Universal Studios

A few weeks ago I took my son on his first trip to Universal Studios. I haven’t been to Disneyland yet in my life but this was my third trip to Universal. My dad took me and my brothers when we were little and all I remember is the T-Rex from the Jurassic Park ride and there was some tour where I was sitting on my dad’s shoulders and there was fire. My second trip was hubby’s and mine first vacation. That trip was about 2 years ago, meaning we were together for 7 years before we took our first real trip together. (And we are never letting another 7 years go by before our next one.) 

So for my third, it was Little Man’s and my first trip together just us. We got to visit with some of my family who live in California and go to my favorite place on earth. I know everybody says Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but for me, it is Universal Studios. Maybe I’ll change my mind once I see Disneyland but Disneyland doesn’t have the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

Little Man is a little guy and was tall enough for exactly 1 ride. Well, one big person ride. There is an awesome area called Silly Fun Land that is modeled after the carnival from Despicable Me. Little Man is tall enough for the rides and things in that area because it was designed for the little people. The one ride he was tall enough for was the Flight of the Hippogriff in Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My son looks an awful lot like my husband, like his little mini me. For every ounce he looks like my husband though, he acts like me. He asked me three more times to go back and ride that roller coaster again. He loved it so much! He also handled the long line for the rollercoaster like a champ. (FYI roller coasters are my favorite.) 

So basically, we had a blast and he hasn’t stopped asking me when we get to go back ever since. So, I am going to share some tips and tricks I have from my trips to Universal and all the research I did before these trips

1. Strollers are your friend. 

Little Man is four and I don’t think I’ve stuck him in a stroller since he was two. However, when thinking about the crowds and how was I going to keep Little Man close to me, allow me to feel safe and like I’ve got him, my options were a stroller or a leash. Strollers also have the benefit that he gets to rest his legs when he gets tired of walking. If you’re like me and haven’t owned a stroller in years, you can rent one at the park for $15 and it is the best $15 you’ll spend there. 

2. Backpacks are a must.

Adios purse! I ditched my cute bag for a backpack and it was so nice to have my hands free. I kept my jacket in there along with my water bottle and other things that I needed to carry around with me, like a battery pack for my phone) Also, it was great place to stash any goodies I bought in the different areas while I was walking around. Like, my son’s transformer. Also, I ditched my wallet for a small id carrier and that made carrying all my important cards and cash so much easier.

3. Caffeine? 

If you like soda or just enjoy drinking caffeine all day long, Universal Studios has a souvenir cup they sell that allows you to have unlimited refills of soda all day long. There are multiple fill up stations throughout the park for you to keep it full. 

4. Cash is King.

This is a saying that has been around for decades. Pulling out cash just makes the park easier. I like to budget what I get to spend at the park, pull it out in cash and then ONLY spend that. I don’t use my card for anything and just use my cash. Using cash also keeps me in budget and makes me really think about what I am buying. It is so easy to swipe a card but sometimes it can be hard to remember every single time you used it when you’re trying to stay in budget. Using cash, you just count what you have and that is what you have. Simple! 

5. Have fun!

Family trips and theme parks are supposed to be fun! Breathe and go in with a go with the flow mentality. This is the opposite of me normally. I’m a planner and I research and make game plans for anything I do. I throw all that away when I take trips. Trips are supposed to be relaxing and fun. Am I going to be exhausted after being out all day? Probably. I’m getting old and being out all day is just exhausting. Once I get into the park though, I have zero control over what happens. I cannot control a 45 minute line to just get popcorn. I cannot control a 60 minute line for a ride while a toddler who wants to jump around all over the place. I cannot control people trying to hang out in a pathway to get to the stroller parking. I can either breathe and let it go, or let it frustrate me and let it ruin my trip. I rather go home with a smile on my face instead of thinking about all the things that went wrong. Let your inner child out and have fun!

P.S. Meet all the characters you can, totally worth it 🙂

Meeting Bumblebee was one of Little Man’s favorite things.

Mommy/Son Dates

When I was a kid, Saturday mornings were for my mom. We would go out on mommy/daughter dates and spend most of Saturday together. Usually we went to run some errands, sometimes Costco or Sam’s Club trips. We would go to the bookstore so I could pick out a book. We would go to the mall and sometimes I even got to get a book from the bookstore in the mall. (which is no longer a thing and hurts my heart.) We would get lunch at Applebee’s when we were done. Sometimes Chili’s, but normally it was Applebee’s. I can still see the restaurant in my head where we would sit in the big booths next to the big windows. I could people watch and see all the cars driving in the parking lot. It wasn’t glamorous but it was my time with my mom and I loved every single second of it.

Now that I have my little man, I decided to keep the tradition going. We have mommy/son dates once a week. Usually, it involves a trip to Starbucks to start us off, I like caffeine and Lucas gets a little treat. It’s really a win/win situation. Then we’ll run any errands I might need to run. After the errands, if any, we go do something fun for us. Sometimes we go to the library, or the bookstore. Now that the weather is better than rain but not too hot yet, we might go to a park, or maybe I’ll take him to the museum. The point of these activities is that he gets to do whatever he wants and have fun. If we go to the library, he gets to pick whatever books he wants to check out and we can sit and read whatever he wants to read while we are there. Our library also has coloring stations so he can color whatever he likes. 

During our dates, I make a concentrated effort to keep my phone away unless I am taking pictures. If someone texts or calls and it can wait, it waits until after my date. My focus is on Little Man and whatever we are doing. Little man loves to talk and tell me stories so I listen and keep track of everything he tells me. His favorite thing right now is to shout out “banana” and “apple pie” randomly. 

My favorite thing about keeping this tradition is that we have so much fun. Last week we went to California so our mommy/son date was Universal Studios and we did whatever he wanted there. I stopped to see every character he wanted to see. We waited in lines for whatever ride he wanted. I’ll be posting about the trip soon so keep an eye out for that. I cannot wait to share all the fun we had. This week we did a Target run where he got to pick out a toy and we went and got lunch. After lunch we hung out at the place for a little bit (they had wifi) I worked on getting next month ready in my planner and he did his ABCMouse for a half hour. While our date was smaller this week, we still had a good time. Our date was smaller this week because later that day we picked up my brother to take him out for dinner and went to the bookstore and we all got a book. 

My pastor tells us constantly that children spell love T-I-M-E. He isn’t wrong. I know one day Little Man will grow up and I’ll be the last person he will want to hang out with, so for right now, I’m going to do my mommy/son dates while they make him happy. He even asks for them now. “Mommy, can we go on a date?”