NOTE: This is a trip report for everything involving my latest trip to Orlando Florida – excluding the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. For those deets, stay tuned to my poorly updated blog. That is, if you care – which you probably don’t. I wouldn’t.
I’ve been hankering for a getaway since graduating college and smashing my way through interim teaching. A breadth away from hanging my students from their jugulars and cycling through four different jobs, the time was ripe for a trip. I was desperate, reader. Desperate.
I wanted something quick and easy before I started the convoluted planning of my worst impulse purchase ever. It was to be the microwavable meal of vacations, a prepackaged adventure full of imagination, whimsy and insufferable crowds.
None of which I did, ironically.
Instead, as per always, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter would be the focus. Besides the fact that I love Harry Potter, I adore visiting the park – mainly because, if I squint hard enough, I can pretend I’m a real witch. BRB, getting some frog spawn for me potions. #bottlefame #brewglory #deathstopper #holla
For my fourth trip, I’d take a newbie; cue, my first cousin/psuedo-sister, Abigail.
And I guess, if you were gonna force my hand, my *mumbles* best friend.
Our childhood – fraught with being Sirius Black’s lost and illegitimate children; helping Hermione battle anorexia; and insulting Voldemort’s knitting as double agent Death Eaters – was to return, but in the sense that now we’re adults now who can buy rental cars and pay bills. Twenty-five and thriving.
As time is wont to do however, Abigail and I have evolved from childhood. We have become night and day: she’s a princess, riding off into sunset with her prince and his steed, Sampson – I’m a warrior queen beheading orcs and drinking blood from their skulls.
Will this trip succeed? Will we slaughter each other or buy matching sweatshirts? Stay tuned.
Twelve in the afternoon, we left. Charlie cleansed, bags packed, dental floss present, and our matching shirts waiting, we were ready to seize adventure. Wanting to avoid Atlanta traffic, we opted to take the road less traveled through the flat Georgian wilderness. I was captivated by much it had to offer – namely the rich culture of fruit stands, selling genuine Georgia “peches” – and thus, almost ran off the road pursuing them.
I was also mesmerized by a dirt pile.
Beauty is subjective.
Along the way, we attempted to start a travel hashtag: #yerawizardranda, the “randa” being, “r and a,” i.e. Rachel and Abigail. This hashtag only lasted five hours.
With the help of Abigail’s “sacred” Trucker app, we were led to a gas station. Despite being broad daylight, Abigail, the simple creature, was afraid we’d be abducted. Thus, she insisted we use the bathroom together – on separate toilets, if you were curious. Whilst urinating, I read my stall – which featured a series of phone numbers for male escorts and various recommendations. In another life, I would have called them and talked about Jesus.
As Abigail was fearful of abduction, and upon underestimating our stomachs, we did not buy snacks. This was a grave mistake.
As we traveled through the tasteless state of Georgia, billboards began to illustrate the way, advertising one of four things: Jesus’ return, abortion awareness, sex shops, and pecans. And, one, that, to quote Abigail’s Facebook: “Saw a billboard for miniature Dalmatians! I need one!!!!”
One of us is gifted with words.
In our 300 mile stretch of road – it was dark, it was raining, it was straight – we eventually reached Florida, and were promptly greeted by the saddest palm trees, who wept in the rain. Much like we were to still be driving.
We had not resorted to playing the sign game and managed to listen to nothing but the Harry Potter scores, which was equal parts epic and tedious. At this point, I was deliriously hungry. Head aching, chest breaking, salivating, pure and unadulterated hunger. As Charlie was thirsty as well, we pulled into a gas station and bought the best can of Pringles I’ve ever tasted.
Abigail fed me while I drove. She still has all ten fingers, but there was a close call.
Fun fact, internet: Abigail loves semi-trucks.
At least 26% of her road trip asides were dedicated to commentating on 18-wheelers: the tackiness of “chicken lights;” the virtues of the sleeper cab; her own radio alias – The Bug, for those curious. So alas, call it poetic that I should nearly crash into one.
“Just think of that poor driver, he’s probably so scared.”
Oh, go crawl back into your Kentworth.
Torrential downpour and darkness met us outside Cabana Bay Beach Resort, along with a harem of valets and bellboys with limited English. After a thousand complications with said harem, we checked in, snuck out of their trajectory and parked in the back. Venturing through the dark rain of night and hauling luggage, Abigail stole a trolley – a promised trolly, and upon removing the reservation tag, we arrived. Soaked. Exhausted. Starving. Survivors.
Unfortunately, upon arriving, there was this disgusting thing on my bed:
Perhaps as a way to cope with our slogging drive, we had planned a great night out: upon arriving at the resort, we’d change into something that wasn’t spandex, make sense of our hair and make up, and walk to City Walk for a nice meal and to live it up.
We’re hilarious. Instead, we ordered terrible room service pizza.
Cabana Bay Beach Resort is the ginchiest place, themed to the 50s & 60s. It’s considered the “value” property of Universal – at $120 a night. It isn’t quite my idea of a value; especially since I usually slum it at the cheapest place with WiFi and no mention of cockroaches on TripAdvisor. However, this was a special trip with a special lady – and Abigail.
Our room was lovely and clean, with a modish Ikea appeal. For an obscure Swedish film reference, it reminded me of Let the Right One In – just without the vampire twelve-year-old who never her changed pants. Unless Abigail has a secret.
There was a lot of closet space, a pizza button on the phone [#priorities], and a variety of vintage soaps and shampoos. Zest-fully clean! Speaking of showers, we were given the handicap accessible room, which included a walk in shower. i.e. no bathtub. To know me is to know this would make for the worst part of any vacation.
The best part, if you were to ask Abigail, were the power curtains.
My biggest regret was that we didn’t reserve enough time to explore the hotel. We did a wee bit, after a grueling day in the park, but not near enough, as the resort has so much to offer! A bowling alley, a gym – as I’m so very active at home – a gift shop, a bar, Starbucks, a commissary; so much, such fun. For the family. *jazz hands*
Little details appealed to the era – such as telephone booths, old cartoons on loop in the commissary, and vintage cars parked outside. Precious.
Also, these palm trees, which were warm and happy. Happy little trees.
Cabana Bay has a myriad of pools, hot tubs and a lazy river (!); all of which I would have enjoyed had I not been freezing my lady gibbets off. Having just been stranded in North Carolina with a foot of snow, I was hankering for warmth. My wishes were denied and shot; and, despite being heated, no hot tub could compete with the damp chill that ’twas Florida in winter.
However, as God knows I was not made for the cold or physical activity, Cabana Bay had shuttles that buses one to and from the parks. A fleet of shuttles were always there at my beck and call, which was fortunate, as I forgot my camera and had to go back.
For more pictures of Cabana Bay, as taken by a real photographer, click here.
Universal Studios is entered via CityWalk – which is an alleyway of higher end chain restaurants. My first trip, I ate at Bubba Gump’s – and was keen on replaying the event. After slumming it in the Wizarding World, Abigail and I actually had some form of energy to dress up for our meal. One of us even wore heels.
It was not me.
Named from Forest Gump, Bubba Gump’s is themed to the movie and acts as a sort of museum for the film. If that’s your thing; the only time I ever saw the movie was while sewing in the 10th grade, so I’m hardly a super fan. A real plus was the random trivia via the waiter – but namely for it’s visual appeal [the waiter, not the trivia], and not for the fact that we trounced it [the trivia, not the waiter.].
My fish was quite delicious in every way – especially with extra sauce. I want it to swim again.
The next day, Abigail was hankering to visit The Cowfish. As a sushi/burger fusion bar, she was intrigued. As I’m not overtly fond of red meat and nearly detest sushi, I was pleased to have an above average burger. The atmosphere was A+ and rather swank. As they had some truly bizarre flavour combinations, I’d love to take Matt there, so he can appease his defunct taste buds and I can have some fries.
We did order calamari as an appetizer: