Part 2 - Even MORE Magic!
Jenna, here! Hello!
Really quickly, we just want to thank everyone for all of their input and feedback in regards to the blog! We're just really glad that we can share some our own unique experiences with others, so that they can also then go create some of their own! Please continue to ask us questions on our Instagram, or on our personal accounts (@nodirectioncasa @jennacsilva) or on twitter!
Here we go! Gosh, we've been back home for a few weeks now and looking back at all the photos from our trip, and talking about all the memories we made together is really making me miss it all! This trip was something I will never ever forget!
This was a BIG day for us, you guys... we went to THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER! AHH! After being fairly pooped from our first two days of vacation insanity, we were revved up and ready to let loose when we woke up that morning.
*For those of you who aren't familiar with the Harry Potter World situation, Universal Studios Orlando is split up into two parks that sit right next to each other(very similarly to Disneyland Resort in California) which makes it very easy to go back and forth! The parks are called Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, both awesome and easy to bounce between! This is SUPER crucial because Harry Potter is split up into BOTH PARKS! Yeah dude... half in one park, and half in the other. But guess what! You can ride the Hogwarts Express to get from one to the other! AMAZING!*
Nick and I got the 1-Day Park to Park Tickets. If you're going to visit Universal Orlando, deffffinitely get the Park to Park option. We bought ours online about a week before our vacation and had printed out the barcode we needed to print out our physical tickets once we got to the main entrance. It was SO easy! We walked right up to a Kiosk outside of the front gate, scanned the receipt barcode, grabbed our tickets that printed out instantly, and then we were off to Diagon Alley!
I get A LOT of questions about what to do and where to go when it comes to theme parks. I won't go TOO far into detail about our strategy in conquering The Wizarding World, but I will mention that getting there early is key - knocking out the newest attractions first will save you HOURS of waiting in line - and do your research in advance in order to set your priorities! (If you want more details to help plan your vacation, message me privately on Instagram and we'll chat!)
The last time Nick and I went to Universal Orlando, the newest section of Harry Potter World had juuuust opened. The wait for the Gringotts ride was literally 4+ hours... so we didn't do it. This time around, it was the very first thing on our "To-Do" list! We arrived at the main entrance to Universal Studios (where the NEW HP stuff is) about 15 minutes before they officially opened for the day, and we're SO excited when they we're letting everyone in! We rushed alllll the way to the far back of the park, walked through the magical brick wall that transports you into Diagon Alley, and then raced towards the giant fire-breathing dragon atop the Wizard Bank to hop in line for when ended up being THE COOLEST RIDE EVER! (aka Escape From Gringotts) The queue was SO incredible! I can't even put into words how immersive the experience of just inching your way through the line is... It sounds kinda silly, but walking past goblin bank tellers, traveling deep down underground in a freight elevator, trekking up and down stairs built into the walls of dark caverns truly made me feel like I had left the Muggle world far behind me! The ride itself is fantastic and terrifying! In a positive way of course! It's a 3-D roller coaster type of attraction. I can honestly say that I've never ridden anything like it. Best best besssst ride there, for sure!
Immediately after riding that, we hopped on the Hogwarts Express, which took us to Hogsmead (in the other park, Islands of Adventure) where we grabbed a Pumpkin Juice and got in line for The Forbidden Journey. This is the original portion of "Harry Potter World" where you walk through the grounds of Hogwarts and up into the castle, itself, as you move through the queue. SO much fun and filled with a million hidden Harry Potter film/book gems. (Major heart eyes!) Once those two rides were out of the way, we wandered through Hogsmead a bit, peering into the crowded shops, and stopping to use the loo that Moaning Myrtle lurks about in, then zipped back to Diagon Alley via the Hogwarts Express, again. Depending upon which way you are traveling on the train, it's a totally different experience. Once back in Universal Studios (where Diagon Alley is located) we wandered through more shops, and found ourselves in a back-alley which lead us underground to Knockturn Alley. (OMG, it's REAL you guys! And SO creepy!) If you have the chance to go, definitely go looking for this hidden area! Ps- did I mention every 20 minutes or so the Dragon on top of the bank roars and breathes real fire?! Nick and I knew we just HAD TO eat at the Leaky Cauldron, which did not disappoint! The Wizarding World is totally everything you've dreamed of and more! I could go on about it forever... but I'll spare you that and instead tell you about a few other highlights of the day! :)
Some of the other attractions Nick and I were able to do that day go down in our own personal history books. Not because they were mind blowing, but most likely because they were so bizarre that we laughed so hard we almost peed ourselves. First and most importantly is The Mummy ride. I don't even know how to describe this ride... I just asked Nick how he'd explain it, to which he responded, "You can't, really...". It's basically a roller coaster thing, that's indoors, goes like a million miles an hour and will scare the bejeezus out of you, while have you asking yourself "WTF IS HAPPENING?" Super fun. Super random. I strongly encourage everyone to ride it at least once. Next is the Dr. Seuss train that is fairly outdated and incredibly simple, but these two old folks really enjoyed it. It was cute and cartoony. It goes above all the buildings and over the water of the lake. Laugh all you want, but we thought it was silly and adorable!
The majority of our day and energy was spent on Harry Potter shenanigans. Our day at the parks started at 7:45am, and came to a close around 5:30pm. Exhausted and famished, we wandered into Cowfish (a sushi restaurant) inside of CityWalk, where we ate an incredible sushi dinner and enjoyed a few craft cocktails. I'm 99% sure we were in bed by 7:30pm that night. (LOL. Old.) We needed all the rest we could muster because tomorrow would be our final day of vacation, and our first time at the Magic Kingdom together!
Nick and I had been looking forward to visiting Magic Kingdom together for a very long time! Our first time at WDW, a few years ago, we were able to visit all 3 of the other parks EXCEPT Magic Kingdom, so this was a long time coming and we could not have been more ready for it! If you've never been to Magic Kingdom, then you need to know that in order to get to the park, you'll have to do more than just park your car and walk on it. Once you've parked your car, you have to decide whether you want to take the Monorail or the Ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon to the park entrance. Nick hadn't been to Magic Kingdom in around 10 years and didn't remember much of anything about it, so we opted for the Monorail which takes you high above the ground and around the lake, surrounded by stunning visuals on all sides! (I worked in this park for a long time, so I know all the ins-and-outs of making the most magical experience for someone who is new!) It's a great "reveal" for Cinderella Castle off in the distance. After our trip around the lake, we found ourselves standing outside the main gate of the park, dodging strollers and tour groups, but overflowing with excitement and disbelief that we were FINALLY here!
We knew in advance that we wanted to spend a full day at MK, but got the park-hopper passes just in case we got antsy. With that plan in mind, we booked our FastPass+ through the MyDisneyExperience (Official Disney World App) well in advance in order to get on the rides we just HAD to go on and knew would have the longest wait times. We opted for #1 - Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, #2 - Thunder Mountain, and #3 - Space Mountain. Truly, there is NO BETTER WAY to tackle this park, than to utilize FastPass!
Before I talk about the highlights of our day, I'd like to clarify something... A lot of people complain about waiting all day in lines and barely doing anything. Blah, blah, blah, it's a waste of money. Too crowded... You get the idea. I'd just like to state up front that we did this vacation on a budget, without a rental car, and DID NOT stay on Disney Property. Here's what we did in one day at this one park (the most visited theme park in the world):
-Enchanted Tales With Belle (one of the most amazing, immersive, and adorable experiences)
-Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (the only roller coaster of its' kind, each car swings independently with gravity)
-Haunted Mansion (a classic with a southern twist)
-Break for a sit down meal
-Space Mountain (basically the Matterhorn, but more jenky and in the dark)
-Winnie The Pooh ride
-Stopped to take photos in front of the castle & eat a Fruit & Nutella Waffle
-Country Bear Jamboree (an awesome throwback for all the old school Disney fans)
-Liberty Square River Boat
-Stopped for a Turkey Leg
-Stopped again for a Citrus Whip (Orange & Vanilla Swirl version of Dole Whip)
-Disney World Railroad alllllllll the way around the park
-Prince Charming Regal Carousel
-Made many wishes in the Wishing Well
-Stopped for Starbucks
-Dinner Reservations at Be Our Guest Restaurant (Look this up online or on Instagram! It's INCREDIBLE!)
-Not to mention, we probably wandered through every store along the way
So despite popular belief, you CAN accomplish quite a lot if you use your resources (reservations, FastPass+, and MyDisneyExperience App to navigate wait times and closures) not to mention have a positive attitude regardless of crowds and costs! We only believe in having a good time, but YOU and only you have control over that. :)
Now, our highlights!
I have a lot of favorite rides, most of them for nostalgic reasons from my time spent working there. I was really excited to hear what stood out the most to Nick. He absolutely LOVED our experience dining at the Be Our Guest Restaurant. This restaurant is part of New Fantasyland, and is an immersive dining experience where you actually eat inside Beast's castle, can explore the "Forbidden West Wing", and even meet the Master himself! The food was absolutely delicious, especially the "Grey Stuff"! (haha Beauty and the Beast jokes...) Another highlight of the day for us was buying ponchos and wandering the park during a monsoon rainstorm. We had way too much fun, despite being soaked! One of my favorite memories of the day was when Nick and I went on Space Mountain together. He and I really love this attraction at home (Disneyland) and we ride it all the time. But one cool thing I love about Disney Parks is that at each resort, they switch up their iconic attractions. So the Space Mountain at Disneyland is WAY different from the one at Disney World. I attempted to explain the differences to Nick before we rode, but there was no real way I could fully prepare him for how violent and random it is! I sat in front of him, and the whole time all I hear was hysterical laughing, grunting, and Nick screaming "WHAT'S GOING ON?!" and "OH MY GOD". I laughed so hard, I thought I might pee myself! I'm giggling as I'm writing this, reliving the sounds of my poor fiancé getting jolted around in the darkness. Honestly, I've been to the park more times than I can count, ridden all the rides, but none of that held any kind of meaning more special that what Nick and I experienced together that day. It was so amazing that it almost feels like a dream! We stayed until about 7:30pm, then hopped on the Monorail, which took us back across the Seven Seas Lagoon. By then, it was dark and we were lucky enough to see the castle all lit up; a beautiful end to the most magical vacation.
That concludes our Disney World vacation! We hope you enjoyed hearing a little bit about our trip and all the exciting things we got to do! If there's anything you want to hear more about, or you think we should talk less about in the future, go visit our Instagram : @twosmallfries and leave us a comment, telling us your thoughts! If you liked this post, don't forget to hit the ♥ "LIKE" button below the entry!
I apologize it took us so long to get this post up! We're so busy when Nick is home, and we actually just got back from camping in the Desert! If you'd like for us to do a post about our camping trip, let us know!
Thanks for reading! More to come very soon!