Happy Belated Thanksgiving! For our Thanksgiving holiday, my boyfriend and I took an impromptu week and a half trip to Florida to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. It was kind of surreal, because 2 weeks after we decided to take the trip, we were already getting ready to go.
Half of it was spent working in Cape Canaveral, and the other half was spent in Orlando, exploring Disney World, Universal Studios, and the Outlets (but of course). I was pretty hyped for Harry Potter World, because I’ve never been there, and also excited for my first time staying at Disney World Resort.
We flew in to Orlando Monday mid day, then drove an hour to Cape Canaveral. I had taken the Monday and Tuesday off, so I stayed at the hotel to explore the walkable area while my boyfriend went to work. All I can say is, yay, palm trees, yay, 70+ degrees, but oh my goodness the food is horrible.
There wasn’t much around the hotel, but there was a place called Manatee Sanctuary Park. Expecting something like Pier 39 in San Francisco, where there are Sea Lions just chilling by the dozens, I made the trek there.
Unfortunately, the only Manatee was the Manatee Statue (should’ve been called the Manatee Statue Park, tbh), and I also got drenched from the 3PM Flash Storm that seems to happen every day there.
For the rest of the work week, I worked remotely from the hotel, which had awesome breakfast, free wifi, and fresh coffee all day. Fabulous.
Mid-day Friday (aka: during my lunch hour), we loaded the rental car, and drove back an hour to Orlando, checking in to our next hotel. The hotel was just minutes from Universal Studios, and pretty nice.
So fancy that they charged $16/night for parking. What a riot.
I finished off my work week at the hotel, and at 5PM, we were finally officially on Vacation Mode!
The food was so much better, and we had a lot of options (instead of Pizza and Spaghetti every day). We found really good coffee at “Le Cafe De Paris,” a French Cafe, which served amazing salmon on baguette:
We spent Saturday relaxing, exploring Orlando, and getting ready to dive into the Amusement Park part of the holiday.
Obviously, that meant we went to the Outlets. More to see what all the hype was, rather than hardcore shopping, but I did manage to find a few things I had been hunting for for a long time for heavy discounts, so that was nice.
Universal Studios: Magical World of Harry Potter
Sunday was our Universal Studios day. We got Park-To-Park Pass, because as it turns out, Harry Potter World (our main attraction) is split into both parks, so in order to experience the whole thing, you need park hopper.
Wow. How ingenious. What capitalistic genius.
We also got the Express Pass, which was $100 extra per person, but so worth it for the ability to get through both parks in one day.
Hogsmeade (and Hogwarts) is in Island of Adventure, and the Universal Studios Florida has the Diagon Alley. Connecting the two is Hogwarts Express (which was, I have to admit, pretty cool).
We tried Butterbeer, watched a Wand pick its Wizard at Ollivanders, and had lunch at the Three Broomsticks.
And, of course, we got a little dressed up…
Once we got through Hogsmeade, rode all the rides, and went through all the shops, we headed to Hogsmeade Station to get on the Hogwarts Express, which took us to King’s Cross Station.
King’s Cross Station on Platform 9 3/4
5~10 minutes later, we somehow ended up in London!
From King’s Cross, we made our way to Diagon Alley, passing through the city of London, and even encountering the double-decker bus (with a shrunken head in the window). (Yes; this whole set up is really really elaborate.)
We went into Gringott’s ran away from dragons, and on the way out, grabbed delicious soft serve from an ice cream shop.
Universal Studios Florida
So somehow, after London, we ended up in San Francisco! It was getting really dark out, so we decided we’ll ride a few last rides and go home, pretty content with the coverage we managed, even with spending half the day being Potterheads.
Harry Potter World was awesome. We were really impressed with the architecture and execution of the whole thematic universe. My family used to go to Orlando every Christmas for a week or so, and park hopped Universal Studios and Disney World, but back then, this park didn’t exist, so it was great to finally have the opportunity to experience it.
There were a lot of things I didn’t know about, like Hogwarts Express (which was a ride in itself, because it took you through the experience of riding Hogwarts Express as a student) and the Marauder’s Map Treasure Hunt you could do if you bought a Wand (for $50 each, of course).
Thankfully, the flight there didn’t aggravate my Rheumatoid Arthritis, and surprisingly, being at a park all day didn’t fatigue me as much as I thought it would. I was afraid being on my feet and walking all day would bring back the arthritis pain in my foot, but amazingly, while my feet did hurt, that was more because I was… on my feet all day, which I’m usually not. (My boyfriend was in more pain than I was with his feet, I think.) Wow; the power of modern medicine!
And here’s a shot of me, being eaten by a Shark right before we left the park:
Next Up: Disney Magic
Next up will be moving over to Disney Resort (we had 2 bathrooms!), 2 days at Disney World, ending with our Anniversary Dinner at Epcot.
Dog Sitting @ Rover
So being a lonely puppy-lover that I am, I decided to register for Rover, to walk, play, and love dogs that are not my own because owning dogs is too much of a responsibility but I need doggos in my life. It’ll also be a fun and healthy (walks are 30 minutes long) to earn some extra cash.
By the way, if you need a dog or cat sitter for the holidays, if you register for Rover with this discount code, you’ll get $20 off your first booking: HIROLOVESPUPPIES20.
(Doesn’t have to be with me to get your booking discount, of course. Though I do wish I could go to every one of you and steal your dogs….)
How was your Thanksgiving? Or have you ever been to Universal Studios or Harry Potter World? What was your favorite part?