No catchy title here. Just Disney! As a rite of parenting passage, I took my mostly adult children to Disney this year. As soon as school was out, my family and I flew to Orlando with our tickets to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventures, and Epcot; thus, earning my badge of honor. I graduated from the school of Parenting Obligations, but somewhere along the journey, I forgot to take the course on how to navigate the world of Disney. This is our story. This is our family adventure.
If you know me, you know I am a huge Harry Potter fan! I could not wait to be immersed in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, drink pumpkin butter beer, and eat chocolate frogs. Did I mention our trip coincided with the opening of the newest HP ride, Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure? We couldn’t wait to ride it. I am not even a fan of roller coasters, but I would have braved this one because it belonged to one of my favorite characters, Hagrid! Unfortunately, my map skills failed me and we entered Universal before Islands of Adventure, where the roller coaster was located. Upon discovery, we nearly ran towards the Hogwarts Express, the iconic train that runs between the two connected parks. The Harry Potter theme music greets you as you enter the station, and I felt like I was missing my suitcase and owl cage. I mean my heart was really about to burst with child-like excitement. I was going to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I watched from behind a very tricky mirror, as my children disappeared from platform 9 and 3/4. I then entered the area myself and was taken aback by the magic surrounding the iconic train. After a very short wait, we entered our car and were entertained by scenes from the movie playing on the window. For a moment, I was a Hogwarts student, a little witch on her way to hone her practice.
Exiting the train is where some of the magic ended. We stumbled into a line with Disney officials pointing to the end somewhere in the horizon beyond view. Sadly, the end of the line was the beginning of an already eight hour wait for the roller coaster named for everyone’s favorite giant. I could not believe it. We woke up early. We drove quickly. We parked and nearly ran to the park. I made one little mistake, and suddenly our quest to ride Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure was dashed to pieces. My family and I sought solace with pumpkin butter beer and a trip into Honeyduke’s Sweetshop. Sixty dollars later, I was ready to explore the rest of Islands of Adventure, which included a ride on the 4D ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and trip into Ollivander’s wand shop.
After a quick stop into Margaritaville and Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, we ventured over to Universal. My epic fail already made, we sauntered slowly through the worlds of Harry Potter, old Hollywood, and various other cartoon settings. We rode through New York with Jimmy Fallon and were entertained by Aretha Franklin and the Blues Brothers. And we did all of this in 90 degree heat. With our aching feet and sweat-soaked clothes, we ended our Universal and Islands of Adventure excursion as the sun began to fall in the westward sky. We were propelled back to our hotel, where a poolside cocktail was calling my name, and the need to rest up for another Disney adventure hung on the horizon.