Location: Orlando, FL, USA
I know, I know, we're about 4 months late. However, I am willing to admit that I am still on my Disney hangover and feel the extreme need to relive this incredibly magical week. So without further ado...let's go to Orlando!
We took a really early flight out of Chicago to Orlando, so we arrived in the late morning. We snatched up our rental car and hit the road. Our first stop was a local lunch spot called Beefy King, where we grabbed some delicious sandwiches to start our day off with. Get the roast beef...you won't regret it. Or the pulled pork. And don't forget fries. Cheese fries. Just get it all and you'll be happy.
After our little lunch refuel, we headed off towards the east coast to check out the Kennedy Space Center and Cocoa Beach!
We had the most incredible time at NASA. We're nerds at heart and always like to incorporate a little bit of education in to our trips, and NASA really blew that out of the water on this one. We took the bus tour around the complex and got to see all the launch pads and learn a ton about the space program. We can't wait to go back with my dad (he really loves space) and eventually our kids!
After our time at the space center, we headed down to Cocoa Beach for a little bit of relaxation. Caleb had never been to the Atlantic Ocean before and we spent all afternoon laying on the beach and playing in the waves. It was exactly what we needed on our first day in Florida. For dinner, we walked over to a great Cuban restaurant called Roberto's Little Havana and had the best dinner. We finished the night out with a couple of tropical drinks at a local bar, the Pineapple Point.
Our first day of park going was enjoyed at Disney World's Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. We started the day out at Hollywood Studios where we jumped right in and went on one of my all time favorite rides - The Great Movie Ride. After our nice little ride through the movies, we had breakfast at Hollywood & Vine where we had the best Mickey waffles and met some of the cutest Disney Junior characters. We then made our way over to my all time favorite ride, Tower of Terror. Probably not our best decision on a full stomach of breakfast food and being 15 years older than last time I went on it, but none the less, it was still so fun and remains at the very top for me. If you've been to Disney as well, you know that the Rock 'n' Roller coaster is right next to the Tower of Terror so we decided to brave the line and check it off our list, too. However, we had the shortest wait time ever! I'm pretty sure we only waited about 20 minutes even though the sign said 50! So after those two classics it was time to check out all the new Star Wars stuff...Caleb's absolute dream. We really loved Launch Bay and the First Order March show was so cool...we had a front row spot and the Storm Troopers were only about an inch away from our faces! The funniest part though was when I was trying to get my cute picture in the Launch Bay area with my BB-8 cup and the Storm Troopers came over and yelled at me...you can enjoy that photo shown above ha!
Next it was on to Animal Kingdom!
We had saved our Fast Passes for rides at Animal Kingdom because 1. we didn't know about the 1 park per day rule (more on this in an informational Disney post) and 2. I was dying to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari. I didn't get to go on it the last time I was at Disney, some 15+ years ago and remember being so disappointed. So Caleb promised me we would make that happen this time, and it did! It was such a cool experience and a great way to give our feet a rest from all that walking around we did all morning in Hollywood Studios. After the Safari, we went to It's Tough to Be a Bug, saw the Finding Nemo Musical and went on Expedition Everest, which I have to save was one of the coolest rides ever. I'd never been on it before and with it being Caleb's first time to Disney he didn't know what to expect either. It started out nice and slow and Caleb made a comment along the lines of "Oh good, this one will be nice and slow." Then right after that we flew in to full speed, did the whole go backward thing and I was dying laughing by the end because all I could hear was Caleb screaming. The best part was the woman in front of us turned around at the end and said, "I thought the same exact thing as you when we started out...man was that a surprise!"
For dinner, we headed over to the BoardWalk and ate at the Big River Grille, grabbed some ice cream at the Ample Hills Creamery, and some treats at the BoardWalk Bakery for dessert. We ended the night with some drinks at the AbracadaBar and slowly made our way back to our hotel.
Our 2nd park day was a dream come true...we finally got to go to Hogwarts! We got to Universal Studios right as the park was opening and we bee lined for Diagon Alley. And when I say bee lined, I mean we half jogged/crazy power walked to get there. We were determined to get our wands from Olivanders and had heard horror stories about how you have to wait 2 hours sometimes to get in there. So we headed straight there, as fast as we possibly could. We got to the wall, walked in to the alley and my eyes just filled with tears. It was exactly what I had imagined all these years. It was honestly one of the happiest moments of my life. But anyways, we went to Olivanders were we successfully got our wands quick and easy and then went to the Leaky Cauldron for breakfast. We shared a traditional English breakfast and some hot butterbeer. It was delicious! From there we made our way around Diagon Alley, went on the Gringotts ride, and then headed back out to see the rest of Universal Studios. We bought a big pink doughnut the size of my face from Lard Lad's Donut's in "Springfield" (the Simpsons), went on the Shrek and Transformers rides, and saw the Terminator 2 show. After all that we made our way back to Harry Potter World and hopped on the Hogwarts Express to get to Universal's Islands of Adventure.
The magic continued in Hogsmeade for us where we bought copious amounts of candy from Honeydukes, relaxed on a patio with some cold butterbeer (we enjoyed the hot version more), and went a couple rides. After sufficiently exploring that side of Harry Potter World we ventured off to see what else Islands of Adventure had to offer. We really enjoyed the Spiderman ride and of course, Jurassic Park! Once we were done with all the amusement of the rides (see what I did there ;) ) we went back to Hogsmeade and had some fish and chips for dinner at the Three Broomsticks. Once again, absolutely delicious!
One of the best parts of the whole day though was the end. We left the parks and rounded out our day with some insanely boozy drinks and a tower of nachos on the Universal CityWalk at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville! Best decision ever.
Our third day of parking hopping/fourth day of the trip was our actual 1 year anniversary. We of course had to spend it at Magic Kingdom because...well Caleb is the Prince Charming to my Cinderella. We started the day out with brunch at Be Our Guest. The Beast's castle is so incredible and it is definitely worth attempting to get a reservation here. (Tip: you can book dining reservations 180 days in advance at Disney World, so mark it on your calendar and log on at midnight to snatch up a table at all your favorite places.) After brunch, we made our way around Magic Kingdom, riding all the classic rides, our favorites being the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Mad Hatter Teacups. I successfully got Caleb to go on Space Mountain, too! I really wish I had purchased the photo that they take of you on the ride though because his face was priceless. They take the photo before you barely even start moving but he just had this look of horror on his face. I still laugh really hard about it even today.
After a little rain delay (we made it this far in to our trip without any rain getting in our way!), we enjoyed the rest of our afternoon and anniversary at the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. We ate and drank all around the World Showcase; we were bursting by the end but our bellies were oh so happy. It was the perfect way to spend our anniversary together - being with each other, in the most magical place on earth, doing what we love.
Our last and final day was spent strolling around Disney Springs and shopping at the Vineland Outlet Mall. We had lunch at the yummiest BBQ joint - the House of Blues Smokehouse while exploring Disney Springs and hid out at the mall while another rain storm rolled though. It was then unfortunately time to head home to Chicago, but we sure did leave with big smiles and full hearts. We already can't wait to go back!
The Cabrera Crew
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