Review of Vivo Italian Kitchen at Universal City Walk in Orlando

universal city walk

universal city walk

By now, most of you have read my review of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and my review of Cabana Bay Beach Resort but I still haven’t told you about one more part of my fun blogger trip…. Universal City Walk !!!

On our first night of our trip, we all got to head over to Universal City Walk which is located within walking distance of both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks.  It is a huge area filled with tons of restaurants, the AMC Universal Cineplex 20 with IMAX movie theater, Hollywood Drive-In Golf, bars and night clubs, gift shops and more.

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For dinner, we ate at Vivo Italian Kitchen which features delightful modern Italian cuisine created from tried and true family recipes.  It has an open kitchen so you will immediately smell freshly baked breads and see chefs mixing sauces, hand-crafting dough, preparing homemade mozzarella, making fresh pasta and sliding piping hot pizzas out of the oven.

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To start our meal, they brought out a plate of hand pulled mozzarella with virgin olive oil, balsamic glaze, olive tapenade and pesto oil.  Everyone at the table LOVED this.  I think near the end we were all fighting over who got the last one.

vivo-jars

Next they brought out tuscan toast and a platter of vasi-mini mason jars (normally you would order them each separately).  The ones they brought us were the Roasted Eggplant, Tomato Mozzarella, and Ricotta w/ Candied Walnuts.  I could have eaten both the Tomato Mozzarella or the Ricotta w/ Candied Walnuts as a whole meal.  WOW they are SUPER DELICIOUS !

Vivo-meals

For our entree, I chose the Parmigiano (chicken parmesan), Kyle chose the Pork Loin with garlic mashed potatoes and Kaley chose the lasagna.  These were all SO good and I would highly recommend any of them.

vivo-desserts

Dessert is always my favorite part of any meal and I was definitely not disappointed with the selection of desserts they brought out for us to try.  I think I dove into them so fast I forgot to listen to what they were (one was some kind of cheesecake and the other was like a lava cake) but trust me, they were amazing !

Whether you are a local or from out of the area, Universal City Walk is a great place to go for an entire evening of fun !

Disclosure: My trip was paid for however all opinions are 100% mine and not influenced in any way.

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Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay BeachResort

Universal Orlando's New Cabana Bay Beach Resort

A couple weeks ago, I told you about my fabulous blogger trip where I got to experience the newest Harry Potter area at Universal Studios, #DiagonAlley (see my review HERE).  What made this trip even more fun was that we got to stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal Orlando’s newest value-priced hotel, which is retro-themed to the 50′s and 60′s.   It is conveniently located within walking distance of both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure and is the perfect place to stay while vacationing in Orlando.  A big plus to staying here is that hotel guests can enjoy Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme park opens.  Also you can get complimentary shuttle buses to both Universal Orlando theme parks and Universal CityWalk.

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On our first day, we decided to arrive early so that we could hang out at their bigger pool for awhile.  It is 10,000 sq ft and features waterfalls and cannons for interactive fun, an iconic dive tower waterslide, kids splash pad area, hot tub, full bar and beach play area loaded with fun activities like corn hole, pool, ping pong, hula hoops, ladderball and more.  If you want to have a your own private area that is out of the sun, you can rent one of their cabanas which includes a TV and fan so you can chill out and relax while the kids swim. In the evening, you can make S’mores by the fire pit or watch movies on a large screen by the pool. While we were there, they played Madagascar :)

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Around 4:00 pm, we decided to go see if our room was ready and we were greeted by so many friendly employees.  Once we got to our room, the kids were in awe with how pretty it was.  The family suites sleep up to six and have a cool retro feel. They also feature a kitchenette with microwave, mini-refrigerator and sink. Kaley and I each claimed a bed in the one bedroom while Kyle pulled out the couch to form his bed which was super comfortable.  I don’t think I have ever seen a pull-out bed with such a soft mattress before.

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While staying at the hotel, you can dine-in or take-out at the food court which features a variety of food including burgers and milkshakes, pizza and pasta, a bakery, sandwiches and more.  Plus you may want to pick up their Sonic Fill unlimited drink souvenir cup.  For only $8.99 for one day, $11.99 for 2 days, $14.99 for 3 days or $17.99 for your entire stay, you can fill your cup up over and over again.

galaxy-bowl

On the second evening, after we spent the day at Universal, we came back to the resort and had a private bowling party at the 10 lane Galaxy Bowl.  The Minions even showed up to celebrate with us and dance with the kids.  It was a ton of fun !  This is such a great place for families to go together and you can even order food and drinks while you bowl.

jack-lalanne

If you are wanting even more fun with the kids, head over to the arcade which is located right next to the bowling alley and play some retro video games.  Or if you don’t want to miss your daily workout, you can hit the Jack LaLanne Ftness Center and get a great workout.

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On the last day of our trip, we decided to hang out at the second pool which is 8000 sq ft and has a lazy river, beautiful shaded pool bar and lots of lounge chairs and tables with umbrellas to sit at around the pool.  This was a much more relaxing pool for those that want a little more of a quiet day.  We actually stayed until about 3:30 pm and the kids were so sad to be heading back home.  I think I will plan a surprise weekend in a month or so to treat them to another fun weekend getaway.

Rates for the family suites begin at $174 per-night, and can run as low as $134 per-night depending on the length of stay. Rates for the standard guest rooms begin at $119 per night, and can run as $93 per-night depending on the length of stay.

Check out the video below about the hotel

To learn more or to make a reservation, call 1-888-273-1311 or visit UniversalOrlando.com.

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Review of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando

Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando

Harry Potter's Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando

As many of you know, I got the amazing opportunity to attend a blogger event last week with my kids at Universal Orlando where I was pretty much spoiled with fun for 3 days.  My favorite day was when we got to go check out the new Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando.  We started the day at 7 am and went straight for the new Gringott’s Bank ride.  On the way to the ride entrance you walk into the most jaw dropping area filled with all kinds of shops, window displays, dining experiences, attractions and more.  There is also a HUGE dragon guarding the bank that breathes fire that you definitely can’t miss as you walk towards the ride. gringotts-ride As you go through the line you will be surrounded by so many fabulous details from the movie.  I made a collage of some of the neatest things.  When you reach the front of the line you will be given 3D glasses to wear during the ride and let me tell you, this ride is so cool.  We ended up going on it twice because once was just not enough. HP-glasses Next we got to spend some time inside Diagon Alley playing around.  One of the coolest things they have added to the parks is the interactive wizard wands which come with a map that shows you where you can cast spells throughout both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.  You can choose between different characters wands such as Harry Potter, Hermione and Dumbledore (we got Hermione’s wand). map

As you walk around, look for medallions located on the ground and stand facing the direction that it points.  Above is a collage of 9 of the mediallions we found.  Notice how each one shows a unique arrow that explains how to wave your interactive wand to “cast your spell”.  Each medallion also has the word to recite while waving your wand (even though this part is not necessary for the spell to work, it sure is fun to say). HP-medallions

Below is a video of Kyle casting the “Aguamenti” spell which turned on the water fountain (watch the frog in the water fountain as he casts the spell).

Some spells are harder than others but don’t give up, some just take more practice to master. Once you think you have found all of the spots to cast spells, head over to Knockturn Alley and look at the map under a black light to reveal some hidden spots.

map-glow

If you see the sign like the one pictured below, it means the spell isn’t working at this time.  It took us awhile to figure this out (and then we would let others know if we saw them struggling to get a spell to work in a spot where there was a sign). inactive-spell

Around this time you will probably be getting ready for lunch so you will want to head over to the Leaky Cauldron to grab a bite to eat.  Make sure you order the butter beer because it is so delicious.  You can even choose a souvenir mug to drink it in like the ones below.  Also they now offer frozen butter beer (ice cream) which is amazing !  I could have eaten 3 bowls of it LOL  All the food was actually very good (I got a specialty chicken sandwich, Kaley got mac n cheese and Kyle got fish n chips).  I will definitely eat there for lunch when we go back to the park again.

butterbeer

Another really cool thing you can do while in Diagon Alley is trade your muggle money for Gringott’s Bank notes at the Gringott’s bank.  These come in denominations of $10 or $20 and can be spent throughout  both theme parks and City Walk.  I like that they don’t cost any more than the value of the note so its just a fun thing to do with the kids.  Below are pictures of the $10 and $20 (front and back). gringotts-bank-notes After you have had your fill of fun in Diagon Alley, you will want to head over to Hogwarts Express and ride the train over to Islands of Adventure to experience Hogsmeade (you will need a 2 park pass or annual pass to ride the train).  By the evening, we had to stop and get ponchos because it started to rain but that wasn’t going to stop our fun. hogwarts-train

As you walk through the line to board the train, you can do a really cool trick with your camera.  Have one person stay back at the luggage rack while the other person walks through the line.  It will look like they are walking through the wall onto platform 9 3/4 just like in the movie.  Its even neater if you video them walking through the wall !!! hogwarts-platform As you ride the train, it will feel like you are really riding Hogwart’s Express.  The amount of detail they put in each cabin is amazing.  Out the “window” you will watch a magical adventure take place (which is different each way) and through the cabin doors, you will see and hear Harry Potter and his friends talking.  Its a very cool ride (we actually went back and forth a few times that day). hogwarts-express-cabin As you can see, there is just so much fun to be had in the new Diagon Alley area of Universal Studios Orlando so you will definitely want to plan a day to play in the park.  I am even saving up for an annual pass because we all want to go back again and again. Speaking of annual passes, there is a great Florida resident special going on where you can get a power pass for only $189.99+tax and a preferred pass for $259.99+tax.  They even offer a Florida resident FlexPaySM option with automatic renewal so you can pay as little as $10 a month (see details HERE).

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Nickelodeon Suites Resorts Welcomes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Tutles #SummerofShell

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Last weekend I had the most amazing time at the Nickelodeon Suites Resorts and I had posted some of the pictures and events HERE, HERE and HERE but I wanted to tell you a little more about the TMNT coming to the resort.

TMNT-room

Along with all the other character themed rooms that are available, Nick Hotel now offers 10 newly designed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themed guest suites.  Aren’t these just the cutest. I know they will make any TMNT fan extremely happy !

turtle-pool-show

You can also see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during pool sides shows at the Lagoon Pool.  This was a really cute show and full of a ton of energy.  They also came out at one point to do autographs and pictures and boy did all the kids get excited about that.

TMNT-dinner

If you haven’t gotten your fill of the turtles, you can go to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character dinner where they will come to your table for a meet and greet and photos.  Got a sweet tooth?  They even sell TMNT ice cream !!!

TMNT-icecream

So plan your vacation now because Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael and Donatello will be spreading “turtle power” throughout the year with lots of special weekend events.  For more information and a complete listing of the events happening throughout the year, visit Nickhotel.com/TMNT.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter #DiagonAlley Opens July 8

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Its the news we have all been waiting for…. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando will open July 8 !!!

Kaley and I are seriously excited about this and can’t wait to check it out.  Will you be going right away?

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Meeting the Original Voice Cast of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #TMNT @NickHotel

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It’s been so fun meeting all of the original voice cast from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles !

If you would like to meet the cast, they will be holding special appearances all weekend at the Nick Hotel in Orlando Fl

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Checked in at Nick Hotel for Mini Vacation

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I am on a short vacation with my kids at the Nick hotel. The kids wanted to sign up to be on stage for double dare live and we got picked so I will be competing with Kaley at 7:15 and with Kyle at 9:15. WISH US LUCK !!!

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Update: Kaley and I were on team blue and we won !!! The prize for winning was the kids getting slimed lol

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And sadly Kyle’s team lost so the had to pie themselves in the face (I let my friend Jessica take my place for the second show)

double-dare-lost

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Florida Resident Wizarding World of Harry Potter Vacation Package Starting at $119

Diagon-Alley

Universal Orlando Resort is announcing an all-new exclusive vacation package giving Florida residents the opportunity to enjoy this year’s most anticipated theme park experience: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.  Travel for the vacation package begins June 29.

The new travel offer starts at $119 per adult, per night, tax inclusive for a three-night stay on-site at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and includes multi-day Park-to-Park tickets to experience both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. As part of the vacation package, Florida residents will enjoy access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, plus exclusive benefits like Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. They will also receive a specially themed Welcome Parcel delivered to their hotel.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Exclusive Florida Resident Vacation Packages

Summer Package: Starts at $139 per adult, per night, tax inclusive for travel June 29 to Aug. 2

Fall Package: Starts at $119 per adult, per night, tax inclusive for travel Aug. 17 to Oct. 2

Universal Orlando's New Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Includes:

  • 3-night on-site hotel accommodations at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – an all-new hotel inspired by the iconic beach resorts of the 1950s and 1960s
  • 2-day Park-to-Park tickets
  • Breakfast at the new Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley
  • Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme parks open
  • Special themed Welcome Parcel
  • Free transportation to both theme parks and Universal CityWalk
  • Book by July 31
  • Upgrade to one of three AAA Four-Diamond deluxe on-site hotels at Universal Orlando Resort to receive complimentary Universal Express Unlimited ride access to skip the regular lines at select attractions in both theme parks all day (a FREE benefit worth up to $89 per person, per day)
  • Vacation package also available at Universal Partner Hotels

To book a vacation package, visit UniversalOrlando.com. For additional information about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, visit UniversalOrlando.com/HarryPotter.

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Super Deal for La Nouba Show and Westgates Resort 3 Night Stay #WGEvents #LaNouba

LaNouba

WOW check out this amazing deal…

Get 3 Nights at Westgates Resort + 2 Tickets to the June 27 La Nouba show +  VIP dinner w/ open bar, DJ and prizes + a $100 Downtown Disney Dining Certifcate for only $269

GO HERE and use code BLOGGER to get the discount

Phone number to use -1-877-326-6003

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