My husband and I came home this past Sunday afternoon from a week-long vacation in Orlando, Florida. The week was almost a honeymoon for us, since we hadn’t had one when we were married. As I mentioned previously, the boys stayed home with my girlfriend Jet, and we were able to enjoy a full week without worrying (too much) about their well-being. Needless to say it was a good week.
I don’t want to bore you with all the tiny, yet wonderful details, but I do want to share the moments that caught my heart at the time, or shine in my memory now.
Our first full day in Orlando we spent at Epcot Center. After running around the park riding all the big-hitter rides (my hubs is a bit of a fanatic), we had lunch at the Coral Reef Restaurant followed by a tour through the World Showcase. Three things made my list of most memorable moments while we were there:
- I was complimented on my French speaking skills (mainly my pronunciation) by a man from France! I don’t often get a chance to practice speaking French, so I was thrilled that he thought I did!
- In Japan I got to choose an oyster from which a pearl was pulled. The woman that opened the oyster made quite a fun show of it (as she did for all who had chosen an oyster), and we had it set into a ring for me to wear.
- In Mexico I finally realized that my days drinking tequila-heavy drinks are over. Probably due to an incident involving my above-mentioned girlfriend and my uncle’s margarita recipe, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stomach the drink again.
Day two found us in Universal’s Islands of Adventure – where I was SUPER excited to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I found the small Hogsmeade village they had built extremely well-done (although I wished a few more shops would have actually been open for business). I enjoyed watching a wand choose it’s witch in Ollivander’s shop, and was thrilled to drink frozen Butterbeer. However, the best part for me was the “Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey” ride. The line wound through the Hogwarts castle, and though we were through it quickly, I wouldn’t have minded the wait because the castle was filled with rooms of moving pictures, props, and various items from the series. The ride itself was also one of the best I’ve ever been on!
Wednesday we were in the Magic Kingdom. A beautiful park, to be sure (who doesn’t love Cinderella’s castle?!), but my favorite moment there was riding the Jungle Cruise. A friend of mine that I’d worked with at a theme park a few years ago now works for Disney, and he was able to give us a special cruise. He was an amazing guide, and a wonderful personality, and I’m so happy to see how well he’s doing. Thank you, Skipper Michael!
That night we also attended “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party”, where we were astonished at the fantastic projections they did on Cinderella’s castle, and of course we watched the always amazing fireworks show.
The next day we went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios – where I flashed a photo of the spaceship from “Flight of the Navigator” and we learned about Walt Disney’s journey from childhood to making his dream become reality in his animations and theme parks. Notably, that day we purchased an animation cel entitled “Dreams Come True”, and met an original Disney animation artist, David Rippberger (a wonderfully kind gentleman), who signed our certificate of authenticity as well as a post card for us. We also got to take two photos with him.
On Friday we visited Animal Kingdom – a park I’d never been to before (it had been built since my last trip there) – and I must say, it was pretty cool. I particularly enjoyed the “Kilimanjaro Safari” ride, where we were closer to the animals in their reserve than I’d ever been to an animal in any kind of zoo or reserve. Another favorite part of mine was the “Bug’s Life” feature, on the way to which we found many posters of real-shows-turned-bug-themed (like “A Stinkbug Named Desire”). How fun!
In the evening we enjoyed a Cirque du Soleil show – La Nouba. And, right on par with every Cirque show I’ve seen, it was amazing!
Our last day in Orlando, we visited the last park on our list (but certainly not the least). Universal Studios is always a good time, but for me it served for a bit of sentimental value, too. Almost twenty years ago, when I was eight years old, my aunt and uncle took me and my other uncle to Disney & Universal. We were among the first to ride Jaws – test-riders we were. I just found out that they will be closing the ride on the second of January – in just a few weeks. In what was perhaps a cheesy leap at something symbolic for me, it was the last ride my husband and I rode on our trip. And I will never forget either the first or the last experience.
It’s amazing the things we miss when we think we’re experiencing so much more!