Celebrating A Birthday At Universal Orlando Resort #8

We had been staying at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort for three nights in their family suites, but this day was our check out day. It was also my Mum’s birthday which made it the perfect day to be moved into the two bedroom suite with Volcano Bay view for a further three nights.

Usually, check out for the rooms is 11am. I’d organised a late check out time for us so that we could enjoy a bit more of a slow start to our eighth day in Orlando. Our new check out time was 1pm although we didn’t stay that long. We woke at 9am and gathered our belongings to do the room switch over.

Our new room wouldn’t be ready until 4pm, the usual check in time so we left our luggage with the Concierge. They have a secure room to store things in free of charge. Then we took the walk to Sapphire Falls.

I said it a lot in my videos and have mentioned it a few times here, but Cabana Bay offer a bus shuttle. It comes every fifteen minutes and is a good way to travel to the parks. However, it follows the road and isn’t very scenic. Instead you can catch the water taxi from Sapphire Falls hotel which is literally across the road from Cabana Bay.

The water taxi follows the river and is beautiful. Each journey was slightly different with the drivers of the boats creating a great energy and atmosphere. They even allowed the girls to push the horn. It was so cool. So basically if you stay at the hotels that don’t offer the water taxi shuttle, walk to them!

This was our first adventure into the Universal parks of this holiday without our guide. I will always recommend doing a VIP for your first time as you learn your own way around the parks. Universal Orlando Resort has a brilliant app you can download that has a map, ride times, show times and where to eat. It’s a really good tool when you’re at the park. The parks all have WiFi too.

We are not newbies anymore so we knew our own way around. It’s quite good when you don’t feel lost and you can get so much more done. We had the two park tickets which allows us to hop between Universal Studios and Islands Of Adventure throughout the day and of course ride the Hogwarts Express.

We had made a rough plan of what we wanted to do with our day. We’d obviously started later than the previous day so had a limit. We decided to make our way to Seuss Landing first. There was some rides there we didn’t do on our tour as we’d already done them three years ago.

One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, gosh that was a mouthful. It’s a very child friendly ride that rises up and down and you may get squirted. We then moved round to ride the Seuss Trolley Train ride. That one is also a really cool child friendly train ride that goes above the Seuss Landing buildings. You get a beautiful and bright view as you listen to the story.

We then climbed aboard the Hogwarts Express to Universal Studios. We hadn’t managed to get on the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride the day before as it had technical faults. So we wanted to take Eva on it this day.

This ride is a thrill 3D and 4D ride. You sit in carriages and make your way through the bank. It’s quite scary in places and definitely not good for motion sickness sufferers. Eva absolutely loved it! Of course our little dare devil would.

The queue is always quite big even with our Express Passes. So whilst we was in the ride, my Mum took Freya and Elsa around Diagon Alley. I love the atmosphere of this area. Everyone is Harry Potter mad, loads of people wear the robes and use the interactive wands in various places. There’s shops to explore inside and restaurants to eat at. I’m a little sad though as I know we didn’t get to explore all of Diagon Alley, there’s just so much going on.

The Simpsons area was one we had only ever walked through. There’s a few food places, arcade stalls and a couple of rides there. It’s very colourful and offers great opportunities for photos.

We decided to brave the Simpsons Ride for the first time. It had all the usual motion sickness, health and safety notices so only Eva was brave enough. The Simpsons Ride is a 3D simulator ride and I’m telling you now, it made me feel very sick! It’s intense and probably one of the most intense simulators I’ve been on. Eva loved it though and I’m glad I did it.

Freya had been feeling quite panicky about the Universal rides. She’s terrified of the unknown and we have to use various persuasion tactics to get her involved. Kang & Kodos’ Twirl n Hurl was a ride very similar to the one in Seuss Landing called One Fish, Two Fish. For some reason Freya had a bit of a panic getting on. So we watched for a while then she eventually went on. I was really proud of her for overcoming that fear and she enjoyed the ride.

The E.T Ride was next on our list. This was another ride we failed to get Freya on during our holiday three years ago but did get her on during our tour this time. She loved it and Elsa also loved it. I reckon I could say it’s one of our favourite rides at Universal Studios.

We’d arranged to spend some more time with our guide. If this is the first post you’ve read, you may not know that we stayed in touch with our VIP tour guide from three years ago. She’s more like a family friend now. It’s one of the main reasons we’d been so desperate to get back to Orlando. We had organised to meet up with her in the afternoon.

We bumped into Dawn on our way towards the Barney area. There’s a brilliant indoor play area with lots of interactive areas. It’s a nice and quiet way to enjoy some time inside. There was actually only one other family in there.

We actually didn’t plan to see the Barney Show as we’d seen it last year. It’s also quite cheesy. Perfect for really young guests. But we happened to find ourselves there a few minutes before it started so decided to subject my mother to the Barney fun. There’s a great little clip of my mum dancing in my video below.

We then took a slow walk round to the Hogwarts Express to ride it one last time before heading out of the parks for our dinner. I was so excited to try out a new restaurant on the Universal City Walk.

Universal had kindly hosted us for my Mum’s special birthday meal at the Mexican restaurant, Antojitos. It’s tucked away in a corner of the City Walk. Our meal was booked for 6pm and the restaurant was quite busy and rather noisy.

We had the most amazing server/waiter for our table. He was so helpful and most of all patient as we navigated the menu at the same time as calming Eva down who just wanted a drink. 

For our starters we chose to have Nachos and some Elotes (roasted corn on the cob, jalapeño mayonnaise, cotija cheese, ancho spice & fresh lime). I never expected the corn on the cob to come out with the entire leafy bit too. It was incredible. 

The Nachos were also amazing and big enough to share so we had two portions. One which we asked to have plain with just the cheddar cheese on top. Then the other portion had the black beans on top. It also came with sides of house made queso, pico de gallo, guacamole and serrano chile. It was delicious!

I was really impressed with the selections of food available on the children’s menu. My girls love mexican food so I wasn’t too worried that there wouldn’t be anything for them but I was a little torn on what to choose.

On the children’s  menu there are Empanadas which are masa turnovers filled with cheese served with salsa, Grilled Chicken Breast served over roasted vegetables and topped with pineapple salsa, Tacos where you can choose either chicken or ground beef on a flour tortilla or hard corn tortilla, then there’s a choice of either chicken, cheese or veggie Quesadillas. Each child’s meal comes with a choice of grapes, applesauce or rice. The meals cost $6.99 which is so good in my opinion.

In the end we went for the safest option for our three girls and ordered three beef Tacos on a soft flour tortilla with grapes. You can’t go wrong with grapes right? Restaurants in America usually over do it on the portion sizes but this time the children’s meal was just right.

Next up to show you is our main meals, all three adults picked different food choices. The menu is really varied with salads, enchiladas, fajitas, tacos and specials dishes. My Mum picked to have the Camarones Tacos which was Guajillo marinated shrimp, fresh slaw, peach salsa served with rice. Hubby had Pollo (chicken) fajitas which looked amazing and Hubby said they were delicious. I had the Mole Enchiladas which is beef machaca, house made mole sauce, queso fresco, cilantro. I have to admit the green sauce wasn’t my favourite, I didn’t realise it was made from coriander my least favourite herb. However, the rest of it was so yummy.

Once again, it definitely felt like Antojitos had really got the portion sizes correct with these meals. There wasn’t so much food that made you feel ill afterwards. We all felt full and content. Our waiter returned frequently to check if we was all ok and top up our drinks. Whilst we was seated there was a live band play mexican music through the restaurant and on stage. There was a great atmosphere.

For dessert our waiter brought out one of everything on their menu. There’s six options to pick from all sounding equally naughty and delicious. I’m quite a fussy eater but have been being a little more adventurous when trying new foods so was excited to share the different puddings. Here are the six options and what we thought:

Tres Leche (Fresh berries and toasted meringue) –  Pictured top far left in the below photo. Eva really loved the fresh berries. I didn’t actually try this one as I’m not a berry or a meringue lover. It was well presented though and the perfect lighter option.

Natilla (Seasonal fruit, Mexican custard, ancho lime, fresh mint, churro) – This is pictured below to the far right, everyone agreed that this was the least favourite of the desserts. It was a bit weird tasting. The churro was delicious though!

Cheese Flan (Spanish caramel custard) – I’m pretty sure it’s the top middle photo. These were absolutely gorgeous!! I loved the crispy sugary texture of the outer layer. Teamed with the dollop of ice cream. It was so yummy.

Guava Cupcake (Chocolate cupcake filled with guava sauce, stone fruit salsa, espresso chocolate sauce) – Obviously it’s the bottom left photo. The cupcake was very sweet and surprisingly the girls enjoyed it.

Fried Ice Cream (Granola crusted vanilla ice cream, raspberry sauce, chocolate chips, churros) – Bottom middle photo. I have never tried fried ice cream and it didn’t disappoint. It was so gorgeous.

Cheesecake Chimichanga (Vanilla cream cheese infused with berries, pineapple salsa verde, sour cream ice cream) – Middle left photo. This pudding was like the Cheese Flan, it was slightly chewy but scrumptious.

Dawn met us at Antojitos just as we was finishing our desserts. The girls were so excited to see her and I loved watching them chat. Elsa also enjoyed cuddles. Anybody who knows Elsa will understand when I say we picked her name right – she’s the ice princess. 

The reason Dawn met us in the restaurant was so that we could head back into the park to watch the Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration together. I knew that places like SeaWorld and Disney have the fireworks celebrations but had no idea that Universal had their own one too. 

We had lots of time to spare before the celebration show. It was a great time to chat and get to know Dawn. She showed us the perfect place to stand for the show which was just behind a set of bins. No one stood near the bins so we had a great view. The only issue was that it was still so hot in Orlando even at 8pm, the floors were roasting so we stood for about an hour before the show began.

The Cinematic Celebration is a show set across the lake in Universal Studios. It is a mix of fireworks and water fountains, and they project snippets of the famous Universal movies. I had goose pimples on my arms as I watched in absolute awe. It was incredible! It is on quite late but it is extremely worth it.

After the celebration there is notably an influx of guests trying to get back to their hotels using the water taxi. We had held back when leaving but that didn’t help. I think we stood queuing for nearly an hour and there’s no air con as it’s outside. The girls were understandably grumpy as it was quite late now but those bad vibes were soon washed away as we checked in to our new Volcano Bay room.

As I said right at the beginning of this rather long blog post (ooops), we had been moved to a new room at Cabana Bay to experience a variety of what they offer. We now had three more nights in a Two Bedroom Volcano Bay View Suite. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but we was all blown away.

We took the lift to the 11th floor, opened the door to our room and was hit by the most stunning view of Volcano Bay. It was all glittery with the night sky and the lights. It was spectacular. The room was so much bigger than the family suite we was previously staying in. I was very excited to spend the next three nights in this room. To find out more about the room please see my review of the Volcano Bay view suite.

I hope that my Mum had a brilliant birthday. As always you can watch our day unfold in the video I created below. Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post. We’ll be back again with more fun in the next instalment.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

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