Another Great Vacation in the Books!

Typed after failed attempts to sleep en route to Houston:

My family and I have just returned from 10 days in Florida, and I am thoroughly exhausted (which means it was a successful Fisher vacation). We navigated both the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, arriving when the parks opened (or at least aiming to) and not leaving until the double-digit hours. Though there were some low points, I am incredibley satisfied with how my last Spring Break was spent — shoutout to Mom and Dad for being cool parents that take their kids on awesome vacations!

For those who haven’t caught on yet, I must pause to emphasize the amount to which I love Disney….This was my 11th time traveling to Mickey’s homebase, and, having been to many, many theme parks, I can legitimately say that Disney does it best. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has made us stray the past few times we’ve been to Florida — the thought of leaving Disney property used to be considered treason in my family — but alas, we are all Harry Potter fantasics, as well (shocking, I know). 

As heartwrenching as it is to sacrifice a few days at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot, the trek over to Universal has proved to be a fun and thrilling change of pace. Plus, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is hands-down the most mind-blowing ride I’ve ever been on, and the recent expansion of Diagon Alley is breathtakingly immersive. Escape from Gringott’s is fun and technologically superior, and while I still prefer Forbdiden Journey, it proved to be a unique and exciting ride. We also got to hop on the Hogwarts Express, which was so immersive — having been to Kings Cross Station in London AND ridden on the real Hogwarts Express*, it was such a fun experience, complete with owls, dementors and the treat trolley! 

The Gringott’s dragon 

Universal’s attention to detail, not only with the rides, but in every aspect of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is exquisite. While ooing and ahhing over the gorgeous asthetics of the queue for Gringott’s, my family and I discussed how glad we are they pulled out all the stops. The thing is, Harry Potter fans are not just knowledgeable about this world, they’re loyal to it, so we appreciate the integrity given in the execution of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

We also had lots of fun exploring the rest of Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios: highlights include front-row rides on Hollywood RipRide Rockit (we had windswept hair, to say the least), Minion Mayhem (it was a miserable wait but gosh darn it those cute little guys were worth it), and constantly lucking out with the glorious option that is the single-rider line (yes, we weren’t directly next to each other, but I’ll take a 20 minute wait over 75 minutes any day).

Now on to Disney: what can I say that I haven’t said a million times before? I love that place. Everything and everyone is aimed at one mission: to make every single person’s experience a magical one. From kind and friendly cast members to the tiny hidden Mickey’s that catch your eye, every aspect of Disney World is the best of the best. There is no other place that even resembles a Disney Park, as it exists for the sole purpose of bringing families and friends together for good, wholesome fun. It’s no surprise we continue to return to the Happiest Place on Earth because it truly lives up to its name. 

On this specific trip, we got to experience the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, which we are always so pleased to partake in. There are beautiful topiaries and flowers growing throughout the park, so we love traveling to Disney this time of year. 

Sister pic with the Frozen sisters

This was also our first time using Magic Bands: Disney’s revolutionary new system that is making vacations more efficient and enjoyable. In a nutshell, these bracelets can function as one’s park ticket, room key, credit card and FastPass+. They also provide incredibly detailed statical and demographical information (which is sort of creepy, but what in this world isn’t), as well as easy and quick turnstile-free entrance into the park and rides. For a much more in-depth description of the history, development and hopeful future of these Magic Bands, I recommend this article (it’s a long read but worth the time). Personally, I loved having a Magic Band: it’s was easy to use and very convenient (along with acting as a cute accessory). The downside is that the old FastPass system is no more….It’s a bit confusing now because you have to book your FastPasses+ in advance, and only once those have been used can you obtain new ones. Initially, we were upset about this change because, to be frank, the Fishers knew how to work the FastPass system to our advantage so that we never had to wait in very long lines. Alas, we were reluctantly forced to use this new method, but ultimately I believe that this change to the new system is a good thing; onwards and upwards, as they say. 

Cinderella kisses little boy, cue tears

Previous experiences withstood the test of time: I have yet to outgrow being unrealistically excited meeting Princesses (I may or may not have gotten choked up while eating at Cinderella’s Royal Table), nothing beats watching Disney ducks while eating Dole Whips (a sort of dinner and a show, if you will), and my family still loves to take goofy ride pictures (both on purpose and unintentionally). 

We also had new experiences with past memories: Mom conquered her fear of the ride, DINOSAUR (it is quite scary, as you can see from our faces below), we realized we can no longer four people in a row on “its a small world”, and found new bonus-point targets on Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (the Fisher family’s favorite ride). 

Mom’s the only brave one
Too many big kids
High score!

All in all, it was a wonderful trip, and I cannot wait to return!

*When I was 11, my family and I traveled to England and stumbled upon RailFest: a massive festival of Britain’s most famous trains. Present was the train used in the Harry Potter movies as the Hogwarts Express; we got to ride on it and get a piece of coal! It was definitely one of the coolest things my family’s ever gotten to do! 

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