My Time In Orlando, Florida – 2020
This year, from August 22nd to the 29th, my friends and I went to Orlando, Florida for a weeks vacation. This is something we planned out in the beginning of the year prior to COVID. Since my friend was the one that arranged the whole thing she decided to keep the reservations. She wasn’t going to let that money go to waste.
We all knew the risk we were taking with traveling during a pandemic. We figured as long as we were traveling safely, and places were following guidelines as well, that we’d give it a shot. To tell you the truth, we were all looking forward to this little vacation with each other. It was something new and exciting in contrast with what’s been going on this whole year.
Our flight for Orlando was around 3pm on the 22nd so we left the house a couple of hours early to get to the airport with ample time to spare. The airport was practically empty except for a few people here and there. There were no long lines, everyone was socially distancing from one another, and hand sanitizer stations were seen throughout the airport. The departure from Philadelphia was smooth sailing but the arrival gave me some anxiety. It was raining when we arrived in Orlando and the landing was a bit bumpy. But we got through it nonetheless.
We didn’t do anything else on the 22nd but grab some dinner. Our group went to this restaurant and bar called Rock and Brews at the shopping center near our resort. Everyone had a few drinks, listened to live country music performances, and relaxed. It was late in the evening when we got there and it was pouring outside. We all decided that the next day we’d explore the resort we were staying at and go to Disney Springs.
So, on the 23rd, for half the day we explored the resort and swam in the huge lazy river! It was so relaxing and cooling, especially since it was very hot and humid in Florida (but that’s typical weather for Florida in August). We drank our alcoholic beverages by the pool and had a chill day. After that, we got changed and went to Disney Springs.
If you haven’t seen my vlog on Disney Springs I’ll link that here, but basically Disney Springs is an area with cute little shops, restaurants, bars, and all things Disney! You can go shopping, have some dinner, and finish off the night with a couple of drinks. It wasn’t as crowded as it normally is. They checked our temperatures when we entered and had sanitizer stations everywhere.
My friends and I went to the Rainforest Cafe for some dinner, we walked around some little shops throughout the evening, and finished off the night with some drinks at Jock Lindey’s Hangar Bar. It’s this very cool 1940s aviation themed lounge where you can get drinks and food. I’ve been here twice and I absolutely LOVE the theme of this lounge and their drinks. It’s very fun and creative, and I definitely recommend visiting here!
That Monday, the 24th, was the day we were scheduled to go to Universal Studios! This is one of my favorite parks in Orlando and I will never get tired of visiting here. We departed our resort room at about 9am to get to the park very early. Again, the lines weren’t very long, everyone was socially distancing from one another, and hand sanitizer was everywhere. They checked your temperature before you entered the park and enforced the mask guidelines. You could only take your mask off if you were eating or drinking while at a restaurant or standing still.
So, my friends and I were together for a little bit in the beginning. We went on a couple of rides together and walked around for a bit. But when we got the Harry Potter section, Diagon Alley, that’s when we went our separate ways. My one friend and her fiancé aren’t huge Harry Potter nerds but my friend Steph is. They followed us around, went on a couple of rides together, but wanted to leave soon after. But my friend Steph and I wanted to explore more, so we just split up. My friend and I spent 4 HOURS there! I mean, when you’re a huge Harry Potter fan that’s acceptable, right?
Of course, I made a vlog on my time in Universal Studios! Although there is another park in the vlog, about half way through the video is where you can see our time in Universal Studios. At the end of the day, we met up and got dinner together.
Tuesday the 25th we went to Hollywood Studios. We arrived at the park around 11:30am and walked around the park for a bit. All of us went on a few rides, such as the Star Wars ride, the Toys Story ride, and a couple of others. There were a few, small parades that happened every hour or so, so that was fun to watch. Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch, walked around for a bit and then left. This park isn’t particularly big so after a while we were ready to go.
Compared to the other parks, Hollywood Studios was more crowded. Although they did take our temperatures at the entrance, not a whole lot of people were socially distancing while walking out in the open. The only time people were at least 6 feet apart was when we were on lines for rides. Those lines were longer than any of the other parks we went to on our trip so our feet were killing us at the end of the day. But we endured and enjoyed it anyways!
Since we ended that day earlier than expected, we went back to the resort to swim. However, I chose not to as at the time I had my masters work to do. So, the others went for a swim while I stayed behind and did homework like a good student.
Wednesday the 26th was a very special day for my friend Steph. This particular day, just to give some context, was a day where Steph and I decided to do our own thing while my other friend and her fiancé spent the day together. My friend Steph had never been to Magic Kingdom! So of course we had to go together. We got there very early in the morning. It wasn’t that crowded in the morning, the staff followed guidelines by taking our temperatures, ensuring we were socially distanced and used hand sanitizer. What this park had that I didn’t see in the other parks were little stations to actually wash your hands. That’s right, you didn’t have to go into the bathroom, you could just wash your hands at one of these open stations. In true fashion, we took pictures in front of the castle. It’s iconic, and since it wasn’t anywhere near as crowded as it normally is, we took this opportunity to take some amazing pictures!
Steph and I got to work right away with getting on those rides. I’ve never seen the Peter Pan ride have a 5 minute wait! It was crazy and we enjoyed waiting under 15 minutes for the rides in Magic Kingdom. We went on the Peter Pan ride, Winnie the Pooh, The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s A Small World, Thunder Mountain, and much more! We got lots of souvenirs, saw parades, ate at some fantastic restaurants, and really enjoyed each other’s company. She’s been my best friend since we were freshman in college back in 2012. I enjoy going on trips with her and I’m glad she had a great time in Magic Kingdom for the first time!
Thursday the 27th we went to Island of Adventure. I couldn’t tell you how excited about this park we all were, particularly me and Steph (for Hogmeade of course!). Our party went on some Marvel rides, spent a ton of time in Hogsmeade and went on a few Harry Potter rides. Unfortunately, destiny didn’t allow us to go on the newest ride because there was a storm in the area. Since the ride was all outside it was delayed. We didn’t wait any longer than 30 minutes because we figured it’d be a while until they resumed the ride. But that was ok, there’s always next time. Steph and I went around with our interactive wands and “casted spells” at all the interactive window fronts in the area. It was so much fun and that is something I’ll never get tired of doing.
My friends and I met up and had lunch at Hog’s Head where we enjoyed our food and drank a few beers. The hog’s head above the bar moved every so often, so when you go you really have to time it right to get a glimpse of it moving. It took me by surprise when I first saw it move and when I told my friends they didn’t believe me. But when it moved again they believed me. After lunch we went shopping in a few stores where I got some Harry Potter clothing. We finished off the day with dinner at one of the restaurants along the board walk in Universal Studios. We then went to get some desert and then went back to the resort.
Friday the 28th we went to Animal Kingdom. This day was particularly hot and humid. It was so bad I couldn’t really vlog most of the park because the camera lens kept fogging up. Honestly, the best part of the day was when we went on the water rafting ride! We got a chance to cool off with the water splashing over us. Besides that, we really enjoyed the Avatar rides. The Avatar rides were so cool and Sci-Fi looking, with colorful displays and realistic looking objects.
Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed other rides as well such as the Dinosaur ride (the Dinosaur movie from the early 2000s) and It’s Tough to be a Bug (from A Bug’s Life). The safari ride would’ve been great as well but it was very bumpy most of the time. By the end of it we all had headaches and were nauseous. I tried my best to vlog it but it was too bumpy and I couldn’t get clear and steady shots of the animals. The steady ones I managed to get were only for a brief moment as we only stayed for a second or two to look at the animals. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable day.
We left Animal Kingdom early because we were so hot. Steph wanted to go back to Disney Springs to get a Pandora charm so I went with her. My other two friends went back to the resort to swim. Steph and I walked around Disney Springs once again, shopping and having a grand old time, and finished the evening off with dinner at a wonderful Mexican restaurant Frontera Cocina. The food was absolutely divine and I highly recommend this place!
Saturday the 29th was our last day in Orlando. Our flight was early in the morning and all of us were sad because we had to leave Orlando. It’s always bittersweet because you’re excited to go home, yet you’re sad that your vacation has come to an end. The flight home was very smooth. Once we arrived in Philadelphia, I spent a couple more hours with my friends at their house. After reminiscing about our time in Orlando, I left to drive home and be with my boyfriend.
Traveling with friends is such a fun way to spend your vacation. We explored so many things, went to so many places, and tried different things. I enjoyed the time I spent with my friends and I cannot wait for future travels!