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'Despicable' Daddy-Daughter Trip at Universal Orlando: Minion Mayhem & VIP Experience

A three-day weekend that involves flying with your six-year-old daughter to Universal Orlando for a special Despicable Me 2 and VIP Experience weekend is time well spent.

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru

Bella and I connected over the weekend like never before. We attended a special screening of the upcoming Despicable Me 2 (in theaters July 3!), rode "Minion Mayhem", went on a scavenger hunt across both parks and were given a special VIP Experience of Universal Orlando.

First, there were "Blue Men"... From the paint, colors and audience interaction, I enjoyed seeing Bella's amazement at all the interesting visuals of the show.

After the show, we met one of the "Blue Men." Bella was scared and wasn't excited to have her picture taken with him. Noticing Bella's tentative stares, the Blue Man slowly walked over to us, and without a word, slowly took my iPhone from my hand and proceeded to snap a selfie. This may be something the Blue Men do every night, but for Bella and I, we felt like rockstars as we left the show!

Here's the pic...this Blue Man is not only an on-stage talent, he's pretty good with an iPhone too.

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, blue man group,

The Blue Man is actually holding my iPhone for this picture!

Minion Mayhem
This ride starts in Gru’s living room! Gru recruits you for one of his latest villian experiments. This experiment? He wants to turn you into a Minion!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem,

Here's Bella standing in Gru's living room!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem,You wait in line in Gru's living room. The ride hasn't started yet!

After surviving "Minion training" you are now a minion. Margo, Edith and Agnes' Adoption Anniversay is coming up and the girls aren't sure Gru's remembers. I won't give away much of the ride; but know the storyline of Gru adopting the girls plays a major role. As a dad who works for NFI, I was blown away by the creative and powerful adoption theme in this ride.

After the Minion Mayhem ride, Bella fell in love...

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem, fluffy unicorn,

Scavenger Hunt
Bella and I were on a mission! We received our clues and with iPhone in hand, we set off to find our treasures. The clues from our hunt took us all across Universal Orlando and Universal Islands of Adventure.

We gathered clues at Crusty Land, found the Transformers Allspark and much-much-much more across the both theme parks. As you can see, we are quite the dynamic duo!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem,

VIP Experience
We were treated like rockstars during the Universal Orlando VIP Experience. We didn't wait in a single line. We were personally escorted with a tour-guide on a walking tour of both parks. And just to brag, we had exclusive backstage access and learned all kinds of interesting stories from our tour guide! Note: this was Bella's first-ever trip to a theme park. She is now spoiled and doesn't yet know about standing and waiting in lines!

On the VIP Experience, we rode Shrek 4-D, where the only thing I remember is getting donkey snot sprayed on three times. Donkey snot is cold, in case you're wondering.

The Spider-Man ride is amazing. All Bella talked about after it was the flames and how she felt the heat from the fire! I honestly raised my 3-D glasses a couple of times during the ride to see what was a screen and what wasn't. 

Our adventure took us through Dr. Seuss Land too! The Cat in the Hat™ ride takes you through the pages of Dr. Seuss's great book. You'll spin like crazy as Thing One and Thing Two make a mess and try to clean up before mom gets home!

We rode The High in the Sky Suess Trolly Train Ride and the Seuss Caro-Suess-El, too! 

And as you can see from the pictures below, Bella met Big Time Rush!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem, vip tour, big time rush,

Transformers: The Ride 3-D
This ride wasn't for Bella...this ride was for me! As a boy who grew up pretending to be Optimus Prime (yes, I just dated myself!). It was awesome to ride with the Autobots against the Decepticons. I was surprised when Universal announced we could have a private ride of this new adventure before it was to open this summer. This ride did not disappoint. I honestly couldn't tell what was real and what was the 3-D screen. And the simulated speed of flying through the air and working with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee was something the 10-year-old boy inside of me wants to do again!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem, vip tour, transformers the ride,

I mentioned Miss Bella fell in love after riding Minion Mayhem earlier. Well, The Sanders Family is happy to announce a new member of our family: Fluffy Unicorn Sanders! Please know Fluffy Unicorn is well taken care of! She can been seen below in our return luggage—my bag to be exact, at the hotel for a late night of cards (Despicable Me cards!) and buckled safely for our return flight! 

Since returning from Florida, Fluffy Unicorn has been busy with her new life in DC. She has camped out with Girl Scouts and enjoys multiple snuggles per day and night. Fluffy Unicorn is currently spending the weekend with my parents in Tennessee. Fluffy Unicorn Sanders is a great addition to our family. We need only adopt an additional Fluffy Unicorn for Bella's younger sister, Gabby!

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru, minion mayhem, fluffy unicorn, travel

This three-day daddy-daughter weekend was time well spentBella and I not only have the memories to look back on, but we have the pictures and Despicable Me swag to prove it! I am grateful to Universal for the opportunity to be a rockstar dad for my Bella. Thank you, Universal, for understanding the importance of family and fatherhood. 

Be sure to check out trailers of the upcoming Despicable Me 2 in theaters July 3 and follow the minions online.

So, how are you and your kids spending the summer?
The Father Factor Blog

This post is part 2 of 2 of my daddy-daughter weekend visiting Universal Orlando for a very special Despicable Me 2 experience. Post 1 covered the movie and special "Despicable" parties. This post covers Minion Mayhem and Universal Orlando VIP Experience. 

'Despicable' Daddy-Daughter Trip at Universal Orlando: Despicable Me 2 Adventure

When Universal contacted me about flying my daughter and I to Florida, it took me seconds to respond in the affirmative. Once all was squared away and I knew we were flying to Florida, I had to tell my six-year-old daughter. But how much should I tell her?

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru

After announcing plans for our Despicable Me 2 weekend at a hotel—I realized I needed to be careful so as not to give too many details. To keep the surprises, I decided to give Bella one clue per day leading up to our big weekend. Her questions clearly reveal what was on her six-year-old mind that particular day. My answers are in parenthesis:

  1. How are we getting there? Car or plane? (Plane)
  2. What state is it in? (Florida) 
  3. Do they have oranges there? Maybe like, an orange tree?! (Yes)
  4. Can I take golf clubs and tennis racquet? (No) 
  5. Does Florida have plant & coconut trees?! Can we make a coconut drink?! (Yes)
  6. Will there be tv in our hotel? (Yes)
  7. Can we stay up all night? (Yes) 
  8. Will there be soda? (Yes)
  9. May I drink soda while there? (Yes) 
  10. Does Florida have poison ivy? (Yes)
  11. Does Florida have blue skies? Is it rainy? (Yes)
  12. Does Florida have Popsicles? (Yes)
  13. Does Florida have spooky houses? (Yes, probably.)
  14. Does Florida have Despicable Me costumes or statues? (Yes) 
  15. Does Florida have showers? (Yes)
  16. Does Florida have toilets? (Yes)
  17. Does Florida have any flowers? (Yes)
  18. Does Florida have any pizza? (Yes)
  19. Does Florida have any birthstone stores? (I'm not sure—probably.)
  20. Does Florida have any palm trees? (Yes) 
  21. Does Florida have any water? (Yes, most likely.)
  22. Does Florida have dirt? (Yes)
  23. Does Florida have any leaves? (Yes, bunches of them.)
  24. Does Florida have any big leaves? (Yes, lots.)
  25. Does Florida have people? (Yes, lots.)
  26. Does Florida have water bottles? (Yes)
As you can see, this "26 Questions" game was the perfect plan! I was able to give her some information, but the entire weekend was still a surprise to Bella. She simply knew we were flying in a plane to Florida, watching Despicable Me 2 and staying in a hotel. That's pretty much it. Everything that follows was a surprise! Yay for parenting secrets!

We first found Florida on our map, Orlando to be exact:
IMG 4670 resized 600Then, we packed. Ever packed with a six-year-old? Yeah, it's fun. Bell packed as if she wanted daddy to get frisked. She wanted to take her collection of 50 state quarters and upward of 15 fluffy bears. I managed to get the fluffy bear count to three. :
despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru
We arrived in Florida at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (only the best for us!). This "Minion Basket" greeted us in our room and we were handed these (VIP badges):
despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gruThen, we were whisked away to the Despicable Me 2 premiere at Universal Studios where very large popcorns and sodas awaited. We enjoyed the film. I've never seen a human consume so much popcorn and drink without using the restroom... Bell had lots of soda too!
After the show, it was the after party. The Minion Party:
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We partied with characters from the film:

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru

The next morning, we had a sensible, Despicable Breakfast:

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal, gru

We enjoyed a full day at Universal Studios, including a scavenger hunt and VIP Tour on Saturday (stay tuned for blog post 2!). Then, we attended a special reception...Despicable Dessert:

despicable me, daddy-daughter, #dm, #dm2, #despicableme, minion, #minion, universal, #universal

Our daddy-daughter weekend was an absolute blast. The opportunity to hop on a plane and fly to Florida with Bella (not her first flight—but her first time traveling to Florida!) and spend quality time creating memories, just us two, was an experience Bella may never forget—I know I won't. Every time we see the "Universal" branding at the start of a film or advertisement; we will both be reminded of our 'despicable' trip. Thank you, Universal, for making me look like the best dad ever to my Bella.

Check out trailers of the upcoming Despicable Me 2 in theaters July 3 and be sure to follow all the "despicable" social online.

Despicable Me 2 Trailer

Despicable Me 2 Clip: Never Get Older 


About Despicable Me 2
Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s worldwide blockbuster Despicable Me entertained audiences around the globe in 2010, grossing more than $540 million and becoming the 10th-biggest animated motion picture in U.S. history. In summer 2013, get ready for more Minion madness in Despicable Me 2. Chris Meledandri and his acclaimed filmmaking team create an all-new comedy adventure featuring the return of super-villain Gru (Steve Carell), his adorable girls, the unpredictably hilarious Minions...and a host of new and outrageously funny characters. Release Date: July 3, 2013 Genre: 3D-CG comedy adventure Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeong, Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier, Moises Arias Directed by: Chris Renaud & Pierre Coffin Written by: Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio

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This post is part 1 of 2 of a daddy-daughter weekend visiting Universal Studios Florida for a very special Despicable Me 2 experience. Post 1 covers the movie and the "Despicable" parties at Universal Studios. Post 2 covers the "Minion Mayhem" ride and the Universal Studios Florida VIP experience

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