Family Forward Recap 2014 Part One- Where To Stay


We just returned from a whirlwind trip to Orlando for the Family Forward Conference. You may recall last year we attended the very first one and had an AMAZING time. When the invite came out again, we just couldn’t pass up another occasion to make family memories.

Last year it took me four posts to recap our time at the conference. But since a lot of the park info is still the same, I’ll just refer you back there for some great info on tackling Universal Orlando with kids and lodging at the Loews Royal Pacific (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4). We’ll see if I can pull off this year in three.

I went into the weekend unsure if Jyl and the Mom It Forward team were going to be able to top last year, but they did it! We had the BEST weekend and made tons of memories.

We arrived early on Thursday morning to the beautiful Loews Portofino Bay. It felt like we had transported ourselves to Italy!

Loews Portofino

The rooms are spacious and beautiful. And the property is filled with touches of Italy from scooters to Italian dining and marketplace to cobblestone walkways. And the pool!! We spent all our time at the beach pool, but there are two other pools on the property that offer a little more privacy (and more adult feel).

Portofino Pool


If you want to go to Universal Studios it is so worth it to stay on site at one of the three deluxe hotels. The main reason is that you get Universal Express passes for everyone in your room. This allows you to virtually skip every line in the park (with the exception of a few rides). On our last day in the park the crowds were thin enough that we basically walked right onto every ride and rode multiple times in a row with no wait. It allows you to get through so much more of the park then spending your day in lines. You also get early admission to Wizarding World which is so very worth it because you can’t use Express Passes on The Forbidden Journey and in my opinion that is the best ride in all of Universal.

We were also lucky enough to check out Universal’s newest resort Cabana Bay. While it doesn’t have the Express Pass option, it does still offer transportation to City Walk and early admission to Wizarding World. The prices for the rooms are more moderate and the facility is AWESOME. Paying homage to the 50s and 60s beach movie scene, the architects nailed it in every possible detail.

Cabana Bay

We were supposed to have a pool party at Cabana Bay on Friday night but we were rained out. Super big bummer but there is so much to do at Cabana Bay that it mattered little. We spent time in the arcade and even considered a game of ten pin. Yes, there is a full retro bowling alley right inside the hotel. If you are visiting Universal on a budget, Cabana Bay is definitely worth checking out.

Well I hoped to cover more in the first post but I am already over 500 words. More to come tomorrow……



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