Our Florida Trip - Part One

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So I have decided "we" will attempt to start blogging a small bit ,when we get the chance. Apologies in advance for the bad grammar and terrible attempt at humour!

The first few blogs will cover our trip to Florida in January, which has gathered much interest around Dingle town. So from now on if anyone asks 'How was the Holiday?', I will point them in the direction of this blog :) 

Joining Justin, Georgia and I (Luke) on our "trip of a life time" were Mr Daniel McCarthy and Miss Bella Daly, a fine group if I say so myself. Unfortunately Mícheál Ó H-Uallacháin would not join us after accompanying Justin and I to Vegas last year!

The journey from Dingle to Orlando was a long one. Our flight flew from Dublin to Manchester, and then from Manchester to Orlando with a four hour layover in Manchester airport. It wasn't too bad though. The 9 hour flight flew by for me, mainly because I slept the whole way, I can't say the same for the other four. Justin of course, was too excited by the airplane food to sleep! 

We landed into Orlando airport at around 4pm local time, and we were in our rental car by 5pm. We were delighted with our rental car which you can see below. 

 Dodge Caravan

Dodge Caravan

After a quick stop at a Walmart to pick up supplies (mainly junk food and Reese's Puffs) we finally arrived at our Air BnB. The house was pretty insane and blew us all away when we walked in the front door. Check out a video tour of the house below featuring Justin.  

Quick tour of the house we stayed in outside of Disney World

Disney Day One:

We rose very early for our first day at Disney world, mainly due to the excitement... anyone that was unfortunate enough to not get up was awoken to the sound of the Lion King's Circle of Life (Daniel). So we had two days to see as much as we could of the four disney parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios). Before leaving we had decided that our first park would be the Magic Kingdom so we piled into the car and were parked up by 8am (Parking cost $20 for the day). 

 Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kindom

Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kindom

By 10:30am we had been on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and the Pirates of the Caribbean. We near enough ran onto Space Mountain as soon as the park attendants lead us through at their frustratingly slow pace! Thunder mountain was our favourite of the four, you can view a video I took below.

We tried one more ride at the Magic Kingdom, 'Its a small world' which throughly freaked us all out (Daniel is still having nightmares), and at about 1pm we decided to make our way over to Animal Kingdom for the afternoon. Magic Kingdom started to get very busy at around midday and this was a weekday so I can't imagine how busy it is at the weekends. Unfortunately we didn't get on the peter pan or the seven dwarfs mine train, the latter constantly had queues of 120 minutes which we didn't feel was worth it. 

The Animal Kingdom was a lot more chilled, not as many people and the queues for the rides were minimal. The first ride we ventured on was 'Expedition Everest', the biggest rollercoaster in Disney. It did not disappoint, it's tough to explain so just watch the video, It was one of our highlights, and we even got on it twice!

Disney allows you to use the fast pass option for three rides each day, but only in one park. Downloading the Disney Experience app made this very easy to use, and we were also able to check live wait times for all the rides which we found extremely useful. So we availed of the fast pass in Animal Kingdom for the Kilimanjaro Safari ride, which was a drive though safari ride featuring lions, rhinos, elephants, and many more.

 The Lions at Disney's Animal Kingdom

The Lions at Disney's Animal Kingdom

We also saw a live show of the Lion King which was great, Georgia sang along with all the songs. While we were waiting for our fast pass time on the safari we were able to check out 'It's tough to be a bug' and 'Dinosaur'. 'It's tough to be a bug' was a 4D show inside the tree of life shown below. It was better than we expected it to be, with all children (and Justin) in hysterics  after fake spiders dropped from the ceiling.

 The Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

The Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

After a busy and successful day we headed back to the house to freshen up and then headed to Disney's Boardwalk for a bite to eat and a few beverages. We ended up in a great bar called Jellyrolls where duelling piano players were taking requests, we danced and sang along for a while before Justin took us over to the nightclub. We were literally the only people inside the place, who knew Disney doesn't have much of a party scene.

 Disney's Boardwalk featuring the unforgettable nightclub (Dance Hall)

Disney's Boardwalk featuring the unforgettable nightclub (Dance Hall)

Disney Day Two:

Although we weren't up too early (except Bella who was on the phone to half of West Kerry at 6am), we still made it into Disney's Hollywood Studios by half 9. We were only after walking down the main street and a crowd started to gather, no it wasn't for us, but to see the storm troopers march. Georgia caught it perfectly in the video below.

We carried on with the Star wars theme and went onto the Star Tours ride, a 3D motion simulator which makes you feel like you're on the Millennium Falcon. It was great fun, especially as most of us love Star Wars.

Our main aim in Hollywood Studios was to ride the Aerosmith Rock n Roll Coaster and the Tower of Terror. Unlike the day before, we took our time so we chilled in the sun sipping on a frozen Daiquiri while waiting for our fast pass time for the Aerosmith ride. Turns out the Aerosmith ride was a crazy indoor rollercoaster with Aerosmith songs pumping into your ear as you ride. We enjoyed this very much. Next was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, where you are hurled up and down in a haunted elevator. Again this ride was amazing fun and Georgia's favourite in Disney. Another highlight from Hollywood Studios was the 30 minute show of Beauty and the Beast. Justin gave this a miss however, he thought he would get claustrophobic in a spacious outdoor theatre.

 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

We headed over to Epcot for the afternoon and evening via a ferry. We were all looking forward to seeing Epcot and its light show that we had heard so much about. There was a lot more to see in Epcot, with a huge lake surrounded by counties from all around the world. Bella, Georgia, Daniel, and I all ate in China, Justin ate a Kebab in Turkey and then brought a pint in Germany. We all then ate chips from the UK later that evening. 

 The one photo of the five of us at Epcot

The one photo of the five of us at Epcot

It was fascinating just walking through all the countries in Epcot, but we also wanted to check out some rides. One of these was 'Soarin', a ride which made you feel as though you were flying all over the world. This was definitely our favourite ride of Disney World. We queued for about half an hour and then entered into a room with a huge curved screen and sat into, how can i explain it, I suppose similar to a swing  but we were harnessed in. We were then lifted into the air right in front of the screen. It felt as though we were actually hang gliding over different parts of the world, it was pretty insane, favourite part was when we arrived at the eiffel tower and flew around it at night time. 

On a serious high after 'Soarin' we tried to get on the 'Test Track' ride but it was stopped due to technical issues, so we instead headed onto Mission Space (NASA-style training and an space launch on a shuttle simulator). After, we waited around the lake for the light show to start, which did not disappoint and went on for 15 minutes. You can view the last few minutes of the show in the video below. It was a fitting end to our two days at Disney World.

 

Universal Day One:

There are no words that will do the Wizarding World of Harry Potter justice. Now I have to admit, I'm a bit of a Harry Potter fanatic, so I was most looking forward to checking out Universal's Harry Potter section. However, I was not expecting all five of us to be blown away by it. 

There are two Harry potter sections, Diagon Alley inside the Universal Studios and Hogsmeade and Hogwarts in the Island of Adventures. They are connected by the Hogwarts Express train. As a Harry Potter fan I obviously had to see Diagon alley first and the ride the hogwarts express over to Hogsmeade. So we began our first day at Universal by entering Diagon Alley through the opening in the brick wall just like the first Harry Potter movie. There is no point in trying to explain what Diagon Alley looks like so take a look at the video to see for yourself.

The first thing we did in Diagon Alley was the 'Escape from Gringotts' ride. Again, there is no way to describe the ride that gives it justice. Simply put, you are on a roller coaster wearing 3D glasses trying to escape the Gringotts bank and avoiding Voldemort and Dragons. At one point you are attacked by trolls that start swinging the carriage your in. Its unbelievable. 

After exploring Diagon Alley for a while and purchasing our wands from Ollivander's we took the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade in Island of Adventures. The Hogwarts Express was even a great experience, taking us through some of the memorable moments from the books including the Dementors. 

We stepped off the Hogwarts Express into Hogsmeade station and walked onwards into Hogsmeade. We stopped at the Dragon Challenge rollercoaster first before walking up through Hogsmeade to the Hogwarts castle. The Dragon Challenge was an intense roller coaster with a number of loops and cork screws. We then took in Hogsmeade and made our way up to Hogwarts to try the 'Harry Potter and the forbidden journey' ride.

 Hogwarts

Hogwarts

The queue to 'Forbidden Journey' took us into the Hogwarts castle where we saw many of the highlights of the movies including Dumbledore's office and the sorting hat. The ride itself was my highlight of all Universal and Disney. All I will say about it is that we flew around Hogwarts on a broom and also played a Quidditch match :)

After all this excitement we were in the mood for more and we managed to get most of the rides in both parks done that afternoon. We were drenched on the 'Jurassic park river adventure' and even more drenched on 'Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls'. Experienced the 4D adventures of 'The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman' and the 'Transformers', and rode the 'Incredible Hulk' coaster and plunged into darkness on 'Revenge of the Mummy' roller coaster. 

Universal Day Two:

As we had done the majority of rides in Universal the day before, our second day there was a lot more chilled. The one ride we hadn't been able to get on was 'Skull Island: Reign of Kong', so we headed to that first. This was the one disappointment we had in Universal and it happened that the queue was actually better than the ride itself. At least it looked cool from the outside.

 Skull Island

Skull Island

We split up for the first time on the holiday, Justin, Georgia and Bella went off to re-ride some of the roller coasters. Daniel and I headed back over to Diagon Alley via the Hogwarts Express, which was a completely different experience to the ride over from Kings Cross to Hogsmeade.

Over in Diagon Alley we spent a lot more time checking out the shops and numerous other goings on. I nearly spent all of my holiday money buying Harry Potter merchandise stopping just short of buying a robe. We also spent a good bit of time in Gringotts bank with the happy fella below, and sampled the butterbeer and the butterbeer ice cream.

 You could ask the Goblin anything and he would reply with some sort of answer. 

You could ask the Goblin anything and he would reply with some sort of answer. 

We then met up with the others over at the Simpsons land and had a Duff beer in Moe's before heading out of Universal and finishing our theme park adventures!

So that was a "quick" description of our first few days in Florida. The next part will cover our trips to Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

Those of you that made it this far, Thanks for reading :)

Luke