Orlando trip: Disney and Universal Islands of Adventure in December for Christmas

Last year we decided to take the kids to Orlando before they got too much older. We thought it would be fun to do the week prior to Christmas since we’ve been to Disney before, but we’ve only been there in the summer.

We found a great deal on VRBO for a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom townhouse that was about 9 minutes from Disney in the Windsor Hills plan.  (link provided above)


It was so clean and so convenient with a little splash pool and a full kitchen. The pool in the complex was spacious and clean as well. We spent our last day at that pool. Walmart is about 3 minutes away and the landlord was very friendly and easy to deal with. She would answer any questions via text quickly!

Our first day, we didn’t go to any of the parks but we did go to Downtown Disney for dinner at Bongo’s Cuban Cafe.


The food was great and the entertainment was fun and lively!

Magic Kingdom

Our second day, we went to the Magic Kingdom.


Of course it was crowded, but it didn’t seem as crowded as it is in the summertime.

We took the ferry over to the park and back instead of using the Monorail. I like the ferry best due to the visual of the castle.

The Christmas decorations were great at Disney. Finally all 5 of us could go on most of the rides all together, so that was a plus!

I purchased Magic Bands for all of us because I paid for the Memory Maker. When we would get our professional photos, we could just scan our bracelets and when we split up, our photos still got sent to my Memory Maker from the rides. It is expensive at $169, but we got some great photos of our family and I don’t know if we will be going back anytime soon.

One tip if you’ve seen the fireworks or don’t care about them, head to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during the fireworks. We didn’t have to wait at all. We just ran right up there and got right on the ride. It’s such a short ride to wait in long for a long period of time.

Universal Islands of Adventure

The next day we went to Islands of Adventure, which ended up being the favorite park of the whole trip. We did a Breakfast with the Grinch, which was so much fun.

The food was really good and the characters at Universal spend a lot of time at your table and with your family compared to Disney. The Grinch character was absolutely hysterical and the Cat in the Hat sat at our table and played tricks on our family.

We had so much fun all throughout the park.

Harry Potter’s section is absolutely amazing and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is one of the best rides I’ve ever been on.

The Jurassic Park area is spectacular and so much fun. My kids loved the water rides. There are 3 water rides.

Jurassic Park has one water ride which is so much fun as you go through Jurassic Park and end with a big dip that gets you wet! Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges was fun, but Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls was the favorite ride of my kids. We rode it multiple times.

Our two older kids rode the Spider Man ride and the Skull Island: Reign of Kong ride. They loved both of them.

We ended with the Hulk ride. Our youngest wasn’t tall enough but they do the ride sharing, so my husband waited in a little waiting room so after I got off, he could get on and I could stay with the youngest. It goes 67 mph, so it isn’t for the faint of heart! You have to put your phone and any other loose objects in a locker prior to coming in. There are metal detectors, so they will catch you! That was probably my favorite ride. It is definitely a thrill seeker ride, but I loved every second of it!

This park was my family’s favorite park. They are begging to go back to Universal so they can go to Volcano Bay and Universal Studios.

!!My Big Tip!!

Bring flip flops and small towels in your bag and change into the flip flops prior to getting on the water rides. Bring ponchos!! If you have ponchos, flip flops, and towels, then you won’t be miserable the rest of the park and you can enjoy the fun of the water rides. My family had so much fun on the water rides!

Disney Hollywood Studios

Our last park was Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This was our second favorite park.

We really enjoyed the rides here. The Muppet show was one of our favorites; it was very funny!

We did the Fantasmic Dining Package and ate lunch at Mama Melrose’s and got special tickets for the nighttime spectacular show called Fantasmic. Normally people wait for long periods of time for seats there, but we were able to get second row seats right before it started with these tickets. Mama Melrose’s was surprisingly very good! We’ve never been big fans of Disney food, but I was pleasantly surprised.


We loved the Tower of Terror! That was one of our favorites.

My kids have always loved Toy Story, so they were very excited to see Toy Story Land.Toy Story Land is just fantastic. Disney thought of everything when they designed this section! I would not recommend waiting longer than 10 minutes for Alien Swirling Saucers. It is short and not too exciting.

Toy Story Mania is a blast! We had so much fun playing all the games and comparing our scores.

We weren’t able to get a fast pass for Slinky Dog Dash, so my husband and the two older kids went to Aerosmith Rock and Roller Coaster while the youngest and I waited for 90 minutes for Slinky Dog Dash! I never thought I would wait in line for 90 minutes ever, but he has been wanting to ride this ride so much that we waited. It was totally worth it and so much more fun than I imagined it would be!

The Fantasmic show was very entertaining and you will get wet if you sit too close!


We had a great trip and next time we will probably just do Universal Studios and Volcano Bay. Orlando in December is definitely worth seeing. All of the parks go above and beyond with the decorations!





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