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Trip Report: Spring Break 2019, Part 3

193/365 Yesterday, I shared about using our Season Passes at Six Flags for Spring Break. Without the kids knowing, I planned a stop at Knott's Berry Farm that extended our trip another day. You can read Part 1 about our budget here, and Part 2 about the first half of our trip here. Thursday Keeping a Secret I have a hard time keeping surprises from the kids. I like to get them involved in the planning and hype them up for a trip rather than spring something on them. However, this time, I kept the Knott's Berry Farm portion of our trip a complete surprise. They knew I had gone on my conference trip and were insanely jealous. "We've NEVER been to Knott's Berry Farm! That's not fair!" I had…
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Trip Report: Spring Break 2019, Part 2

192/365 For Spring Break this year, we decided to put our Six Flags season passes to good use and head to California and Magic Mountain. Yesterday I shared our budget and savings. In today's post, I'll go over our itinerary and share what we did each day through the first half of the trip. Then I'll finish it up in tomorrow's post. Monday Unpacking and Re-Packing I had gotten home late the night before from a conference, but had left a packing list for the kids to do while I was gone. Unfortunately, I hadn't planned for all of the things I would need to do to get ready for this trip, less than 24 hours after I returned from my last trip. Lesson learned! Driving at Night Needless to…
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Trip Report: Spring Break 2019, Part 1

191/365 For Spring Break this year, we headed West to put our Six Flags annual passes to good use. In this part, I'll go over the budget, while the next part will include our itinerary and other fun stuff! If you click here, you can follow along on my trip budget spreadsheet as I go through each category. Entertainment I detest water parks, and even though we have one about a mile from our house, I have so far resisted the temptation to buy annual passes there. Well, resisted is much too strong a word. Avoided, vowed to never, changed the subject, pouted, and put my foot down. Luckily, my kids haven't pressed the issue, but this year, my girlfriend did. She told me last fall that if we bought…
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Trip Report: Universal Orlando, (Part 2) Day 5

153/365 In yesterday's post, we finished up our stay at Universal Orlando, but I had a small surprise for the kids: We're going to Disney! We stayed our last night at Pop Century to explore the Walt Disney Resort and have a character breakfast at BoardWalk Inn. You can read Part 1 about our budget and planning here, Day 1 here, Day 2 here, and Day 3 here. Pop Century Resort I was really impressed with the renovation that recently updated the rooms. It reminds me of the new Motel 6 rooms, but without the hit-or-miss quality of Motel 6. The second bed is also cleverly a table, and there are little nooks and crannies for storing things all over the room, especially near the bathroom. Another great feature is…
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Trip Report: Universal Orlando, (Part 2) Day 4

152/365 It's our last day in the parks. There's so much that we haven't done yet! You can read about our budget and deals in this post here, Day 1 here, Day 2 here, and Day 3 here. Packing Once More Since we were only at the Royal Pacific Resort for one night, we had to pack up and store our bags with bell services before taking the ferry to the park. I packed our bags strategically so that we could break from the theme parks midday to try the water park since our tickets include it, and today was the last day! Back to Universal Studios I don't even know what Islands of Adventures looks like from the front because we've never entered that way! Instead, it was back…
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Trip Report: Universal Orlando, (Part 2) Day 3

151/365 Our second day in the parks gets a little more interesting since we move over to the Royal Pacific Resort and pick up our Express Passes. You can read about our budget and deals in this post here, Day 1 here, and Day 2 here. Packing and Moving After having gotten myself to bed after 11:00pm the night before, I wasn't looking forward to getting up early to pack and move to the next hotel. Luckily, the kids weren't too keen on getting up early either, so I had plenty of time to pack everything up and ready to go after breakfast. We took a Lyft to Royal Pacific Resort, which is themed like a resort in Hawaii. It was really nice, and we were able to store the…
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Trip Report: Universal Orlando, (Part 2) Day 2

150/365 In yesterday's post, I wrote about the rocky start that our trip to Universal Orlando got off to. Today, we try to get back on track by going to the parks for the first time. You can also read about our budget and deals in this post. Late-ish Start In the morning, I figured that the kids would need to get some sleep after not going to bed until 2:00am, but then I realized that we would miss breakfast if they slept later than 9:30am. I woke them up with enough time to dress and go downstairs with the promise that they could go back to bed if they were still tired after breakfast. Hyatt House has a great free breakfast spread, and they were ready to go to…
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Trip Report: Universal Orlando, (Part 2) Day 1

149/365 I usually don't break my trip reports into more than two posts. Most times, Part 1 is all about the deal and the budget, and Part 2 is all about the itinerary. However, this trip is more complicated to write about than I anticipated, so I'm going to break the itinerary portion of my report into daily segments, starting with our outbound day, Saturday, February 2, 2019. You can read about our budget and deals in this post here. Cancelled Flight Our flight was supposed to leave PHX at around 10:30am, so we arrived at the airport at 8:30am, breezed through security with TSA PreCheck, and settled into the lounge. There was a message on my phone that our flight had been cancelled. You can read about that part…
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Trip Report: Universal Orlando (Part 1)

148/365 My kids LOVE Harry Potter. I read all of the books to them a few years ago. Now, the audio books are playing on our Echo device most days, and the movies are frequently chosen for family movie night. They both have wizard robes and wands, and know their Hogwarts House and Patronus. In 2017, we bought cheap annual passes to Universal Studios Hollywood at Costco to complement our Disneyland APs, so we have visited Hogsmeade there. However, Universal Orlando also has Diagon Alley AND the Hogwarts Express, so we knew we needed to visit there someday soon. Entertainment Back in April of 2018, I found a great deal on tickets to Universal Orlando through Daily Getaways, a fundraiser for the US Travel Association. Every spring, they offer a…
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Trip Report: San Francisco and the Bay Area, Part 2

119/365 At the beginning of July in 2018, we decided to tack a trip to San Francisco on to a trek to the Bay Area for a family birthday party. You can read how we saved and what we splurged on in my post all about our budget here. Now I'll go through our itinerary and give you our impressions of the attractions we enjoyed. Sunday, July 1 Early Flight In order to maximize our time in the city, I picked an early flight time to begin our trip. The only drawback is that we are not early risers (well, except Bryan), and the airport lounge is not open that early. We packed breakfast in the car on the way and made the best of the wait at the gate. Getting…
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