Around sophomore year, Erika brought up going to the Magical World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL. At long last, the two of us made it work out. I am here to present the full account of the adventures. But first: Introductions. Everyone, Erika. Erika, everyone. Erika is a senior English major (lit concentration), which means she is awesome.
On Friday of MLK weekend, Erika and I set out. I *cough*skipped*cough* one of my classes so we could leave early. Erika missed two of her classes, but her professor gave her his full blessing when he heard we were off on a roadtrip adventure. The drive down went smooth–lots of cool music, a sunny, pleasant sort of day. At one point Erika tossed her jacket in the back and declared, “I have carelessly thrown my hoodie on the back seat. It is officially a roadtrip!”
There were a lot of interesting billboards on the way down, including many a “spa” and (less subtle) strip club. These came sprinkled with a dose of Jesus in front of battlefields with the caption: I’ll… be… back! We were very amused.
After about 8 1/2 hours, we arrived at our somewhat sketchy hotel. The check in went fine. Our room was a little bit not stellar (the carpet had some stains, etc), but considering it had cost about half the price of other places in the area, we were pretty satisfied. We settled in for a quiet evening.
The next morning, we battled our way through hordes of foreigners in the breakfast room. All the hot stuff had been consumed, so we tried to fill up on donuts and English muffins. We’d hoped to take the hotel shuttle to the attractions of the day, but found out that we’d missed the ones we wanted to take (the schedule hadn’t been posted the night before). Erika bought her Universal tickets in the hotel, and then we set off.
When we arrived at the park:
Me: Hmm, do we want premium parking or regular parking?
Erika: It’s up to you.
Me: Let’s go regular. Save the $5 for a keychain!
Erika: Ha! Let me know if you find a keychain for $5 in there.
(Spoiler: I didn’t find anything under $5 except a postcard.)
We got really nice parking for it not being fancy. We headed straight to the Harry Potter section of the park, which was super epic. The details were awesome, especially on Hogwarts. We went on the Hogwarts ride first. I was really blown away by the quality of the technology throughout, and the ride itself was a pleasant mixture of horror and fan!joy (even to a lukewarm fan like me). Erika got off barely able to walk between her shock, excitement and laughter.
We hopped in and out of shops, then settled on Three Broomsticks for lunch. They had pretty good fish and chips. I also had a butterbeer slushie. I knew from past experience with some home made recipes that I find the regular sort to be almost unbearably sweet. The slushie watered it down enough to be really enjoyable, but was still so sweet I couldn’t get through the whole thing. But I got a cool cup out of it!
After grabbing a few souvenirs (I got a Hufflepuff flag thing and Erika got her beloved quaffle), we wandered the rest of the park. We rode the Spiderman ride, which was pretty fun, and played around in the Jurassic Park section. While in the latter, we saw what we would look like if we were dinosaurs. We weren’t sure what to expect as I did the “personality test” and “DNA test,” so when a very poorly photoshopped picture of my face stretched over a dinosaur’s appeared on the screen Erika about fell over.
We also rode the Hippogriff ride, which had a ridiculously long wait but I found very fun. Part of the coolness was that Hogwarts was almost always in sight, which gave the impression that you were flying outside the castle. I made Erika go on the Hulk ride (I was too much of a wuss), because her beloved Dueling Dragons (except I think it’s a different name now) was shut down for construction.
Finally, quite tired and content, we left to find dinner. I’d looked up a local NYC pizza joint that was around the corner and had good reviews. When we pulled up outside it, Erika said, “I trust you.” Luckily her trust turned out to be rewarding! We both got calzones which were absolutely amazing (and cheap!). Totally worth it.
The next day, we got up earlier to beat the crowd and get a hot breakfast. After feasting on sausage and poppyseed muffins, we set out for Flea World, America’s largest flea market. Neither of us had been to a legit flea market before, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. It reminded me a little of a run down, redneck covered market (like the ones I visited in England and Barcelona). It was a bizarre mixture of Asian stuff (I got a wooden katana for $5), regular household goods, weird lingerie, swords, puppies, and ice cream. I had a pretty good root beer float. Erika had a milkshake she claims was the second best in her entire life–and only for $2.
Thoroughly perplexed, we left Flea World for Downtown Disney. We spent our time looking in the shops for weird stuff, laughing at the prices, and puzzling over parents who would spend upwards of $100 on flimsy costumes for their kids. Erika had never been to a Rainforest Cafe, so we explored that store, too.
From there, we went to another shopping market to see The Hobbit in a Regal theater. Needless to say: Stellar.
We retreated to the room for Once Upon a Time. When Downton Abbey was supposed to be on we discovered we were in the only hotel ever that didn’t have PBS, so we gave that up and had an early bedtime.
The next morning, we were up and at breakfast by 8:30. We hit the road around 9:00 and made fantastic time. Though we stopped at Cracker Barrel (“I don’t think it’s a real roadtrip if we don’t go to Cracker Barrel”), we made it to Berry before sunset, a drive of about 8 1/2 hours despite our prolonged stop.
A fantastic trip all around, and one of my favorite roadtrips ever. Call me crazy, but I think an eight hour drive is quite comfortable. I find long drives very relaxing, and I hadn’t been on one for a several months. So though I’m quite tired, I’m also very refreshed and ready for my last semester.
[Thus concludes the adventures of Erika and Alyssa on their senior trip to Orlando.]