December 2011 - Orlando, Disney and Universal Studios

As parents, neither of us believe that Disney World is the "Greatest Place on Earth", but we decided that Elliot should have the opportunity to experience it as a kid.   We had a terrible time with excessive crowds at Disneyland in Tokyo, but a wonderful time at the Disneyland in Hong Kong. In the spirit of avoiding crowds we planned a secret-midweek-non peak trip to Orlando.

We kept it a secret from Elliot by telling him that we were visiting family in Florida (which was true, because we were meeting them in Orlando).  Once we were on the plane he heard the flight attendant say that we were going to Orlando, and the secret was revealed.  Believe it or not he was actually angry when he found out that we were not going to Fort Lauderdale. We were shocked but we figured he would get over it once we got there.   You'll  never see that in a Disney commercial.

First flight out of Newark had us at the Magic Kingdom at 10:00am.

As soon as we got to the park Elliot met up with his cousins Ethan and Chloe and the fun began.   The plan was to spend two days in the Disney parks and two days at Universal Studios. 

The obligatory family photo in front of the castle to prove we were actually here in case Elliot questions us later in life.

We thought we were avoiding crowds by being here off peak and midweek. It may have been less crowded than the peak weeks,  but there were lots of people and long lines. Even with the Fast Pass system we still spent a lot of time in lines at all the Disney parks.

The Disney experience is not cheap.  For the three of us the admission fee was $698 for two days.  

Our third and fourth days were spent at Universal Studios.  It was equally expensive, with the exception of the  Harry Potter ride, the crowds were nonexistent and we didn't wait more than a few minutes for any attraction. 
Harry Potter village was amazing and we spent both mornings on the rides and drinking butter beer.

After a few water rides the kids were soaked.  The garage sized people dryer didn't do a lot but everyone had fun dancing and getting warm.

Lots of fun things to do including the pop the balloon with a water gun competition.  It took a few rounds but everyone won a prize and left happy.  We had a much more pleasant experience at Universal Studios.

Overall a big thumbs up for Universal but our Disney days are done.  Ultimately the most important part of the trip was for the cousins to have fun which was accomplished. :)

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