Day 5: Mostly Potter (Universal Studios) 

Since the last time I’ve been to Universal, there hasn’t been a great many positive changes other than one: the new Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction.


However, the Twister and Beetlejuice Concert were given up as a result to this. I can say that the ride was fun and the queue inside of “Fallon’s Studio” was a blast. They had live performances from the Ragtime Gals! 


Hashtag Panda also made an appearance but by the time he stepped out on to the stage to dance, our ticket color had been called for “recording”. 


Maybe it was because the day before had granted me the best motion stimulator ride I’d ever been on, but Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon was just … alright. It’s worth getting on, especially since the queue is basically watching a performance, but it was just alright. 

More to the point, it seems like this year Universal had more removals than additions to their park. Previously mentioned Twister and Beetlejuice Concert were retired, as well as the Disaster Studios ride, which is one of my classic favorites. 

I couldnt really stay angry though, considering that the Harry Potter Diagon Alley section is still something that exists. 

  

Its every Harry Potter fan’s dream. Everything from interactive “magic” points that you can do with the wands at Ollivanders, to the shops and food sold on location. 


Diagon Alley is actually my favorite place to chill out in-park. It feels like it has much more space than Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, and the performances are so much better! 


The Tales of Beetle and the Bard are told using elaborate puppetry by very talented puppeteers. Its absolutely beautiful and you cannot miss it! 


In the same area, every hour on the hour, magical songstress extraordinaire Celestina Warbeck performs the top hits, including Molly Weasley’s favorite “A Cauldron Full Of Hot Strong Love”. 

 

The featured ride in this area is the Escape from Gringotts Bank, where you get to escape the safest bank in the world via dragon riding. 

Universal kind of surprised us a bit by cutting Single Rider queues for a few of the rides. We usually depend on those to cut our waiting time, so we had to wait the full 30 minutes to get on the bank cart. 


I wasn’t too upset about this because 1. the queue is in air conditioning, and 2. it’s just really fucking cool. 

For lunch time, we boarded the Hogwarts Express to cross over to Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure. We went to our usual, and absolutely best place to eat: The Three Broomsticks. 


We had to pay for park-to-park tickets beforehand to board the train but I think it’s well worth it. The next day’s schedule would be too hectic to allow lunch at Hogsmeade. Our usual order is The Great Feast. Its a platter for four people and a cool chef in a funky hat brings it to your table. 


How good does that look? Its insanely delicious, I’ll tell you that. With our bellies full and appetite sated, we boarded the train again to go back to Universal and hang out in Diagon Alley. 


My little sister bought an interactive wand and had lots of fun figuring out all the spells throughout the area. I’m an idiot and left my interactive wand at home, so I spent my money on something I’d been wanting for a long time. 

A robe! 

Slytherin Pride!


Univeral Studios is honestly more shows than thrill rides, so we got a slight rest on our feet after hour days of walking parks from morning till night. We did leave a bit early to rest up for our final day, but not before taking the required photo at the phone booth in London 


If you happen to visit this phone booth, be sure to call the number on the phone for the Ministry of Magic! There’s a cute little message that plays. 


By 8 o’clock, we were heading back to our hotel. One more day and my feet will get a breather! 

xx 


Day 4: The World Of Pandora (Disney’s Animal Kingdom) 


I could pretend to write a long post about everything in Animal Kingdom. I could talk about how the animal exhibits are beautiful and how the musicals are worth watching. I could talk about the awesome rollercoaster thrill that is Expedition Everest and how amazing all the usual attractions are, but I’d just be beating around the bush. 


The new gem of Animal Kingdom is Pandora. Without a doubt. It is quite honestly the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced, and I’m not even a huge Avatar fan! 

Obviously, being the new attraction, this area was destined to be packed with people. When we arrived at the park, one of the two rides already had a 60 minute wait! 


We decided to do the 20 minute line for the Na’vi River Journey first. This is a beautiful boat ride taking you through the beauty of Na’vi nature. Not only is it beautiful, but I have to say the animatronics in this ride were incredible.

 
Most of the ride features “bioluminescent” lighting, so it was very hard to take photos that properly captured the beauty of it, but believe me when I say that it was gorgeous. I’m glad we took advantage of the short ride though, later in the day the wait went up to an hour and a half. While the boat ride was beautiful it definitely wouldn’t be worth a wait that long. 


By the time we got out of the river ride, we went to make queue for the Rite of Passage attraction, which had managed to go up to two hours. It was insane! The line winded its way throughout all of Pandora and out into Africa! 


On the bright side, we got to see all the beautiful sights in Pandora. We stuck in that line until the bitter end. In all honesty, once the line went into the actual cave, the wait didn’t feel all that long at all. 

There was so many interesting things to see! Markings on the cave walls made way to bioluminescent Pandora flora.


The beautiful cave-dwelling plants eventually led to a science lab for the conservation and discovery of everything o do with the “banshee”, of which the basis of the ride revolved around. There was even a massive Avatar floating in a water capsule that looks like a movie scene in photo, but is EXTREMELY life-like in reality. 

I want to shake the hands of all the Imagineers who took part in creating this queue, it was incredible. 

The ride itself required the rider to sit in a motorcycle-like chair to connect with an Avatar that would ride on the back of a Banshee. 

I’ve never experienced anything quite like this ride, and I’ve been to a lot of theme parks. It was so immersive? That’s the best way I can explain it without waxing poetry about it. While following the road that was paved by Epcot’s Soarin’, Rite of Passage takes this type of experience to a whole new level. 

I felt the movement of the banshee beneath me, movements that were integrated into the seats. The “flying” movement simulation was perfect. You could both feel AND smell the ride! I’m serious. You could smell the waters when the banshee flew near the beach, you could smell the foliage when flying through the jungle, and you could smell the dirt on the paths made by creatures. It was a complete five senses simulation! Its so hard to explain this ride without resorting to weird hand gestures and flabbergasted noises. It was just insanely cool. 


After a full day finishing the rest of Animal Kingdom, we went back to Pandora and did the full two-hour queue to get on Rite of Passage again. It was that good. A friend of mine had recommended we take blacklight paint for a bit of fun in Pandora, so the second time around we spent a majority of the time painting our arms. By the time we reached the “cave flora” bit of the queue, our arms lit up with the numerous black lights in the room. 


Everyone really liked it and it sparked a lot of conversation with so many people in the queue, it was lots of fun! 

The Pandora area also has a lot of cool stuff in terms of food and snacks. They have a full-fledged restaurant that we weren’t able to try out, but we did try a snack stand called Pongu Pongu. 

“Pongu Lumpia” is basically a spring roll with pineapple and cream cheese inside. It was good, if only a bit too unsatisfying size wise. I think deep down I would’ve liked a churro or a soft pretzel instead. Very good for a one-time tasting though! 

The drinks are what really stand out! They’re brightly colored with different colored boba balls on top, and if you shell out a few more bucks, the drinks glow. 

 

I ordered a “Night Blossom” and absolutely loved it. The drink is non-alcoholic and tastes a bit like a SweetTart candy, in a weird way. The passion fruit boba balls were delicious! 

They have an alcoholic option that I desperately wish I could’ve tried because it looked so good! The woes of traveling with family, I guess. 

We usually never stay late at Animal Kingdom. However, there was a new night show that debuted a couple of months ago, and we stayed to watch it. Frankly, a part of me wishes that we’d just stayed in Pandora instead of seeing the show. 


“Rivers of Light” is okay, but I think it’s very much a one-time viewing. I wouldn’t go racing to go watch it again any time soon. If anything, I wish that time had been spent experiencing Pandora by night instead. Maybe next time around I’ll get to see the nighttime luminescence throughout the park. 

Even for a casual fan, I’d say Pandora is well worth a visit, if only to experience the amazing talent of world building that Disney has managed to reach. If this is what Avatar gets, I can’t wait to see how immersive Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be like! 

xx 


PS: I’m back home now and about two days behind on my travel posts, so hopefully I’ll have those up tomorrow! Then I can get to all the award nominations that you wonderful people have given me within the past two weeks, thank you!! 

Also, thank you to any new followers I’ve gotten recently, as well as people who have been liking, commenting, and interacting! You guys make my day! x 

Day 3: Drunk Envy and Swollen Eyes (Epcot) 

For the first time since this trip started, we got off on the right foot! We had our FP+ Passes sorted out and we got there on time. Things were looking up! 

Family selfie in front of Spaceship Earth

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Epcot. Its a tragically underlooked Disney theme park, mostly because of the lack of kid attaractions. I guess you could say it’s the most “adult park” available at Disneyworld.

Epcot has one new ride since we’ve been here last. It’s Frozen themed, and sits in a small corner in the Norway section of the World Showcase. I’m assuming this addition is to remedy the lack of Disney brand integration, and to bring in a bit more traffic by the way of piquing childrens’ interest. 

We caught “Frozen Ever After” at a measly 30min. queue!


The World Showcase is an area in Epcot that features a collection of pseudo-countries representing the real deal in terms of shopping, cuisine, and replicas of famous landmarks. It usually opens at 11AM, while the rest of the park opens at 9AM, but given Frozen Ever After’s incredible popularity, they’ve opened Norway at the same time as the rest of Epcot for a while now. 

Fake Norway at The World Showcase

The ride itself was really good! I remember this ride pre-refurbishment, when it was a Vikings themed ride, and they translated it very well over to the Frozen theme. Amazingly, we were able to beat the crowds! By the time we got out the line queue had gone up to 45 minutes, and growing. The ride is definitely worth it though, for the kids especially. Its a nice touch of Magic Kingdom Disney in an otherwise adult centered park. 

In general, I think Epcot is the park in most need of updating. While I grew up watching these men and the movies they starred in, younger visitors probably wouldn’t be very invested in the characters.

My childhood had a lot more cooky scientists than I’d realized

They have been changing things up recently! A 4D showing of a Michael Jackson short film has been changed to a “Disney + Pixar short film festival”. 

“Feast” is my favorite of the three that we saw!

I’ve heard rumors that there’s plans to update a vast portion of the front end of the park, and I’ve even heard that there might be some additions to the World Showcase! (Brazil, anyone?) I really do think the change is needed, but if they ever do get rid of Ellen’s Energy Adventure I might actually cry. 

The entire first half of the day went well, up until 3PM when it started pissing it down with rain. We were forcibly exited out of the Test Track ride right before we got on our vehicles! It was so frustrating! 

Fish & Chips in Fake England


We cut our losses and instead of bothering to wait for the ride to re-open, we went straight for the World Showcase and had ourselves some Fish & Chips from Fake England. 

The World Showcase is beautiful, but I’ve never been able to properly see it. My family always skims through everything because they find it incredibly boring. 

This time, I convinced them to give it a shot! We spent around 30 minutes in each country, give or take, except Canada. Not because I hate Canada or anything, we just ended up running to Fake England for food. 

Fake Morocco


Everything in each country is so beautifully detailed, from the tiling on the floors to the props on the walls. Many of the countries had short film that took you in a short journey of the country’s most breath-taking landscapes. 

I had read a review saying that France’s video was the least interesting, but I have to disagree. It was beautiful! I suppose the music could be a big lulling if you’ve been in the heat all day, but I absolutely loved it. 

Fake Japan


The shops in Japan were my favorite, they had so many cool things that didn’t cost the usual “minimum $10” apparent disney rule.  

Snow White in Fake Germany


The World Showcase does try and involve traditional Disney in some way, they have characters in their native country doing meet & greets, like Snow White and Rapunzel in Germany, Alice and Mary Poppins in England, and Aurora in France. I think this is the best park to get photos with Princesses, the ambiance is really chilled out and there’s not so much queue as in Magic Kingdom. 

Fake China

Around 4PM, right after this photo was taken actually, my Dad started feeling a bit weird. He has taken a pain reliever earlier for his back and kept complaining about a headache. Suddenly I realized that his eye was swollen! 

I’m talking eyeball whites swollen around the pupil kind of swollen, it was terrifying! Thankfully we were in China around this time and we sat down for a Chinese acrobat show indoors. The AC seemed to help him a bit. We sat around for a bit and tried to figure out what had happened before we realized it was probably an allergic reaction to the pain medication. 

Unfortunately there was really nothing we could do at this point. Whenever he gets allergic reactions like this, he has to wait it out. And that’s what we did… in Italy. 

Fake Italy


We sat with some gelato and took it easy until the pressure in his right eye felt less intense. It was right around this time that I realized how many drunk people were around us. Apparently there’s a sort of bar-hopping-esqued activity that you can do to try alcohol from around the world. 

It looked like so much fun! But, unfortunately, I’m really not the type to drink around my parents. I want to come back to this park with friends and experience it, everyone looked like they were having so much fun! 

Fake Mexico


Near the end of our day, we stopped by a building near the Starbucks at Epcot called “Club Cool”. My little sister had read about it and wanted to stop by. 


It’s a Coca-Cola owned establishment that lets you try different sodas from around the world! My personal favorites were Zimbabwe, Brazil, and Japan. 

Soda flavors from around the world!


The Italy one was just horrible though, never again. 

The sun was starting to set and the Spaceship Earth Epcot ball was starting to illuminate, but we didn’t stay for the night show this time around. 


After three days we needed an early night, especially with my Dad’s eyeball swelling up. Back to the hote for sleep, and an early start for tomorrow again. 

xx

Day 2: It’s Raining Wookies and Jawas (Hollywood Studios)


We’re on time today! 8:55AM, we’re at the gates ready to enter and run to the first destination. Only… it was already open? 

I know the park is open to Disney Resort guests early, but the park was letting everyone in! It was weird and threw us for a loop, but thankfully our usual first destination, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror only had a 10 minute wait. 


We did the Rock & Rollercoaster right after that. Yes, that’s both fast-paced attractions before 10:30AM. R&RC has a “Single Riders” line that my family always uses to cut our waiting time. We have to be separated, but I think the wait time is so worth it. Besides, you get to meet interesting new people this way! 


We did a quick round of the Toy Story ride and the Muppets area. I just recently found out that this park will be getting a fully fleshed-out Toy Story Land soon! They had concept art up for the area and it looks amazing! 


Slinky Dog is such an underrated Toy Story character, so I’m especially excited to see that Slinky themed rollercoaster! 

We had lunch today at a pizza place called “PizzaRizzo”. Its a Muppet themed restaraunt. This was previously a “Pizza Planet” restaurant modeled after the Toy Story restaurant of the same name. 


Because of construction for the Star Wars additions and Toy Story additions, this restaurant ends up being quite a bit out of the way for most people. It was awesome! Barely any people were around, and the food was great. We sat in a beautiful empty room and relished in the sweet sound of quiet that’s so rare in the hustle and bustle of an amusement park. 

But honestly, the weirdest thing I realized from visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios is that it’s basically Star Wars Land already. 

So many of the events and shows are Star Wars themed! They’ve even gotten rid of the giant Sorcerer Mickey’s hat in the center of the park to make way for a brand new Star Wars themed center stage. 


There’s an Imperial March Parade starring Captain Phasma, which was ridiculously cool to witness first hand. 


There’s troopers all over the park! My favorite change has been the refurbishment of the old Animation Courtyard into what’s now called the Launch Bay. 


There’s everything from Storm Troopers to Jawas, walking around and fully immersing you in the world of Star Wars. 

The Jawa accidentally scared me and it shuffled off! It was so cute, I felt really bad because it just wanted a picture and I might’ve scared them with my scream. The Jawa was going around meeting small children, though, it was really cute to watch. 


And the best pet of all, I GOT TO CUDDLE A WOOKIE. There was a Chewbacca Meet and Greet available with only a five minute wait. I obviously jumped at the chance! Who wouldn’t? Just look at him, super fluffy! 


He makes me look so short! Makes me wonder if the cast members who play Chewie are actually that height… who knows. 

This entire new addition to the park made me even more excited for the addition of Star Wars Land. 


There’s a brand new night show in Hollywood Studios as well, right after “Fantasmic!”, the Sorcerer Mickey show. But at around 6:30PM, it started pouring, and it just. Did not stop. 

By 8:00PM, we were sat in the Fantasmic! arena, best seats in the house, but the announcer said that there was a possibility of cancellation due to weather and … well we just assumed. We left early that day, and sure enough, we found out later that the show had been cancelled. 

Good thing we did leave early though, we got back to the hotel to find out that there was a leak in our room! The carpet near the beds was completely soaked in water. 
Apparently our lovely top-floor neighbors left water running and the pipes leaked on to our floor. We spent most of our “free evening” gathering all our belongings and moving to a different room. 

It was pretty inconvenient, mostly because the second room didn’t have beds as comfy as the ones we’d had in the first room. At least now we have a dry carpet and non-wet-smelling room. 

Epcot is tomorrow! Let’s hope nothing else goes wrong. 

xx


Day 1: An Unsuaully Late Start (Magic Kingdom)

We woke up late.

Let me stress that this never happens. We’re usually out the door by 8:25, latest, standing at the gates by 8:50 with 10 minutes to spare. Not this time.

9:00AM

Magic Kingdom is already open. We’re barely entering through the parking entrance gates. I was looking forward to our usual magical ride through the one-track monorail, but this morning was about sacrifice. Our usual routine for the park was already on backlog, and this would add at least a 15-20 minute wait to each ride. We took a plain ol’ non-magical looking bus: the fastest route according to Disney staff members.

Once inside, we snaked our way around the thousands of people stopping for photo ops in Main Street U.S.A., paused for a second to admire the always beautiful Cinderella castle, and then immediately ran past Adventureland and straight to our usual first stop of the day: Frontierland.

9:30AM

We’ve done this route for a while. Start at Frontierland, head straight for Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to avoid lines at two very popular attractions. Usually, we get absolutely zero line for either of these, but with our 30 minute backlog, we had to wait around 25 minutes at each attraction.

The mornings in Florida are so humid, it looked like I’d already ridden Splash Mountain before I even stepped foot in the boat. I was sweating so much, it was insane. 

10:30AM

Next stop: The Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square. This has always been a long-time favorite of mine, I’m actually quite fond of that one Eddie Murphy movie that most people pretend doesn’t exist. The “time wait” claimed it was about 35 minutes, but in reality ended up being around 17 minutes in total.

Unfortunately the ride somehow managed to break down a total of three times while we rode, each time for a few seconds. The entire situation was made hilarious by an older 20-something year old girl five carts down who would absolutely lose her shit every time the ride stopped. Made my day.

I was pleased that the Hall of Presidents was closed for refurbishment. I wasn’t going to sit through an entire 20 minutes listening to Trompas try and deliver a speech. I read that there was a lot of drama involved in his induction into the Hall of Presidents so it’ll probably be a while before he’s included.

11:30AM

Our first FP+ of the day: Little Mermaid’s Grotto. The ride itself was nice, a new classic. Had the same feel as the old character rides in Fantasyland. However, I do not think the FP+ was necessary for this ride. We could’ve waited a measly 15 minutes of queue and saved ourselves the FP+ for another ride.

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12:30PM

After a quick trip to It’s A Small World, we skipped everything else in this part of the park to head for Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. We had a FastPass for this ride! It was awesome. Everyone else stared at us while we skipped 60 minutes of wait time. It felt like in the films, when everyone is in line for the club and a really cool girl skips the line at the front. I was that cool girl. Hell yeah!

1:30PM

We did a few more rides in the same area, like Stitch’s Great Escape and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, before heading to the next FP+: Buzz Lightyear Star Command. I love this ride! It’s so much fun competing against my sister. I totally won this time around! She denies it, but she’s just being a sore loser.

2:30PM

Quick lunch at a place called Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. It’s our usual eating spot. This year it was under construction, which is exciting! I’ve been saying it needs a bit of a facelift for years. Thankfully we were still able to eat there. It’s one of the cheapest meal options in Magic Kingdom. We ordered a normal burger and scarfed it down.

3:15PM

So there’s a new ride in Fantasyland called the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It’s a small kid roller-coaster type ride, based around Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This ride is such a phenomenon right now let me tell you. The queue for this was around 110 minutes long… and FP+ tickets were sold out for it all day. We decided to bite the bullet and do the nearly two hour ride… clearly a mistake was made.


Forty minutes into the line, a nice lady comes on the speaker to let us know that the ride is closed indefinitely due to lightening in the surrounding area. It was extremely disappointing. We considered staying in line, but ended up deciding that the ride wouldn’t be worth it in the end.

Maybe I’ll ride it next time around that I make my way to Disney. (Also, next time I’ll know about the new FP+ system a bit more, so I’m sure I could make it work)

4:30PM

Rode a few more rides at Fantasyland, including Peter Pan’s Flight (which we had FP+ for), The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, and Mickey’s PhilharMagic. We also managed to stumble upon the best water fountain in the park! It tasted amazing? Which might be weird to say about a water fountain, but it honestly did! Plus it was amazingly cold and refreshing. 


A quick online search claims that the water has Pixie Dust in it. Who am I to doubt the magic of Disney? 

Not long after, we got hit by the usual Florida rain, and took cover in the few rides we had left, like Carousel of Progress and the Peoplemover. 

6:00PM

Our last FP+ was cancelled because of the rain (Tomorrowland Speedway), and we were given a Multiexperience Pass that we could use to hop the line at almost any ride in the park! Except that Dwarfs ride, obviously. 

We headed to Adventureland to do everything we had skipped in the morning, and used our fancy “sorry-for-cancelling-your-FP” pass to ride Pirates of the Caribbean 


We got stuck on this ride a few years ago. They had to call the Mickey Mouse Fire Department, it was pretty awesome. We didn’t get stuck this time but the ride was still great. They’re refurbishing it in a few years, so this will probably be the last time I see the “wench-selling” scene. Can’t wait to see what they’ll do with it! 

7:00PM

Rode Jungle Safari! I heard that there’s a film in the works based on this ride and I’m so excited! Honestly, the enjoyment of this ride completely depends on how funny your Skipper is. Our Skipper KILLED it. If you follow me on Snapchat, you would’ve seen his best moments. He was the funniest Skipper I’ve ever had on that ride and I loved him for it.

8:30PM

Somehow, we ended up forgetting that the night show requires at least an hour of waiting to get a good spot. Today was full of rookie mistakes, honestly. 

We ended up at the very back, near Main Street USA. Which was disappointing at first, but the fireworks were spectacular 

9:00PM

My favorite part of a day at Magic Kingdom is Main Street USA at nighttime. It lights up with hundreds of fairy lights and it makes everything look ten times more magical, even after the castle firework show. 


But it was the end of the night, and it was time to go home. We hitched a ride on the Ferryboat and caught a surprise mini-electric parade on the water! It was such a nice end to an otherwise hectic day. 


Time to sleep and do it all over again tomorrow. Biggest park done, the rest should be easy peasy. Should.

xx