End of Tess’s Birthday Trip – July 2020

End of Tess’s Birthday Trip – July 2020

When we bought our Universal tickets we did the Buy Two Get Two Free deal they had going on. We knew the girls and I wanted a day at the parks together and that we wanted a family day at Volcano Bay together for Tess’s birthday. So the girls and I for sure needed two days and we figured it made sense to just go ahead and do that package deal.

Here locally the 6th graders take an annual field trip to Universal. With the pandemic, we are assuming that field trip won’t happen for Kye so it really made sense to do the four park days for him and Zach too so he could also experience the parks in place of that field trip! Our big kid day was perfect for that and I felt like he got to have a super great experience so no Mommy-guilt here when that field trip ends up a no-go.

It was really a win-win all around and gave us “bonus days” to play with while on our trip. Since Disney is limiting the number of park days allowed per person (3 for pass holders) we used most of our stay over Tess’s birthday trip on Universal days!

It also all worked out well for Mrs Charlotte. She is a Disney Annual Passholder and we really didn’t want her to have to spend additional money for the Universal parks. She was able to just get the one day pass for Volcano Bay for Tess’s bday and didn’t need to mess with the larger vacation package as we were able to revolve our park days around her stay during the trip.

She had to go back to Valdosta for a day and on that day we went as a family to Volcano Bay again! The girls and I had used three of our four days so this was our “bonus day” and Zach and Kye had used two of their park days so they had this day with us and then an additional day to go just the two of them to the parks and do all the rollercoasters and have some dude bonding πŸ˜‰

We felt REALLY comfortable going back to Volcano Bay. It really is SUCH a great family park experience and I think it’s perfect for LITTLE ONES or ones that are over 44 inches tall. That in-between stage is tough, Tess last year during our first visit is an example of that.

For now there is enough to do for Spear to be happy and content and have fun…but here in the next couple of years he will struggle too with boredom until he’s tall enough to ride the big deal slides. So now really is an ideal time for our family to enjoy it while we can!

Volcano Bay is the LEAST impacted by the health and safety measures at the parks as they are a water park and do not require masks. They also have always had a virtual que so it’s already part of their park process. When you enter the park you are given a watch type band thing called a TapuTapu and you can scan it at the entrance to a slide and it puts you in a virtual line and lets you know when to return! Super cool feature and totally FREE.

We got settled in the toddler play area and had a good understanding by that point of what the “must do” slides were for the big kids before the crowds started coming in. Our first day at the water park was a Friday and this day was a Sunday so we knew it’d probably be more crowded earlier due to it being a weekend, and we were right.

The newness and excitement had also worn off for Spear and he had totally skipped nap the day prior while we were at Disney so I suspected he’d be a bit of a struggle – and I was right.

The great thing about Volcano Bay is the layout and there is a toddler area connected to a bigger kid area and directly across from a little beach area and very close to the bathroom and pool area.

I could walk quickly to all these areas to keep him happy and busy!!!

The kids play area is REALLY cool and well done with LOTS of little mini areas to play and explore. The girls revealed their “secret cave” and Spear loved waving at the people in the lazy river passing by!

We also discovered the massive wave pool as well as regular swimming pool by the Volcano! It was a game changer opening up even MORE options for us to enjoy as an entire family!

The only downside is that all kids under 48 inches have to wear a life vest in the pool areas…even if they can swim…so that meant even Tess. She was annoyed by it but did well with it once she understood it was just part of the rules.

A really cool part about hanging out by the volcano is that we could see Kye and Zach when they went down the big Volcano drop slide! Def one of their favs at the water park!

We also discovered that the bands activate fun features throughout the park too…certain spots can be tapped to uncover changing lights under water and spraying features too.

It was such a great, chill morning! We even felt comfortable enough to let Kye do a few things on his own and have a meet up spot to come find us at. I love that it’s an easy to navigate area to allow for everyone to do things they enjoy! I’d love to bring friends with us sometime as it’d be fun to let the kids GO and do together!!!

We left again right at nap time and headed back to the house. It’s a bit of a longer drive to Universal than to Disney from our rental home. Still only 20 minutes but long enough for Spear to be CASHED OUT which, of course, messed up his afternoon nap!

Back in April we were supposed to be at Disney over Spring Break to celebrate Kye’s birthday but obviously that wasn’t able to happen. The thing he had been most looking forward to was his birthday celebration dinner at Dave and Busters. Kid LOVES some gaming!

We got pizza and ate dinner at the house to keep it cheap and then drove over to Dave and Busters to play some games in honor of Kye’s birthday…5 months late πŸ˜‰

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the girls and I were also supposed to have our Disney Cruise over Spring Break. I’d purchased a bunch of coordinating outfits for us to wear on the cruise and since who even KNOWS when that will actually happen I decided to have us wear as many of the outfits as we could over this trip. They loved it! I loved it! We just looked extra summer vibes everywhere we went πŸ˜‰

Wouldn’t these outfits be SO ADORABLE on the cruise ship!?! Crossing fingers they still fit by the time we’re able to sail!

I haven’t been to a Dave and Buster’s since High School but Zach and Kye have been a couple times and Kye was thrilled to get to go again. We spent $40 and it was PLENTY of credits for the kids to play to their hearts content. It lasted us about 2 hours which isn’t too bad! They also earned a bunch of “tickets” which we elected to just keep on the card and bring back sometime in the future to spend πŸ˜‰

I swear the “spending the tickets” part is the worst at arcades!

I was surprised by how family friendly the entire experience was. I had assumed it’d be the kids playing and us trading off keeping eyes on everyone but there were actually a TON of family games that allowed us to play together.

Yall know I whooped Kye in some Mario Kart πŸ˜‰

We don’t allow violent type games at home but in an arcade for an occasional thing it doesn’t bother me as much and I’m not going to overly worry about something that is for such a brief time! None of them were overly gory or gross or violent so we just rolled with it and let the kids take the lead on what they wanted to spend their “tokens” on.

It was funny we had to wait for AWHILE for this one middle aged lady to give up a game she was obsessed with. It’s SO random to me to be that invested in a game at a place like that? I guess everyone has their “thing” huh?

I was pleasantly surprised at how well Spear did. There were plenty of things to keep him busy without having to actually spend any money on him and the bigger kids did good including him too!

It was also interesting to see how Dave and Busters handled all the health and safety stuff when we’d been in the theme park bubble that week. It was a VERY different experience. Masks were required but there was zero enforcement and very close to zero participation. The only real “measure” they seemed to have taken was a big jug of sanitizer sitting by the bathrooms and that was it.

We never saw any of the machines being wiped down or cleaned or sanitized or anything! It didn’t really bother us personally but it was interesting to see. I mean people are ripping the theme parks APART on Twitter yet I never see anyone saying anything about Dave and Busters! People pick and choose who to hold accountable and who to have certain standards for. It’s pretty crazy.

We had a LOT of fun and it filled Kye’s tank full to get to have an experience he really enjoyed during our trip. I was thankful we were able to go and even though it wasn’t close to his birthday, he felt special and celebrated a bit too πŸ˜‰

We got the kids into bed nice and early to give them a good nights rest! G-Mama got back to join us at the house for the rest of our trip!

On Monday morning Zach and Kye headed out for their solo morning of thrill seeking at Universal. The girls, Spear, Mrs Charlotte and I took our time getting rolling and then headed over to Disney Springs.

We were on a mission to find a new ring for Britt as she has outgrown hers and I’ve had the toughest time finding a replacement! At the time pass holders were also getting 30% off merchandise so it was a good time to do a bit of shopping and exploring.

It was also a good excuse to wear our last of the coordinating cruise outfits πŸ˜‰

I absolutely LOVE shopping with my girls! It is SO FUN! You know how when you get together with girlfriends and get super giggly and everything is funny and the moment is just extra fun? It’s like that every time I take my girls shopping. It’s always a BLAST!

We love just looking and saying “oh my gosh I LOVE this” and “oh my goodness this is SO CUTE” at everything. We’re basically professional browsers πŸ˜‰

It was EMPTY when we got there at opening and never felt overly crowded!

It was fun seeing the updates – a little sad seeing the Mulan ads. But the new Lego designs are awesome and a fun surprise!

Disney Style is my favorite store at Disney Springs but we spent most of our time in World of Disney. G-Mama wanted to get each kid a little prize. Spear got a Choo Choo Mickey whistle the day before at Hollywood Studios. Kye wanted to wait on his prize since he wasn’t with us.

The girls took their time hunting JUST the right prize. Tessie LOVES bags and purses and finally settled on this adorable castle crossbody. Britt couldn’t resist BABY YODA and neither could Mommy πŸ™‚ We HAD to have him!!! Spear said “MY BABY YOGA.”

We headed back to the house right at lunch time to get lunch and take naps!

The guys had an awesome morning! They were able to WALK ON to Hagrid’s TWICE with ZERO wait! They also rode Hulk, MIB, and Rip Ride Rocket with NO lines. No Express Passes even needed!

They had a blast and I love that Zach got a great video of Hagrid’s. Be sure to watch the video in this post until the end to see it πŸ™‚

Tess’s birthday trip was coming to an end…but of course…we had one last surprise up our sleeves πŸ˜‰

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Emily Parker

Hey Y’all, I’m Emily! I’m a stay at home mom and consider parenting to be my passion. Disney is my happiest place and I love making memories as a family together. I’m a big believer in transparency and share all of my real-life moments as a mother of four.

My work has been featured on Love What Matters, Today Parenting and Babywise.Life. I’m also honored to be a member of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network.

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