Tag Archives: Florida

2 Days at Universal and Harry Potter World

16 Jun

OK so our next stop was Universal!

In an auspicious start to this part of our holiday, James made a special friend in our hotel elevator on the first night.IMG_20170503_190151 (1)We stayed at one of the Universal hotels, which came with express passes and early entry for both days. Highly recommended!

The main reason we were excited for early entry was because of Harry Potter world. Brian said that last time he went to Universal with his family he couldn’t even get in – they’d stopped letting people into Harry Potter world because it was too crowded.

And it was amazing. So immersive and detailed – James doesn’t even like Harry Potter and even he had a great time wandering around experiencing everything.

Like Hogwarts!
IMG_20170505_065831 In the background you can see one of the Universal employees – she was walking up to offer to take the photo for us, which was super nice. =) And here it is!IMG_20170505_065848We went on the Hogwarts ride once on the first day and once on the second day – we pretty much walked straight through both times, so didn’t get a chance to take many photos inside.

There was a greenhouse, a couple of rooms with talking/moving portraits, the sorting hat, a giant dining room with a dragon skeleton, and probably a bunch of stuff that I’m forgetting now. The lead-up to the ride was better than the ride itself IMO.IMG_20170505_070217Then outside the castle there was Hogsmeade.
IMG_20170505_065716 You could visit Honeydukes! IMG_20170505_073002We also tried butterbeer, which was delicious. Protip: the frozen butterbeer is much better than the regular.

James and I got a photo with the Hogwarts train conductor.
IMG_20170504_093913Here we are waiting for the train to take us to Diagon Alley (some of us were more excited than others).00012IMG_00012_BURST20170504100657And inside the train:
IMG_20170504_100945In the other park you could visit places like Gringotts bank, the Knight Bus (with a shrunken head that had a conversation with us), that joke shop that the Weasley brothers started, and that hardcore forbidden alley that only bad wizards went to.

You may or may not be able to tell that I have only a passing recollection of the books.

Here James is on the bus:
IMG_20170505_081943_1And this was a money exchange where you could buy wizard currency and talk to a goblin: IMG_20170505_082521The coolest (or at least the most photogenic) attraction was the dragon that sits on top of the Gringotts bank. Every so often it would roar and shoot flames out of its mouth.
IMG_20170505_082754Apparently I missed the memo that we were going to be making stupid faces. thought we were taking a nice group picture.
IMG_20170504_102017There were lots of little stores where you could buy souvenirs, but set up like they were actual stores in the Harry Potter universe. Even for non-fans it’s great, so for actual fans it must be mind-blowing.

I enjoyed Universal a lot more than I thought I would! It did lean heavily on the “wear 3D glasses while you sit in a vehicle” type of ride that I’m not all that keen on, but there were lots of other fun rides to make up for it.
IMG_20170504_150515(That one was actually not as bad as it looked!)

We also really liked the Simpsons part of Universal. You could eat at Krusty Burger and drink Duff beer at Moe’s Tavern. The guys said that the Duff beer was quite terrible, but they still drank it for the experience.
IMG_20170504_182328A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
IMG_20170504_182513Universal was definitely a lot more relaxed than Disney. We had express passes for everything, so (aside from Harry Potter world) we didn’t have to be strategic about when we went on rides, and there were way fewer crowds.

So yeah, that was our holiday! It was great seeing Brian again – some of the best times we had that week were at dinner, just laughing and drinking and catching up. We’re going to try and figure out another group trip later this year (only with Matt added because we all miss Matt).

And then … the Five Horsemen shall ride again!

5 Days in Disneyworld – The Most Magical Place on Earth

9 Jun

In May this year, James and I went to Disneyworld!

Disney wasn’t really on our radar but Brian (who now lives in Atlanta) suggested it would be a good place for a friend reunion. James and I spent 5 days at Disney and 2 at Universal – we added an extra day at Magic Kingdom since it was our first time.

Day 1 – Magic KingdomPhotoPass_Visiting_MK_402717919769 (1)We got to the Magic Kingdom early and knocked out a bunch of rides before it got too busy. We could walk onto rides that normally had a 60+ minute wait, so it was definitely worth doing.

At 2:30pm we took a break to go back to our hotel and nap, before coming back for our dinner reservation at Be Our Guest.

Here we are outside the castle:
IMG_20170429_164316Seeing inside was cool, but the line to meet The Beast was really long and we paid upscale dining prices for very average food (though it was nice to get out of the heat). Would not recommend. IMG_20170429_181446We went on a few more rides after dinner. The lines definitely got shorter after 8pm.IMG_20170429_201733 (1)But we were pretty knackered from the heat and all the walking and crowds, so went back to our hotel at 10pm.

By then, Brian and Will had arrived and tried to entice us out to drinks with this photo from Downtown Disney:
18216083_10107913183972700_1484057744_o But we were having none of it and sent back this photo from our hotel bed. IMG_20170429_215434It’s basically single vs married life.

We all agreed to meet at Animal Kingdom bright and early the next day. “Tomorrow,” Brian said, “the Four Horsemen shall ride.”

Day 2 – Animal Kingdom

The original plan was to go straight onto Expedition Everest but the ride was down that morning. =( So instead we went to Dinoland and did a few of the rides there.

Will was so jealous that I was the Chosen One.
IMG_20170430_091124(Disney uses the red card to time how long it takes to get through the standby line).

We went on Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids a few times. Each subsequent ride on KRR got more and more fun. Not everyone would get equally wet, so each time we’d try to predict who would get drenched, and when they did the whole raft would laugh at them.18216344_10107917558980150_264678123_o (1)We did pretty much everything at Animal Kingdom, and it was James’ favourite park. He liked the safari and all the rides and the general theme.

The River of Light show at the end of the night was pretty meh though. I thought the Tree of Life was much cooler.
IMG_20170430_214420Animal Kingdom was by far the walking-est day at 30k+ steps compared to 20k+ at all the other parks. My feet were absolutely killing me, and when we got back to the hotel James gathered some ice to make me an ice pack which really helped. =)

Day 3 – Epcot

The next day was Epcot, which again involved a lot of walking. But this time I was ice-fortified.IMG_20170501_090025There were pretty short lines for everything so between that and strategic fast passes we didn’t have to wait too long for anything.

Here we are about to go on Mission Space: Orange. Notice how careful James was to get the astronaut display in the photo.
IMG_20170501_121458I had voted to go on the wussier Mission Space: Green, but was overruled. Later, everyone was full of regret. It felt like that Gravitron ride where you’d stick to the wall as the ride spun around – I’ve definitely lost my tolerance for that kind of stuff!

We had lunch at Via Napoli right afterwards, which settled our stomachs. James ordered a Moscow Mule (with Mickey ears!).IMG_20170501_131341This is the huge pizza that I split with Brian. I don’t know why he looks so suspicious of the pizza.IMG_20170501_134304Then we headed to the World Showcase. We tried to drink our way around the world but it was too much booze and instead we settled for taking selfies in every country.

Mexico
IMG_20170501_153124Me and Will after we split a margarita.IMG_20170501_161421(This is why we couldn’t continue with drinking around the world).

Norway
IMG_20170501_163207

China
IMG_20170501_163853

Germany
IMG_20170501_173123

Italy
IMG_20170501_173658

USA IMG_20170501_180915

Japan
IMG_20170501_182643   Morocco IMG_20170501_183138

France
IMG_20170501_184203

United Kingdom IMG_20170501_184731

Canada
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Then we had dinner at Le Cellier, watched IllumiNations, and headed back to our hotels, ready for the next day.

Day 4 – Magic Kingdom

James and I sprung for Early Morning Magic at Magic Kingdom. This let us in 45 minutes before everyone else and we could ride Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh as many times as we wanted, and came with an AYCE breakfast. It was pretty magical being in the park with hardly anyone else there.

Front cart for Seven Dwarfs!
IMG_20170502_080856We tested out a bunch of different cart locations and thought back cart was the most fun.

We went on Seven Dwarfs 4 or 5 times, Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan once each, then had breakfast before the rest of the park opened.

Then we met up with Brian and Will and went on a bunch of other rides. My favourite thing was seeing talking Mickey Mouse. The talking effect was so realistic and even though I know Mickey isn’t real it was still mind-blowing. Even James was impressed. It was really fun seeing how he interacted with everyone – he did a magic trick for us. =D
PhotoPass_Visiting_MK_402717787521 (1) And of course, the Mickey selfie! IMG_20170502_111057We stayed to watch the fireworks show, which was really lovely, and got a group photo at the end of the night (we’re a little bit wet because we went on Space Mountain again).
PhotoPass_Visiting_MK_402717847017 (1)Splash Mountain was our favourite ride in Magic Kingdom. It was down the first day James and I were in Magic Kingdom so we were very glad that they got it working again. =)

Day 5 – Hollywood Studios

This was our final day at Disneyworld. As soon as we got to the park we went on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (front cart again, yay!)

Then we headed to the Star Wars section, which the boys were very excited about.
IMG_20170503_110247Here is Will, butting in on our Star Tours photo:
IMG_20170503_105126(Also, I discovered that I’m not very good at rides where you’re in a moving vehicle while you watch a 3D movie. Brian says he’s the same way, and it’s because your brain detects the slight differences between what you’re seeing and how you’re moving and it messes you up).

But anyway, I got to meet the Mayor of Hollywood! He gave me some mayor money and told me to vote for him.
IMG_20170503_114244

We did all the rides since it wasn’t a very big park. I think theme-wise though, it was my favourite.

We got a group photo in front of the Tower of Terror. =)
PhotoPass_Visiting_STUDIO_402717787543 (1)And a selfie in front of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster!
IMG_20170503_155501We just kept getting fast passes for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror and walking on with hardly any lines, so that was nice.

The original plan had been to stay for Fantasmic at the end of the night, but we’d done everything we wanted and decided just to head to our Universal hotel early.

So we grabbed our bags, said goodbye to Disney and hello to Universal, ready for two more days of theme parks!