I woke up bright and early at 6am on Sunday morning and got ready to go to Universal Studios. Because I was staying at one of the resorts on the park's property I was able to get into the park one hour before it opened. I got on the shuttle at 7am, which took me straight to the entrance to Universal's City Walk. One of my only complaints about Universal is that there is not a lot of signage to tell you where to go. So I followed the few people that were in the park in hopes that they knew where they were going!
Soon enough I saw the entrance to Universal Studios and continued to follow people until we got to the entrance to Diagon Alley for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I walked through the brick wall and was amazed that the park looked exactly like I had imagined while reading the books. I took a few minutes to wander around and check out the sights and of course take a bunch of pictures.
After wandering around for a little bit I put my stuff in a free locker and got in line for the ride at Gringotts, called Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. I wish I would have been able to have my camera with me so I could take pictures inside because it was so cool to see what the books and movies felt like in real life.
Before you get on the ride there a sign saying it is a high-speed roller coaster and to not ride if you got motion sickness. I was concerned that maybe it would be a very intense ride, but realized once I got on it that it was a Disney-style ride that's more about the theatrics and show than about it being a thrilling roller coaster.
After the ride I grabbed my stuff from the locker and headed back out into Diagon Alley. I visited all of the shops and even got an ice cream at the ice cream parlour.
After about two hours I was ready to head to the other park. I went into "King's Cross Station" and got on the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade. It was really cool to see the train and to be in one of the compartments. There were videos out the "window" and on the other side of the door. It kept you entertained for the few short minutes you were on the ride.
Heading into Hogsmeade was really cool and I liked seeing the little village in real life. The first thing I did was grab a Butterbeer and taste it for the first time.
I walked around the village, took a few pictures, and then walked towards the castle. My first sight of the castle was amazing. I was speechless and almost wanted to cry because it was so cool. I asked the ride attendant if it was possible to go inside the castle without riding the roller coaster. He was very helpful and said that there is something called a castle tour where you can walk through the castle and then leave before getting on the roller coaster. It was actually really nice because I didn't have to wait in line and instead got to go through my own line which had barely anyone else in it and was very uncrowded. I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to take flash pictures in the castle so a lot of my pictures didn't turn out very well. I mostly just tried to enjoy the scenery and take it all in instead of worrying about getting good pictures.
After the castle I went through all of the shops and found a bunch of souvenirs. It didn't take very long, so before I knew it I was back on the train heading to the first park. By that time I was getting hungry so I decided to get some lunch. I also went back through a few shops and grab some souvenirs that I decided I wanted. After that I was pretty much done with the Harry Potter part of the park so I decided to head out.
I wandered through the rest of Universal Studios to get back to the entrance and then caught the shuttle to get back to the hotel. The hotel was really nice about storing my suitcase, letting me check it out to grab my bathing suit, and then checking it back in. I changed into my bathing suit and headed to the pool so I could cool off and relax. I'm not very good at hanging by the pool all day so after about an hour I got up and went to Starbucks for some ice tea. I found a cozy spot to sit and drink my tea while reading my book. After a while a decided it was time for some lunch so I headed to the diner.
After I was done eating I decided that I would call the shuttle company on the off chance that they had a shuttle earlier that I could catch to my hotel by the port. Sure enough they had somebody scheduled in 45 minutes so I grabbed my suitcase, loaded up my car, and drove to the airport. The experience with the shuttle could have gone a lot smoother, but I did eventually get to my hotel which I guess is what matters the most.
I checked into my hotel, went and had dinner in the restaurant, and came back and took a shower. I was in bed by 9:30 with my alarm set for 9:30 the next morning, so I knew I had plenty of time to get a good nights sleep and rest up for the next day.
Up next tomorrow is my smooth embarkation onto Enchantment of the Seas and a bunch of pictures of the ship.
On Saturday I got to the Denver airport early like usual. Security was longer than usual, so it took me about an hour to get to my gate. I ate breakfast at McDonald's and then grabbed a seat in my gate area. After just a little bit of reading it was time to board. I got lucky and grabbed an aisle seat towards the front of the plane and then got even luckier when no one sat in the middle seat!
The flight was smooth and went by quickly because of the movie I watched on my iPad. We landed early and I went to get my suitcase from the baggage claim. Pretty soon I got my suitcase and went to pick up my rental car. The GPS on my phone kept telling me I had to take roll roads to get to my hotel for that night, so I was worried about the drive. Thankfully I had plenty of cash to pay the tolls. I guess having fifty $1 bills in preparation for tips on the cruise ship really paid off!
The Cabana Bay Resort was only 20 minutes away from the Orlando airport, so I got there quickly and checked in. The hotel has a very cool theme to it and was very colorful and bright.
Once I got to my room I decided that I wanted to go to the pool and hang out in the lazy river I could see from my room window. So I got dressed in my bathing suit, went and grabbed some pizza from the diner, and then headed to the pool. I wasn't there very long, but it was a nice way to cool off and relax after a long day of traveling.
When I got back to my room I organize the stuff I would need for my next day at Universal Studios and took a shower. I went to bed fairly early because I was tired, but when I laid down I could not fall asleep. It probably didn't help that my alarm was set for 6am and I knew the longer I laid there the less time I would have to sleep!
Up next tomorrow…a trip to Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (with lots and lots of pictures)!
I am headed to Florida today for my trip to Universal Studios tomorrow and then my 4-day Bahamas cruise! Stay tuned for trip reports when I get back in a week!
It has been exactly one year since my very first blog post on Beside Beth. First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for taking time out of your day to read my posts. It makes my day when I see the total number of page views go up every day! It's amazing to me that I have had over 3,000 views since I started this. It may not seem like a lot compared to other sites that get thousands of views each day, but to me it's much more than I ever expected.
Here are some of my favorite posts from my first year:
Go check them out if you haven't already read them!
Is there something I haven't written about yet that you are interested in? If so, let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to cover it!
As soon as I finished my first cruise this past spring, I knew going on cruises was going to be my vacation of choice. Not only is it an affordable way to visit new places, but the level of care you are given on a cruise ship is hard to match anywhere else. Everywhere you look there is someone to take care of your every need. From a room steward who makes fun towel animals for you each night to a waiter who remembers your name and your drink of choice every evening, you are well taken care of.
I booked my second cruise less than a week after getting off my first cruise. I'll be leaving in less than two weeks and can't wait to share my pictures and experiences with you on this blog when I get back!
I just got an email today that had an article called, "How to Cure Post-Cruise Depression". I didn't even have to read the article because I have already figured out my own personal cure, which is to have another cruise booked before I get back from my next one!
Originally I booked a 5-night cruise for February 2015 on the Liberty of the Seas, which is the first ship I sailed on. But then I kept reading reviews on Cruise Critic that got me thinking about how I might want to check out a bigger class of ship, specifically either Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas or the Oasis of the Seas.
Today I took the plunge and changed my reservation on the 5-night cruise to a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Oasis of the Seas (pictured above). Ever since changing my reservation I have been looking at Google images of the ship and there were so many amazing pictures that I knew I had to share them. I also found a great YouTube video that you can check out if you are interested.
So here are some of the incredible pictures I found of Oasis of the Seas:
Doesn't this ship look amazing? I am so excited that I will have 7 days to explore all she has to offer! I would like to say that this will be my room...
…but seeing as how the Sky Loft Suite with Balcony runs $13k for this cruise, I'll have to settle for an interior instead! I could honestly be sleeping in a broom closet for all I care, I'm just excited to be on this amazing ship!
I am sure that a ship this size can be overwhelming and I probably won't be able to see every single thing there is to see. If you've been on Oasis or Allure and you have some must-see or must-do ideas, please let me know!
First of all, happy Labor Day to everyone! Can you believe it's already September?!
I've been using my day off to check the prices for my cruise, which starts exactly 3 weeks from today. I have been hoping I would be able to upgrade to a Junior Suite for a reasonable price and today I hit the jackpot! Here is the layout for a Junior Suite:
I was lucky enough to be in a Junior Suite on my last cruise and here are my favorite features:
My room is on the very back of the ship and from what I've seen the balconies are even bigger than the usual Junior Suite balconies that are on the side of the ship! Here are two panoramic shots of the balcony above mine:
Here's a layout of deck 7 so you can see my room, cabin 7172, at the very back center of the ship. The only downside is that last time I was right by the elevator and it was very easy to find my room. Now I'm the farthest away from the elevator, but at least it's a good excuse to get in some extra walking!
I really like the look of the bathrooms on the Enchantment of the Seas! I have read on Cruise Critic that the shower curtains are almost too short, so I'm bringing some magnetic clips to weigh down the curtain and also hold it in place.
So that's the tour of my new room. I was already excited about the cruise but now I am even more excited for it to start!
If you have a cruise coming up and would like to upgrade your room, my best advice would be to check the prices every day so that you know exactly when the price drops. The prices change frequently from what I've seen, so you might miss the best price if you're not checking every day.
I think it also helps to know exactly how much extra you are willing to pay for an upgrade. Once you have a set dollar amount in mind it makes it much easier to make a final decision to do the upgrade. Of course a free upgrade is the best, but sometimes it's worth a few extra dollars per night in order to get a better room!
My name is Beth and I live in Denver. I am a single lady in my 30's and wanted to start sharing my awesome and amazing life through a blog.