So, after an amazing 5 days in New York City, it was time to jump on a plane over to Florida for the last 10 days of our trip. I’d never done Florida before, but the rest of our party were seasoned Florida explorers, so it was a weird dynamic change from how familiar I was with New York, but I had done weeks of research to make sure I was making the most of it.
We stayed in Disney’s All Star Music resort for 5 days, before moving to Universal’s Endless Summer Dockside Resort, so we had 5 days to fit in all the Disney parks and then 5 days for the two Universal parks, the water park and any other “mopping up” bits we wanted to fit in.
The days were very full on! We wanted to make sure we really did as much as possible, which meant waking up early and falling into bed late, but it really was the best time. It’s been almost a month and I think I’m finally recovering!
The day we landed, we got to the resort pretty late (thanks to the company not having any details of our transfer!) and we were all utterly exhausted, so we headed to bed ready for the next day’s early start.
Day One: Magic Kingdom
Day Two: Hollywood Studios
Day Three: Animal Kingdom & Typhoon Lagoon
Day Four: Epcot
Day Five we moved across to our Universal hotel
Day Six: Universal Studios
Day Seven: Volcano Bay
Day Eight: Back to Magic Kingdom
Day Nine: Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Day Ten we popped back to Islands of Adventure with the boys for Suessland before a pool afternoon and then off to the airport!
I’m going to do a post on each day because I have so much to say (quel surprise!) so this will be a bit more of a general post on Florida overall.
One thing I will say is that Florida, and in fact America in general, was not great for vegan food! There were a few vegan restaurants (we got Uber Eats two nights in Universal), but when it came to just having a vegan option in chain restaurants, they are so far behind England! Here you have the delicious KFC burger, two Vegan options at McDonalds and several options in Burger King, but there were none of those in Florida! The Burger King Impossible Whopper had non-vegan cheese and sauce (but in England it’s all plant based, so it is do-able), and Starbucks did the Beyond Meat Breakfast sandwich which we love at home, but they used real egg rather than a vegan version, which meant we couldn’t eat it – gutted!
Our hotels were both very different vibes but we really enjoyed them both.
Disney’s All Star Music Resort
All Star Music is such a colourful resort with fantastic theming. There are two pools (although we only ever made it into one!), one in the shape of a piano and the other a guitar – v cute. Every other night they played a Disney film on a big screen by the pool, and they had a campfire you could use to roast marshmallows – but we were so exhausted by the end of every day that we just didn’t make it to any of the evening events!
There were plenty of options in the canteen, although they seemed to be very similar, if not the same, every day. You could get a refillable cup for the soda machines which some of our party did, but we didn’t until we got to Universal. When we did eat in the resort’s eatery, we had a vegan meatloaf, and some delish veggies with gravy. The fries and PB&J sandwiches were also a huge hit – would recommend.
The resort had a laundrette which we did end up using towards the end of the week and it was super easy to use (she says as if it was her and not her husband who did the washing…!).
The rooms were basic but nice. We had a Murphy bed that folded out to create a table (Which the boys found fascinating on the first night. If you think that’s cool kids, wait until you see Disneyworld!) and another Queen sized bed (also – what is Queen sized?! She was quite a small lady really) next to it. We had a bathroom (the bath tub was amazing for soaking your aching feet in!), with a shower and separate toilet, a wardrobe, plenty of drawer storage, a big TV (which had some Disney stories on it, but no Disney shows or films that we could find which was weird! We managed to stream the iPad onto it though thankfully!), and a mini fridge and coffee machine.
Every morning we got the buses to the parks and we never ended up waiting more than 15 minutes for a bus. I will say that folding the double buggy every time we got on transportation was a ball ache (again, saying this as if it was me and not poor Steven who did it every time), but otherwise, it was really easy to get on.
The double buggy was a godsend and I cannot recommend it enough. Of course in New York we were all about the carriers, but I don’t think we could have done that in the Florida heat! Not to mention having to get them on and off when we wanted to get on rides. We didn’t want to buy a buggy at home (Steven refuses to let me buy any more pushchairs because they are a pain to store – spoilsport) and so a friend, who was basically our full Disney Guru for this trip, recommended Kingdom Strollers.
So Kingdom Strollers dropped off the double pushchair that we chose at our hotel, and we left it at our Universal hotel when we checked out – I couldn’t believe how easy it was to do. We got the Mini GT Double, which came with a cooler bag, a rain cover, and a drinks holder/parent console which was so useful to put our fans etc in when we went around the park. The boys loved the pushchair and Indiana had many a midday snooze in there while we walked around. Ruben is 4 and a half, so not usually found in a stroller, but Disney is so much walking in the blistering heat so it was absolutely necessary! For the 9 days, it cost $164.10 including tax and insurance, and although you could buy one for that price, the convenience was really worth it for us. I would say to try and get it delivered the day before you plan to go to the parks for the first time, however we were going to get in too late so poor Steven met them at 6am to get ours dropped off!
Another super useful delivery we got was a small Aldi grocery shop via Instacart. My in-laws got bread and cheese, ham, salad etc to make sandwiches to take into the parks, as well as bottled waters (it was cheaper to buy a 24 pack than it was to buy 1 single bottle of water in the parks!) We used reusable bottles for our water, but we did order lots of fresh fruit for breakfasts, and some crisps to enjoy too. We ordered the baby’s nappies this way too as it meant we didn’t have to lug them with us and a pack of 72 was $13.19! We didn’t use them all so passed them on to another family when we left. Top tip: we all ordered a delicious looking French stick in our shop… we later discovered that it was part-baked and needed cooking. My top tip would be to not do this.
Anyway, we got it delivered directly to the front desk who have a great system where they kindly store it all safely for you. The refrigerated stuff was in a fridge and it was no issues grabbing it when we got there. I think it’s pretty common and it was such an easy way to start the trip – when we’d moved to Universal and the group headed to a nearby Walgreens to top up on bits (while I laid and recovered from an infected tooth having been butchered by a demon dentist) it cost a fortune, and wasn’t a great selection, so I’m glad we did this.
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort Dockside Inn
Why this hotel has the longest name ever, I do not know. This hotel is definitely more of a grown-up vibe – not an animated character in sight! I will say that it is bloody huge! We ended up on the top floor, in the corner furthest from the lifts so it took ages every time we wanted to leave the building. We stayed in a family suite and it was lovely. We had two bedrooms – so myself, Steven and the boys were in the main part across two beds (usually an adult and a baby in each bed – sometimes me in bed with both children, occasionally all 4 of us squeezed into one bed). There was an open plan kitchenette and dining table, and double sink. Then a bathroom with a shower over a tub, and a separate bedroom for my MIL and FIL.
It had a lovely pool, with a bar – but I will say that there was a real lack of lifejackets for the little ones. The Disney pool had more than enough, but it was rare that we managed to get one for each of our two.
In terms of the food, there was a lot of choice – unless you’re vegan of course. We did have a nice vegan burger a few of the nights, with delicious chips, but when Steven tried to get the kids a fresh pasta, it took forever and then, despite explaining it needing to be vegan (the baby is allergic to egg and milk so it’s not just us being picky) they finished it off with a big sprinkled of cheese…! So it wasn’t quick by any means but it was fine.
Again, the buses were regular and easy to get to the parks. Unlike Disney, they didn’t seem to be on a set timetable, just came and went when the previous one was full.
I really enjoyed both hotels, but I did feel like the Disney hotel was (naturally) more geared towards children and families. I’d have loved the space of the Dockside inn rooms, but with the fun and theming of All Star Music. We probably spent more time in our rooms/the hotel in general in Universal because Disney was so non-stop, so it was great that the room was more spacious.
If (and by that I mean when) we head back to Florida in the future, I think we’d stay at Disney for the whole time, as Universal didn’t have as much to do for the little ones, and there’s still so much more that we want to do at Disney! So watch this space…