After a few days spent soaking up the sun we decided to get up early one morning and drive 2 1/2 hours north to Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. It was such a fun day and we had a fabulous time walking the streets and visiting all of the shops. We went to HP World knowing that I wouldn't be able to go on any of the rides, but discovered at the Hogwarts castle that most non-riders (and their party!) can do a walk-through of the ride/attraction, following which the riders in the party get to jump straight to the front of the line for the ride. The non-riders get to wait in a little room by the exit and watch Harry Potter movies. At the end of the day we totaled up how long Ben would have had to wait in lines and realized that by doing the walk-through option each time, we saved over 3 hours of waiting in lines and Ben never had to wait more than 15 minutes to get on a ride (mechanical issues at Gringotts). That left us with 3 extra hours that we used to hunt down the best treats and explore other parts of the parks.
Honeydukes was beyond adorable and we enjoyed picking out some new candies to try as well as the classic Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans which we used to entertain ourselves while waiting in lines for certain stores.
At one point we asked a cute, older gentleman if he would take a photo of us with Hogsmeade/the Hogwarts castle in the background. The first attempt resulted in a picture of the sky. He insisted on trying again and ended up taking a selfie. Again, he insisted on trying to get it right. This gem of a picture was the final result:
There's so much to see and experience at both parts of HP World (trust me- I clocked in at 18,000 steps after walking around for 9 hours!), but our favorites included: lunch at The Three Broomsticks, frozen butterbeer (save time by ordering it at The Three Broomsticks instead of waiting outside at the street cart), visiting Ollivanders Wand Shop, hearing Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom at Hogsmeade, butterbeer ice cream, doing the walk-through tour of the Hogwarts castle, visiting Gringotts, the Hogwarts castle ride (for Ben), riding the Hogwarts Express, and walking through Diagon Alley.
We spent the next few days of our trip swimming, lounging by the pool, reading, checking out the outdoor shopping mall, giving in to cravings (A juicy burger and fries. Mmm!), mini golfing, grilling, watching football, building more sandcastles, trying some local restaurants, and going for walks around the island. We had a hard time accepting the fact that we couldn't stay forever. ;)
^^ Don't mind our dumb faces and gross beach/pool hair. We looked homeless for a few days. :) ^^
Vacations are wonderful.