Stef’s Travels: Orlando Parks Edition

I haven’t been to Orlando in about 10 years, and I knew that I wanted and needed to hit up all the parks and attractions that Orlando is so famous for. I already indulged in my trip to DisneyWorld with my brother, so here is a quick recap from my other adventures:

Typhoon Lagoon

Typhoon Lagoon is probably the best bang-for-your-buck in Orlando. First of all, parking is free. Yes, you read that correctly, FREE! I can’t even think of parks in Toronto that have free parking. When you get in the park, you have your choice of a variety of spots to enjoy the beautiful Florida sun. Whether it’s in the sand, or on some comfy beach chairs, you are sure to find your spot for the day. There are lockers there if you want to store your belongings, but since my mom and I brought food and drink, we left our wallets in the car. Once we settled, we headed towards the giant wave pool. Now this wave pool generates the normal waves you would expect, but every half hour or so, this 20-foot wave (no exaggeration) comes up and knocks you for a ride. I would highly recommend only very strong swimmers go near the beginning of the wave as it is really strong.

If you don’t want to spend too much time in the pool, you can choose from the lazy river, which is super relaxing, or one of the various slides. There are slides with tubes and without tubes. The best part of going in October was that the lineups were minimal, even though we went on a Sunday, we didn’t wait more than 10 minutes (at the worst) for a ride.

Typhoon Lagoon is definitely a place to go whenever you go into Orlando. It is the only water park in Orlando opened all year round. For some reason, Blizzard Beach is closed half of the year. It’s one of my favourite spots to visit and just a lot of fun.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Picking out my costume was really difficult this year. I had tossed back and forth between Belle, a Hogwarts student, a Minion, and a few other random ideas. It wasn’t until the 28th that I actually chose a Hogwarts student. I found a kid-sized Hufflepuff robe that actually fit, bought a wand, a white shirt, and the Hufflepuff tie (I had the rest of the uniform with me).

I have been excited about this party since we booked our flight in July. Since I had done my Disney day the week before, I had some ideas about where I wanted to go and what rides I wanted to get on. As soon as we walked in, we started our trick-or-treating and watched the character performance. I was immediately sucked in. My mom and I began walking around and commenting on the incredible costumes and decorations around the park. The amazing thing is the line up for rides was extremely minimal, especially after 7 p.m. when the park was only open to those attending the party.

The best ride for the night was the Haunted Mansion. I mean, it’s one of the best rides normally, but going there on Halloween night is just awesome. My mom and I also ran into a mother and son who shared our costumes of an Egyptian queen and a Hogwarts student. We had to get a photo.

The next big excitement was the parade, we were near the beginning of the route and got to see it perfectly, it was really such an amazing parade. After getting a funnel cake and resting our feet, we walked back over to Cinderella’s castle to watch the Hocus Pocus, brilliant light, and firework shows. By the time we walked back over to the monorail, I was exhausted, but oh so happy.

Universal Studios

The main reason I wanted to go to Universal was for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Frankly, there is not much at Universal besides the Wizarding World and Springfield. I loved how they created both worlds, I was surprised with Springfield and how they added such key monuments in the park. My mom and I even tried one of the famous pink sprinkle donuts – it was DELICIOUS and tasted just like a donut we could find at Tim Horton’s. We honestly ate the whole thing easily.

The Wizarding World is hidden so perfectly – exactly like you’d expect it to be. Initially, you’re walking around recognizable props and sets from Harry Potter, and you suddenly walk around a wall that you could easily mistake for a way to the bathroom, and you’re suddenly in Diagon Alley. I was so blown away, it was like we had walked onto the set. After I went to Ollivander’s and bought my wand (which you can find based on your personality or a special date to you), my mom and I walked around the park and found the spots where you can cast spells. I was so captured by this park, it was actually really hard to leave. I’ve been a lover of Harry Potter since The Philosopher’s Stone came out when I was 11. I’ve always dreamed of being part of the Wizarding World, so getting a chance to be part of this one was a dream come true. By the way, the Butterbeer tasted so much better than I thought. Looking back, I would have gotten it in ice cream form because it was just that good.

I would have loved to take the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade to see that park, but it would have been at least another $50. With the ticket’s being $100 USD to start, it just wasn’t in the cards (or good for my wallet).

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Overall, my trips to the parks in Orlando were magical. I enjoyed every moment of my visits and can understand why people who live near them would have a season’s pass. It would be like me having a season’s pass to Canada’s Wonderland (although I’m fairly certain a season’s pass to Disney is like $700 USD).

I really hope everyone gets a chance to visit these parks, no matter how old you get, it will be an incredible, magical experience.

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