My wife and I haven’t been to many unique places in our short time together since we were married in April 2016. However, as we grow closer and gain more freedom in our working lives, we have plans to travel…a lot.
We both want to see the world and have already made long lists of destinations we want to visit. Our initial plans are to spend our first few years together staying stateside to see areas of the U.S. that we haven’t yet. Then, as the freedom and ability kicks in, we plan to travel internationally to start crossing other countries off our list.
Our most recent adventure was to Florida. We both took ten days off from work to spend what we dubbed as our honeymoon in the Orlando area. We fit a lot into that ten days including visits to Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. I’ll break down our adventure and share some reviews of some of our favorite parts of the vacation.
The Hotel – Summer Bay Orlando
We stayed at the Summer Bay Orlando Resort in Clermont, FL. It was a beautiful 400-acre resort with a private lake, six outdoor heated pools (each with a hot tub), a poolside bar & grill, and a recreation building.
Our room was a one bedroom condo which came complete with a fully functional kitchen, a separate living room area, and a washer/dryer combo in the bathroom closet. We were on the second floor with a balcony overlooking a beautiful garden.
Outside of the room, we checked out Big Kahuna’s Poolside Bar and Grill, which was luckily right across the street from us. They had karaoke night two times a week from 6pm-9pm, which made for some evening fun. I ordered a burger and my wife had a turkey burger. Both were delicious!
One morning as we were leaving the hotel, we found a visitor in the garden near our building…
We were grateful for the quick response time and completely understand that in Florida there is always going to be a snake, frog, or alligator somewhere nearby.
The Beach – Jetty BeachMy wife and I decided to spend one day (in between the theme parks) to go to a beach. We decided on Jetty Beach which is just south of Cape Canaveral.
It was a very nice, clean beach with white sand and very few people. Being March, the water was way too cold for us Arizona pansies, so we walked along the beach admiring the ocean and occasional seashell or snail.
We also took some time to walk next to Port Canaveral down the short pier. It was a nice, relaxing time in between the madness of the parks. Just don’t forget to wear sunscreen. I made the mistake of thinking my Arizona skin would be fine in the cool, humid mid-70 degree weather. I was wrong…
My wife LOVES the Disney parks in California. I’m more of a Universal Studios fan myself, but she is an avid Disney fan. However, she considered our first time at the Disney World in Orlando as good, but not great. Having only two days at this park, we decided to go to the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.We are both major thrill seekers and roller coaster junkies, so we loved rides like Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the Aerosmith Rock’n’Roller Coaster, and Star Tours. However, with the exception of the Aerosmith coaster (our favorite one there), we didn’t get to ride any of them more than twice due to the long lines.
It was unfortunate that so many of the thrill rides were spread out across the four Disney parks. Next time, we will definitely need to get the park hopper pass to get the full experience.
We spent the rest of our time enjoying other rides like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion, as well as seeing shows like “Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid.”
The best way to end our time at the Disney Parks was to see the show “Fantasmic” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s an epic adventure with Mickey Mouse as he battles numerous Disney villains. It was a lot of fun for both kids and adults alike.
One more thing that I would highly recommend everyone try whenever they make it to the Magic Kingdom, is Dole Whip. It is a pineapple-flavored soft-serve ice cream. You can either get it plain in a cup or you can get a Dole Whip Float, which includes pineapple juice with the ice cream. Personally, I recommend you try both.
Universal Studios Orlando
I LOVE UNIVERSAL STUDIOS! Until this year, I had only ever been to Universal Hollywood in California, but Universal Orlando is even better. We got the park hopper passes and the “Express Pass”, so that we could bounce back and forth from Universal Studios to Islands of Adventure and cut to the front of the line for many of the rides. In my opinion, this is absolutely necessary if you want to get the most out of these two parks.
First of all, I’d been waiting to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter since it was first announced back in May 2007. With Hogsmeade village at Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, both need to be visited for the different rides and shops that are available at each one.
The Dragon Challenge, both mine and my wife’s favorite ride on the entire trip, is in the Hogsmeade area. It is a pair of inverted roller coasters that are running right next to each other at the same time. Make sure to try both the “Chinese Fireball” and the “Hungarian Horntail.” They are each a tremendous thrill and will leave your heart pounding as you pull back into the loading station. It’s worth it to wait for the front row at least once on each one.
There were so many great rides and other attractions between the two parks that I decided to write a separate post about my top 10 favorite rides and also my experience participating in the Fear Factor: Live show!
It was rough to come back home after such a great 10-day trip, but the memories made will stick around for a long time.
What is your favorite theme park that you’ve ever been to and why? Let me know in the comments.