Creative Life Travels: Orlando & Universal Studios – Part 2

Universal Studios

Welcome to part 2 of my first destination on the new ‘Travel’ area of Creative Life Explored! Last I left you I was disembarking from our boat and headed from the island life in The Bahamas and onto Orlando where I had my sights set on Universal Studios; specifically, Harry Potter World! (Read Part 1 here).

When we first arrived at the dock and disembarked it was early – 8:30am ish early. No big deal except that we couldn’t check into our hotel until 4, so we had some time to kill.

My friend Erik suggested we go to the town of Winter Park. It’s home to million dollar homes, a college, and an ADORABLE downtown community. We took an amazing scenic boat tour through the lakes and canals and learned so much fun history of the area. It was a beautiful day on the lake and quite a beautiful area.

Winter Park, FL
Beautiful willow trees that lines the canals in Winter Park, FL.
Winter Park, FL
Just one of the many beautiful homes that line the lakes in Winter Park.
Winter Park, FL
Lake view in Winter Park.

From Winter Park we made our way to some breweries and an amazing wine place, eventually getting to our hotel in Orlando. The next day was Universal Studios and it was game day for me!

Here’s the thing; I’m a massive Harry Potter fan. The top three destinations on my travel bucket list are (were): 1) Croatia/Greece, 2) Thailand/Indonesia, 3) Harry Potter World at Universal. Followed by Spain/Portugal. This was my Game 7. As much as I was excited for the rest of the trip and had an amazing time, my end game was going to Hogwarts.

Hogwarts
Hogwarts Castle!

I have no shame in my game. I was…16? 17? when the books first came out. I grew up with this series and it’s absolutely magical. I am an avid reader in general (seriously, there are 390+ books on my ‘To Read’ shelf on Goodreads). I love books and the places that reading a fantastic book can take me.

Dylan was an amazing sport. He happily agreed to accompany me on my journey to Universal and never once made fun of me. And of course we were going to see much more than Harry Potter during out trip to Universal/Islands of Adventure. There were couples of all ages – if you love the movies then Universal is the place to be!

We got to the park right when it opened; with only a day to explore and thunderstorms scheduled for late afternoon there wasn’t a moment to waste! We went straight to “London” where we found our way into Diagon Alley!

Knight Bus
The Knight Bus, outside of Diagon Alley.
Diagon Alley
Diagon Alley!
Diagon Alley
Butter Beer for sale – it’s served many ways but I found the frozen was the most tolerable for such a sweet treat.
Diagon Alley
Diagon Alley!
Diagon Alley
Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes
Diagon Alley
Inside Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.
Diagon Alley
Diagon Alley!
Gringott's Bank
Gringott’s Bank

After exploring Diagon Alley and going on a few rides we hopped on the Hogwarts Express and took it over to Hogsmeade (AKA Islands of Adventure). We made our way up to Hogwarts and I’ll be honest, I couldn’t have been more excited!

Platform 9 3/4
Kings Cross Station – Platform 9 3/4
Hogwarts Express
Hogwarts Express
Hogsmeade
Hogsmeade
Hogsmeade
Hogsmeade Owl Post
Hogsmeade
Hogsmeade – Olivander’s
Hogwarts
Hogwarts

Harry Potter world was everything I wanted it to be, and I am SO thankful that I was able to go and check it off my bucket list!

We weren’t done yet though. We still had the remaining of the two parks to visit and were still trying to get everything in before the storms. Off we went, visiting Jurassic Park, The Simpsons, Marvel’s Island of Adventures, Transformers, Men In Black, Lost Island, and Dr. Seuess world, just to name a few.

Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park Discovery Center

 

Jurassic Park
T-Rex!
Marvel Super Hero Island
Marvel Super Hero Island
The Simpsons - Moe's Tavern
The Simpsons – Moe’s Tavern
The Simpsons - Kwik-E-Mart
The Simpsons – Kwik-E-Mart
Duff Man
Dylan and Duff Man! Oh Yeah…
Poseidon
Poseidon’s Adventure!
Lost Island
Poseidon’s Adventures
Dr. Seuss
The entrance to Dr. Seuss’s World – very magical and imaginative!
Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss Bookstore

These pictures barely skimp the surface of what I took, and my pictures as a whole barely show all of the spectacular things that Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure have to offer. It’s safe to say that a week long trip to visit Universal, Epcot and Disney has made it’s way significantly up on my travel bucket list!

We exited out of our last ‘must-do’ ride to hear the rumble of thunder in the background around 4:30pm; it’s Florida in June, it happens. An hour later we had collapsed in our hotel room bed with storms coming down all around us, exhausted from nine straight hours of walking and being able to be big kids in this amazing theme park!

The next day we left for home, but  not before stopping at Metro Diner, a diner featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, where I had the BEST Fried Chicken and Waffles in my life.

Fried Chicken & Waffles
Half a fried chicken and a Belgian waffle topped with a sweet, strawberry butter and served with Metro Diner’s signature sweet and spicy sauce.

The sweet and spicy sauce was maple syrup and Louisiana hot sauce, and if you ever find yourself in the Orlando or Jacksonville area I give this place 10 out of 5 stars, it was THAT GOOD!

Well that ends my first travel post on Creative Life Travels, and I’d love to know what you thought – too long, more pictures, more entires, more food? Let me know! My next long vacation will take me to the Smokey Mountains and Asheville, NC in October, but I’ll be taking long weekends in between then, so stay tuned, and don’t forget to tell me what you think and if you have any travel/food recommendations (particularly for the Asheville area)!

Cheers!
Heather

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