One week ago today, we were sitting in an airport, waiting for a flight back from Orlando marveling at how quickly a vacation can come and go.
Was it a vacation, though? I believe it was, only in the strictest definition of the word. “Vacation” implies that one relaxed. Slept in. Lounged.
This was not that kind of vacation because we were at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and we had things to do, things to see, and ride attractions to experience…AND ONLY SIX DAYS TO DO THEM.
Three years ago, I was introduced to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I am not ashamed to tell you, dear reader, that when I stepped foot into Hogsmeade, I cried. It’s magical beyond anything you could imagine. The shops, the music, the staff that populate the stores…all of it is geared to letting you have the most enchanted time of your life.
Example: When I bought my interactive wand. (Yes, even at almost 50, I bought an interactive wand.) I finished up my purchase on a Chase card so my husband wouldn’t know how much it was and still doesn’t. The cashier handed me the receipt and a pen, and asked me to “sign for the Ministry of Magic.” Charmed, after I had done so, he handed me back my card and said, “Here’s your Muggle plastic.” Talk about getting—and keeping—you in the magic. Same thing happened when I bought a Gryffindor student robe this year…but we won’t talk about that right now. I modeled my wizard robe to my daughters and they both snickered so hard they fell off the couch. #nerd #bignerd #biggergeek
I stood in line to do spells with six year olds and I don’t regret a single minute of it because the spellcasting fed my soul. I was actually pretty good at it.
This year, the cast of characters going to Orlando changed a bit, meaning it was extra fun because we got to watch two people who had never been there become just as bewitched as we were upon first seeing it.
We drank butterbeer almost every day, sometimes sharing one because you could buy the froo frootiest drink at Starbucks and it STILL wouldn’t be as much as a butterbeer. Five of us shared the giant feast at Three Broomsticks restaurant. I rode almost every single ride except for the Hulk and Rip Ride Rocket, which I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole because reasons. We saw some Transformers, got a little wet on the Jurassic Park ride, and met Blue the T-Rex, who doesn’t like eye contact so my sister promptly made eye contact. Silly Muggle.
We had volcano nachos at Margaritaville,
toured the Hogwarts Castle, and watched that very castle light up at night with the four different house colors. We had sushi at Cowfish,
rode the Hogwarts Express train, and risked our very lives to take a picture with Jaws.
We wandered around Diagon Alley, where we watched the fire-breathing dragon scare the stuffing out of newcomers. We had dinner at the Chocolate Emporium. We sweated our butts off, since the average daily temperature was only slightly cooler than hell. In a related story, the first day there, I got a blister from new shoes. Fine. So I wore my old ones the second and third days, and developed even bigger blisters. My sister and I wore SPF 50 every single day and barely have any tan to speak of, even after a week of being outside in sunny Florida for six days. Yet despite the regular and vigorous sunscreen application, I still developed sun poisoning on my inner shins. I know, right? Unfair. I also started referring to myself as Sister Chris of the Wailing Hip. (I didn’t tell anyone that, though.) I cannot emphasize to you how sore I was…we were up (well, Jenny was up) freakishly early so we could get to the parks early, then we’d be there for seven or eight hours during which we walked, strolled, or in my case, stomped and/or lumbered, take your pick. My sister Jenny, going through thyroid treatment, RAN CIRCLES around me the entire time we were there. #letmesleepfortheloveofgod
We also were, by some miracle, upgraded to suites. These suites were bigger than my entire house and had a full kitchen, two bathrooms, and a living room with a sectional, dining room, and conversation pit. The suite was so big we needed the GPS to find the bathroom. We also had good snacks delivered via Instacart. We rode the boat through the waterways to get to the parks each day. We had tropical drinks poolside, made memories and laughed until we couldn’t breathe.
It may not have been the lounging, relaxing vacation you think of when you think vacation, but I believe it might have been the most fun yet. As I kept saying to my sister, “I can sleep when I’m home.”
I cannot wait to do again. As a matter of fact, I’m going to go check–and clear–my Muggle calendar right now.