This was and probably will forever be the most touristy trip of my life. Orlando weather is intense for a Scottish Girl. The sheer volume of people in America is overwhelming. To then go to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, two places that are typically visited by hundreds of thousands of people per day – I was not ready. I was there with my friend Hannah, who lives in Australia. The fact that she also struggled with the heat and humidity made me feel better whenever I complained about it/commented on the fact that I was dying.
Putting all that aside, going to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. Going as an adult I think was a plus because not only was it as amazing as expected but it was so nostalgic. Disney was my childhood! And Harry Potter is my LIFE! Combine the two and you have the perfect trip!
We were there for 2 weeks in July-August (peak summer!) and we near enough spent everyday at the Parks. Out Itinerary was as follows:
- Sunday – Arrive in Orlando 6pm. Settle in at Hotel
- Monday – Universal Studios
- Tuesday – Universal Studios
- Wednesday – Magic Kingdom
- Thursday – Epcot
- Friday – NASA
- Saturday – Animal Kingdom
- Sunday – Universal Studios
- Monday – Hollywood Studios
- Tuesday – Free Day (FINALLY!)
- Wednesday – Hollywood Studios
- Thursday – Magic Kingdom
- Friday – Universal Studios (to say goodbye to WWoHP)
- Saturday – Fly home.
Myself and Hannah are both major Harry Potter geeks so we purposefully planned to open and close our trip at WWoHP (can I please make an “I open at the close” joke here?)
Now I could go into in depth detail of how we spent everyday but I’m sure no matter how fun it would be for me to relive it, it would most likely be a boring read so I will just run through the best bits!
The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
The first ‘real’ rollercoaster I had been on since I was 12 years old. I was terrified. After the first drop I was definitely questioning why I had chosen to go on a theme park holiday. My only distraction was Rollin’ by Limp Bizkit blasting in my ears. By the end of the ride I was high on adrenaline but also had severely messed up my neck. Tip for all rollercoaster novices: KEEP YOUR HEAD BACK!
Escape from Gringotts.
It was THE BEST! By the end of the trip we had been on it 9 times! The fact that the queue moved really quickly and that most of it was inside and air conditioned was a major bonus. I hate spoilers so I won’t ruin it for anyone but I for sure got emotional every time. All the Harry Potter rides were great but Gringotts was my favourite.
The Leaky Cauldron and The Three Broomsticks
Fun places to eat that probably serve similar food. Just one is in Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) and the other is in Hogsmede (Islands of Adventure). We ate there all 4 days at Universal I think. Their pancake breakfast is great!
A live animal show with mainly dogs and cats with some birds and a pig. It was incredibly cute and I would recommend it! Teaser: at the end the dogs all hang out at the edge of the stage so you can cuddle them.
Walt Disney World:
Celebrate the Magic Nighttime Spectacular
This should be number 1 on anyone’s list at Magic Kingdom. It started pretty late but it was so worth the wait. We sat right up front at about 8pm which was a great choice to secure a god spot as people soon followed suit (I think if you are further back you have a better view of the fireworks though) Is there any other word to describe it than Spectacular? Go see it. Enjoy. Cry. You won’t regret it.
Meeting the characters.
This took me a while to get used to. It felt awkward/silly that they were talking to us in character but would have simultaneously been incredibly disappointed if they didn’t. I got really excited about meeting Merida cause I thought maybe an actual Scottish girl would be playing her. Nope. Not the case. Points for effort on the accent though.
Not quite on par with the Universal Studios Rides but was he best at Walt Disney World by far! The whole area of the ride was dressed up to look like the actual Everest which was so cool!
I am so glad that we chose to get the PhotoPass for Disney! It was a bit pricey. +$100 but it was so worth it to be able to get as many pictures taken as we wanted (ie, rides, characters etc) I tried my best to look cool and photogenic on the rides but every time I was too wrapped up in it and before I knew it the flash had gone. Another picture of me screaming. Great. Here are some on my faves (Notice how Hannah, the DisneyWorld regular, is always photo ready!)
The Frozen Sing-a-long.
What can I say? Was it amazing? Yes. Was I mildly disappointed/confused that two twenty-something girls were the loudest singers? Yes. It was cute. It was air conditioned. The live performers were hilarious! (I would suggest a Fast Pass as you can probably guess it was pretty popular)
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Quite obviously a ride for the little kids. I personally thought it would just be a good time killer. I definitely did not expect it to be one of my favourite rides at Disney! It’s basically a chill ride where puppets take you through different scenes and songs of the film.
EPCOT was kind of cool but I did fall asleep there so is it really worth talking about?
Breaking up the theme park days with a trip to NASA was a great choice. Even just being out by the sea felt nice. Less claustrophobic than Orlando. We had an arranged guide with Florida Dolphin Tours which included the bus ride out and back, a guided section of the Kennedy Space Center, then the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted.
Our guided tour was of the Atlantis Space Shuttle. We got a talk and watched a film. WE SAW THE SPACE SHIP! I couldn’t believe we were allowed to see the real deal. We didn’t only see one space ship, we saw TWO! To be honest I have no idea what the other one was. Apollo something. But it was hella cool!
After that we took a bus tour out to the Apollo/Saturn V Center – it was a long tour at 1 hour and 30 minutes but still interesting. We finished the day with some food and an IMAX movie narrated by Patrick Stewart.
Travel day home was a long one. Our flights didn’t leave until late afternoon-evening but we still had to check out of the hotel at 10am. On top of that my flight was delayed, meaning I had 25 minutes to get from one plane to the other. No, not stressful at all. I arrived home at 7am on Sunday with the looming dread of going back to work the next day. Wouldn’t it be great it we could go on a trip, but instead of coming home just keep going?
Suggestion for Next Read: Visting Harry Potter Studio Tours in London