Orlando, Florida. A city known for its theme parks with hidden magic.
It was 2018, summer break had just begun and my family and I went on a vacation. We packed our bags and flew directly to Miami from Vienna airport.
When we landed at Miami airport, we rented a car and drove straight to Orlando. It is over a 3 hours drive, but it took us a bit longer than we anticipated because we got stuck in traffic for two hours. We stayed in Orlando for a few days.
On our first day, we decided to go to Universal Studios. The park is full of exciting rides, each one themed according to a certain movie. On your way to the theme park, you go through this alley with coffee shops, restaurants, and shops. We stopped here, got Starbucks, and were on our way to the park. At the end of the alley, you will emerge in an open space where the path splits into two, each one leading you into a different theme park – Universal Studios and Universal’s Island of Adventure. One park per day ticket ($109) applies for each park. There is the famous Universal logo statue right in the middle, definitely worth taking pictures with.
As you step into the park, rides will be everywhere and you will definitely see a ride themed according to a movie you surely have seen before. Ranging from kid’s rides all the way to the biggest adrenaline-filled ones, you will find something suited for you. The construction and technology used on the rides are truly impressive and compelling because it makes you feel as if you were in another dimension. My favorite rides were Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Revenge of the Mummy, The Simpson’s Ride, and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. It is definitely worth waiting in a queue for these rides.
When you get to a part of the park dedicated to Harry Potter, specifically Grimmauld Place with the famous purple double-decker bus in front of it, make sure to go behind the secret wall right next to it. Stepping out of the wall, you will appear in Diagon Alley which will make you feel like stepping right into the movies. It is full of famous Harry Potter shops, such as Ollivander’s that sells magic wands, Sugarplum’s Sweets Shop, and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Right in the middle is the Gringotts Wizarding Bank. If you want to see the interior, make sure to go to the Harry Potter and Escape from Gringotts ride. While waiting in the queue, you will be led through the bank.
In the Diagon Alley, I definitely recommend going to The Leaky Cauldron. They serve various dishes such as burgers, fish and chips, chicken sandwiches, pie and so much more. All over the area, you can order Butterbeer which is a must-try!
To travel into Hogsmeade or the other way around, board Hogwarts’s Express and enjoy traveling between these two places. You need to have a Park-to-Park ticket ($164) to be able to travel between.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure
We spend our second day in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. After showing our tickets, we found ourselves once again in a world full of completely different themed rides. Even though it, unfortunately, rained in the afternoon, we still had a great time. We got the chance to go on various rides in the morning such as Doom’s Fearfall, Dudley Do-Right Ripsaw Falls, and Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
After we ate lunch, we finally got to the part I was most looking forward to on the entire trip. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hogwarts immediately took my breath away. It looks exactly like in the movies. Hogsmeade is right next to Hogwarts full of various shops and restaurants. Just like I mentioned before, you can board the Hogwarts Express here as well and travel to the Diagon Alley. It is necessary to buy the Park-to-Park ticket.
As one of the most attractive rides in the park, you can expect quite a long queue for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey rollercoaster. The ride is definitely worth the wait. While being in a queue, you are led through Hogwarts’s premises so you will get to admire all of the prominent parts of Hogwarts.
After spending a couple of hours in Hogwarts, we decided to explore other corners of the park. Unfortunately, it started pouring rain, so we had to hide somewhere. We did not want to waste our time just sitting, waiting for the rainstorm to pass, so my uncle suggested going to the nearest inside ride we could find. What we did not know was that it was a show about Greek gods for little kids and we found out when it was too late and there was no turning back. So it was us teenagers surrounded by small kids and their parents. I do not recommend going here if you are not a child.
The last ride we got to go on was a Jurassic Park River Adventure ride before it started raining again. Sadly we did not have time to go on the Incredible Hulk Coaster.
We dedicated our last day in Orlando to Disneyworld, specifically Magic Kingdom Park. There are other Disney theme parks, such as Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT. I got the chance to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom a few years back but not the others.
Visiting Disneyworld is every kid’s dream. Seeing the movies you used to watch as a kid being transformed into rollercoasters, meeting your favorite Disney characters truly is a magical experience.
Magic Kingdom is divided into six parts – Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Main Street, U.S.A. As you enter, you will find yourself walking through Main Street. The street is full of shops, restaurants, and coffee shops. Right at the end of Main Street stands the most gorgeous castle you have ever seen. The Cinderella castle. From this point lead various paths, that will bring you to the different parts of the park.
In Adventureland, I recommend going on the Indiana Jones Adventure ride.
Before walking through Liberty Square in the theme of New Jersey just like in Princess and the Frog to get to Fantasyland, go on Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. These are one of my favorite rides in the whole park. You can expect to get a little bit wet on Splash Mountain.
In Fantasyland, you will get to go on rides based on Disney classics such as Peter Pan’s Flight, Mad Tea Party, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. While exploring Fantasyland, you can find yourself in front of the Rapunzel tower, or the castles from the Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast.
Last but not least, Tomorrowland. I definitely recommend going on Tomorrowland Speedway and Space Mountain rides.
I suggest you stay till the late hours so you will not miss out on the most beautiful magical fireworks show ever. Usually, before the fireworks show starts is a parade on Main Street with all the Disney characters. There isn’t a better way to end your magical stay here than seeing the fireworks.
The fireworks show usually lasts about 15 minutes. Here is a snippet.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Make sure to check out other articles from us!