Day 6: Jump Scares & Sore Feet (Islands of Adventure) 

The truth is in the name, Islands of Adventure always proves to be some kind of adventure or another. We went in with the energy of someone who knows they’re in the last leg of a race. That is, with great enthusiasm only barely covering the masked pain. 

I checked our Health vitals on my phone, and we’d been basically covering 8.5 miles a day. And that’s considering my phone was in a locker for a good portion of time. 

Once we entered (on time, I might add), we headed straight to the new attraction in town. 

Skull Island


As of now, Skull Island only has one attraction: The Reign of Kong. Its a pretty great ride! There’s 3D goggles involved, and you get to ride an “expedition vehicle” (which basically looks like a huge jeep). 

The 3D effects are quite impressive and there’s also some really cool animatronics involved near the end. 

My only complaints about it were: 1. I hate giant worms, 2. The Skull Island natives scared the shit out of me, and 3. Did I mention I hate giant worms? 


If you hate giant worms like I do, I’d recommend sitting on the far left side of the tram, where I thankfully happened to sit. As for the natives, the people at Universal decided it would be a good idea to hide scare actors in the queue. As you’re walking through the darkness, at any moment a “Skull Island Native” could jump out and scare you. 

I may or may not have let out a blood-curdling scream. I got really scared ok! 

Jurassic Park

I love this area, its such a classic. The Jurassic Park River Adventure is always one of my favorites, although this time around we kept getting told off for taking pictures while the ride was in motion? 

 

 I really wouldn’t have a problem with this, but their only rule had been no flash photography, beforehand. Our phones were in a plastic protector! Nothing would’ve happened. It kind of harshed my mood while on the ride, but it was still lots of fun like always. 


My favorite newish attraction in this area is the Raptor Encounter, where you can meet with a raptor trainer who lets you pose for photos with an animatronic velociraptor. 

I knew that it was an animatronic but somehow it was still scary? The raptor reacts in real time to anything you do and the noises are so lifelike! For a moment I was genuinely terrified. 

Seuss Landing


This area is great for kids! As a teacher I kind of went wild buying things in this area, because, well, finding good Dr. Seuss merch is nearly impossible. 

All the rides are geared towards children in this area, so it would be a great destination for little ones. 

The Lost Continent

 This area used to be a lot bigger before the integration of the Harry Potter area, so The Lost Continent now boasts a total of two attractions: The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad (a live stunt show) and Poseidon’s Fury (a walk-through show). 

Both of these are great but haven’t been updated in a very long time. I’d say Poseidon’s Fury is my favorite of these two, just because the effects are super cool. 

Marvel Superhero Island

 

A part of me loves seeing the old comic book heroes come to life in this area of the park. There’s something very nostalgic about the cheesy, old-fashioned, original superhero costumes that makes me happy. 

The Hulk is the must-ride roller coaster in the park, its so good! Fast and thrilling, the coaster never stops being a favorite. 

We also happened to eat in this area, we did lunch at Captain America’s Diner, where sure enough, Captain America was hanging out for photo ops. 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hosmeade

The crowning glory! Who doesn’t love seeing the Hogwarts castle in the distance? It made me all kinds of emotional. 


The Forbidden Journey is the ride inside of the castle. We did the whole queue despite single rider being available because, well we wanted to walk through the whole castle! 

I think its possible to do the walk through without having to do the ride, but I love the ride so I didn’t actually bother asking. 


After a quick ride in the Twiwizard Tournament Dueling Dragons, we sat for a quick frozen butterbeer. It did wonders to combat the Florida humidity. 


We did a bit of shopping and saw the Twiwizard Tournament Pep Rally, where you get to see Drunstrang and Beauxbaton students perform on stage, much like their intro in Goblet of Fire. 


Like I said before, I really do love the performances over in Diagon Alley much more, but both of the ones in Hogsmeade are still worth a look. The second performance is the Hogwarts School Choir performing various acapella songs, complete with frogs! 


It just so happened to be International Ice Cream Day on the day we were in Hogsmeade, so I nipped in to The Three Broomsticks to get a bit of ice cream to celebrate. I got Strawberries and Peanut Butter while my little sister opted for a Butterbeer Ice Cream. I liked mine but I really wish I had gotten the Butterbeer flavored one, it was delicious. 

The biggest issue with Hogsmeade is space. While it is technically rather big, it always feels so cramped with space! There’s never anywhere to sit. Thankfully, this year I discovered a bit of a hidden nook! 


Next to the Girl’s Restroom, where Moaning Mrytle lives, there’s a small passageway that leads to the back of the Hog’s Head. 


Tables galore! And with wonderful shade no less. We spent a good half hour here. This seating area has wonderful views of the lake and of Hogwarts! It seems like most people don’t know about it because it was practically empty. 

I love that I can still find secrets at Hogwarts, no matter how many times I’ve visited. 

We called it quits rather early. Not only we’re our feet insanely sore and bruised up from so much walking, but my inner thighs had a rash from so much rubbing together. Thick thigh girl problems, eh?

Either way we were able to finish this park surprisingly early, considering how long it took us to finish Universal the day before. Not that I’m complaining, I needed a rest. 

xx

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

Come With Me: The Flea Market

Today my family took a small trip to a local flea market and I thought I’d share a few photos from our night out! Flea markets (or “pulgas”, as we call them) are usually open during early morning hours, but a nearby one has special hours on Wednesday nights. We took advantage of this to go with my parents, who are usually busy working mornings to go with us.

shopping

Left: Used fishing equipment for sale | Right: Mom sifting through second-hand shirts

Pulgas have been a staple of my life since childhood. I love everything about them! From the music that stalls blast to get your attention, to the people blurting sales out of a megaphone, to the smells coming from the back end of the lot that make my stomach rumble. You’re guaranteed to find everything here! Second-hand working tools, second-hand clothing, off-brand phone cases, and even used fishing equipment! Everything’s up for grabs. Some of the more interesting finds this time around involved a fully-functioning cauldron that could be plugged into a small propane tank for some spooky-themed soup recipes and a stack of really cool vintage radios.

rare finds

Left: Witches cauldron! | Right: Two vintage radios, already sold.

I really wanted that cauldron to be honest, think of the cool Halloween party ideas you could do with that! It looked to be made of really thick metal as well, absolutely no flimsy plastic-ness to be seen.

The food stalls at flea markets are always amazing. We started off the evening with a bit of fruit at the produce stalls near the front of the lot. It’s the best place to get fresh fruit, other than a farmer’s market of course! I devoured a mango, while my family all opted for some coconut dressed in chili powder and lemon .

fruit

Left: Fresh mangos for sale | Right: Dad’s snack of choice: coconut

There’s so many options for snacks along the way of the shopping stalls. Any row of normal vendors will have a chips & soda stall thrown in the mix, or if you’re lucky you’ll bump into an ice cream or aguas frescas vendor.

snacks

Left: A stand of Aguas Frescas (I got Lemonade) | Right: Mexican Ice Cream!

I got myself a nice fresh lemonade, because the weather was blistering hot and I needed a refresher. My little sister chased after an ice cream man with a small rolling cart and bought the best pecan popsicle I’ve ever tasted. Then again, it could also have been the heat talking!

sister

Left: Me and my little sister | Right: The best pecan popsicle in the world

After a good long walk around of the entire area (it’s a lot of walking!) we reached the back lot of food! My favorite part. An entire area is dedicated to various taco stalls and Mexican restaurants with a variety of proper meals to choose from. We visited a family friend’s food stall and had ourselves two orders to share amongst the four of us: an order of fajita tacos and shredded meat sopes!

Tacos

Left: Tacos and Sopes for dinner | Right: Authentic Mexican Coke label

Bit of a trick to fans of Mexican Coke: if the bottle doesn’t say “Retornable” on the label, then it’s not a proper Mexican Coke! Glass bottled cokes directly from Mexico always taste so much better for some reason, I don’t know why. Either way, if you haven’t had an imported Mexican Coke you should try it! They’re made with pure cane sugar and taste ten times better than the regular kind.

Lalo, the blue Macaw who danced to cumbias

Before we left, we bumped into this little guy hanging out with his owner. He was so cute! I always feel bad for birds that aren’t in the wild but this guy sure was sassy. He was dancing along to the music! His name was Lalo and he was the most brilliant blue I had ever seen.

Our bellies full, our purchases made, and the sun set, we were ready to call it a night. We left a bit before closing to avoid traffic jams in the parking lot, as always. It was such a nice night out with my family, I can’t wait until we can go again!

As the sun sets, so does my picture quality (oops)

I hope you enjoyed coming along with me and my family to the flea market! Hopefully I’ll be able to do more posts like these, it gives me an excuse to go out and explore new local areas!

Thank you so much for reading, as always.
xx

name1