There is nothing like an awesome and much-needed vacation! We are recovering from a really wonderful week in Orlando. Here are the highlights…
FAVORITE FIVE FRIDAY
1. We started off our trip at Universal Studios Orlando, and it was so exciting to be there for the first time! I loved seeing a sort of parallel universe Universal, and there was so much to see. It was definitely a good time of year to go because the park wasn’t too crowded. We basically got to hop on all the rides we wanted. I liked seeing some of Universal Studios Hollywood rides with a bit of a different spin – Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and, my favorite, Revenge of the Mummy. There were lots of others I had never experienced before like ET, The Hulk, Rip Ride Rocket, Dragon Challenge, and Reign of Kong. It was really neat to explore something so familiar but also brand new at the same time. Universal will always have a soft spot in my heart.
2. The absolute best part of Universal Studios Orlando was Diagon Alley. I can’t even count how many times I teared up while we explored the realization of J.K. Rowling’s creation. It was just so stunning. Every bit of it. From having to find the entrance and hearing the bricks opening up to the dragon that literally breathes fire. We ran around like children exploring every nook and cranny, reading every single sign, finding every spell on the map (and not on the map), and inspecting every item in each shop. We especially loved the shows they put on. Watching WADA (the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts) perform the tales of Beedle the Bard was completely amazing and so well done. I totally want their job. Escape From Gringotts was an excellent ride – we went on it three times. Honestly, we spent the majority of our time in Diagon Alley, and I wouldn’t change that for anything. It might sound crazy, but it was such an emotional experience for me. I love these stories and these characters. Being immersed in this Wizarding World is like finally getting my Hogwarts letter. And it was every bit as magical as I’d dreamed.
3. Relaxation is certainly a key component in any worthwhile vacation. People thought we were crazy for spending our trip at two theme parks because you know… We work at one. Believe me, I wondered the same thing. But we gave ourselves time to relax. We didn’t bother rushing from place to place because we knew we had time. We stopped to look in stores, we saw shows, we went to the pool, we had long, delicious meals. For us, it was a perfect mix of adventure and unwind.
4. Dan had a birthday while we were away! It was strange not to be with other friends and family, but also exciting to be at Walt Disney World! I tried to make it special by bringing candles (that I couldn’t light) for our meals – I ended up making him blow out candles through an app on my phone! Haha. We spent the day at Epcot enjoying their Food & Wine festival. The day was so hot, but we trekked through all the different countries eating and drinking as we went. I think Dan enjoyed South Korea and Poland the most, but Belgium was my favorite. It was a lot of fun trying so many different things. 35 will always be the year we traveled the world to celebrate Dan’s birthday. Oh, and we finished off with reservations at Coral Reef for dinner. Dining in the aquarium was really cool. And for the grand finale – The Mainstreet Electrical Parade! There was a lot of nostalgia there for both of us. A perfect way to end the day celebrating my favorite person. ❤️
5. If you are ever at Walt Disney World, do yourself a favor and take one their guided tours! They have several fantastic options that explore the history of Walt, Mickey, and their kingdom. We took the Marceline tour (named for an influential and inspirational place Walt lived in his childhood), and learned so much about Walt Disney – his life, his dreams, his failures, his successes. He was clearly a man ahead of his time and truly a world changer. On the tour we got to explore my favorite ride – the Haunted Mansion! Our guide, Michael, gave us tons of great info while we are on the ride (man, their headsets are awesome), and then we got to go into the attraction to see how it works. I was literally underneath the doom buggies as they rolled through the ballroom scene. It was so cool! That alone was worth the price of the tour. I loved every minute, and couldn’t recommend it more.
Those were my favorites, but I didn’t even get to touch on other amazing things like delicious food, how much we loved staying at Cabana Bay, drinks by the pool, bowling and mini golf, super cool magic bands, fast passes, picking out gifts, breakfast with our favorite characters from the Hundred Acre Woods, and so much more. I certainly have many memories to treasure for years to come.
We are already having vacation withdrawals. Mostly we need another vacation where we can just sleep. 😉 Orlando, thanks for being awesome! Can’t wait to pick our next adventure!