So Beth and I took an adventurous vacation recently to sunny Florida, to experience the Happiest Place on Earth: Disney.

Let me tell you, it should be called “the hottest place on Earth,” but that’s another story.

We had been talking about taking a vacation for some time now, and had been weighing different places to visit. The problem was we couldn’t agree on where to go. Not because we disagreed with each other’s preferences, but because we both wanted to visit everywhere!

We kept limiting ourselves to help make the final decision easier, keeping the choice to US only locations with some fun activities. Ultimately it came down to two options: 1) a winery / bed and breakfast in the mountains of Colorado where you get to make your own meals (which we’d both love, since we enjoy cooking) or 2) Disney (which I haven’t been to since I was a kid).

Eventually we compared the two side-by-side, and while the B&B was more romantic, it was also more expensive for less vacation time. Little did I know that Beth had already been to Disney less than a year ago (had I known, I would have recommended something else), but ultimately I think we both agreed it was a very fun trip.

The next several posts will be a chronicle of the trip we had – including many of the photos we took (some of which you will see showing up in the comic adventures).

So without further delay, I present to you our trip to Disney:

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29:
After working a full day, Beth and I met up at O’hare airport to catch our evening flight to Florida. We had a bit of a time constraint, as the hotel was going to release our room if we didn’t sign in by midnight, and it’s a 3 hour flight (plus we lose an hour going into Eastern time).


Beth and I on our plane trip down to adventure!

Thankfully, there were no delays with the flight and we made it to the southern side of the country with no issues. We found a cabby and made a bee-line for our hotel to check in, and get to bed as quick as we could – since our morning was going to be early, so we could make it to the first park before the crowds.

With it being Labor Day weekend, we were a little nervous about families doing the same thing we were: taking advantage of the long weekend. Thankfully, we didn’t really experience that this trip.


The hotel room (view from the front door)

We stayed at the Royal Plaza Hotel, located off Disney property (less expensive, but had shuttles to take us to the Disney parks) but pretty close to Downtown Disney.
Upon arriving in the hotel room around 11pm or so, we found that the room was much more impressive than advertised.

This thing was MASSIVE, with a king-sized bed, a couch that pulled out to a second bed, a desk, a balcony over-looking a plaza with a fountain, and a HUGE bathroom with a hot tub, and massive shower. Basically, it was pretty awesome.


The hotel room (view from the balcony)


The hotel bathroom (it was HUGE)

THURSDAY, AUGUST 30:
Beth and I ran downstairs to grab a muffin from the grab-and-go station of the restaurant, and then had a cab take us to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. Our first day was not going to be spent at Disney because we wanted to see the Harry Potter World area they had at this park, since Beth is a big Harry Potter nut.

And, I’ll be honest, I really wanted to check this place out. Plus, Jurassic Park has a world here too, so that’s a bonus.


Islands of Adventure, baby!

The park already had a line forming for taking tickets at 8am, so we knew we had made the right decision coming as early as we did. However, HP is on the opposite side of the park from the entrance, so we had to follow the massive group of people who all had the same idea we did – get there before everyone else. And man, was it an excellent experience….


Welcome to Hogsmead. I hope you brought your permission slips….


Arriving in Hogsmead

You arrive in Hogsmead, greeted by the train Harry takes to school just about every year (except for the year he stole a car to get there, and then also the year he just skipped school).

The town was incredibly well designed, with attention to detail that astounded us. There were wanted signed for Harry’s uncle, gift shops with people dressed in school uniforms, Ron’s twin brother’s gag shop, themed roller-coaster rides. There was even a Moaning Mertle in the bathrooms!


Welcome to Hogwarts

Eventually we made our way to Hogwarts, the school where Harry learned some wizarding. The entire school is a line for a ride, where you follow Harry and friends through the school, then have to ride an enchanted chair that flies you around the school grounds dodging dragons, dementors, and beating Malfoy at sports….

Before I go on, I will credit this park with something awesome – every ride has lockers, and most of the lockers are free. They require you to not bring your stuff with you, but that’s okay – there’s no charge to store it for 30 minutes or however long they specify (it varies by ride, by section of the park).

After having our minds blown by the inside of Hogwarts (also incredibly poorly lit, by the way…no wonder Harry needed glasses, with that being his reading light), we eventually made our way over to the next section: Jurassic park!


Notice Hogwarts in the background. The only thing separately wizards from dinosaurs is a wooden bridge….

So this was the section I was really excited about, being a boy and loving dinosaurs. Jurassic Park has several areas for playing around, including a Jurassic Jungle Gym, a water ride, and an educational section where you can find dinosaur fossils, and watch dinosaurs being hatched.


Jurassic Park water ride. Surprisingly we didn’t get that wet….

Next was the Marvel Super Heroes section, which had a lot of rides and some comic stores. The best thing here by far was the Incredible Hulk ride, which – I won’t spoil the surprise for you, but Beth and I were talking about this ride for the rest of the trip. It was our benchmark for all other rides for the weekend.

Dr Seus Land was next on our list, with Beth also being a big fan of Seus.


The entrance to Dr Seus Land. Makes me feel like I should start rhyming….

This was a very kid-friendly area, with people in costumes of the characters and some fun play areas, and some smaller rides. It was a neat area to explore, but with most of the day having been spent at the other sections we were starting to burn out a bit on the park.

The final area was a Greek Mythology themed section. There were a few shows here (a pirate stunt show, and a ride / tour that wasn’t working). It was a neat themed section, but didn’t have a lot to do there.

After finishing up at the park, Beth and I went home to shower and then headed to Downtown Disney for dinner and drinks at a Latin restaurant. We ordered food and drinks, and walked around the area a bit.

Downtown Disney is filled with more shopping than the parks, but also has a lot of live music and interactive events for the kids. And what’s amazing is that going around this area is totally free.


MOJITO!

We quickly called it a night, however. The heat (and humidity) and all of the walking had exhausted us, and we needed energy for the rest of our week-long trip.

TO BE CONTINUED….