Vacation Flashback: Orlando 2011

Friday, June 2, 2017

In the very early days of dating my husband, his family warmly invited me to join them in Orlando for his sister's lovely wedding.  The celebration was a two day affair culminating in a backyard family barbecue, but left plenty of time for sightseeing and typical Orlando touristy stuff.   Disney, Universal Studios, and Cocoa Beach were on our agenda for our week-long escape.  

This trip was also our first experience flying Allegiant Air, which offered cheap non-stop service from Des Moines to Sanford, Florida - just outside of Orlando.  We paid for seat assignments (Allegiant offers these as an upgrade) as we didn't want to risk being split up from his then eleven year old daughter, which added about another hundred dollars to the total each way.  We stayed with some of James' family, but rented a car so we'd be able to get around a bit easier.  
This trip was a learning curve for all of us; James daughter had packed herself which meant some items in her carry-on were questionable from a TSA standpoint and we hadn't really traveled anywhere together so we all had different expectations.  Nowadays we are pros and travel together pretty easily.  

Our days at Disney and Universal were both fantastic.  October is an amazing time to hit up the theme parks with the shortest lines I've ever experienced.  We rode the Dragon Challenge six times before us girls tapped out, while James rode another four or five times.  The Dragon Challenge was formerly Dueling Dragons, which I rode on my Spring Break trip with the marching band in high school.  They had a shortcut open between the exit and entrance, and by the time we walked to the front of the line, it was time to board again.  Following the old advice, we made sure to ride the front of Fire and back of Ice - the names for the two rides.  

The longest wait was at the featured ride of newly unveiled Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  We waited maybe thirty minutes to get to the head of the line, and another fifteen minutes with the lights on when they had a mechanical issue.  It was really cool to see the otherwise dark space with the lights on.  As we rode the ride, I remembered there was a scene with snakes in one of the later books, so I spent most of the ride with my eyes closed, including the photo moment, much to the entertainment of James' daughter.  
The attention to detail throughout the Harry Potter section of the park was amazing; everything looked exactly like the books and movies. We sipped on Butter Beer as we wandered around the candy store and purchased our souvenirs from the gift shop.

We also made the drive out to Cocoa Beach, another place I had visited in high school.  The city had grown, but we hit up Ron Jon's Surf shop for more souvenirs before making our way to the sand.  Without swimsuits, the kid wadded in the water as we enjoyed the sun from our seats in the sand.  Her plan was genius because when she inevitably was caught off guard by a wave, she ended up with a new outfit from another surf shop up the shore.  

After the beach, we hit up a fish camp for lunch where we enjoyed fried alligator, crab, and hush puppies before making the trip back towards Orlando.  Our rental car was another Ford Escape, which was super convenient for getting around too.  Oh, and it was the kid's first trip to IKEA!  
Overall, our trip was a great getaway and so full of love as we celebrated Catherine and Dan's marriage!

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