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Universal Detour

by Meghann on November 20, 2011

I need to do a mini-review of the Homewood Suites we stayed at off of International Drive last night. Basically, it rocked. The standard two-room suite was such a great deal for the price. The rooms were large and clean, the mini kitchen included a fridge, microwave, and stove top, it was within walking distance of Howl at the Moon, AND there was a complimentary hot breakfast in the morning.

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Everything I look for in a cheap hotel room and more. Score. 🙂

We took advantage of the free breakfast this morning and filled our plates up with eggs, pastries, and fresh fruit. I was really eyeing the waffle station, but stuck with the eggs. The extra-crispy piece of cinnamon raisin toast took care of my carb-y cravings. 😉


The hotel was right across the street from Universal and it seemed silly not to stop in for a short visit. Our Universal passes are set to expire in April and we have no plans to renew them, so we have to take advantage of them while we can!


Plus, I was really hoping to see all the Grinchmas decorations. I’m admittedly obsessed with all things Christmas related at the moment. Thanksgiving? What Thanksgiving? 😉

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I LOVE how they transform Seuss Landing for the holidays. Holiday cheer EVERYWHERE!


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Oh, we rode some rides too.


We have Islands of Adventure and Universal down to a science with getting in and getting out in a couple of hours. First we take advantage of all the rides with short waits.




Hulk and Spiderman each had 30+ min waits, but we walked right on via single riders. Harry Potter is another great single rider ride. I’ve never waited more than 10 mins for Harry Potter (even when the line is up to 120+ long) thanks to the single rider option. If you ever go to Universal, don’t waste your time in the regular line, use the single rider option and thank me later. 🙂

We were in and out of Universal before noon. Derek and I made a mini pit stop at Whole Foods for lunch. I’ve been seriously lacking in the veggie department lately, so I filled up with almost every veggie option at the hot bar and shared the 2+ pounds of food with Derek.


Mmmm…. veggies. 😉

We also made a mini pit stop at Starbucks in Plant City. BOGO holiday drinks anyone? I tried my first Skinny Peppermint Mocha and was impressed with just how deliciously sweet it was. I’m in love. 🙂

Now we’re home and gearing up for a little Sunday cleaning.

CONGRATS to all the marathon and half marathon finishers today!! I LOVED watching my twitter stream blow up with so many early morning accomplishments. You guys ROCK! Seriously. 🙂

1 Chloe (In Fine Feather) November 20, 2011 at 3:02 pm

A few friends and I are planning on going to Orlando to tour Universal and Disney World at some point so I’m glad to hear that Homewood Suites is a good place to stay that’s relatively cheap. Any other hotel suggestions for the area?
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2 Meghann November 20, 2011 at 3:07 pm

You can email me with additional questions, but I would suggest staying on Disney property the days you plan to be at Disney (the ‘value’ hotels are nice and just so convenient for the parks), then staying off of International Drive (the Homewood Suites was great) for the days/nights you plan to go to Universal (they even have a shuttle that will take you to Universal).
Meghann recently posted..Universal Detour

3 Krystina (Organically Me) November 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm

If you can, I would totally suggest staying at a Disney resort for the days you’ll be at Disney. There are great deals for the resorts + park packages, and it really makes the experience incredible. The first time I came to Florida (years ago – it’s now my home!) I stayed at the Caribbean beach resort and it was probably my favorite vacation.

If you stay on/around I-Drive, make sure to read reviews! I-Drive can be a crazy area and there are some skeezy places.
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4 Army Amy* November 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Your outfit is so cute!*
Army Amy* recently posted..NYD Training: T-Minus 6 Weeks

5 Sana November 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I was also stalking Twitter for all the runners today! Hahah
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6 Krystina (Organically Me) November 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I always use the single ride option for all the parks! It saves SO much time and is just as fun. 😀 I can navigate Universal so quickly it’s like second nature.

7 Heather November 20, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I so miss Disney and universal at Christmas! Your posts are making me itch to go! Why did I not plan a trip?! We always use single rider I’m Disney for things like test track etc.

8 Lisa (bakebikeblog) November 20, 2011 at 3:34 pm

what fun!!!!
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9 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats November 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I didn’t realize they had a Dr. Seuss Christmas area! I love the movie!!! Oooo and whole foods salad bar – always good!
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10 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife November 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm

HOW fun!! What a great day. How cool that that is all so close to you!
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11 Hillary November 20, 2011 at 4:37 pm

I had my first skinny peppermint mocha today, too! Helloooooo holiday goodness.

12 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen November 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I had my first skinny peppermint mocha today after the Philly half! 1 pump and it was delicious! Definitely my new fav holiday drink.
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13 emily November 20, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Grinchmas, eek! I am always so jealous of your theme park access.

14 Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) November 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Oooh, how fun!! I’ve never been to Universal!
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15 Courtney @ The Petite AthlEAT November 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm

The single-rider option is THE BEST! I saved my brother and I when we visited. 🙂

16 Chuck November 21, 2011 at 12:59 am

I know you just went, but want to go to Disney World this weekend or next? I really want to go for the Christmas festival… and I have free parking!
Chuck recently posted..ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championships

17 Crystal Coppel November 21, 2011 at 2:12 am

Sounds like fun! I love going to the howl at the moon in Chicago. If you’re ever in Nashville you have to checkout the big bang dueling piano bar. It’s the BEST!!!!!

18 Hope November 21, 2011 at 8:01 am

Universal is so fun! My fiance and I went one year when it was decorated for Grinchmas! There is just something special about going to amusement parks when they are decorated for the holidays. Looks like you had fun! 🙂
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19 Irina G (Fit Flexitarian) November 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

OMG Can I just tell you that I’ve been to Universal and Islands of Adventure almost every year and never even THOUGHT to take advantage of the Single Riders option?! I can’t believe I’ve been so dumb as to wait in line all this time. Never doing THAT again! And isn’t the Harry Potter ride fantastic? I luvs it to death. I’ve never been there in time to check out Grinchmas– will have to do that this year!
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