Monday, October 21, 2013

Time for MAGIC!

When you still have two days left on your three day Universal Studios HAVE to go to Orlando, right? Right. Especially when Harry Potter World is there. So Chris, Kent, and I packed our bags and headed down to Orlando over Columbus Day weekend for four days of magic, mayhem, and outlet shopping. Oh, and this time? I decided I was doing Disney. It had been 18 years since I had been there, and dammit, I wanted the full experience.

I was ready to drink the Kool-Aid and have a truly magical time. And I gotta say, we had an amazing little vacation.

Our first day in town, we did what any red-blooded patriotic American does. We went shopping! Hey, it was Columbus Day weekend which meant sales and Orlando is known for its huge outlet malls. And I definitely needed new clothes--losing a bunch of weight also means that none of my clothes fit. And I can't resist the chance to buy new sweaters. And shoes. And skirts. Ok, so I just love shopping, so sue me.

The next three days were completely dedicated to theme parks. We started with Universal, which I have to admit I have been to three times before. But that darn Wizarding World of Harry Potter is just so awesome! One of the good things about having visited the park so many times though is we knew exactly what was worth seeing. We immediately jogged to Harry Potter land and got in line for the Hogwarts ride (which already had a 20 minute wait even though the park had only been open for 10 minutes). Then we rode the Dueling Dragons (twice!) and obtained butter beer. Priorities, people.

In line at the ride that runs through Hogwarts. Best theme park ride EVER.

Chris and Kent enjoy their Butterbeer!

After spending the morning in Hogsmeade, we made a quick circuit through the other Islands of Adventure hitting our favorite rides. Then we made a trip over to Universal Studios for the roller coasters. We also tried out the new 3D Transformers ride, which I have to admit, was really really neat. It wasn't a roller coaster per se--you rode in a transformer (shaped as a car) and with 3D screens and moving you around, they made it appear as if you were in the middle of a fight between the Decepticons and Autobots. It's kind of hard to adequately describe, but trust me when I say it was way better than any of the actual movies.

By the time we finished up in Universal Studios, it was the late afternoon and we were kind of tired. We still had two full days of theme-parking on the trip, so we decided to call it a day and head back to our resort a bit early.

The next day we began our Disney adventure! I had joined a website called which studies the parks and crowd patterns and lets you know which day to visit which park and puts together itineraries for your visit. So we knew that we should hit Hollywood Studios on Sunday and save the Magic Kingdom for Monday. With our trusty day-long guide, we managed to see every major attraction in the most efficient way possible. And y'all know how much I love efficiency. Let me put it this way: we had ridden the Rock and Roll Rollercoaster and the Tower of Terror (twice) before the park had even been open 30 minutes. Score.

Group shot at Hollywood Studios!

I was SUPER excited for our lunch at the Hollywood Brown Derby.

Suck it, Gene Kelly!

Hollywood Studios was fun....but the Magic Kingdom was definitely the main event of our trip. We followed our touring plans and were literally the third car in the parking lot for the monorail and the first people in line to get through the gate. When they counted down the parking opening, we sprinted through the arch and raced down Main Street USA. I know we probably looked like crazy people, but we just felt like big kids running into the best playground in the world.

First stop: Space Mountain. You gotta get the big stuff done first or the lines would be impossible later. We pretty much followed the recommendations of the touring plan and had done 5 rides before 10am. We also utilized the new Fast Pass system (you get a ticket to the ride at a specific hour long window and get to go through a quicker express line). By the time we made it to our late lunch reservation at the Liberty Tavern (think Disney does Colonial Williamsburg), we had pretty much seen everything on our list. We had just enough time to stop for ice cream and take a picture with Mickey before we were done for the day.

And so endeth our Orlando adventure! The weather the entire trip was stunning--warm and blue skies--and we just all really embraced the feeling of being a kid again and enjoying ourselves. You really shouldn't over think Harry Potter and Disney. Just let yourself go and have fun!

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