Part 3 – Universal Orlando Resort – Enjoying Child Swap & Blue Man Group Show

For some very strange reason, we had another night where all three of the girls slept the entire night. I even slept more soundly too as I was adjusted to our environment and the comfort of the Queen bed in the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in the Universal Orlando Resort. We all actually ended up sleeping later than we wanted which made our morning a little bit rushed so we could get down and have breakfast at a leisurely pace before heading back over to Universal Studio.

We ate once again at the Trattoria Del Porto restaurant. The staff were still super friendly. We were much later to eat and the restaurant was much busier however, we sat where we sat the day before. There was a lovely little corner of the restaurant with a bench style seat on one side of the table and chairs on the other. It happened to be situated right by a TV on the wall that was playing the children’s channel. Below the telly there are two little tables with little chairs, specifically for children. It’s like a little children’s zone as there is also a few toys to entertain too. You can see that in all of my videos for this trip so head over to my channel and subscribe.

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After filling our tummies up once again from the amazing selection of hot and cold food, we headed to the water taxi that took us straight into the Universal CityWalk. Loews Portofino Bay Hotel has three ways to get to the theme parks; a shuttle bus, water taxi and by foot. All the on-site hotels at Universal Orlando Resort are within walking distance which is fantastic but with a busy day ahead and three children in tow, we decided to use the water taxi for our second full day. 

We had another VIP Tour booked and we were asked to meet a little bit early in the hope that we could get the same tour guide as the day before. The girls had literally fallen in love with Dawn and were pretty sad to have had to say goodbye. Thankfully, we managed to get Dawn for a second day of fun and exploring the theme parks. I was worried that if we had been given a different tour guide that we would have to try to explain what we had already seen. This thankfully wasn’t the case and Dawn had already planned a day of fun for us and the girls were so excited to have her back.

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Our first expedition of the day was to head over to the Gringotts Bank so that Hubby and I could ride the Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts ride which had been closed briefly the day before. It was so surreal and the way that Universal carry on themes throughout the hotels and the theme parks is just extraordinary. Our tour guide once again took us through the back ways and up into the Child Swap zone. It was super dark and the girls found it a little bit worrying to start with but they soon settled down.

The ride was absolutely amazing. Another 3D multi-dimensional ride that literally blew me away. You are put right in the middle of all the action as you follow the journey through the underground vaults of Gringotts bank. Dawn also took me through the normal person entrance where you can see the spectacular, real chandeliers hanging from the iconic bank that has the Goblins hard at work. I even asked Dawn if they were real (I obviously knew they weren’t real, but they look so life-like I thought they may be people dressed up – they’re not). 

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After the ride we were able to take a little look around Diagon Alley and being totally wowed by all the realistic shops that you can actually go inside and visit. Our tour guide remembered that P2 adores animals and specifically suggested that we pop into the pet shop. It had so much going on around the ceiling and although it was actually a shop, it felt like I was being taken away into another world.

We then headed round the corner to A Day In The Park With Barney. Now I was pretty excited about this. Barney the purple dinosaur was probably my version of Peppa Pig during my childhood. I remember the many shows I would watch and so being transported back to my childhood was pretty exciting. There is an indoor play area in this part of Universal Studios that has lots of different sensory things to explore. We popped inside for a little play before Dawn took us to the Barney show that was about to go on.

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The show was amazing. If I do say so myself. It was lively and upbeat, involving the entire crowd for songs and dancing. All the girls loved it. I quite like how they used special effects by letting out confetti leaves and wind blowing from the ceiling. It was just pure silly fun. After the show the girls got to meet Barney. P2 went running up to him and gave him the biggest cuddle I’ve ever seen her give a dress up character. It was adorable. I actually thought we may have to physically peel her away at one point.

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I had the girls prepared for the day ahead. We’d told Dawn that we’d quite like to let the girls try out the water areas and so the girls had their swimming costumes under their dresses. We decided to enter the Curious George Goes To Town early on in the day so that it wasn’t too hot and they could get out of their costumes sooner rather than later. The Curious George area is fantastic! We’d had a quick look at it the day before and so the girls were really excited to pull off their dresses and explore.

This area is an aqua play and ball play area. The idea is that you follow the colourful books and George’s footsteps as you follow his journey. All the buildings are cartoon style and although part of it was under construction when we visited, there was still plenty for the girls to do. I watched P1 trying to squirt the people around her by tricking them into opening a letter box which had water spraying from the inside. P2 tried to get me wet by asking me to step through the water spraying from the floor randomly. Even P3 enjoyed splashing through the puddles and exploring the animal circus tent. This area really is suitable for all ages.

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Dawn was really excited to show us the special restrooms designed just for kids. They are in a little building between the Curious George area and the Barney park. I was in absolute amazement as I entered which sounds super strange to be talking about a public toilet in that way. It was brightly decorated and had butterflies hanging from the ceiling. There was big kid toilets and smaller little kid toilets. Everything was super clean and I was able to dry the girls and get them ready for the rest of our day.

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As VIP guests you get lunch included. You are allowed to choose wherever you want to dine but Hubby and I were really pleased with our lunch the day before so decided to eat once again at Cafe La Bamba. This was opened up just for VIP guests and we were once again greeted by super friendly staff and a red carpet.

It had the same food selection as the day before and I was able to choose something different to try out. The girls stuck with their wedges and some chicken, which P1 described as KFC chicken. I absolutely adored the desserts selection though, chocolate cake and the most delicious cookie I have ever tasted. We all ate super well and our tour guide, Dawn, dined with us again with P2 demanding that she sat down with her.

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The photo below is of our lovely tour guide. I wanted to take a moment in this post to just thank her and Universal for having such a brilliant woman on their team. Right from the word go she was polite, warm and took us under her wing for two full days of making dreams come true for all of us. She was there to come on the rides with Hubby and I whilst the other looked after the girls, she was there to hold both P2 and P1s hand and was super reassuring and patient with P1 when she had several melt downs over rides.

By the end of the first day it felt like we were just having a brilliant family day at the theme parks and on the second day Dawn truly felt like an extension of our family. She was an extra pair of hands and she was so much fun too. Her knowledge of the park was astounding too and I honestly don’t think our VIP days would have been the same if we had someone else. She really took an interest in all of us and met everybody’s needs. She is a credit to Universal Orlando Resort and we hope to see her again in the future.

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After lunch P3 needed a nap so we took the opportunity for her to nap in the stroller. P1, P2, Hubby and Dawn all went into the Shrek 4D ride. P3 hadn’t been keen on the Minion ride the day before so this was a great chance for them to all enjoy it. I personally loved sitting in the sunshine and chilling out for about half an hour in peace. I was able to watch the hustle and bustle of Universal Studios and really appreciate just how much goes on even in such small areas of the theme parks.

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It was then Hubby and my chance to ride some big rides. Hubby was brave enough to have a ride on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Just watching him made me feel slightly ill if I’m honest, it towers straight up 17 stories over Universal Studios before plunging down. P2 had asked to ride this one, thankfully she was too small otherwise I think I may have had a heart attack. He said it was absolutely amazing and a complete thrill.

It was then my turn for a ride and we headed to Revenge Of The Mummy. I love The Mummy films so was super excited about seeing what this ride would be like. Hubby went first and assured me that I’d be fine on this ride and it was great fun. Dawn told me that it was very fast but that was it. And she was right. This ride catapults you at high speeds and the fact it is in virtual darkness throughout makes it terrifying! The effects were astounding though and the ride was full of action. I actually loved it. 

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When we came out of the Revenge of The Mummy, the Superstar Parade was taking place. We were able to watch a small part of it before hopping on the Hogwarts Express and heading over to the Islands Of Adventure. Our second day seemed to focus on the adults rather than the kids, which was fantastic for us but I gradually got the sense that the girls were getting a little restless so we needed to drop a few kiddie inspired things into the mix. 

Dawn arranged for us to have a private encounter experience with the Raptor. I think she was a little nervous that the girls would be terrified as the dinosaur gets really close and roars, blows air and growls very close to your body. The Raptor is pretty realistic. But we all went in any way. P3 was not impressed especially when the Raptor started munching on my hair and she still talks about that bit now when we look at photos. It was hilarious and a great experience.

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The girls had seen the Secret Life Of Pet toys that they really wanted. Dawn directed us through the Toon Lagoon area which had a shop dedicated to Secret Life Of Pets. On the way there we walked past Skull Island: Reign Of Kong. Hubby was quite enthusiastic about having a go at this one so I sat outside with the girls. They met a little non-English speaking boy who had a bubble gun and they had so much fun. I find kids just amazing with their abilities to find a way to communicate. Hubby loved the ride and said that it was absolutely incredible with a multi sensory and 3D experience.

The girls were in absolute awe of the Secret Life Of Pets shop! There was so many different items to choose from. They had rucksacks and hats, phone cases and little toys. Of course the girls picked to have a larger toy each but we felt totally justified as they have the Universal Orlando logo on their tag. The girls were thrilled, I even got one for me. So we walked away with a Max, Duke, Gidget and Chloe.

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We only had one area that we hadn’t ventured into properly and that was the Marvel Superhero Island. So that’s where headed. Growing up P1 had a real thing for the Marvel Superheroes so I was hoping we could manage to get her onto a ride. So far she hadn’t really been on any of the ones that were suitable for her but not her sisters so I really wanted to get her on a ride at least once. The E.T ride had been a favourite for P2 and even that P1 wouldn’t go on. I  hoped the temptation of a Spiderman adventure may entice her in.

Unfortunately it didn’t but Dawn, Hubby and P2 were more than happy to go on The Amazing Adventures Of Spiderman. The child swap area was really cool with the cartoon playing on the tv, printed newspaper articles from the movie and memorabilia in a cabinet. P1 sat there by herself looking a little sad. I realised that this whole trip was probably so overwhelming for her. We are sure that she has autism and there had been a few moments where it was very clear as she panicked. But actually on a whole she had managed really well with everything. 

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We ended our second day of tours with a trip back to Suess Landing. The girls loved the little zoo area which had water and considering they only had light little dresses on, I was more than happy to let them explore for longer. I felt sad as the minutes of time we had left with our wonderful tour guide were reducing rapidly. You know when you get that sickly feeling. I knew P2 would be hit quite hard with the realisation that she wouldn’t get to see Dawn again.

In Suess Landing the girls  splashed in the water and got pretty drenched. Their laughing and smiles were just simply amazing. It began to rain a little bit at this point so we decided to make a move before we all got wetter than we wanted. The girls gave the biggest of hugs to their new adopted family member and we exchanged details so that we could keep in touch. I felt incredibly sad that our VIP tours were over and touring the theme parks in style was over. We’d had an amazing two days of fun and magic.

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We had been booked to see The Blue Man Group which we were really excited about. The girls needed to be dried and changed. We had snacks for our dinner as we were all pretty full from our lunch and I dressed the girls in their pretty dresses. The water taxi’s are operational throughout the night until 2am so we hopped on one of those. It was dark and the view was so pretty with the reflection of lights in the water. Dawn had told us that the water was bright green due to the chemicals they put in to help prevent larger creatures coming to live in the water (aka crocodiles) which made me feel a little bit safer during our holiday.

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The Blue Man Group is a performance art company formed in 1991. The group is actually older than me and they have hit the world by storm. They have ongoing theatrical performances across America with Universal Orlando Resort being one of their venues. I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the show as you only ever see bits and pieces on the tv. The staff inside the venue that is just off the Universal CityWalk, were super friendly. They gave the girls a booster seat each and special earplugs as the show is rather loud.

I could see the front few rows being given special ponchos and there was gigantic balls hanging from the ceiling. We weren’t allowed to take photos of the show and I’m not really sure I have the words to describe it. There was a lot of mess, a lot of laughing, a lot of funny things happening on stage and some great interaction with the audience including the balls coming down on top of us and we had to push them around the theatre. It was breath-taking. More important the girls really enjoyed it. P2 actually ended up falling asleep near the end but I could see P1s face smiling the entire time with all the sensory experiences there were on offer. 

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The show was 1 hour 45 minutes long with no interval. However this time went by super quick and all of the girls were entertained the entire time, including P3 who is under the suggested age for The Blue Man Group. We had a little wander through the CityWalk which as so many different restaurants, shops and there’s even a tattoo parlour for those over 18 years of age. Universal Orlando Resort literally has everything you need in one area. We headed back to Loews Portofino Bay Hotel feeling pretty wiped out and pretty lucky to be in such a magical place. Once again, all the girls fell asleep instantly and Hubby and I soon followed.

You can find out more about Virgin Holidays to Orlando by clicking here, or more about the Universal Orlando Resort here, VIP Tour information can be found here and more about the Blue Man Group here.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have
volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for
the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

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14 comments

  1. Ah I love this, looks like you guys had an amazing time – great photos cant wait to take my girls there one day! xx

  2. The dinosaur was eating mummies hair – she is adorable!! Looks like you guys had a fab time!!

  3. Wowser, what a holiday! It all looks fab and I’m counting down until my two are slightly older to go x

  4. I can’t believe how much you’ve packed into your days there! It’s amazing too that you can get a personalised guide, a really good idea! Sounds like the best trip ever!

  5. Oh my gosh it looks like your holiday is amazing! I love how your kids have fallen in love with the tour guide. I would absolutely love to go to Florida.

  6. Wow! This looks so much fun. We are planning to take Rosalie in 2018 so goo to know there is stuff for little ones too. What brand is the double pushchair your using? I’m on the look out for one. X

  7. It all just looks so, so amazing! I haven’t been to Florida for a few years but we didn’t go to Universal x

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