Disney’s new tagline seemed appropriate for a title on a post about a fun trip to Florida.
I visited Orlando for a convention this winter, and we were able to go to Disney World for a discount. Before our trip to mecca for children, we were treated to a free concert by Sheryl Crow. Talk about a throwback week! You better believe we were singing loudly along to her songs like Everyday is a Winding Road, All I Wanna Do…
It had been about 23 years since I first visited Disney World, and upon entry my coworker snagged a “1st visit” button, slapped it on my jacket and walked me to a great spot for watching the fireworks.
I couldn’t stop smiling. The fireworks display is amazing, and is set to all of the songs from my favorite Disney movies growing up. Following the fireworks, I had one request – to ride Space Mountain. See, when I was here 20+ years ago I was too short to ride. And my brothers weren’t, so all I heard about was how awesome Space Mountain is, how fun the ride is, yada yada… Typical big brother bullcrap. But let me tell you – it is freaking awesome! I would ride that coaster a million times if I could. Now, I understand why they didn’t shut up about it.
From here we walked to every “land” in the park, and rode the major rides on each. To be honest, most of these ride are designed for small children – so they are a bit underwhelming. BUT it was fun to ride the rides I remembered from my childhood like It’s a Small World, Peter Pan and Thunder Mountain. Thunder Mountain at night might be the coolest view of Disney you can get!
I didn’t stop at Disney either. I could also purchase discounted tickets to Universal, so my good friend drove up from Tampa and joined me for an afternoon riding more adult rides – but first, we had to make a pit stop at Moe’s Tavern for some Duff beer. I grew up loving The Simpsons – yep, we watched it as a family – so I was just as gitty as I had been the night before at Disney.
In all seriousness, Universal is really fun and I was amazed at the ability to immerse people in a world like Harry Potter and Springfield. We got a tip from our bartender at Moe’s that the ET ride was about to close for good, and we snuck on over to that part of the park to ride it one last time! I love that ride, and remembered this from my trip to Universal as a kid. It’s the only ride I remember from that trip (and likely the only one that was there 23 years ago). Confession: I’ve never read Harry Potter. I tried once in college, and just didn’t like it. That being said, Harry Potter world and the rollercoaster at Universal is just amazing. I was in awe. We had to ride The Mummy rollercoaster too – I remember riding the one in LA when I was 16 and loved this one just as much!
We had a great day at the park, then drove south to my friend’s house in Clearwater. My friend lives right on the water of Old Tampa Bay, which has beautiful walkways around some channels and open water. We went on a mission to watch the sunset on an incredibly cold evening, and failed due to new construction – but we made the most of it!
My feet were frozen in this picture. It was like 40 degrees outside…
If you’re going to this part of Florida, and you’re an art lover – you MUST go to the Dali museum in St. Pete. By coincidence, the weekend I was in town also happened to be the opening weekend of the Dali & Disney exhibit. This included some unique parallels between the two, stories of their friendship and collaboration (Destino, the opening exhbit at Disney Land in LA), as well as a virtual reality experience in a Dali painting! That was the best part of the whole week, in my opinion.
I love Dali – he was a true master. His most famous works are also his most surreal, but some of my favorites are his more realistic paintings.
I could spend an entire day staring at this painting… We had such a good time discussing the art, laughing at each other doing the VR experience, and exploring the gardens and outdoor maze.
I’ve mastered the art of turning any work trip into as much of a vacation as I can – a workation – and this was one of the most unforgettable ones so far! It was fun to be a kid again, creating new memories in places I’ve been before and experiencing new things in cities I’ve already visited.