Tag Archives: adventure

7 Things to PACK for your TRIP to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, Orlando!!!!!!

YAY!!!! Your trip is booked and I’m so excited for you!!! ūüôā

I wanted to share some packing tips that I have specifically for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando as I hope they will help make your trip even more easy and enjoyable!

For some awesome GENERAL packing tips, especially for things like jewelry, and make-up and hydration items, check out my 9 minute vlog: PACK NIGHT! and a couple of AWESOME travel & packing tips !!! 

The video covers some cool tips, but THESE recommendations below are specific to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure:

  • TIP 1: PACK THE MOST COMFORTABLE PAIR OF SHOES THAT YOU OWN!!!!¬†You will be walking 5 to 15+ miles a day, and you don’t want blisters!

 

 

My top pick for comfort are some worn-in Vans, OR Skeechers memory foam shoes -as long as they fit perfectly snug so that your foot doesn’t slide, which also causes blisters.

  • TIP 2 ( and my FAVORITE tip): Get a LANYARD!!! These things are so helpful!!!

If you’ve heeded my advice from my other blogs about visiting Universal Studios (¬†Random Tips for Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter¬† or HOW TO: A Harry Potter fan’s “Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter” Guide!¬†) then¬†¬†you will have an on-site hotel key card, which is ALSO serves as your UNLIMITED EXPRESS PASS¬† if you stay at Loews Hard Rock Hotel, Portifino Bay, or the Royal Pacific,¬† AND you will have your park ticket that shows that you have a park-to-park pass, which you’ll need to show when boarding the Hogwarts Express.

Wearing a lanyard makes navigating the rides soooo much easier, as you don’t have to fumble to pull out park tickets and/or your Express Pass every time you board a ride or the Hogwarts Express!¬† You can also store other cards in it if you’d like.

They sell Lanyards at the parks, BUT you can get them cheaper and have them ready ahead of time if you buy them on Amazon.

Check out one like MINE (in pic above) or this Hogwarts one, Gryffindor one-or THIS one, or Ravenclaw one! (click on highlighted styles for the links…but note, that some don’t have the card case, so you’d have to buy that separately)

 

and if you want to get REALLY fancy, you can add this badge holder

  • TIP 3: BRING YOUR SUNGLASSES!!!!! and for extra fun pix, wear the reflective kind, so you can take cool pictures of the sights in the reflection of your glasses!!!

I am SO taking a pic of myself with the Volcano at Volcano Bay in the reflection of my glasses next time!

  • TIP 4:¬†If you are prone to burning, bring Sunscreen

I LOVE these little travel-sized ones that can go in your carry-on and are TSA approved sizes.

  • TIP 5: BRING A¬† WATER BOTTLE WITH YOU ON THE PLANE AND INTO THE PARK, so you can refill it at the water fountains and stay hydrated (as well as staying hydrated on the plane, because planes are very dry)…you can store it in your little backpack (see Tip 6).

  • TIP 6: BRING A SMALL BACKPACK…to carry your water bottles, wands, snacks, sunscreen, any medications needed, phones, portable chargers, a selfie stick, etc.

Lockers¬† are provided at all the thrill rides and roller coasters that don’t permit backpacks and are FREE for the duration of the ride.

The lockers aren’t HUGE, so that’s why I say a “small” backpack.

It can be something as simple as THIS (that the kids can wear, too):

and this one is inexpensive, but super cool and comes in 30 different awesome designs and colors!

…and finally (last, but not least…or last, for that matter!)

  • TIP 7: Consider bringing¬† a portable charger.¬† Nothing is worse than your phone dying right in the middle of taking an awesome video, or cool pictures of the AMAZING Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley!!!!!!

My absolute FAVORITE (and¬†I’ve tried 5 different kinds so far) is the Jackery.¬† The Jackery charges your phone QUICKLY and you can get about 3 full charges with this size.

Some other tips:

  • In preparation for RAIN or WATER RIDES, if you already have thin rain ponchos at home (ones that would fit in your little backpack), consider bringing them, so you’re not stuck buying overpriced ones at the park during a storm.¬† Plus, they are great for wearing on the water rides.¬† Also bring storage baggies to keep¬†electronics, etc. dry,¬† and maybe an extra pair of socks, if you wear them (I typically don’t), because they will get wet during a rain storm or water ride.
  • OF¬†COURSE, bring ALL your Harry Potter shirts and jewelry and paraphernalia!!! or Minion, Spider-man, Transformers,¬† Hulk, Simpson’s, King Kong, The Tonight Show…etc.¬† shirts!¬† One day I’ll post pix of my 8 Harry Potter shirts ūüėČ
  • on ETSY, you can find some amazing Harry Potter jewelry, shirts, etc….they even make adorable Gryffindor “Mickey Ears” that are perfect for a park so close to Disney World!
  • If you are prone to motion sickness, FORGET Dramamine, which makes you sleepy, try SEA-BANDS, all natural accupressure nausea relief bands. I use them for Jimmy Fallon’s ride, the Minions ride, Simpson’s ride and Forbidden Journey rides.¬† Everyone’s different, but those are the only rides that I need them on.
  • Volcano Bay does NOT provide Towels!¬† I just bring a towel from my hotel’s pool to Volcano Bay, but if for some reason this is not possible, you might want to consider packing towels for Volcano Bay.
  • I’ll probably think of more later, and have to update this blog…

I HOPE that this list was helpful for you, and please leave a comment if you have ANY other questions, and most importantly ENJOY YOUR TRIP!!!!! YAY!!!!!!! ūüôā

 

 

 

 

St. Niklaus to Zermatt, Switzerland – Day 6 of our Haute Route via Mountain Bike trip

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with¬†Alps Mountain Bike¬†Guide Company¬†starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland of Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.¬† The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents, but it was super fun.¬† The weather not always kind or¬† forgiving, but the scenery, food and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome! Apologies as this post is not full of bike porn pics, but mostly scenery, buildings, etc. BUT as soon they’re up, I’ll add links to Dave’s GoPro footage of the mountain biking for the day here:

AND, you can also check out my¬† super cool “relive” video¬†using this link:¬†https://www.relive.cc/view/1128518849

Day 6 was the final day, in which we rode to Zermatt Switzerland.¬† Since there are no cars allowed in downtown Zermatt, that meant we would have had to stay in the outskirts of town…and be further from Geneva for the next day’s transfer, SO at the end of our ride, we rode back to the same hotel in St. Niklaus to stay for the last night.

This was awesome because, for once, we didn’t have to pack our suitcases and load them onto the van before taking off for the day!

It was a sweet little break.

This time we were SO prepared for the cold, wet weather.  We had a complete change of clothes over-stuffed our camelbacks, to the point of bursting seams,  and, of course, a rain fly covering the packs.

We took a shuttle ~halfway between St. Niklaus and Zermatt then rode a semi-flat, just slightly uphill trail towards Zermatt where we went to the train station to view the webcams of the Matterhorn.

So unfortunately, the weather was super cloudy and overcast and even snowing at the top.¬† ¬†We never did even see the Matterhorn,¬†but I imagine it was up there, being as beautiful and breathtaking as ever.¬† And we posed in front of a billboard with the Matterhorn on it, so that’s close enough, right?

Normally, we would’ve taken a gondola or funicular up to near the top of the Matterhorn and rode our bikes down, BUT due to the snow, we had to discuss alternate routes.¬† This snow meant¬†that the trails would be completely covered at the top and very hard to navigate and the rocks would be especially treacherous.

So instead we rode about ~3,000 (elevation gain) up a winding jeep track, into elevations where there was first a light dusting of snow, then complete cover!!!

A little snack break and yoga

Here is a link from my YouTube channel of a cool little time lapse of the inside of this tunnel :  https://youtu.be/KsUnJQg0fUY

Once we were at Sunnegga, we built a snowman, then bought warm soup and changed into warm dry clothes for our fun, sometimes uber technical, descent in the snow!

It was the first time that I ever rode in snow!!!!…. so at least THAT was SUPER cool AND could be checked off my 50 before 50 AND my bucket lists!¬† Bright side, kids, bright side….

As we rode down the mountain, the snow was gone again, and we stopped for another snack break and cool pix of the little neighborhood below us:

This is our guide, Thierry!

We then rode up another climb for about 1,000 feet elevation gain to this area…

So that we could FLY downhill on a nice SUPER flowy, SUPER fun, bermed and pumped track and then rode into Zermatt!!!

Oh I wish we could’ve stayed in Zermatt WAY longer! My pictures don’t come close to doing it justice!!!! it was an AAAAMAZING town!!!!!

We finished our day, AND our 6 day tour with a ride all the way back to St. Niklaus, where we had dessert…

OF COURSE we had dinner first though!!!!

This is a picture of our EXCELLENT group, who were all kind, friendly, fun, super interesting and great riders from Finland, Spain, Quebec, Brazil, and of course, the States!

YAY!!!!! WE DID IT! WE COMPLETED THE HAUTE ROUTE VIA MOUNTAIN BIKE!!

Although I was bummed about the weather, and recovering from an ear and sinus infection, etc. , it was, without a doubt, an AMAZING trip.¬† I’m so glad that I was able to see these little villages of Switzerland that I would never have seen otherwise!

The food was incredibly delicious, perfectly portioned, and WAY more healthy than typical American meals.

The technical aspect of the trails was an AWESOME and a SUPER FUN, monumental, challenge and although I was slow, I was still proud of myself for all the climbing that I did throughout the week!

The downhills were absolutely epic.

I am sooooo jealous of the people who live in the areas that we rode!!!!!!¬† I can’t believe they get to ride that all the time!!!! aaaaggghhh…so jealous.

I learned so much, not only new biking skills and interesting new ways of teaching and awesome drills, but I learned how to cuss in Finnish (now I can proclaim “Pashka” in front of children and not get into trouble!!!)¬† and where Game of Thrones Dragonstone castle is (near one of the guys in the groups house!!!) and maybe, just maybe, I learned how to be a little bit tougher in cold, wet, weather!!!!

(i’m a Florida girl, born and raised, and for LIFE when it comes to temperature….if it’s below ~75 I’ll even ride with long sleeves!)

I’m forever grateful to our group and guides for being so awesome!!!¬† …and also for the ability to go on this amazing trip!

Here are some pix that I took JUST outside our B&B right before leaving St. Niklaus ūüôĀ *sniff sniff*

Our “Haute Route” Mountain Bike trip- Day 5

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with Alps Mountain Bike Guide Company starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland of Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.  The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents, but it was super fun.  The weather not always kind or  forgiving, but the scenery, food and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome! Apologies as this post is not full of bike porn pics, but the weather was so nasty-There will a link to some beautiful and gnarly GoPro footage a couple of paragraphs below as soon as Dave uploads.

This is what day 5 was like:

The weather was crap-nasty ūüôĀ

My ankle was still swollen, but felt much better, but I still wanted to bail on this day so badly…but I didn’t!!!

(*pat on the back*)

Since the weather was so bad, we were dropped off on a peak in order to avoid a climb in the cold rain.  There were two restaurants there.  I went into one and it had amazing decor and ambiance.  I think a pic of the bathroom in this place was practically the only pic I took unfortunately, because we were in a rush to get started while the rain was still super light.

I wish I would’ve taken more pix but we were so rushed all the time it felt like…I mean, nobody wanted to wait in the cold rain, so I get it…

The riding was wet and cold.¬† even the easy downhill sucked for me because I got so much mud in my face, and dripping down into my eyes…not even my glasses helped.

It took us 2 hours to cover ~5.6 hours before we were finally picked up by the shuttle van and¬† were taken to St. Niklaus to our B&B for lunch.¬† Since the rain cleared up, Dave and Toumas and one of the guides went on a little ride after lunch while a couple of us toured St. Niklaus in search of an ATM and newspaper to help dry our shoes. Dave has some beautiful Go Pro footage from this, which i’ll insert as soon as it’s up!!!

PRO TIP: When I later told my chiropractor, (who was also a mountaineer who had spent most of his life from birth in Geneva),  how unkind the weather was to us on this trip,  he said that the trick was to ALWAYS PLAN TO GO TO THE SWISS ALPS DURING THE FULL MOON.  He said that the weather was always clear during that time frame.  Man, I wish I had consulted in him BEFORE we planned the trip!!!!

No pix riding, but at least i got some pix from St Niklaus, below:

Grimentz, Switzerland to Unterbach- Day 4 of our Haute Route MTB trip

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with¬†Alps Mountain Bike¬†Guide Company¬†starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland of Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.¬† The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents, but it was super fun.¬† The weather not always kind or¬† forgiving, but the scenery, food and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome! Apologies as this post is not full of bike porn pics,¬†¬†but mostly scenery, buildings, etc. BUT as soon they’re up, I’ll add links to Dave’s GoPro footage of the mountain biking for the day here, as well as one or two of the videos I took that day, which I will post on my YouTube channel:

AND, you can also check out my¬† super cool “relive” video¬†using this link:¬†¬†https://www.relive.cc/view/1125284379

On Day 4 we woke up early enough to walk around and take pix of Grimentz, Switzerland.  Loved it. (I put most of them in the Day 3 post, though).

Here’s us leaving the B&B that we stayed at:

As you can see, the morning was dreary

The weather DID clear up fairly quickly though! The ride started out with climbing technical singletrack, a lift, and doing a bit more hike-a-bike up to the border of the Francophone side of Switzerland into the German-speaking side of Switzerland.

The guys joked that we all trained all wrong for this trip as we should’ve included much more hike-a-bike in our training…then we visualized hiking our bike everywhere we went, including the bathroom, etc.¬† pretty funny stuff..

We stopped at a little farmhouse to eat our lunch but didn’t realize that someone actually lived there!¬† She poked her head out of the window and offered us coffee! super nice, and she spoke both French and German…

Then came the super steep switchbacks on a technical downhill.¬† Some sections were so rocky! I actually clipped out in the rocky section to catch myself and as¬†I clipped out,¬† I slammed my ankle into the side of a rock hidden in underbrush HARD.¬† OW.¬† clipping out the rest of the day hurt so badly! My ankles are usually pretty skinny and bony! Not this one, not this time….

Below is the group waiting on the slower ones:

During the downhill, the woman who was close to my speed and her boyfriend hung back and worked on skills as they came down, whereas I was just bombing it and trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, all helter-skelter-like.

In the following days I definitely wish I would’ve done the same thing and focused on improving my skills more, because it just got more and more technical, though mostly due to the weather conditions,¬† and I really needed to have better technique.

Following all that downhill was the “forever climb” to Unterbach….¬† this was a LONG, 10 hour, almost 5,000 feet ascent, day and the most we could do is clean up, eat, and sleep afterwards….oh, and ice my poor ankle.

We didn’t explore Unterbach at all, although it didn’t look like it was half as adorable as the previous towns, so it was just as well.

Evolene, Switzerland to Beautiful Grimentz- Day 3

On August 6, 2017, we began a 6 day mountain bike trip with Alps Mountain Bike starting in the amazing, adorable, adventure wonderland,  Chamonix, France and ending in Zermatt Switzerland.  The trip was tough and included lots of steep climbing and hike-a-bikes and super technical descents.  The weather not always kind or  forgiving, but the scenery and little towns that we would have never visited otherwise were awesome!

…and here’s what happened on Day 3.

There will be no bike pix from me (see link for Dave’s footage once he’s uploaded it, below)…I woke up that morning, feeling HORRIBLY due to my sinus/ear infection and I looked at the radar, which showed a HUGE green and red blob COVERING practically the entire country AND a forecast high of ~37 F on the higher elevations.

So, I felt like pashka and it was absolutely inevitable that a VERY heavy cold rain would be falling on the group the entire day, so I had to bail.

Anyhow, I figured this would be just as good for the group as it would for my healing.¬† The ride that day consisted of climbing up, to the “Col de Torrent”, the highest pass of the trip (elevation 9,567 feet), then about the same distance descent to get to Grimentz.¬† The total ascent for the day was ~5250 feet, and¬† I did not want to have the group wait for me during that climb in the horrible freezing rain, and I needed to rest and get better!

Fortunately there was a doctor in the group who gave me some GOOD antibiotics, that actually WORKED, so I took those and SLEPT in Evolene until housekeeping kicked me out of the room at about 11:30AM.

I went downstairs to the cafe where Martial had been busy working all morning (our other guide, Thierry, was leading the group).¬† It wasn’t long before Martial got a call…”MERDE!” he said.¬† Apparently the group was getting HAILED on and the weather was so miserable that the group would not stop for lunch or any breaks, but would just plow through as fast as they could down to the next town, Grimentz.

We needed to be there and have their rooms and luggage all settled and ready for them when they came in, so we rushed by van over to Grimentz.  Ugh, I wish I had taken more pix of the INSIDE of SUPER COOL little B&B we stayed at! It was like a cave on the inside!

The group came back FROZEN! SHIVERING! BLUE!

I made a damn good choice.

Zero regrets.

You can see Dave shivering in his Youtube video.  I will attach the link as soon as he gets it up.  He did say that he learned a little trick for riding in cold weather: put one hand in your pants to keep it warm and ride one-handed, then switch (obviously not on the super technical gnar), but lol!

After an amazing fish dinner, we all crashed and i woke up early to tour Grimentz in better weather so that i could take pix!