Monday, December 29, 2014

Trip to Florida: Days 1 and 2

(I broke one long post down into 3 smaller ones. Warning: Lots of photos and this is by far the longest)

I wanted to blog about our trip before the New Year! Matt and I had been saving up for a trip for a while, and this Christmas turned out to be the perfect time to do it. We were able to pull the whole trip off for less than $2,000! Madeleine was free since we squeezed the flight in right before her birthday, and it also dropped the prices of everything else since it wasn't quite the holiday rush. 

We were in Florida for 6 days. In those 6 days, we drove 1,000 miles and packed in a lot of fun, while still having free time. When we were flying home, Matt was amazed by how much we got done while still feeling relaxed.

We flew out late on Wednesday night and got to Florida at 1 am after a few flight delays. We picked up our rental car at Sixt, before crashing at the hotel. (Just want to say, Sixt was awesome! So cheap and the car was great.)
Picking up our rental
We slept in until 9 before heading to Universal Studios. Our hotel was less than a mile away, so we were in the park by 10. It might sound really weird but I was really impressed with Universal Studios! Everything was so fast and organized to get in, and was very small toddler friendly.

I was so excited! The first thing Matt and I did was jump on a roller coaster. We went on "mild" days so the lines were only 5 minutes long! This particular roller coaster was a bit funny because you could pick a song to listen to while you rode it. The thing that had me cracking up was the fact you could listen to very chill relaxing country music, while doing vertical drops.

After that we walked around and rode a few more ride around before heading over to Diagon Alley. Diagon Alley was the highlight of Universal Studios for me. 

The moment we walked in there, it really did feel like magic. I think that they really did capture the feeling that JK Rowling was describing when Harry walks in their the first time. You walk in not knowing what to expect, and you enter this busy "town" that is so unique. The atmosphere is exciting and I loved seeing all the little witches and wizards walking around waving their wands. In different places, if you do the right wand swishes then magic happens! A page turns. The magic frog opens. Water dumps. Small things like that.  

Leaky Cauldron
We headed right over to the Leaky Cauldron for lunch. The food was pretty awful but the drinks were amazing. Butterbeer is like butterscotch cream soda and pumpkin juice reminded me of wassail. 

We stayed there a while, watching the different shows, riding the rides, and exploring the different shops. Madeleine loved it there I think almost as much as I did.

This is one of my favorite photos
Ceiling in one of the shops
"Pram Parking" There was stroller parking all over, but this one was really pretty. 
Knockturn Alley was equally as impressive. It was so dark and creepy compared to the rest of the area. I loved the moving wanted posters of criminals that were all over the place.

In Gringotts, Griphook was sitting up at his desk. You could ask him questions and he would give you sarcastic responses back!

We finally left Diagon Alley and went on the rest of the rides in the park. 

Matt and I are Simpson fans, so we had a lot of fun in that area too. Seeing the Kwik-e-mart was great, and Matt loved the Simpson ride. 

Sign in the Kwik-e-mart

We stopped by the kid's area at the end of the day. Madeleine hated it, since there was water at most of it, but in the back there was a huge room of foam balls. We hung out there for a while, before heading out for food and buying snacks for the next day.

Her favorite ride was probably the cart with flames at the grocery store
Day 2

The next day we went to Island of Adventure. We got there right when the park opened so by lunch time we had basically gone on all the rides we wanted to. It was wonderful.

Madeleine eating breakfast in the child swap room at the Spiderman ride
We decided to eat the lunch we packed at Hogsmeade. We were not nearly as in love with this places as Diagon Alley, but it definitely had it's charm.

Seeing the Hogwarts Castle was the highlight of the day, and walking through it was incredible.

At Honeydukes

The best part of the day was actually when we left Universal and headed over to Downtown Disney for dinner. I wanted to eat at Rainforest Cafe and the closest one was there. Neither Matt and I had heard of it before, but I'm so glad we stumbled on it. 

There were hot air balloon rides, live music, and a lot of little rides. We loved all of it. Madeleine had fun running through the giant Lego and Disney stores. The highlight was going on the choo choo train for toddlers.

Matt and Madeleine dancing
 We got back to the hotel around 8 and just cuddled and watched movies to prepare for the next day that was magically in a completely different way.

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