Rockets, Magic, and NASCAR- Our Trip to Florida

In February, we went on our first real vacation since our honeymoon. We traveled to Orlando, Florida It was a blast! We started each day bright and early in the AM and just stuffed everything we could into each day until we passed out in the PM. Sometimes you just need a busy vacation packed full of memories, and this trip was definitely PACKED. This trip had something for the both of us. It fed my Harry Potter obsession and gave Tom a chance to geek out over rockets and race cars.

When we arrived in Florida about four hours before we could check into our hotel. To pass the time we decided to check out Celebration, Florida a cute neighborhood originally designed by Disney. It looks straight out of a magazine. The houses were adorably colored with manicured lawns, small shops to look around, and a gorgeous lake to stroll around. We decided to walk around the town and look at the houses. After being surprised by a horde of lizards and nearly adopting a neighborhood cat (only slightly kidding) we decided to stop at a wonderful wine bar called Imperium. The wine was great, and gave us a chance to finally relax and enjoy the weather.

We planned our vacation around the gift I got my husband for our first anniversary- tickets for the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Unfortunately the only day that it really rained on our vacation just happened to be the day he was scheduled to drive. This was the Driving Experience team’s last day in Daytona until April, which means we’ll have to make a trip back to Florida within the year. There are definitely worse things, I suppose! We didn’t let the rain get us too down though. We were on the track in Daytona! We walked around and took lots of pictures, took a look at the museum they have, and and took a very wet driving tour.

After a rainy day on the track, chocolate seemed like a perfect idea. We went to Angell & Phelps a local chocolate store in the area. When we arrived, the place was busy! We had the nicest lady come and talk with us, and tell us about the tour and their chocolate. We took the free tour, a quick 15 minute peak through the windows into the factory, and then were given some free samples to try. Be sure to try their chocolate covered potato chip, their best seller.

The next day, we went to Kennedy Space center. There had been a launch recently, and we were able to see parts of the launch pad and how they moved the parts. If youve never been here before, I highly recommend it. Words cant really do it justice. It was was amazing seeing the old rockets and the massive size of the more recent ones. I, of course, had to try the space ice cream too.

Next up was Universal Studios and Island of Adventure. We made sure to get the park-to-park pass for these, because if you don’t, you miss out on riding the Hogwart’s Express which was such a cool experience (I won’t ruin why). We spent most of our first day at the parks in Hogsmeade. Walking in to the park is just incredible for a huge Harry Potter nut as me. The Hogwarts castle is just breathtaking and walking in is like being transported straight into Hogsmeade. I absolutley had to look into every shop window, and browse every store, especially Honeyduke’s to check out the chocolate frogs! We went on the ‘Dueling Dragons’ at least 8 times. It was definitely one of our favorites. While waiting in line to get into Ollivander’s shop, and our chance to watch someone find their wand, we sipped on some butterbeer. I went for the frozen one, which was like a delicious butterscotch ice, and was perfect with the Florida weather.

For lunch, we popped into the Three Broomsticks for some fish and chips and turkey legs with a bit of pumpkin juice. I was amazed my all of the details that were put into every shop. The Three Broomsticks was just amazing. After lunch, we toured the rest of Island of Adventure. We were really looking forward to the Jurassic Park ride, but unfortunately that was closed. Instead, we spent most of our time in the Marvel Superhero Island. We went on all the rides we could, and even managed a few superhero sightings!

Our first day ended with a surprise Mardi Gras parade. The floats and performers were just incredible. My husband and I both left with our necks thoroughly weighted down with beads.

The next day we were back to Universal Studios bright and early to try and catch the King Kong ride. It’s one of the newest rides a the park, and everyone and their mom wanted to ride it, so we thought maybe getting there early would make the wait time a little less ridiculous. Well, an hour and a half later we managed to ride the ride and get back to park. I pratically ran to the Hogwarts Express because I knew today was Diagon Alley day. When you arrive, it’s like you’ve just taken the train to London. You arrive in King’s Cross station which looks almost eerily like the real station and are taken out to a street with a vendor selling London souveniers and lined with townhomes that look straight out of the city. If you don’t know it’s there, you might even miss Diagon Alley like some typical muggle! Tucked away behind the London homes, is a small path that leads to Diagon Alley. Again, I was just in awe when I arrived. The place was really magical.

Just as we arrived, Celestina Warbeck had just taken the stage on a platform in the middle of the alley. After her show, we made sure to go inside every store. I tried on robes in Madame Malkin’s, looked for pets in the Magical Menagerie (Crookshanks was my favorite), and got some delicious butterbeer ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. My favorite shop was definitely Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Here you could purchase your own extendable ear or some Puking Pastilles they sold muggle magic tricks too. You could even purchase your very own pygmy puff. We were lucky enough to witness the adorable naming ceremony of a recently purchased pygmy puff, named Puff.

Sunday was the day we had both been waiting for, the Daytona 500! It was incredible to see the track packed with people. The race was an absolute blast.

We didn’t have anything really planned for our final day in Florida. We had planned an extra day just in case the race was rained out, because you never really can plan for Florida weather as we experienced first hand on Wednesday. Thankfully the weather stayed beautiful, and we decided to go to Magic Kingdom. My absolute favorite part was seeing the fireworks show. I had never seen them before and it’s truly amazing!!

Our vacation was jam-packed with activities. It was so hard to go back and sit at my desk all day again! I’m already looking forward to our next trip back!


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