Universal’s Volcano Bay!

Universal Studios (finally) built a water park in Orlando to compete with Disney’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Wet N’ Wild is gone and the Coco Key water park does not really offer enough options for kids that want to do it all. Volcano Bay is brand new. So new that we visited on the 30 day mark of the park opening. I wanted to share some of the things I learned while at the park and some tips for when you decide to visit.

VolcanoBay1.jpg

Volcano Bay Pro’s

  • Fun for all ages. The age range in my party ranged from 7 to 40. Every single one of us had fun in our own way. I’m sure that their idea was to make this a destination for families and they hit the nail on the head.
  • Sprinklers all over the park to maintain the floor cooled. My feet only burnt while on the sand where my chair was located, but throughout the park they keep the floors wet so guests do not burn their feet and that, to me, is BRILLIANT.
  • Volcano Bay opens at 9:00 a.m. for all guests, but if you stay on property like we did you have special early access to the park at 8:00 a.m. (This was a life saver because the park was closed by 10:00 a.m. due to capacity requirements.)

Tapu-Tapu

For those that don’t know, Tapu-Tapu is Universal’s version of the Magic Band but exclusively for Volcano Bay. Personally, I loved this idea, but it needs its little tweaks.

  • No waiting in line for hours on end because you can simply register your band at the ride and go about the park enjoying other parts of the park.
  • The bracelet vibrates when your window to go in line opens and you can walk right on over.
  • You can connect your credit card to the bracelet and make purchases around the park. Your personal PIN ensures that no one else uses your card in case you lose your band.
  • When you’re registered you cannot register for another attraction, but you can ride the slides that are “Ride Now” attractions. IF you are lucky enough to find one, then you’re in good shape. If not, then you can have some lunch or float around in the two different lazy rivers.
  • The Tapu-Tapus fall off very easily and that becomes a hassle when you have kids with you on your trip.
  • The bands do not tell time so you lose track of it pretty easily.

Volcano Bay’s “Room for Improvement” Areas

  • The food options are too exotic for children to pick from (and ridiculously overpriced) and even for some adults.
  • The Tapu-Tapu bands are really easy to lose and it takes a while to have them replaced because of the long line.
  • Add more umbrellas or trees because the sand burnt my feet in the few seconds I dared walk through it.
  • Figure out a better system with the weight limits on the rides. In practically every ride, my family was split up because we had two big men in the group.
  • Encourage the lifeguards to speak to guests as though they were at Disney World.

I definitely recommend experiencing Volcano Bay with your family, friends or by yourself at some point in your life because it is incredibly fun and the adrenaline rushes are worth the hype the park is getting from all angles.

Enjoy!

-T.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Welcome back!

Today I continue my blog posts on Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. I wanted share with you all my experience at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The resort is adjacent to Volcano Bay and is a Universal Orlando property as well so you have access to City Walk, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure through shuttle because you are on property.

CabanaBay2

Cabana Bay Perks!

  • The resort is right next to Volcano Bay so you can walk to the park bright and early and walk right in. At least that’s how it went for us. It was such a simple stroll and because you are a resort guest, you have access to the park an hour prior to the park opening. (This helps because Volcano Bay takes no time in reaching capacity.)
  • The view from our room was SPECTACULAR. We could see park guests drop from the free-fall slides inside the Volcano and we could see both the pool and the lazy river from our window.
  • The resort is decorated in 1950’s and 1960’s decor and that makes it that much cuter. The toiletries are labeled as they were in that era and you can see details all around the resort. Including the bowling alley!
  • You won’t have to worry about being bored at the hotel all day if you can’t get into Volcano Bay. The resorts has two very large pools and a lazy river that is beyond refreshing.

CabanaBay1

Cabana Bay “Room for Improvement” Areas

  • Mornings are hectic when you are on vacation with three kids and need to get to a theme park before it’s full. I think it would be beneficial for both guests and their corporate offices if they added another area for families to enjoy breakfast. The line at Starbucks was quite lengthy and the buffets at the breakfast area were full as well.
  • My family and I were really excited about the lazy river. Everybody loves a lazy river but our excitement died down a lot when we were told that we had to buy the inner tubes. $47 later and we were able to float. They were overpriced and this isn’t something I was able to read about anywhere so you heard it here first…they charge for inner tubes. (Some are as high as $15!)
  • Maybe we were disoriented or maybe not, but when we left the building we were staying at (The Americana) we could only find one way to leave the resort. The line went slowly and it went around the lot because it appears that there’s only one way to exit Cabana Bay. The wait added 45 minutes to our trip back to Miami.

At the end of the day we had fun and really enjoyed the wonderful parts about Cabana Bay. The proximity to Volcano Bay didn’t hurt either. We would probably stay again if we revisited Volcano Bay, but we hope that these minor issues won’t be there anymore.

-T.

 

 

Advertisements

Perricone’s Marketplace & Cafe

The boyfriend and I are all about date night. Especially ones that include delicious food and a captivating atmosphere. This weekend we decided to change our scenery a bit and head over to Brickell (we live in Kendall…if you’re from here, you know.) where we had dinner at Perricone’s Marketplace & Cafe. I had never been before, but this used to be my boyfriend’s favorite lunch spot.

StuffedMussels.jpg

The tomato stuffed mussels were one of the best I have ever tried. The tomatoes added texture and meatiness to the mussels without taking away from the actual seafood taste. The white wine sauce was exquisite with their toasted bread. (Between us, I had seconds on the bread.)

Wine.jpgSpeaking of white wine… This Robert Weil Riesling was one of the smoothest Rieslings I have ever tried. It was not as sweet as many others I’ve had and it went well with my meal despite me breaking one of the cardinal rules of wine and food.

LambChops.jpg

I had red meat and white wine. *shame* I was in the mood for lamb chops and was a little concerned with these because they are pistachio crusted. The pistachios added so much flavor to the lamb and the crunch didn’t hurt either. I always order my meats medium rare and it’s RARE that they get that right anywhere, but they did get it here.

The only downside was dessert. The Key Lime Pie was not my favorite. So much so that I returned it and I never ever do that at restaurants. My waiter felt bad because he saw my face of disappointment and offered to exchange it for a tiramisu, apparently his favorite, and it wasn’t half bad.

Apparently the Cannolis are where it’s at.

Totally recommend stopping by and enjoying a meal here. The ambiance is very pleasant and the staff is both accommodating and sweet. Overall a lovely experience.

-T.

Dollar Shave Club

It’s quite funny how word of mouth works better than any form of advertising or marketing. At least in my opinion. Catchy phrases help too, but they have to be groundbreaking such as “Can you hear me now?” from Verizon or “Have it your way!” from Burger King to actually make an impact.

For a few years now I have noticed a multitude of pins on Pinterest talking about a subscription service for razors. I really did not pay any mind to it and continued buying, what I thought, was a better quality razor simply because it was specifically designed for women.

Until January of this year when a friend of mine came over to my office for a meeting and started talking about her 2017 Resolutions. One of her resolutions was to simplify her life by making life work for her instead of her working for life. She started doing this by outsourcing many of her chores. Of course, these come with fees and can get a bit expensive but she went shopping before she made any decisions. I was looking around for a birthday gift that my boyfriend would benefit from and the epiphany hit me when she mentioned Dollar Shave Club.

Dollar Shave Club is a subscription service for razor blades but they offer many other products that we use on a daily basis. For example, shaving cream and lotions. They even offer products for your hair. Now, I have not tried them but my friend is in love with her hair mousse from their brand. You receive an email at the end of the month asking you to approve what you are going to receive in your next shipment. A typical shipment includes four blades and your first kit comes with a razor handle that could go to war for you. It’s only $6 a month and I can honestly tell you that neither the Boyfriend nor I are going back to drugstore razors.

We love knowing we don’t have to go out to buy razors and that we’re receiving quality blades each month for just $6! It is a no-brainer. We are saving time and money. We have fresh blades every week and our skin isn’t irritated. You can try it out for free! Just head on over to Dollar Shave Club.

Father’s Day is coming up and we all know Dad enjoys a close shave. *hint hint*

**Disclaimer: This post is neither sponsored nor was I paid to have a certain opinion of Dollar Shave Club. They only know me because I subscribe to them, but that’s probably their computer knowing me and not actually anyone at the company. I did not receive any free products or money for this post.**

-T.

What to Pack for Universal Studios – Orlando

Universal Studios and Island of Adventure theme parks are fun and filled with many memories to be made. You get to pretend you’re flying with Harry Potter, slaying mummies or bouncing around with little minions. This past weekend my family and I got to enjoy two incredibly wonderful days at the Universal parks in Orlando. During these days I took notes on what I really needed in the parks.

I went with three boys and they all require different types of attention. Universal allows you to bring in food and drinks from outside, but there are exceptions. You cannot bring alcoholic beverages or food that requires reheating. Guns and weapons of any kind are an obvious no as well. You are allowed to bring in a soft cooler, but no hard plastic ones.

Snacks

  • Mini Water Bottles (We prefer the Costco brand.)
  • String Cheese
  • Turkey Pepperoni
  • Pistachios
  • Pretzels
  • Gum/Mints

Traveling with kids is traveling with three surprise boxes. You never ever know when someone is going to get hurt and need some sort of first aid item. In my backpack we had quite a few items.

First Aid/Survival Items

  • Band-Aids & Neosporin
  • Anti-Itch Cream (for mosquito and other bug bites.)
  • Sunscreen (Face & Body)
  • Chapstick
  • 1 Face Towel per person (For sweating and water rides.)
  • Extra shirt/shorts/socks per person. (I rolled them into the bag and we were dry after the water rides.)
  • Sandals (I only packed these for two of the kids because they asked me for them.)
  • Portable Charger
  • iPhone charger cables with cubes for the wall (The Jimmy Fallon ride has plugs that you have access to.)
  • Hair brush
  • Lanyards (For park passes)
  • Sunglasses
  • Medications

We rented a double stroller each day and it helped a lot with carrying the bags and cooler around.

Enjoy your next theme park trip!

-T.

5 Yummiest Desserts in Miami

Once upon a time there was a version of me that was not a fan of dessert. Then I became an adult and learned how magical wine is, specifically Riesling, and well I started liking sweets shortly after that. In this post I will be sharing my Top 5 Favorite Desserts in Miami. They are in no particular order and they depict almost all parts of Miami.

Warm Cafe con Leche — Rusty Pelican

warmcafeconleche

Lord Jesus. My favorite way to drink coffee…in a dessert. The cake tastes like Cuban coffee without the jolt. You get two scoops of cookies and cream ice cream over a bed of crushed Oreos. Topped off with powdered sugar and a scroll of white chocolate. So warm and decadent. I don’t even have words for this. Everyone likes a warm cake with cold ice cream, except this includes a Miami classic. The Rusty Pelican hit it out of the park with this one.

Balls to the Wall — Latin House Grill

ballstothewall

Guy Fieri from Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives paid this place a visit and I went the very next day. We only went for the dessert because we couldn’t believe that there was such a thing. Again, combining hot and cold but this is on another level. This is a triple chocolate brownie covered in funnel cake batter and fried to perfection. It sounds overwhelming but it tastes like you got everything done on your to-do list.

Nutella Milkshake — Bocas House

nutellashake

I honestly admire whomever could drink this in its entirety. This has ice cream, Nutella, brownies and powdered sugar. It is the thickest milkshake I have ever had and it requires a straw so big you might confuse it with a PVC Pipe.  So delicious and so worth the trip from Kendall to Doral — if you live in Miami, you know the traffic situation. They have two other shakes on the menu and they are just as amazing.

Red Velvet Cake — Riviera Country Club

redvelvetcake

We met by chance and I have been dreaming of this cake ever since. I am not a fan of cakes covered in glaze, but this is beyond anything I’ve ever enjoyed. The cake melts in your mouth and the buttercream in between layers is a confectionary delicacy. There is nothing wrong with this beauty. Nothing.

Key Lime Pie — Islamorada Fish Company

keylimepie

Technically this is not in Miami, but this has to be on here because this is my favorite Key Lime Pie. The crust is made of cashews and peanuts. The actual pie is sweet and sour but not something that dries out your teeth. It is so creamy and wonderful. Worth the drive from Miami to Islamorada even if you hate the beach. Every time I go down there, I make sure I stop and get myself a slice of this perfect pie. Not even Harry Hamlin’s pie could beat this.

-T.

Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill

Miami is evolving right under our noses. Parts of Miami many would never ever dare step around are now becoming the latest and greatest parts of Miami. A couple nights ago, we had dinner at Casablanca Seafood Bar and Grill — a seafood restaurant right on the Miami River. We did not have to wait to sit down even though the place was full.

Personal note: I very rarely eat at a seafood restaurant that does not have a fish market attached to it. I am happy to report that Casablanca has a fish market right next door and $5 valet parking.

My signature drink everywhere is the Mojito. You can’t go wrong with it, yet so many bartenders do. We ordered a dozen oysters and these were pretty big. Their cocktail sauce says “tangy” on the menu and they’re not kidding.

IMG_5852

The lobster bisque also has a kick to it and large chunks of lobster. I could have had a whole pot of this lobster bisque. It was creamy and hearty all at once. We also ordered the Middleneck Clams which are cooked in white wine sauce.

IMG_5853

For my main course I ordered the Seafood Au Gratin — which left a lot to be desired. You will never hear me complain about too much cheese, but this had almost no seafood with lots of potatoes and an interesting version of fontina cheese. The texture of the cheese doesn’t go well with the seafood.

IMG_5854.JPG

We will definitely be going back to Casablanca’s because those oysters and clams were incredible. Our waitress was the sweetest as well as the other staff members that took care of us.

Follow me around Miami on Instagram — @miamiobsessed

-T.