How’s it going? Wow, it feels like FOREVER since I’ve blogged. Technically, it’s only been about 2 weeks, but a lot has happened since then. For one, I’ve gotten a tan for the first time in my life! Exciting right? NOT.
I was hoping to write this post on Saturday, since I was still bubbling with excitement, but I was still super tired and car-legged (not jetlagged). Today’s my last day off before I go back to work tomorrow, so I figured I’d write this while I’m not even more tired from work.
Well, where to start?
We left on a Wednesday from Canada and drove roughly 12 hours, through the states of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and then stopped in North Carolina, in a pretty city by a lake, called Lake Norman, for the night.
The scenery was kind of boring at first, but when we got into Virginia and West Virginia, the flat land turned into these massive rolling mountains that were littered with winding roads and long tunnels through the rock.
Eventually these these mountains too gave way to rolling hills, and then eventually to palm trees as we finally crossed over into Florida and much hotter temperatures.
A few hours later, and we finally reached our resort. All I can say is that, I had never been so excited to see a clean bathroom before…
Then on Saturday, we went to the place that I had wanted to visit since it opened a few years ago.
Yup, you guessed it! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 😀
Universal Studios Florida has two parks, Islands of Adventure and the regular Studios, and the Wizarding World is in the Islands of Adventure.
Thanks to all the studying I had done before (what? don’t you study before going on vacation?), I knew that the first ride I had to go on was the Forbidden Journey ride, nestled all the way in the back of the park.
So I dragged my family out of bed at 5:30 AM that first day (it’s okay, they were forewarned) so that we were one of the first at the park, waiting by the gates for the park to open.
And when it did, we made a mad DASH to the back of the park. My mom and brothers were distracted by shiny things, but I was a woman on a mission: Harry or nothing! Luckily my dad kept pace with me and we practically ran there so that the wait was only 30 minutes at that point.
The ride is all the way at the back of the Wizarding World and it was SO HARD not to get distracted by the shiny shop displays of Honeydukes and Zonkos, or the mouthwatering smells coming from the Three Broomsticks restaurant. The whole place was a Harry Potter fan’s dream come true.
And it might sound weird to say this for any other ride, but the wait for the Forbidden Journey was totally worth it! As the line winds itself up and around the castle, you’re led through the greenhouses, past beloved artifacts from the books, into classrooms and offices, and then finally onto the ride.
Because the line was moving pretty fast, I wasn’t able to take pictures of everything, even though I tried!
The whole place was so cleverly thought out, and you could see JK Rowling’s hand in everything. Even though you know that there’s expensive technology at hand, at times you could swear it was magic!
The ride itself was pretty amazing. You’re flung through these elaborate sets of the Whomping Willow and these massive Dementors who try to kill you, and then through a Quidditch match between Harry and Malfoy, and then coming home to Harry and the gang all applauding you.
After the ride, I finally gave my family permission to explore the Village, and it was just as cute and quirky as described in the books.
I guess it’s no surprise that Day 1 of my vacation was easily my favourite! Other than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, they had a lot of other cool rides, which included some like a Spiderman one in which you’re fighting bad guys while being flung off of skyscrapers and having fireballs thrown in your face.
There was also a Jurassic Park section of the park, which my family just ate up, since we grew up watching the movies so many times that I still have nightmares about raptors and T-Rexs trying to hunt me down. The ride was basically a tamer version of my worst nightmare, but still a lot of fun. You go on a boat ride through the park and get to watch the tamer dinosaurs bathe and feed their families. Then you enter an enclosed, high-security facility where you realise raptors have become loose, only to barely escape being eaten by a massive T-Rex!
After Islands of Adventure, my brothers and I went to Disney’s Magic Kingdom on Sunday. They weren’t exactly excited about it, since they expected it to be kiddy-ish and full of Mickey and Minnie rides, but boy, were they surprised!
It ended up being a lot more fun than either of them could have anticipated, and I, of course, enjoyed it as well, since I was all for the princess and Mickey and Minnie stuff anyways. ^_^
The special effects at Magic Kingdom were amazing! Just like at Islands of Adventure, each ride maintained a consistent theme. So if it was a pirate ride, the cast members were all dressed in pirate clothes and the line up area was through a boat’s interior, with props and lighting that was appropriate to the rides.
Our favourite ride easily was Space Mountain, a ride in which you’re launched into space, past galaxies and hurtling stars, and through the universe. It didn’t make your imagination strain to actually believe you were in space; you actually felt like you were, what with the rushing wind, the loud noises of the rocket ship, and the blinking stars.
Second favourite was probably Pirates of the Caribbean, which is probably the only ride that inspired a movie, and not the other way around. You sit in a boat and get to witness a town being pillaged by pirates, as you sail through open water and past two rival ships launch canon balls at each other. Again, it was so realistic that you get splashed by water and can feel the cool breeze of sailing under the open sky.
On Monday we took the day off from the parks and headed down to the beach, after my suggestion (rather demand), and was I ever sorry for it…
You see, I don’t swim, since having your clothes plastered to your body kind of cancels out the modesty thing, so there wasn’t much I wanted to do at the beach, except collect seashells, take a few pictures of the beautiful (and empty) scenery, and then going home.
But considering how it took us an HOUR to get to the beach, my family wasn’t happy about this so-called plan that I had failed to share with them. My mom had packed a picnic lunch for us, and and refused to leave after just arriving, despite the fact that I was actually SWIMMING in sweat.
I’m not averse to heat, especially since covering from neck to toes isn’t exactly new to me, so I tried my best to ignore the looks of pity and horror by bikini-clad girls, but when it felt like the sun was literally burning my face off, I couldn’t stand it and became a grumpy ball of…grumpiness. It was not a fun day.
But all was okay in the end, since I was rewarded for my grumpiness by going to the lovely, air-conditioned mall where I bought loads of pretty and shiny things. I like shiny things. ^_^
Then on Tuesday it was back to Universal Studios, to the other park, which had more of a sit-down theatre ride approach. This was the place where you could experience what it was like to be turned into a Minion from Despicable Me, what it feels like to be in a twister, experience an earthquake, and be cursed by a mummy, all in one afternoon!
By the time we went to Disney’s Epcot on Wednesday, we were kind of losing our steam. We were going leave on Thursday, so we got ready to go to the last park amid feverish packing and cleaning.
Epcot is definitely a more educational park, as it tries to make education and learning about the earth, space, and the environment fun.
I feel like I would have enjoyed this park a lot more if I didn’t feel so sick after the first few rides. I’m generally not prone to motion sickness, but after watching presentations on these MASSIVE screens, my head was spinning.
Then there was a ride that makes you experience G-force as you hurl into space and towards Mars. The little motion sickness bags in the rocket made me even more nervous!
There was also a Nemo pavilion, which housed these huge aquariums full of dolphins and sharks and manatees and sea turtles. It definitely took away my spinning headache.
Then it was to the ride in the big golf ball in the center of the park, Spaceship earth, which takes you aboard a train as it travels through humankind’s developments with these really cool moving robots that looked SO real, and kind of creepy as it looked like they were looking right at me…
And it was off to the World Showcase which featured pavilions of various countries like Canada (!), UK, France, Italy, Japan, China, and a few others. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to explore all of them before dark, since some of my family members were so nostalgic that they were adamant about exploring the Canadian pavilion. By the time we got out, we only had time to make some calls in the UK and to have some French pastries by the Eiffel Tower because the sky exploded in an array of red, white, and blue.
Then on Thursday morning, we packed our bags and started the 21 hour journey back home to Canada.
This is where the story should have ended, with tired smiles and jolly laughs. But alas, it doesn’t.
On the way to Orlando, we had stopped over one night in North Carolina, and we planned on doing the same on the way back, except in Virginia or West Virginia.
When we stopped at the first hotel, just as the sun was setting, and were told that they were full, we thought, okay, let’s try again. So we drove across the street to another, only to be told they too had no vacancies. Sounded like a funny coincidence at this point, but when we tried our third and fourth hotel, and were told that because of a power outage in both states there were no empty hotels, it wasn’t funny anymore.
And so we decided to drive the night through, since there was nowhere to stay, and at two o’clock, there was no point in stopping anyway, and it was worst night of my life.
I managed to sleep a few hours at a time, as we drove through those mountains, which had been so beautiful by day, but were downright scary and haunting at night, as my parents tried to find their way through the dark streets, praying as they drove.
Unlike in the GTA, the interstate highways in the US don’t have lights on them. Don’t ask me why, since it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but they just don’t. So that scenic route becomes scary to navigate as you can’t see more than a few metres ahead of your car by help of the headlights.
When the light finally started rising, we were in New York, and were so close to home that those last few hours were torture.
But we survived it and lived to tell the tale.
Phew! That was a super long post! It was kind of hard to condense a week and a half into a blog post, but I somehow managed to do it. Hopefully I didn’t bore you guys. ^_^
Now that I’m back, I’m just trying to find a way to get back to my routine, since in the weeks before I left for Orlando, it was all about preparing and the excitement.
In a little more than a week, Ramadan will start, and so hopefully I’ll have more time to blog since I won’t be eating! Lol, I’m kidding. For those of you who don’t know what Ramadan is, it’s the month in which Muslims fast from before sunrise to sunset. It’s one of the five pillars of Islam and comes around once a year, depending on the lunar cycle.
I’m not sure if this will mean less recipe posts or more, since I’ll be daydreaming about food more. We’ll see!
In terms of the blog, I have some fun posts coming up for this week though! I’ve got all that shopping to show you, so expect a shopping haul post, as well as a cheesecake recipe, and a book review all this week.
I’m also going to be posting more pictures of my vacation on my Facebook page, since it took WAY too long to upload even these into this post.
Anywho, I think that’s all I have to say (after over 2000 words -_-) so I’ll stop here. 🙂
Hope you’re all doing well, and thanks to all of you for reading and checking out this collection of random ramblings.
‘Till next time,