Our family was recently invited to attend Family Forward, the Mom It Forward 2013 family retreat in Orlando, Florida. The retreat was an opportunity for social media influencers and their families to learn how to connect during the digital age. We had such a great time learning the skills we need to continue growing together as a super hero family.
We received a very warm reception from the entire staff at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort when we checked in Wednesday afternoon. We made our way to our room, unpacked, and went to meet the Mom It Forward staff for the retreat registration. During registration we stopped to take some fun family photos with props at the photo booth.
We explored the beautiful resort for a little while before having a quick family dinner at Jake’s American Bar, an onsite restaurant. Then it was time for the opening kickoff and welcome event. All the families attending the retreat met in a ballroom to hear about our exciting schedule for the next few days. We were all so excited to meet the other families and start making new friends. Before the kickoff event ended we were treated to a special meet and greet with some favorite families: the Simpsons, the Woodpeckers, and Olive Oil & Popeye.
We were surprised to find cupcakes in our room when we returned following the kickoff event! My daughter was convinced the Minions had left the special treat.
Next we took the quick water taxi from the resort over to Universal’s Islands of Adventure® for a private nighttime dessert reception in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™. We had two full hours to enjoy the themed area along with families attending the retreat. We were in awe of the Hogwarts™ castle, the shops of Hogsmeade™, and the thrilling attractions. We all drank Butterbeer™ before determining our favorite attractions. My daughter’s favorite was the Flight of the Hippogriff™ while I absolutely loved Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™! My husband really enjoyed riding the Dragon Challenge™. Our most favorite part of the evening was getting to experience everything with out ever having to wait in a line!
We were treated to unbelievable sweets at the dessert reception!
The next morning we were back at the resort ballroom for a morning full of family workshops. The hands on experiences were perfect for all ages and catered to the many different dynamics of the families at the retreat.
We all enjoyed the workshop where Cricut™ and Duck Tape® taught us how family traditions help us stick together. We learned that having family traditions give us a way to connect together and teach our children values. We were provided with supplies from Cricut and Duck Tape for our family to work together and create. I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to see my husband get creative with tape. He did an excellent job making himself an iPad cover. I made decorative bows for my conference lanyard and big hair bows for my daughter and myself. We were having so much fun and easily could have spent the entire day creating together!
Next we heard a great presentation from National Geographic Kids about embracing the digital age and learning to plan activities that are centered around the time we are away from technology. Some of the most meaningful moments can happen when we walk away from the computer and leave our handheld devices at home. We learned fun facts and how different animal families work together. We were all given an animal encyclopedia and worked together to determine which animals we were most similar to. My family decided we were most like meerkats because we each have a different job to make our family function.
Lunch was the perfect time for Loews Royal Pacific Resort to teach us the importance of eating meals together. We all worked together to set our family table and enjoyed sitting down for a fun mealtime moment.
Following lunch we headed to Universal Studios Florida® for a fun “Minute To Win It” style family game. Our team competed in a couple of silly games before we were sitting along the sidelines watching the top teams compete to win. The game taught us when families work together members flourish and grow closer together. Although we didn’t win the game, we learned how much fun we could have overcoming challenges as a family.
After the game we had a surprise dance party with a few special guests, the Minions!
We spent the next hour at the resort relaxing in the pool. Then it was time to get ready for our next activity, watching the Universal’s Superstar Parade from our great reserved seats. We really enjoyed seeing some of our favorite characters!
We ended the evening by attending a Blue Man Group performance. The incredible performance was a live celebration of art, technology, and music. Our first time seeing Blue Man Group was an unforgettable family experience.
Friday morning we arrived at Universal Studios for our final organized event of the Family Forward retreat. We were welcomed to the sound stage with a red carpet!
Mike West of Universal Creative shared how families can visit the Universal Orlando Resort to create lasting memories. He also treated us to information on the new exciting attractions and resorts scheduled to open in 2014.
As we walked out of Studio 33 we experienced our final surprise of the retreat, an up close opportunity to meet more of our favorite characters. My daughter was beyond excited to meet Scoobie Doo! We also took pictures with the Despicable Me family and Transformers.
We had the rest of Friday to create family memories at the Universal Studios Florida park. We enjoyed the attractions, explored the park, and posed for silly photos for the rest of the day.
Later in the evening we had dinner at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort with friends. We ended our night swimming at the resort before bedtime.
Our last full day in Florida was spent at Universal’s Island of Adventure. My daughter requested to ride the Flight of the Hippogriff several times before agreeing to leave the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
We made many more family memories as we experienced many firsts while exploring the park.
Our super hero family had an amazing time at the Family Forward retreat while learning how we can become stronger together.
The retreat was a great reminder to take time to enjoy moments with your family. Teaching your children the value of spending time unplugged with your family is priceless and we will cherish the memories we created together at Family Forward!
Thank you to all of the amazing sponsors that made Family Forward such a great experience!
Discloure: We were invited to attend Family Forward as members of the Mom It Forward blogging community. Our family was treated to so many amazing experiences and we received many complimentary products while attending the retreat. All opinions are my own.