travel

My Travels: Florida

So I decided I wanted to write about my travel adventures so that one day when I am older and can’t remember anything I can read them. Well, if Word Press still exists! It is like my own “Notebook.”  

Florida

I started off my many travels for the year with a week in Florida. I had never been so it was a whole new adventure for me. There are so many things to do in this state and it was hard to choose which activities were most important. For two months I spent researching which beaches were the most fun, spent time on disney.com and researched any other parks or tours that would be cool to do. It was overwhelming! I of course wrote a few activities down that looked the best and consulted with my travel buddies. 

Day 1: Our flight landed in Orlando a little after four pm on our first day, so it didn’t really leave time to do much. We were hungry so we dropped everything off at our hotel and made our way to Downtown Disney. This is a neat area right near the rest of the parks with tons of shopping and lots of places to eat. We chose Planet Hollywood for dinner and the food was pretty good, but inside is very loud and the waitress was rude. The rest of the evening we walked around the area and of course had to check out the largest Disney store on Earth – the World of Disney. This store has, no joke, twelve rooms devoted to any Disney merchandise you can think of. It was crazy and I think we didn’t even go into every room. Overall, Downtown Disney was pretty fun. The area was pretty big and couldn’t be accomplished in an hour or two. We didn’t get to see everything, but managed to get to the important stuff. 

Animal Kingdom Tree of Life

Day 2: Animal Kingdom was our first stop at Walt Disney World. This place was pretty amazing, but made for kids and animal lovers. The Tree of Life though is something that can not be missed. There are animals carved into this massive tree and pictures do not do it justice. We went on the safari that they have and it was like being at a zoo, but the animals get to roam free while an employee drives you around in a jeep. It was neat seeing the white rhinos, especially the baby one. The girls braved the Everest Expedition roller coaster and we took a walk through the jungle trek where there were tigers and silver backed gorillas to see. We stopped in Dino-Land for an “Indiana Jones” type ride with dinosaurs and stopped to meet some characters in Camp Mickey/Minnie. Overall we finished the park in five to six hours. It wasn’t very busy and took no time at all to get through the lines. 

Bambi and Thumper made out of flowers for the festival

We finished the day off by exploring Epcot’s Future World. We mostly rode the rides and walked around the shops. We did encounter a surprise rain storm and it was definitely a different rain from Oregon. Epcot was having an International Flower and Garden festival for the month of May. This was a highlight around the park since there were characters and scenes from Disney movies made into flowers. It was definitely worth walking around to see the different displays. We had a short time in the evening so we only were able to check out the front of the park. 

Hogwarts castle at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Day 3: We decided to head over to Universal Studios for day three. We chose Islands of Adventure over the regular park due to the extreme roller coasters that there were to ride on. I of course chickened out, upside down is not my thing. I did enjoy the Jurassic Park Jungle Adventure and the Adventures of Spiderman. There was also a cool raft ride that left us soaking wet by the end. The park was very fun and had a lot of things to choose from. Definitely would want to get there early in the morning, because there is lots to see and the park closes at seven on some days. The only disappointment I found was that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was not open yet, but you could still see Hogwarts castle and the village of Hogsmeade poking out of the fences to block it. It was a big tease being able to see it and not go in!  This alone would be a reason to go back to the park. We did walk around the Universal City Walk after we were done. This area was for shopping and eating. It just didn’t seem to have lots of stores like the California city walk does. They might have been in another area though. Overall it was a very fun day, I wish we had a little more time though to explore. 

Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kingdom

Day 4: This day was spent at the Magic Kingdom. A whole day from open to close is required here if you want to see the whole thing and go on all of the rides. It is very close to Disneyland, except that the layout is a little different and some of the rides were missing (Mr. Toad, the Matterhorn, Indiana Jones). Even though it was missing some key rides, it was still my favorite place. There is something about Disneyland/Magic Kingdom that makes you be in a good mood no matter what. Even though your feet feel like they are going to fall off and you are dead tired after walking all day long or you are constantly running into people or being hit by strollers, you still have enough energy to finish the park or take another ride on something. Here I went on almost every ride and my favorite has always been Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Like Disneyland, there are also the fast passes to get in line later and these were pretty helpful. Overall the day was amazing and we got to do everything that we wanted to. 

Tower of Terror at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Day 5: Spent another day between parks starting at Disney Hollywood Studios. This park was pretty fun, felt like a Disney Universal Studios. We started with the Tower of Terror because I wanted to get it over with! For me it was scary and I had to apologize to Amy because I literally squeezed her hand off! Some kids ruined the drop for us so we knew when it was going to be, but when it happened my whole body was literally flying off the seat! Thank gosh for seat belts! The park also had another favorite of mine, Star Tours and a cool Indiana Jones Stunt show. We went on a new Toy Story ride and a studio backlot tour. I was disappointed by the lack of good places to eat. I wanted a milkshake and could not find one anywhere. We found a 50’s diner to eat at and they had milkshakes, but it was not what it sounded like. We were expecting hamburgers and it was dinners like meatloaf and tuna noodle casserole. So it was more of a 50’s home type diner and not the theme we thought it would be (juke boxes, sock hop type of place).  We finished the rides we wanted to go on and decided to try to finish Epcot. 

Just one of the many from around the world!

We moved on to the World Showcase part of Epcot, where they have different areas representing different countries. There were twelve in all. Three of us decided to “drink around the world” and share a beer from each different country. Epcot is definitely a place that you need two days at. One day for the front of the park and one day for the back. We were pressed for time so we couldn’t really go inside the shops or anything. We also had a goal to finish every beer by closing time! This was probably my favorite evening of the trip. It was a lot of fun and we had some good beers. My favorite was the Italian. We also happened upon a Davy Jones concert and listened to him sing “Daydream Believer.”  We also met some cool Disney employees along the way. By the time we were through all of the countries we were exhausted! I would definitely go back though and explore each country. 

Cocoa Beach pier

Day 6: Our last day was spent at Cocoa Beach, Florida’s space coast because it is close to Cape Canaveral. We were supposed to go on an Eco-tour boat ride of the Banana River, but it got cancelled at the last-minute. My cousin and I were determined to see a manatee though so we found a manatee sanctuary park. There were some in the water,  but we were only able to see their backs and fins. We made a stop at the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop and then made out way to the Cocoa Beach Pier. We spent a good couple of hours on the beach and playing in the water. The Atlantic Ocean is definitely different from the Pacific. It is warmer and you can walk out pretty far with it only being a little above your waist. The water is pretty salty and the waves are rough. There was a time where I got hit and my boogie board went flying in the air! The weather was perfect and it was a great day. We finished the day with dinner on the pier then went back to our hotels to pack. It was nice to have a relaxing last day on our vacation. 

Overall Florida was pretty fun. Disney World was a little overwhelming, but very pretty amazing. If you want to see all of it, a good five or six days would be needed in order to take it all in. I already would like to go back since there were things I didn’t get to do. A visit to Gatorland, Harry Potter World and the Kennedy Space Center are on my list. Probably would do only Epcot and Magic Kingdom again at Disney, possibly a water park. Maybe a drive down south to explore. It was definitely one of my best vacations I have had so far. Next stop: San Diego for Comic Con in July.

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