Monday, July 22, 2013

Orlando, FL

You may remember, but I went to a conference in NYC during Christmas time last year. I try to go to one conference a year to maintain my CPA license (boooring), but I at least try to pick them in fun places. This year, I picked Orlando, FL. I've been to both Universal and Disney World a few times before, but that was before the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was built. I went early on Sunday (my conference started Monday) in order to spend all day exploring Harry Potter's world. One extreme benefit of going alone is the fact that I was able to take the "Single Rider" line at a lot of attractions and zip through lines.

I was able to explore all of Harry Potter world in around 6 hours. I wandered around Hogsmeade, saw the Hogwart's Express, visited Honeyduke's, Zonko's and Hog's Head and grabbed a butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks.  (For those interested, the best way to describe butterbeer is like a foamy cream soda.) It was super yummy, but extremely sweet. Please excuse all the iPhone photos - I didn't want to lug around my normal DSLR around the parks.

At Honeyduke's I bought a pumpkin juice, chocolate frog and some Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans to bring back to Jason. They had other candy from the movie as well - Fizzing Whizbees, Sugar Quills, Ton Tongue Toffee, Pepper Imps - it was so fun!

I rode the Dragon Challenge which was the only real roller coaster in the park. My favorite ride though was the Forbidden Journey. This was the longest line I waited in (30 min), but you get a chance to walk through the castle while you wait. I saw the Mirror of Erised, Dumbledore's office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the sorting hat and more. It was really all of the little details that made this park amazing. Even a trip to the bathroom was a fun experience thanks to a visit from Moaning Myrtle.

While I loved everything about it, I have to admit that it was rather small. I can't imagine spending a whole day here. It was great to go and live in Harry's world for a while though!

The only thing of note at the conference was listening Madeleine Albright speak - she is HILARIOUS! After the conference though, I got the nights to myself to explore. I bought an "after 4pm" ticket for Monday night and went to check out Magic Kingdom! Since the park was open until 11pm, I was still able to get in 7 hours of Disney fun. There was a new area called Fantasyland that I had to check out. My first stop though is always to the Main Street Confectionary to get a Mickey Mouse rice krispie treat.

I hit all the usual spots, but my favorite ride there will always be The Haunted Mansion. I saw the Electric Light Parade which is always fun! In my opinion, Disney is the best at night - you have the parade and fireworks and if you don't want to go to those, the rest of the park is SUPER empty! After the fireworks, the families with kids usually leave as well.

I really had fun and was glad I got the chance to explore Orlando. It might be a while before I got back to either park, but it really is magical every time I go!

Next up: I'll be going with my dad to my cousin's wedding in Simi Valley, CA (north of LA) in early August. I'm looking forward to seeing them get married and spending time with my family!

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