Well, we went to Florida. When I told Vince that I wanted to go to Florida as one of our trips this year, he looked at me like I was insane. You may also be wondering why anyone would willingly travel to Florida and the answer is simply: Harry Potter and manatees. These are two things I love dearly and wanted to spend my birthday experiencing both! I had a lot of fun in a very short, whirlwind trip and now we don’t have to go to Florida again!
Day 1: We woke up at 3am to make a 5am flight to Orlando. We landed, got our rental car (not a convertible, to Vince’s dismay) and headed to Universal Studios! I wanted to do all the Harry Potter stuff and then whatever time was leftover fill in with other parts of the park so we headed to Diagon Alley first thing. This turned out to be a great idea because we were able to beat the crowds to both the Gringott’s Bank ride AND to butterbeer. (Seriously, get the butter beer early. The lines for butter beer were literally insane later in the day).
The line for the ride was a short 20 minutes and most of it was inside with lots of things to do and see while you were waiting. There were so many details to look at, goblins all over, they take your picture and there’s videos to watch all before you even get on the ride so wait time wasn’t really bad. Vince hates roller coasters and I told him that this ride was mostly just a 3D thing so when there was a pretty decent drop first thing I could feel his hatred through my safety restraints, but after that it wasn’t very rollercoastery. Phew!
After that we perused the shops and stopped in Ollivander’s to look for wands. It was already insane in there so we picked our wands (Neville for Vince and Luna Lovegood for me) and got the heck out. I opted for the interactive wand because I wanted to do spells (it comes with a map of both sides of the park and locations where you can do spells!) and Vince got the more traditional wand. Be aware that the interactive wand is plastic and if wand authenticity is really important to you then you should just get the regular one. It feels more realistic and like you could do some real magic with it.
We then stopped in for some quick butter beer and some food from the Leaky Cauldron. We had both regular and frozen butter beer and both were delicious. I think I liked the frozen slightly better.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget about Knockturn Alley! I had read another blog about this before we went and I’m so glad I did because I never would have thought to go looking for it. It was fun and dark and had a cute little shop for all your darkest pleasures.
We took the Hogwarts Express to Hogwarts and it was a fun ride. There is a cute passage way that makes it look like you’re passing through the wall at platform 9 3/4 and the ride to Hogwarts plays out like a scene from the movie. It was fun and very well done.
We arrived in Hogsmede and things were pretty crowded. The lines for butter beer were already insane and I ended up not buying another just because I refused to wait in line that long (it was the same when we went back to Diagon Alley later but we did get butter beer ice cream which was also amazing) We rode the Hogwarts ride which was actually my favorite ride. It’s a 3d ride that makes you feel like you’re on a broomstick the whole time! Afterwards, I scouted out a few spells to do and we stopped and bought a chocolate frog which basically tasted like a chocolate Easter bunny but the packaging was pretty. I got a Dumbledore card, of course.
We explored some other parts of the parks after that, drank some rum and ended up in the Simpson’s section. This was way more entertaining than I anticipated and we had a great time grabbing donuts, eating Krusty Burgers and drinking some beer at Moe’s. The ride at Krustyland was also super fun! 3D rides for the win!
Day 2: Manatees!!!!!!!!!!
If you know me at all then you should know that I love manatees. They are the most beautiful chubbers in the whole world and I love them. Well, manatees congregate in the warm spring waters in Florida when it’s cool out so April was a little late in the game for prime manatee viewing so we booked the earliest manatee tour (6 am!) so I could see the most manatees possible and that means that we woke up at 3 am for the second day in a row to drive 2 hours east to Crystal Springs. We suited up in our wet suits and headed out on the water. I was sooooo concerned that I wouldn’t get to see any manatees but we had amazing luck and I ended up seeing mating pods and quite a few manatees including a couple babies. I am not the biggest fan of having my face underwater and Vince is even less of a fan so this was not the ideal comfort level for us but it was worth it for me to get to see so many manatees up close. You aren’t allowed to reach out and touch any manatees but I did get slapped with a fin and got some pretty up close encounters with some curious young manatees. Things I learned: manatees are way bigger than you think and it’s hard to get out of a manatees way without splashing. It was truly a magical experience and I love manatees even more now. Also, I bought a really cool shirt that Vince says I’m not even allowed to walk the dogs in 🙂
Well, we finished with manatees pretty early so we stopped for a quick diner breakfast and then drove 3 hours to the literal opposite side of Florida to hang out at Cocoa Beach for the afternoon. It was a little chilly and windy but we had a nice afternoon relaxing and taking a small nap on the beach. We ended our night with Little Ceasars and beer in our hotel bed while watching Fixer Upper because we were both too tired to do anything else. I’d say this was a successful trip!