Over Labor Day weekend, my SO and I spontaneously decided to take a whirlwind vacation down to Orlando to visit Disney World and Universal Studios! I thought it would be fun to document parts of the trip and bring you along with me, and have you all journal with me after the trip.
It was my first time vlogging at all, and it was really fun to put it together! Usually after a trip I have a copious amount of photos to commemorate, but this time I get to keep my memories together in a little video, and somehow it feels all the more magical.
Why We Decided To Go
I mean, it’s Disney and Harry Potter. Why wouldn’t we go?
In all seriousness, one of the reasons my SO and I clicked when we first started dating is that we are both massive Harry Potter nerds. We both decided that we wanted to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando together at some point, but we had never planned exactly when.
Part of the issue was that we knew the trip would end up being rather expensive, considering the tickets to the theme parks are not a negligible cost. After a little bit of convincing, we decided to just go. Luckily, we both have disposable income, and since we cook our own meals, we both rarely drink, and we’re both rather introverted, we end up spending fairly little money in our regular daily lives.
Considering that we ate most of our meals in the parks between rides, there wasn’t much competition – obviously it’s the Cajun food we ate on our first night! We arrived to Orlando on Saturday with most of the afternoon to spare. After a fun (but excessively hot – thanks, Florida weather) mini-golf game, we went on a big ferris wheel, each had $6 mimosas, and then got a giant bag of crawfish for dinner.
The best part of the crawfish experience, apart from eating all the seafood, was sniping the last potato from my SO. Heh.
The Hogwarts ride is by far the best one we went on. If you’ve never been, it’s truly something else. I think the ride is a really creative way of making the rider feel really immersed in the magical world. Plus, I think it’s really cool that they made it feel so immersive without making the rider wear 3d glasses!
Side note: the spiders in the ride will always terrify me. We ended up purchasing the overpriced photo from this ride, and while my SO looks extremely happy, I looked terrified. We went twice, and I was still completely freaked out by the animatronic spiders. I hate spiders.
Otherwise, we are both big fans of water rides! Splash Mountain at Disney World is a favorite, as well as Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges at Universal. For the Universal one, we rode with this cute old man who was very prepared and knew exactly when to put on his poncho hood. We were not nearly as prepared.
The entire trip was unforgettable, but my favorite part of it was exploring the different sections of Harry Potter World! Diagon Alley was completely new to me, and I loved seeing how Universal Studios had brought both to life. While I wish we could have gone into more stores, the window fronts were really cute and whimsical. Getting ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s made us really feel like we were in the magical world!
I also really enjoyed the Ollivander’s experience, even though it was a bit silly. “Ollivander” pairs a random person in the group with a wand, and fun things happen in the shop to make it look like the magic is working. After the show, we were shepherded into the next door store to purchase wands for ourselves. After a lot of back and forth, we ultimately decided to buy a replica of Hermione’s.
We wanted to get an interactive wand so that we could do the interactive spells within the park. It took a couple tries, but once we figured out exactly how the interaction worked, it got a lot easier to make the “magic” happen. While it was expensive, I don’t regret getting the wand. Personally, the joy of making the spell work far exceeded the hurt from the expense!
A Pair of Potter Dorks
I mean, I feel like this image is worth a thousand words here.
Our Most Unpopular Opinion
Butterbeer is completely vile. I knew this already from my last trip quite a few years ago, but my SO wanted to try it. He got the frozen version and agreed that it was multiple heart attacks in a cup. Why people enjoy it, I’ll never know.
We ended up quite enjoying the pumpkin fizz and the pear cider at the Three Broomsticks, though. The drinks were a nice respite from the rather awful tap water (we’re really spoiled as New Yorkers).
1. Go on a week day, if you can. We were able to go to Universal on Labor Day Monday, which ended up meaning there were almost no lines to get into the rides! We got to do Hogwarts twice, both with nearly zero wait time. At Disney the day before we had to wait an average of 45 minutes for each ride.
2. You can bring food into the parks, which we didn’t know beforehand. This is a great tip if you are someone who gets hungry easily, like my SO. We spent the majority of our money this trip on overpriced theme park food.
On the other hand, if you’re from New York, the overpriced theme park food doesn’t actually feel that overpriced.
3. Bring a water bottle. I carried my giant 32 oz nalgene with me in a mini backpack, and it ended up being very necessary because of the heat and the walking! All of the restaurants will give you free tap water if you ask. Ask for ice, too, to keep the water cool and to suppress the icky taste. (Florida’s tap water is far inferior to New York’s, in my opinion. Yes, I know this is a first world problem.)
4. Use FastPass at Disney. I feel like everyone knows this exists, but I never knew that Disney gave you 3 FastPasses automatically with your ticket! My family has taken me to Disney a bunch of times when I was younger, and we never used FastPass. I have regrets.
5. Don’t miss Knockturn Alley. We completely skipped it when we were there during the day, and only found it at night about 10 minutes before the park closed! Being there at night definitely made it a lot creepier, but I wish we’d had more time to explore and appreciate all of the little stores.
Journal With Me
I had a lot of fun doing some journaling in my new Stalogy notebook! I was inspired by Sarica from @saricastudio to get a tiny daily journal of my own, after seeing her kill it with her spreads for so long. For the longest time, I couldn’t bring myself to buy one because I thought there was no way I could fill up all of the pages. It turns out that these pages are quite little so they fill right up!
Plus I can be a little rambly, too, so it works out quite well.
I’ve always loved saving little bits from traveling, whether it be ticket stubs or maps. Now I have a dedicated space to paste all of that in! I used to paste it into my bullet journal until I decided it was too cluttered and detracted from my practical bullet journaling style. I’ve discovered that taking some time to play with ticket stubs and washi tape is really therapeutic for me.
Plus, it was really fun playing with the Harry Potter-themed washi tape that I made with Washi Tape Warrior! I work with the owner, Faith, to create fun sets of washi tape. If you ever buy any of it, just know that it’s teeny tiny miniaturized pieces of my artwork. Having the Harry Potter tape to go with a Harry Potter spread was just too perfect!
The writing tools I used were some of my trusty go-tos: my TWSBI Eco with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink, as always, some Prismacolor pencils for some color, and my new favorite brush pen – the Pentel fude touch sign pen. I’m not very good at brush lettering yet, but I think this pen is helping me improve!
I hope you enjoyed my vlog and reading about my trip to Orlando!
I have a few more trips coming up this year because I didn’t take any vacation days earlier this year. Do you have any trips upcoming, and if so, do you do any travel planning or journaling after the fact? This trip was too quick to do this, but usually I love urban sketching during my travels. I can’t wait to do some more!