The first vacation we ever took together was to Orlando, in January of 2006. Like many college students we were young and poor, but still managed to have a wonderful week at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Sea World and Islands of Adventure. We stayed at some shitty chain hotel where free wifi was limited to a room adjacent to the lobby. The hotels only redeeming features were a free shuttle to the parks, and its proximity to fast food (we could not afford rental cars back then because of the age discriminatory under-25 policy of most rental companies).

Here we are in 2006, after riding Popeyes Bilge Barges at Islands of Adventure.


This past weekend we made a quick getaway back to Orlando and Islands of Adventure again this time pretty much solely to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We were able to stay at a much nicer hotel that was affiliated with the parks, and thus gave us free express passes to skip all the lines at the rides (awesome!) as well as early admission an hour before the parks opened to the public. Our free shuttle bus ride was upgraded this time around to a free boat ride.

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Ollivanders wand shop. The interactive experience is much overrated, in my opinion. About 20 people cram into the little shop and they choose 2 kids who get to try out wands, with various special effects. Then everyone ends up in the gift shop next door where they can buy a $34 stick.

Yes, I still bought a $34 stick. And a Chocolate Frog (ugh I got Helga Hufflepuff as my card, fail) and some Every Flavour Beans (we still havent mustered the courage to try the earwax, vomit or earthworm flavors).

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I was mildly disappointed by U-No-Poo these are just green M&Ms!

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Of course, we also tried both regular and frozen butterbeer, which tasted like cream soda mixed with ice cream VERY sugary. If I were 10, I would have loved the stuff.

After we left Harry Potter land, we explored the rest of the park, going on various rides utilizing our express pass (average wait time: <5 mins).

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We were also able to dine at Mythos, which was supposedly voted the best theme park restaurant in the world for six years. Its sort of strangely rock themed, but it was pretty good food. The interior kind reminded me of an insect hive.

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And finally, since its October, we got sort of an unexpected treat in the form of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. Essentially, they open the park until 2am, and they have various Halloween-themed shows and events. The funniest thing about it is that they also have people dressed up as zombies roaming around and scaring people. Since Roy is currently going through a zombie phase (after playing the Last of Us), we decided to go check it out, despite my misgivings about being chased around by the living dead.

It turns out that it wasnt that bad. The dont actually touch or attack you they just try to creep up behind you and growl at you, and so the effect was much diminished when I started growling back at them. They were also blatantly sexist, only going after me. Roy was never targeted, not even once.

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What a fun weekend getaway! Now midterms are upon us at UCLA, so back to work.