went on Transformers with R as A doesn’t do many if any rides at all! So she held onto our wands while we did that. Once we were done with that, we headed back to Diagon Alley to show it to them. As we got there, who do I spot? @Bern!! And so I quickly rush over, plop myself next to her and then tap her shoulder. Hehe. Finally got to meet her! I think we were both very determined to make it happen by that time. We chatted for a bit while BFF took her friends to see Olivander’s. It was a very short meeting but I was happy it happened.

Aahhh, that was great! I loved it! :lol: I was still trying to text you back and there you were! All in your tall, French Canadian Slytherin lovely-smiled gloriousness! Finally! C'est magnifique! 

2 hours ago, tirfaie said:

I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried about the throwing beads part of the parade because my right shoulder has been a problem of mine for over 10 years and if I over use it in a repetitive manner, it can hurt me for days or weeks. However, it turned out that I was doing a lot better throwing with my left arm so I didn’t have to worry. And the rush during the parade was amazing. Seeing all the people bouncing and screaming for beads, I felt like a rock star! Lol and there were just so many people. It was crazy. What a fun time it was. I really want to do it again, if I ever have a chance to. Simply amazing. And even more amazing was finding out later on that Matthew Lewis was on another float! According to his Instagram, he was on the 4th of July float dressed as Aladdin. You can bet I will now say I was in a parade with him.

Woo that was fun! HOW did we miss Neville?! Gah!! 

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3 minutes ago, Bern said:

Aahhh, that was great! I loved it! :lol: I was still trying to text you back and there you were! All in your tall, French Canadian Slytherin lovely-smiled gloriousness! Finally! C'est magnifique! 

Woo that was fun! HOW did we miss Neville?! Gah!! 

lol I wondered because you were checking your phone when I spotted you. hehe. Enfin!

I knooooow! Now I'm hoping he'll be coming to the Ottawa Comic Con and I can go up to him and say "hey we were in a parade together!" lol 

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Yay! Loving your trip report! Loved reading about your first ride on Dragon Challenge! Sounds a lot like when I took @Narcissa her first time. :lol: I love that ride!

I NEED to try a Hogs Tea the next time I'm there! You always remind me when I see you get one while you're there. 

Having a drink by the fire pit sounds so lovely and relaxing!

So glad you got to meet so many amazing forum members this trip! I really, really, really hope I get to meet you on my next one!!!

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6 hours ago, Kris10 said:

Yay! Loving your trip report! Loved reading about your first ride on Dragon Challenge! Sounds a lot like when I took @Narcissa her first time. :lol: I love that ride!

I NEED to try a Hogs Tea the next time I'm there! You always remind me when I see you get one while you're there. 

Having a drink by the fire pit sounds so lovely and relaxing!

So glad you got to meet so many amazing forum members this trip! I really, really, really hope I get to meet you on my next one!!!

I sure hope there were no kids within hearing distance lol I can't remember if there were.

you really do, it's so delicious!

I know, it was nice. I'm sad we couldn't do it on the Sunday night.

Let's hope so! That would be awesome. 

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Day 4 (February 28):

We didn’t set an alarm for that day and figured we would head to the parks when our bodies decided they were okay with being up. It turned out to not be too late but we were both starving and decided that hey, why not get the buffet at The Kitchen? So we headed over to HRH and wow did we have a good breakfast. Considering it’s only a few bucks more than eating at one of the Harry Potter restaurants, it felt like a really good choice and plan on doing that again during our next visit.

We took a water taxi to head back and headed over to IOA again. We rode Dragon Challenge again and then figured since our locker was still good, went to FJ to do single rider line. We didn’t really have much to do after that so we decided to ride the HE again to go over USF again. We got in another Mummy ride, decided to hit MIB and ended up getting to ride it twice because the first time, the picture didn’t work so they got us back on right away.

Had to say hi on our way in. I feel like it shows in my eyes that I was exhausted by that point lol

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We had lunch at Finnegan’s and then since we both wanted to pick up some chocolate at Honeydukes, got on the HE yet again. On it, we shared it with this girl who was riding it for the first and she got overwhelmed by it. She was trying not to cry and we told her not to worry about that. I was basically crying with her, because I remembered what it was like and I felt so lucky to experience it with her, even if I didn’t know her. Potterheads, we get it.

Headed back to the hotel and we got ourselves a drink and then decide to soak in the hot tub for a while.  Things heard that day that I didn’t think I would ever hear came when a guy came in and went “oh my nipples needed to be in the water.” Well okay then! Lol

Around 4 we headed back to the parks. Since it was our last day in the parks, it was our shopping day. BFF ended up getting the Philosopher’s stone, which looks absolutely amazing! I got the Death Eater Dummy and the Hocrux ring. Both look awesome in my bookcase. No regrets in getting them.

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We had planned on sticking in DA for as long as we could but after getting a few nice shots of the dragon blowing fire, we decided that we were done for the day and went to NBC for dinner. I have to say it’s the first time in all the time we went there that we had a so-so waiter. I wasn’t overly impressed but the food was delicious so I can forgive them that. The nachos and the rocky road sundae were amazing. Nom nom nom.

When we got back to the hotel, our plan after packing had been to get a drink and sit around the fire pit for a while. That did not work out as planned. We get to the Atomic and sit and are ready to order our drinks with our pool cups and the bartender goes “We don’t honor those cups anymore.” Cue both of us going “erm…what?” We had used them twice already that weekend and we just bought them back in October. So we tell him that and he goes “No, we don’t honor them anymore.” Because they got new smaller ones now. To which we said “bull.” and decided we would find someone to complain to about this. I mean, seriously, what was that? So we go to the front desk and just our luck that we get the guy who had checked us in. We explained the situation to him and he sent us to the Swizzle lounge to talk to the manager, Charlie. We explain the situation to her and she says that yeah, not everyone is quite up to date on the cups and still honoring them even if they are a different size. But as we told her, we were cool with them not being filled up to the top, just give us our $10 drink. She asked us what were the drinks we wanted and she made them for us. So many thanks to her for fixing it.

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Oh boy, I have one of the big purple pool cups and I love it.  I'll pitch a fit if they won't refill it for me.  How lame!  it's like "Marie" at the operator number there, telling us as she laughed at us that no, we can't have our CBBR cubs with the chip recharged at the diner.  Um, wrong!  We took them down anyway and the manager there said yes, we even get it for $3 cheaper because we have cups already.  We also got our AP discount.  Some people's children, I tell ya...

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12 minutes ago, Narcissa said:

Oh boy, I have one of the big purple pool cups and I love it.  I'll pitch a fit if they won't refill it for me.  How lame!  it's like "Marie" at the operator number there, telling us as she laughed at us that no, we can't have our CBBR cubs with the chip recharged at the diner.  Um, wrong!  We took them down anyway and the manager there said yes, we even get it for $3 cheaper because we have cups already.  We also got our AP discount.  Some people's children, I tell ya...

Ack sad that you had to deal with something similar! They have to work on their communication about stuff like that. Thankfully there are people who know but we shouldn't have to hunt them down! The very childish part of us was so tempted to go to the bartender and say "See Charlie said we could have them, neener neener neener." lol but we were good and didn't.

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Day 5 (February 29):

No park time that morning as we had a shuttle at 7:45 but I feel like talking about how much of a mess the Air Canada counter was. I have never waited that long in all the times I’ve travelled. And they didn’t even have anyone to direct people on where to go. I had done the check in the night before thinking it would make my airport arrival very easy and I would only have to drop off my luggage. But it was one line for everybody and then at some point it split in two but no way to know which one was which. So I ended up in the wrong one. But when the people I had been next to in the big line ended up near me but in the line I needed to be in, I switched over and didn’t feel bad about it. I’d done my waiting already. And so after an hour, I had finally dropped off my luggage and went to find BFF who had to go through security asap so I was robbed of that last hour with her which really bummed me out.

So then I went to go through security and that was another hour of my life spent there. I think I did more waiting at the airport than I did at the parks lol And I was getting hungry because I hadn’t had breakfast yet. But at least I’d had a donut before leaving the hotel so I wasn’t quite ready to growl at people. Lol Finally got past it and went to eat something to then find out that my flight was delayed by two hours. Turns out we had gotten quite a lot of freezing rain here and it had taken them a while to defreeze the plane to send it off to Orlando. So by the time I landed in Ottawa, I was once again starving because my 10am meal felt like a very long time ago! Thank god for a sister who brought me food at home after she went grocery shopping and picked me up the essential so I could have my coffee the next morning.

It was really a fun trip. I wish I hadn’t been sick for it though because not breathing normally left me very exhausted most days and I’m glad I had a day of vacation as a buffer between coming back and going back to work so I could rest some. 

Three trips in five months, it’s going to be a long wait until December.

 

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10 hours ago, tirfaie said:

got on the HE yet again. On it, we shared it with this girl who was riding it for the first and she got overwhelmed by it. She was trying not to cry and we told her not to worry about that. I was basically crying with her, because I remembered what it was like and I felt so lucky to experience it with her, even if I didn’t know her. Potterheads, we get it.

Such a great piece of your story!  Yes, we Potterheads get it:)

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Like @Kathkat said, yes, Potterheads, we get it! Love that!

Sorry you had a couple of bad experiences. I've heard awful things about Air Canada elsewhere as well.

But overall sounds like an awesome trip, thanks for sharing!

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Late September would be a good time to make a quick trip down :). That will help pass the time until December. 

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54 minutes ago, Kathkat said:

Such a great piece of your story!  Yes, we Potterheads get it:)

We do! I honestly felt honored to witness that moment. It was simply amazing. 

10 minutes ago, Kris10 said:

Like @Kathkat said, yes, Potterheads, we get it! Love that!

Sorry you had a couple of bad experiences. I've heard awful things about Air Canada elsewhere as well.

But overall sounds like an awesome trip, thanks for sharing!

Potterheads united!

Yeah they don't have a very good reputation but they had direct flights for less than $500 so I went ahead. Lesson learned.

it was a really awesome trip!

2 minutes ago, Amy G said:

Late September would be a good time to make a quick trip down :). That will help pass the time until December. 

lol oh don't think that BFF and I aren't dreaming about going for HHN again. We were daydreaming about it last week. 

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1 hour ago, tirfaie said:

We do! I honestly felt honored to witness that moment. It was simply amazing. 

Potterheads united!

Yeah they don't have a very good reputation but they had direct flights for less than $500 so I went ahead. Lesson learned.

it was a really awesome trip!

lol oh don't think that BFF and I aren't dreaming about going for HHN again. We were daydreaming about it last week. 

Do eet!!!!! I didn't get enough time with you. We didn’t get to have a cocktail together or anything!!

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1 minute ago, Amy G said:

Do eet!!!!! I didn't get enough time with you. We didn’t get to have a cocktail together or anything!!

Money and schedule makes it difficult. But who knows what the future will bring. 

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