20 May, 2024

How to spend one day at Universal Islands of Adventure, Orlando , FL

We have visited 3 Universal theme parks and 2 Disney theme parks in our vacation. The theme parks are huge and there are many awesome and not-to-miss rides. It is overwhelming to plan a trip to Disney / Universal. Please read this basic planning post before reading this 1 day itinerary of Universal Islands of Adventure theme park.

The purpose of this post is to make your planning easy. The list of rides and activities depend largely on the age of kids, your interests, patience for long wait times, energy, preferences etc., This current guide is made keeping in mind for a family with 2 kids aged 9 and 11years. 

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Tickets and App:

We purchased 3 park , 5 day tickets. 

From Universal site, that means -

The 3-Park 5-Day Base Ticket Dated entitles one (1) guest admission to ONE (1) Universal Orlando Resort theme park per day: Universal Studios Florida, OR Universal’s Islands of Adventure, OR Universal’s Volcano Bay. Ticket is valid for any five (5) calendar days during an eight (8) consecutive calendar day period which commences on and includes the date selected. The ticket will expire in full on the expiration date printed on ticket. Unused days shall be forfeited.

Check here for ticket prices. Ticket prices will vary depending on season. Also, consider packages including accommodations and early access. 

Image by Semevent from Pixabay

Installing the Universal App is very important for you to scan tickets at the entry, to check wait times for the rides, to navigate in the park, to check food stalls, restaurants, order food online, to check show timings etc.,

Here is the link to install Universal Android / IOS app. 

Express pass:

Let's discuss about Express pass. Express Pass allows you to skip long lines especially during peak seasons like during Christmas. 

All Harry Potter rides, Jurassic Park rides, Spiderman, Hulk etc., are very busy most of the time with minimum 1 hr wait times. 

If you have early access and can wait for 2 hrs for not to miss rides and don't have very young kids, you might not need Express pass at all. We didn't use Express pass and it worked fine for us.

If you don't have more time to spend in the park, here are the express pass options.

Early Access:

One of the best benefits of booking a vacation package or multi-day ticket is the Early Park Admission. 

Rides that might be included in early access (these will change by season and peak days): 

  • Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure 
  • Jurassic World VelociCoaster and 
  • Harry Potter and the forbidden Journey

Park is usually open at 8am and early access is at 7am. Please check in the Universal app the day before for the correct list of rides with early access.

We got early access due to the package we booked. 

Our Itinerary:

1. Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure 

We first went to this popular ride and the waiting time was around 1.5 hrs or more even with early access. But, this ride is completely worth the wait. You will be sitting on bikes for this roller coaster. 


This is the longest roller coaster in Florida which takes 3 minutes to ride and it is scary. There is a vertical drop as well. It has a lot of thrill elements to it. 

2. Harry Potter and the forbidden Journey

This is very interesting 3d simulation ride. The waiting lines also feature Harry potter characters and story. 

I enjoyed it better as it really gave me the feeling of flying on the broom. Yes, little scary at a few places and it might be tough for you if you have motion sickness.

Note: We skipped Jurassic World Velocicoaster as it seemed very scary with an inverted zero gravity stall where it will send riders upside down. It seems like most exhilarating ride if you love the thrill of roller coasters. There is a lot of waiting for this as it's a popular ride. Please plan in the morning to avoid long waiting.

We also skipped The Incredible Hulk coaster which has around 7 exhilarating inversions. 

We skipped Flight of the Hippogriff as we don't want another roller coaster ride. 

If you want to experience Hogwarts express train, you need park to park ticket.

3. Jurassic Park River Adventure

The waiting time is little high, but it is the best ride for families. You will get little wet at the end. Not scary and a pleasant ride for whole family with a small drop at the end.

We had lunch at this point near 'Popeyes and Bluto's Bilege Rat Barges' ride. There is a restaurant where you can watch the ride while eating. 


4. Popeyes and Bluto's Bilege Rat Barges

Wear the rain coats for this ride, because you will be drenching at the end of the ride. A wonderful water ride, we really enjoyed it. This might be my most favorite family ride. 

There are dryers after you exit the ride. Don't miss this ride!

We skipped Duddley Do-Right's Ripsaw falls due to big lines. But, this seemed to be an interesting water ride.

5. Pteranodon Flyers

Super cool ride. You can even do with toddlers. Not scary and enjoyable ride. This can be used as a little break as the surrounding area is a play area with climbing nets to explore.


6. The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman

Not scary except for a drop in the end. A fun ride with interesting story in waiting lines.

Skull Island has long waiting lines and we had to skip.

The high in the Sky Seuss trolley rides are fun for the parents with infants and toddlers. 

We skipped Dr Doom's Free fall, but you can try that if you love the thrill of free falls. 

Camp Jurassic is a an interesting play area for kids with slides, climbing nets to canyons and caves.


Mythos / Thunder falls Restaurant is beautiful to look at. You might need reservations to dine in. A photogenic place to explore.

The three broomsticks is a Harry potter themed dine in restaurant, but needs reservations.

Wimpy's - This is near Popeye ride with American cusuine like burgers and fries.

There are multiple restaurants at each section of the park and also fast food options.

Ordering online and picking up food always helped us to save the time.


Islands of Adventure has 3 shows - Frog Choir (A fund show with Hogwarts Students), Oh! The Stories you will hear by Dr. Seuss Characters, and Triwizard Spirit Rally.

We couldn't catch these shows at right time. 

Character Encounters:

Kids had fun meeting the Spider Man and Marvel heroes. You can meet Dr.Seuss characters, Comic characters like Popeye, Betty Poop. But, please be aware that there are long queues for meet and greets. Until unless you are a big fan, it's time consuming and can be avoided.

You can also shop for specific merchandise like Magic wands, Marvel t shirts etc., 

Photo Packages:

After you exit every ride, you can get photos. Below link has some photo packages. One day photos are around $89 which is really expensive. 

Photo Packages at Universal

After all these rides, we relaxed a bit, watched the holiday lights and returned. 

That's our itinerary for Islands of Adventure with early access.

We had complimentary shuttle access between the park and our resort, which is very helpful after a tiring day. Food at the resort is amazing and that made it easier to hit the bed early. 

The Endless Summer resort also has a few swimming pools, a lounge area, multiple restaurants, laundry and all other basic facilities.

Here is the link to reserve Vacation packages from Universal.

The next post will cover Disney Magic Kingdom.

Until next time,

14 May, 2024

7 Tips for Planning the Perfect Disney/Universal Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Planning a trip to Disney is overwhelming. At least, for me, it is. This would be an expensive trip considering the amusement park tickets, food, accommodations and travel. 

It requires a lot of planning as well. These amusement parks are busy on most of the days, and every popular ride has a lot of waiting. If we don't plan properly, and prioritize, it is tough to cover all important rides in less time.

Image by dazbrin from Pixabay

We visited both Disney and Universal last year with kids aged 9 and 12 years. I watched several youtube videos and read many blogs about planning for the trip. 

Here are some tips that I could come up with for anyone planning for a Disney /Universal Vacation or both. 

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When to book the vacation?

First and foremost, deciding the vacation dates as early as possible is important. The least busy times are usually Jan, Feb, late April, Early May, September and Early November.

We visited in the peak time in December, so there is a lot of crowd and more than 1.5 hr waiting time for popular rides.

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

Also, decide on which parks to cover and when. Since we have boys above 8 yrs, we wanted to spend more time on Universal than Disney. If you have kids less than 8 yrs or upto 10 yrs, they might like Disney more. It depends on individual preference. 

Book the resort package , theme park tickets and then, don't forget theme park reservation. For Disney, you need theme park reservation even though you booked tickets. For Universal, getting tickets is enough.

These are the official websites for Disney and Universal where you can check and book packages including accommodation, theme park tickets, early access, transportation etc.,

How many days to spend on each park? What Parks to cover?

Disney World in Orlando has 4 theme parks and 2 water parks. 

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Hollywood Studios
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Blizzard Beach and
  • Typhoon Lagoon

We covered only Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We want to visit EPCOT and Animal Kingdom the next time.

Image by Fabian from Pixabay

Universal has 2 theme parks and one water park.

  • Universal Studios
  • Islands of Adventure and
  • Volcano Bay

We covered all three.

We spent one day in each of the park. So, 5 days in total. We didn't take any rest day, but I highly recommend that you take a rest day in the middle of the week.

We visited Disney Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay and Universal Hollywood Studios - one park each day. We would have taken a rest day after Islands of Adventure. We used the day at Volcano bay as partially rest day. 

Where to stay and what are the options?

We stayed in Disney World Resort. The main advantage was the shuttle to the parks. If your vacation is less than a week, I don't know if it will benefit to stay in the resort, but our vacation was 7 days, it helped a lot.We reached Orlando Saturday evening and checked out next friday morning. 

The resort packages are very good for 6 nights including 2 day ticket with admission to 1 park each day, and transportation to and fro theme parks. We visited only 2 Disney parks from Resort,  but stayed in the resort whole week and traveled to Universal by cab. 

Image by bottlein from Pixabay

Food in the resort at any time we return is a biggest advantage. That's one less thing to worry when we are tired. The breakfast options are great too. Our tickets include early park admission too, that's very useful.

A few people suggest taking an airbnb for whole week. If it works out for your budget, and transportation is easy to theme parks, that's another good option. 

There are different types of resorts for different budget levels. 

What are the food options?

Though food is expensive inside theme parks, there are many options available. 

Our Disney resort has many food options of different cuisines including veg and kid-friendly options. We tried to have breakfast and dinner at resort, though a few days we had dinner as well inside the park. Especially when we watched the Fireworks show.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Food options are spread out inside theme parks and the only easy way is to use app and book it online. 

It's better to carry packed snacks and water bottles. There will be a lot of walking and expect to be tired and hungry. We might have walked 10 to 12k steps each day.

Carrying liquid iv hydration multiplier packs helped. 

How to Plan for Rides?

The whole planning above is one side and covering the rides is entirely different side. Disney and Universal apps are a must and without them, it's almost impossible to plan for popular rides.

Image by nitli from Pixabay

1. Install the respective app - Disney / Universal

2. Make a personal list of your favorite and not-to-miss rides (I will give suggestions about each park in future posts)

3. Use Early access from resort or tickets package to take the popular rides early in the day or take popular rides in the evening after 6pm or during fireworks

4. A few rides are always with waiting time over 2 hrs. For those, purchase lightning pass or Disney Genie plus ticket through app

5. With long wait times and proper lunch breaks, you can plan 5 to 10 rides per day. If it's not a busy season, you might be able to do more. With toddlers and below 6yr kids, you might have to follow your own pace.

What are the other activities and not to miss things in theme parks?

Disney is famous for its parades. So, try to catch one if you are nearer.

Disney fireworks is just beautiful and a not to miss attraction.

There are several shows in Disney and Universal that are very well done. (I will give suggestions about each park in future posts)

Image by Mirco from Pixabay

There are also some outdoor shows happening on the main streets of parks and don't miss the meet and greets with your favorite Disney and Universal movie characters. 

How to capture memories and how to get official photos?

Disney Photo Pass service is available near all important rides and locations of the park. You can ask professional photographers at these common locations to capture a photo or video of your family and add them to your Disney Experience app to print / download it later.

Image by hartono subagio from Pixabay

Memory maker is a service which collects all photos and videos of single day or for whole vacation for a single price. This service though little expensive, I cannot tell you how easy it is to create memories of your family vacation with professional photos.

You can also use Disney themed filters from Disney experience app, and there is an option to save video memories as well.

Universal offers 1 day or 3 day photo packages allowing multiple digital downloads. 

So that's about the important tips for your next Disney / Universal vacation! I know, I have just scratched the surface of vacation planning, Will go in details in the coming posts covering each theme park separately.

Until next time,

07 May, 2024

3 habits for mental peace #BlogchatterBlogHop

I have been pondering on these thoughts recently - What can we do for our mental peace? What's the recipe for relaxing life? In these days where we are always running behind tasks, how can we practice mindfulness and be practical?

May is Mental Wellness Month and I am sharing 3 habits for Mental Peace. 

3 years ago when I met an Ayurvedic health practitioner, the first advice she told me is to 'Slow Down' in my life. I always feel that's a great advice and following that benefited me more than anything. 

Slowing Down:

Why we have to slow down? Isn't this the age to work hard and earn? Later we might not have health, energy and age to our advantage right? 

But, the answer to that is to look at long term benefits. 

Image by kewl from Pixabay

In this generation, we work, manage home, kids and also try to spend time on ourselves, our hobbies. we take up so much stress and strive to become a perfect person in all aspects of life. I think, if you are like that as well, you need to slow down.

Slowing down helped me a lot with other things in my life. I started spending time on enjoying little precious things in life - going to library with kids and spending hours there, volunteering with dance choreography for events, enjoying the weather, nature, Sunrises, Sunsets, focusing on health, cooking healthy food, blogging, reading books, drawing zentangles etc., 

Trying to be the best version, not striving to be Perfect:

I have this habit from childhood to keep my hands dirty on different activities. I had this restless mind always pinching me to try something new. I am not an adventurous person, I don't even try new foods. But, I love attempting new experiences - travel, arts, writing etc.,

This mindset has been possible only because I just try to be the best version of myself, but not a perfectionist in all the things I do. We can definitely try to become better than our earlier version. But, Once we stress ourselves to be the perfectionist, we stop enjoying the process. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I love drawing zentangles. Initially when I learned, they were horrible. I got the best zentangle pens, started with basics. Then, advanced to copying simple art pieces that I can draw. If i criticize myself hard, I would have stopped drawing them. I think, we all need joy in our lives and our hobbies can give that if we don't self-criticize harshly.

Moving On:

This helped me a lot for mental peace. We all have goals, we reach some, we fail miserably in some, but moving on is the only next step.

Not expecting much from others and Moving on irrespective of result is great. What's the use of being stuck due to any issue? Life doens't wait and aging never stops anyways. There is only one life and we are responsible to make it wonderful or stressful. 

Image by Annette from Pixabay

We learn from the mistakes of our past, but we should focus on present. 

Choice is ours to Move on or Not

What do you say?

These are the 3 habits that I have that make me unique.

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Until next time,

This post is a part of Blogchatter Blog Hop.

Reasons to Choose Popilush Shapewear Dress

The dress is a great favorite among women, as it makes modern life easier by providing versatility when dressing. And who doesn't want to have a little extra time to spend on activities they love, right?


Therefore, Popilush offers a variety of suggestions that embrace women with different personalities. When you wear a dress with built in shapewear you get a more feminine and confident shape.


So, can a shapewear dress add practicality to my routine?

Yes, that's because it makes the way you dress easier, making you even more beautiful in just a few seconds. Furthermore, it easily combines with accessories and other clothes you want to wear. This saves you time when creating your looks, offering you the opportunity to live more peacefully and free from stress.

The shapewear mesh provides a more structured midsection, so your belly gains alignment to display a slimmer shape.

You can wear a black or white dress shirt to deliver timeless elegance. They match a scarf around the neck and can be worn open or with rolled-up sleeves. They are interesting overlays for long dresses, as they provide an assertive finishing touch to your casual look.


Can I achieve comfort and femininity with a single piece?

Certainly, Popilush dresses are made with the intention of expanding the personal power that each woman already possesses within herself. If you want to create a look quickly, you can invest in a black shapewear midi dress that always works. It is elegant, comfortable and at the same time can easily add sophistication to your look. The laser cutting of the openings embedded in the shapewear gives you a more symmetrical appearance and free from line markings.

You can also use your creativity to try new compositions and have fun. Fashion is more than simply combining pieces, it symbolizes a source of pleasure through which you can develop your personal expression. So, bet on colors like red, which is a classic and gives you an attractive look in just the right way, to make you feel more feminine than you already are.


Is there a way to try different styles with confidence?

Certainly a shapewear dress can help you with this task. Many women still haven't discovered which styles assertively match their personality, so they try new styles.

But if you already have your personal style, you can also try new horizons. Never forget that you are a free woman who can use fashion to create endless looks.

If you are used to more sober dresses, you can invest in a cheerful color to show good shape and fun through your clothes. To do this, try a mock neck leather dress in pink and expand your cleavage through the front zipper that this design has.

You may feel more confident at a dinner for two, shopping with friends or at a party. It defines all the lines of your body in a natural way. Furthermore, it is practical when using the bathroom, as it has an overlapping design in the area between the legs. Choosing a dress full of benefits gives you several reasons to live your femininity freely. Never forget that your self-confidence is reflected in the way you choose to relate to the world.

Until next time,


06 May, 2024

Family-friendly places to visit in Houston in 1 day


Houston is the most populous city in Texas and a large metropolis extending to Galveston bay. Houston has a lot to offer for all ages and I feel, we need 3 days to cover all the important points to see. We could spend only 1.5 days.


This is an old pending post. Actually, almost an year old. While work, family and dance school took over my priority, this blog has been quiet for sometime except for book reviews.

There are other travels posts pending to be published like Orlando - Disney and Universal theme parks. Hopefully, I get more time in Summer to publish all of them :-)

Here is the Itinerary:

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BAPS Temple (BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir):

BAPS Temple (BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir) in Stafford is a spectacle to the eyes with the beautiful architecture. The temple is open all year around for all faiths and the entry is free.


1150 Brand Lane
Stafford, TX 77477 USA

This temple which is inaugurated in 2004 is constructed with Italian marble and Turkish limestone. It is a peaceful and spiritual place. A canteen and a gift shop are available where you can get Indian snacks, religious books, CDs, postcards etc., 

The front area before the temple is serene with water fountain, whereas the interior is filled with exquisite religious carvings. The architecture follows Shilpa shastra and is due to the effort of many people contributing voluntarily for the construction and carvings.  

NASA (Jhonson Space center):

This visit is like a dream come true for any astronomy and space research lovers. 


1601 E NASA Parkway, Houston, TX 77058

Entry is around $30 per adult in 2024. Here you can check latest ticket prices and book online to save. 

Space center Houston is the official visitor center for NASA Jhonson Space center. Visitors can see 400 space crafts, learn about MARS mission and check the moon rocks. The eight story landmark 'Independence Plaza' by Boeing is a replica of shuttle carrying aircraft. 

The most important attraction is the tram tour, through which visitors can learn about human space exploration. Rocket park is amazing as we get to see Saturn V rocket from nearer. We can explore historic Mission control as well from where NASA led Gemini, Apollo missions, including first lunar landing. 

There is a lot of walking, and it takes more than half a day to explore space center. If you want to take breaks in the middle of exploration, there is a cafeteria to refresh and eat. It takes around 3 to 5 hrs to explore the area.

Sri Meenakshi Temple:

Meenakshi temple is located in Pearland in Houston metropolitan area. The presiding deity is Goddess Meenakshi, the consort of Lord Sundareswar(Shiva). 

Address: 17130 McLean road, Pearland, TX

This temple was inaugurated in 1982. It is great spiritual place with positive vibrations. Food is available for purchase in cafeteria. 


Galveston :

Galveston is an island city on the gulf coast of Texas. It is around 1 hr away from Houston. We drove and spent a few hours around Sunset in the beach.

There is a lot to do in Galveston though. Pleasure pier is popular for amusement rides, and restaurants. Moody Gardens is a great family friendly place with 3 large pyramids featuring aquarium, rain forest exhibits and NASA exhibits. 

Photo by David Olivares: https://www.pexels.com/photo/entrance-to-galveston-island-historic-pleasure-pier-17872831/

Gerald D.Hines Waterfall Park:

We couldn't visit this man-made waterfall due to lack of time. But, the pictures look great when I explored on internet.

This is a multi-story sculptural fountain surrounded by a park. 

Address: 2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056

This is the most iconic landmark in Houston and the entry is free. 


So, that's it about a quick 1 day trip to Houston. 

Other Attractions:

Hermann Park, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Bayou bend collection and Gardens, San Jacinto Battleground State Historic site, Cockrell Butterfly center, James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace and Kemah Broadwalk are some of the places I would love to visit someday. 

Until next time,

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