Just got back from an awesome mini-vacation at Universal Orlando with my fiancée and 4 of our friends.

We left Friday morning and spent the night in Universal’s City Walk hanging out, eating, and drinking. I love starting out a vacation with low key stuff like this, since it is often the most relaxing part of a trip.

Saturday morning we started early at Islands of Adventure with the VelociCoaster. Which was way too intense for my liking. I tried Dramamine for the first time for this trip — it helped a ton and I’ll definitely use it again for roller coasters.

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. One highlight for me, was the Forbidden Journey ride in the Harry Potter section. I skipped it on my first trip thinking it would be too intense after Transformers or Spider-Man shook me around a bit too much. Forbidden Journey was basically a fancy Soarin’ (from Disney World, a ride which I love). We ended up going on it again Sunday.

After a Krusty Burger none of us should have eaten — since we had already had a huge meal — we tried out Doctor Doom’s Fearfall. I liked this one a lot better than I expected. I had skipped Tower of Terror on our last trip to Disney, but I think I’ll try it next time we get down there…

The Dr. Seuss rides and area are lame and should be replaced. There. I said it.

The Jurassic Park River Ride is always a great time. Luckily this time the water hit me directly in the face, which actually felt fantastic in the heat.

We then spent way too much time in Hogsmeade. If you are a HP fan, or bringing one to Universal for the first time, please start out in Diagon Alley! I’m not a particularly huge fan of Harry Potter myself, but the consensus from everyone I know is that Diagon Alley is a much better experience. Personally, I think Diagon Alley feels more isolated and part of the “world” than Hogsmeade.

Sunday we started out at Universal Studios with Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Walking through the castle in line for this ride was pretty cool. I always find myself wondering how the ride designers make the scenery and props (like bird cages, old cabinets, etc). Does someone look for old things at flea markets, or do they take new items and scuff them up to look old? I digress. The ride was fun but slightly too intense for me.

I skipped out on Spider-Man and Transformers (which are basically the same ride). The quick jerking motions and directional changes really mess up my stomach. I don’t mind skipping a ride here and there. That’s always a good time for a snack or a beer 😄

The Simpsons Ride was much more fun for me this time. For some reason, when I went on it a few years ago, it felt a little too intense and left my feeling slightly queasy. I had none of that this time around. I wonder now if I had gone on another ride prior on my last trip…

Unfortunately I left my keychain/lanyard and sunglasses in the car and didn’t notice for another hour or so. I had an AirTag on it and was able to track it back to The Simpsons Ride. It took forever while attendants radioed each other, but I was able to get the keys back.

We rounded out the night with one last trip to Diagon Alley for one of our friends who was a huge HP nerd and hadn’t gotten her fill just yet. We knew that she really wanted to go back and snap a few more pictures and do some shopping, but the others in the group weren’t really feeling it. I’m glad we pushed her to go. She had a lot of fun in that last hour and got some souvenirs and pictures. We also had a delicious Hot Butter Beer with Fire Whiskey. They don’t like you to do that, so don’t pour the whiskey in the Butter Beer while they are looking like Chrys 😂

We rounded out the night with some awesome Italian food and drinks, then had a couple more drinks at the hotel and we all slept for a few hours. Monday was the typical frantic experience trying to get checked out and boarded. On the plus side, we found a “TSA Clear” program that let us pick a reservation time and we skipped 90% of the security line. I don’t think we’d have boarded without it…

All in all, an amazing trip with some of my best friends! I’ve really missed vacationing since COVID started (which ironically was immediately after arriving home from my last vacation in Jan 2020). Here’s hoping we avoided the plague while down there! 🤞