…That would be the worst idea ever, actually. I did just get back from a trip to Disney World with friends and it was exactly what I needed. This year has been pretty void of vacations, minus one three-day weekend over the summer with Patrick. But this trip was five days/four nights with three of my favorite traveling companions and it was one great time.
On the morning of the 11th, Kara and Rae and I left out fairly early, by 8:30 at least, which is admirable for people who hate to get up early and also for those who were getting their vacation started early the night before. I had woken up and had my coffee, then eaten a cup of yogurt, and had a few ibprofins so ease the slight headache I had. As we drove down 26, then got on 95, I could feel my stomach churning and finally at some point I said, “You have got to pull over on this exit right now.” After stopping at some little gas station in Coosawatchie, SC, I ran in there, found the door on the women’s room locked, and made it just in time to hurl everything from my body into a men’s room toilet. I mean JUST in time. One step later and the floor would have been covered. Good thing I wasn’t able to finish that Egg McMuffin. The funny thing is, usually when I get sick like that, I never immediately feel better. This time though, I did. After fighting through a haze of lovebugs, we set off for the rest of our journey.
It was uneventful until we arrived in Jacksonville to swing by Valerie’s house and get some lunch somewhere. We went to Kickbacks, a little gastropub in downtown Jax that had a really fascinating menu. They offered Spaghettios and other canned soups for… $3.59. Ouch. They did have a ton of beer on tap which I passed on due to my earlier stomach issues, and settled on a tempeh burger. It was a new take on the veggie burger and was very enjoyable, something I’ll have to copy for the future. A side of mashed potatoes helped to soothe my belly, even though I only ended up eating about half of my food there, though not for lack of wanting. After checking out a few shops nearby, we got in the car to finish what I thought was only another hour and a half ride. Wrong… it was closer to three.
We landed at the Pop Century resort on the Disney grounds and got checked into the 80s building, which overlooked their computer pool, which I was excited about because it looked awesome on the internet.
We didn’t have long to explore though because we took so long getting down there and we had reservations for a place in Downtown Disney at 8 p.m. sharp, and they had my credit card on file so I wasn’t going to fartle around and risk losing our reservation and getting charged. One of the reasons we chose to stay on the Disney grounds was for the free and reliable transportation, so we hopped right on a bus that was fairly close to our building and headed to Raglan Road Irish Pub, which we chose based on reviews. It was really dark in there so I didn’t get many food shots.
I started with a German Warsteiner pilsner, because why go Irish in a (fake) Irish pub? It was a light and refreshing option, because after hours of travel and a bout of illness, I didn’t want to anger my belly any further.
For dinner I chose the Art Tart, an appetizer, because I wasn’t certain how much I could handle eating. It was WAY smaller than I anticipated, but was a good way to get protein, veggies, and some smooth goat cheese in at the start of vacation.
One of the most highly recommended menu items was the bread pudding which I shared with Rae, and good thing because that sucker was huge, overflowing out of the top of the ceramic mug it was served in. Additional richness in taste came from a little serving of cream and another of butterscotch. We poured both over the pudding with reckless abandon and dug in to the creamy, lightly textured bread pudding. It wasn’t very sweet without the cream and butterscotch, which worked to its advantage. We couldn’t finish the it all, despite our trying to. If you ever go here, don’t skip the dessert.
After that, I think we just went to bed. Or drank and went to bed. Either way, we had an early start the next day, which was heading to Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios. Since this was not on Disney Grounds, we have to drive back up I-4. We were all incredibly excited because the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was going to be the highlight of this trip. And it totally was. We actually beelined there first because we figured it would only get more crowded as the day wore on, which turned out to be spot on.
Since we only had tickets to IOA, we could only go to Hogsmeade in “Harry Potter World” as we called it all day, and while it was smaller than I thought, we ended up back there three or four more times throughout the day. The first thing we did was to visit Ollivander’s to see the show, since only about fifteen people at a time were allowed in. Even if you don’t want to buy a wand, it’s a pretty cool little show to watch.
If you’ve been to IOA before they built Harry Potter world, you’ll recognize that they repurposed some of the rides to be HP themed. One was the dueling dragons ride, and then the old haunted house which is now the Hogwarts castle. This is another one that fills up quickly and you can tell because the queue area is friggin LONG. I feel like it took about 15 minutes to wind through the castle to get onto this ride. On this one, you get on a car sitting side by side with your fellow riders and strapped in. Then you go on a track that moves you around and has you facing a screen at some points that is insanely realistic. I really and truly felt like I was flying on a broom through the Hogwarts grounds, almost too much so. After this ride we all needed to sit for a spell and suck on the crystallized ginger candy I’d brought for any potential nausea.
Other Hogsmeade highlights included butterbeer which tastes like butterscotch soda and had an extra delicious dollop of whipped cream on top for creaminess and to make it look more like beer (it was totally non alcoholic). We drank in the Hog’s Head tavern, which was pretty crowded too, but very authentic looking for being in Orlando.
More on the rest of the trip soon, where we return to the Disney grounds and don’t leave them til Monday!