This is going to be an epic post. It was a 4 day get away that felt like weeks, which is great.
Monday marked our 2 year wedding anniversary, it feels like longer than that though. For our anniversaries we always want to go somewhere, do something, that way it’s special and never just another day. This year, with Lori being super into Harry Potter, and because they have a giant Halloween thing going on, we went to Universal in Orlando, with a detour to Daytona just because.Friday – Daytona Detour
Daniel was able to get a half day off work so we could leave early on Friday, which is awesome, a lot of the trip was in the day time. Night time trip driving is the worst, well, worst behind pouring rain. Since we can only afford to go to the parks once each, if we got to Orlando on Friday night we’d have all day Saturday with nothing to do, so why not go to Daytona for the night. Neither of us have ever been (that we know of) and it’s only an hour or so away from Orlando so it’s no big hassle. Except we didn’t know it was Biketoberfest.
So now we’re in Daytona, surrounded by motorcycles, tons and tons and tons of motorcycles. We turned on the main strip and sat for five minutes barely moving at all. We’ve been traveling all day, we’re hungry, we’re tired, we’re stuck in traffic. When it finally moved enough that we could go maybe less than half a block we saw a Diner and turned in a few minutes later. After feeling better about our tummies rumbling it was on to find somewhere to stay, that wasn’t already booked full with bikers, and that didn’t cost a fortune. Hopefully one like we stayed in on our honeymoon in Charleston.
We found it. After stopping at several small, shady, hotels that wanted $70 or more for the night, we found this one that was only $55. Not as cheap as it should have been considering the look of it, but the bike fest was driving up prices everywhere. It’s hard to describe the exact feeling you get when you walk in and the wet smoke smell hits you and you see where you’ll be staying, and pictures can hardly do it justice either. It didn’t feel haunted like the other one we stayed in, but it did feel like someone may kick down the door and hack at us with a chainsaw.
Waking up is pretty easy here, staying asleep is the hard part. It’s like a motorcycle alarm clock you can’t turn off. That combined with sleeping on a board with a pillow that is easier to compare to a hand towel when it comes to support and comfort.
On to experience what Daytona has to offer us. Motorcycles. Yay. We kept getting the feeling we were going to see Daniel’s mom and dad here, and at one point saw the same Harley they ride. It being a vacation and all, it just wouldn’t be right without put-put. The course we found was kinda like Lost cause it was tropical and there was a plane crash. This one is probably our second favorite at this point, right behind Goofy Golf in PCB. You have to have to have real obstacles and challenges, not just putting around a corner, and this one used the volcano and cave theme to be awesome. Lori tried to put through a wall at one point but wasn’t successful.
Then back to the motorcycles. There is no escaping them. Except at the beach. The ocean was beautiful, the sand was firm and didn’t get stuck in between our toes, and there was practically nobody there. Weird. All these people in a beach town, but their riding their bikes around instead of going to the beach . . .
At one point while we were driving around I think we joined a motorcycle parade or something, because there were a gazillion motorcycles and their riders on both sides of the road and all those riders were walking or standing or sitting and looking at whoever was riding down that strip of road. Surprise, it’s Daniel and Lori in their little blue car with the rose still on the antenna from two years ago.
Enough of this, we’ve got our fill, let’s get to Orlando and go swimming. On the way we stopped at a mall because Daniel had the great idea that Lori should get the second ear piercing she’s always wanted. Terrified, and terrifying little girls in the Claire’s, she got it done, but the girl watching (she looked like the girl from Hope Floats) decided she’d never get her ears pierced, ever.
About an hour and a half of driving later, and being harassed by the ticket guy at the hotel that he could have saved us $8 (total, not per person) if we would have booked all of our tickets through him instead of going through the UniversalOrlando.com people, we we’re chilling at the pool. Chilling being a good description even though the water was heated, half of the pool was in the shade of the hotel, making our faces cold, and the other half, the half where you would have a warm face, was full of splashing little kids.
Did you know that there are bad Chinese restaurants out there? Well there are, and there is at least one in Orlando. And to make matters worse, I looked up the address on my phone and it said 8 miles, so we got in the car and went down the highway an exit to get there, ate, it was terrible (buffet nasty), and we drove two blocks back to the hotel. Did you catch that? The directions made us drive down a highway about a mile, turn a couple times, then to get back we turned right drove a block, turned left drove a block and we were back at the hotel. It hurt my soul to see other people out walking while we drove the two blocks back to the hotel.Sunday – Universal Studios for 15 1/2 hours
Good morning non-scary hotel room. Cold on the outside, warm and fuzzy under the covers. The hotel is about twenty steps away from the world’s largest McDonald’s (I think). You’d know it if you’ve ever been, it’s the only one I’ve ever seen with pasta dishes, and on display in glass cases on real plates. You may find yourself asking, why go to McDonald’s, what about SuperSize Me, and what will Daniel eat? True, they even sneak meat into the fries and hashbrowns (and Daniel’s McMuffin when he’s not looking, it took 3 tries for them to get it right), but it’s Monopoly time! And it’s convenient! And it’s America! There’s probably 2 things for Daniel to eat for breakfast there (and no hashbrowns).
Our first day in a park, we got up early and super excited, unknowingly arriving right when they were announcing the park open. Lots of fun stuff here, Shrek, Mummy, Twister, MIB, Jaws … The Back to the Future ride is now The Simpsons ride, same building, same concept, just Simpsons now. It was fun, Lori absolutely loved it. She hates roller coasters but goes crazy for the simulated ones.
When we’d done everything there was to do, and the park was closing, we got to stay behind, barricaded in the ’50s alleyways for an hour or so until they unleashed us for Halloween Horror Nights XX (20). Yay haunted houses. First up was Hades, it was then closest one, we weren’t thrilled by the description at all but we wanted to do it while there was no line so we didn’t have to wait an hour for something we didn’t want to do anyways. But boy o boy were we wrong. By far the best house of the night (we didn’t go through all of the houses). They used strobe lights, stuck their hands out of nowhere in your face, made Daniel jump out of his skin smiling.
There’s something you have to understand about Daniel and haunted houses, it’s not about the terror or the fear, it’s about the jumping out and going boo. The surprise gets him and makes him shake and giggle and sometimes (a lot of times) fall down. He’ll do the Scooby Doo and his feet are moving but he’s not going anywhere, he’ll shake like he’s having a seizure and kinda skid around, he’ll stiff up and fall down, and sometimes he jumps backwards and head-butts Lori (which he is sorry for).
There were 8 haunted houses and quite a few Scare Zones (free range areas of the park where people in costumes walk around and try to creep you out). Most of the houses we did weren’t scary or jumpy at all. There was the ghost one, just a couple people with glowing white masks on moving around. The asylum was bleh. The Catacombs were ok, the masks were cool and at least made us a bit jumpy. And the Zombie one was fun, it’s the one where Daniel head-butted Lori as he jumped backwards away from a flesh eating zombie coming out of a van. We were in the park for 5 hours during the HHN and didn’t do all the houses. They were open until 1AM but we left at 1130PM because our legs couldn’t take it anymore.Monday – Islands of Adventure & Anniversary Dinner Yummy-ness
This is what Lori has been waiting for, Harry Potter! This park is full of rides that are built for Daniel and explicitly not for Lori, like The Hulk and the Dragon coasters, and maybe Jurassic Park. We were in line, Lori said she wouldn’t ride, even though she would get to sit next to her hubby the whole time, then they showed a safety video right before you board and it showed the dreaded drop, which looked about 10 feet. So now Lori is thinking maybe, until she asks the guy how far the fall is, 85 feet, and then she asks where the exit is.
Harry Potter time, or to better put it, tons of crazy fans packed into a tiny space and inside stores which are even tinier. Lori was in heaven. She got a chocolate frog (with Slytherin in it) and the every flavor beans that she wants to use for decorations. Everything there was amazing looking, they even had owls in the rafters of one of the buildings (they were moving and Daniel got out of the way so he wouldn’t get pooped on). There were so many people there that they had to have employees form lines for the stores. Lori waited about an hour in line for the wand store while Daniel rode both dragon roller coasters and the little kid coaster.
Then it was time for the big finale, the new Potter ride. Lori didn’t care if it was a roller coaster or not, it was Harry Potter so she was going to ride it. It scared her super bad, she screamed the whole time, but got off and after five minutes said it was her favorite. It’s kinda like the Spiderman ride where there’s screens and real stuff coming at you while you move around, except this one your in a roller coaster harness attached to one of those arms that builds cars, and it flips you and spins you and turns you and it kinda feels like a roller coaster, but your not on a coaster type of track. It’s really cool. After that there wasn’t much time for anything else. We spent about two and a half hours or so in the Potter section.
We hobbled out of the park and back to the hotel room, cleaned up mighty nice and went out for Italian food. It was a toss up between two restaurants, one was by a lake, the other had live music, but since the music one never answered their phone (multiple times throughout the day for two days), we went to the lake. Great choice. Great atmosphere, the lake was pretty, the company was amazing, and the food was delicious.
It stinks that we have to take an entire day off of work, using valuable vacation days, just for travel. But that’s how it goes. We had an ok breakfast at the hotel with horrible service (too many people in there with too few staff) before jumping in the pool one last time before checkout and we were off.