What really set Family Forward apart from blogging conferences that I’ve been to is that this was a family retreat. Everything we did, we did as a family. While the attendees(usually the mom of the family) were all involved in social media, Family Forward focused primarily on that part of our lives offline. Each of the activities and presentations was designed to bring our families closer and create lasting memories.
Family Forward Day 2
Family Traditions Help Us Stick Together
After Day 1 of Family Forward, all of us attendees met in the Pacifica Ballroom of the Loews Royal Pacific Resort for the morning’s activities. First up was a hands-on project workshop sponsored by Cricut and Duck Tape Brand Duct Tape. We had about an hour to create something using Duck Tape and materials from Cricut. My boys wanted to build a car out of duct tape, so they were resourceful and used some of the pens and cardboard that were on our table along with the Duck Tape to create a car(driven by Minions, of course).
Eye Contact and iContact
Sponsored by National Geographic, this session had us finding our animal family super powers (I have a family of busy beavers, who like to build and swim) and reminded us that while technology is a huge part of our lives, we do need to step away from it every once in a while to really focus on our families.
Family Forward Lunch
During our family lunch, we had discussion questions for our family, to really make sure we talk to each other. I know sometimes my family is guilty of just going through the motions(especially when I’m tired) and not really communicating. Communication is an important family super power.
Beat the Best
After lunch, we headed over to Universal Studios, Sound Stage 33 to take part in a family team building tournament.
We joined with Cheryl’s family and Nathan’s family to form Team Minion and compete against other teams in games that had us all laughing. Pulling tissues out of tissue boxes, getting a giant rubber band over our whole bodies, cup stacking, booty shaking to get balls out of a box attached to a belt around the waist… so many hilarious games! We had to work together as a team to get them accomplished. I was handed a hair tie for one of the games, being told that my hair needed to be up, which made me think it would be a little dangerous, but it was just to get it out of the way of the giant rubber band.
We were knocked out of the competition, but the kids still had a blast watching the other teams compete and dancing around since my boys will dance any time there is music.
Minion Dance Party
When the competition was over, the Minions came out to have a dance party with the families and take pics, too. My youngest danced with all the Minions, giggling the whole time.
After the Minion Dance Party, we had a few hours in the park to go on rides or have dinner or go back to the rooms and relax. My family chose to go on rides and grab a bite to eat. I’ll go into detail about the rides in a post tomorrow, about how to enjoy Universal Studios with kids.
Universal’s Superstar Parade
Family Forward had a reserved area for the parade, getting to see the Minions, Dora, Hop, and SpongeBob up close.
Blue Man Group
Universal provided Family Forward attendees with tickets to see the Blue Man Group perform. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was something that my boys would enjoy, especially since it was at the end of a long day. But they were completely fascinated by the performance and laughed their way through it. The Blue Man Group is a loud performance, so we brought along noise cancellation headphones for my middle son who is sensitive to noise. Those worked out well and I’d suggest those if you have a child who is sensitive to noise. I’d highly recommend seeing the Blue Man Group. Once again, it was a reminder that we should all unplug every once in a while.
Family Forward Day 3
Breakfast at Universal Studios
On Friday morning, we headed back to Sound Stage 33 for a breakfast provided by Universal Studios. We also turned in our Family Mission Possible task cards for a chance to win prizes. We heard from Universal’s Mike West, who talked to us about the new attractions: TRANSFORMERS: The Ride(which we went on three times), Despicable Me Minion Mayhem(FIVE TIMES we did this one), and Springfield. We also heard about the new resort scheduled to open in 2014, Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort(it will have a lazy river, which grabbed Hubs’ attention). He also talked about the new area of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that will open next year: Diagon Alley. DIAGON ALLEY, people. I may have squeed and shrieked and did some ALL CAPS tweeting in my excitement. I cannot wait to go back to Universal Studios to see Diagon Alley, especially after our Harry Potter experience at Family Forward.
After his presentation, we learned who won prizes for completing the Mission Possible tasks. My family won two round-trip plane tickets from Southwest! We’re trying to figure out where we should go! Thanks, Southwest!
Red Carpet Send Off
When we left Sound Stage 33, we found characters waiting for us along a red carpet, ready to take pics with us. Bumblebee and Optimus Prime were there, along with the Minions and Gru, the Simpsons, Hop, Curious George, and Popeye.
Time in the Universal Parks
For the rest of that day plus all of the next day, we were on our own to explore the parks. We went on almost every ride(and a lot of them multiple times) plus explored the Citywalk, all together as a family. Come back tomorrow when I’ll highlight the best of the parks for families.
Note: Wonderful sponsors Universal Studios, Mom It Forward, Loews Royal Pacific, Southwest Airlines, Cricut, Duck Tape, and National Geographic Kids made this event possible. However, I paid for my family’s pass to attend and was not required to post about the retreat.