When I was a kid and would ask my Mom & Dad if we could go to Disney World, the standard answer was “Maybe when you’re older.” It only took 34 years, but we’re finally here!
The main attraction these days is not Disney (at least for my kids) but Harry Potter World at Universal Studios. We’re staying in one of the hotels at Universal in order to have the most access to all things Harry Potter, but will be spending two days at the Disney parks as well. For Disney we chose the park hopper ticket option, since our time is limited. 3 tickets for 2 days in the Disney parks cost more than 3 round trip, non-stop plane tickets. You know the most amazing thing about that? I know many, many people who have spent vacations at Disney – often as a regular destination, and not one person has ever mentioned the rather…exorbitant cost of tickets. Which can only mean it is worth it. At least I certainly hope so!
It’s probably not possible to get any more ‘pop culture-ish’ than this place, and it took less than an hour for my kids and I to decide that although we know we will enjoy Hogwarts and all the rides, the rest of it is a bit….much. We are so glad we are staying at the Portofino hotel, which I think is the most subdued of the three on site resorts. (Although we did discover that the knob on the bathroom wall that we thought controlled a heat lamp instead pipes the audio from the TV into the bathroom. Because god forbid you miss any of the commercials or even a second of George Lopez while going to the bathroom or taking a shower!)
Shortly after arriving this afternoon we got on the water taxi at our hotel and rode over to Citywalk, which is where we were told we would find restaurants and shopping. I kid you not, when the boat docked you could smell the fried food in the air.
Front and center is the Nascar themed restaurant, which really tells you all you need to know, but in case you still aren’t sure, there is also Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant and of course, the Hard Rock Cafe. From a distance I saw a place called Fresh Produce, only to find out it was a clothing store. Silly me! We chose to eat at a place called the Latin Quarter. I ordered the Mahi Mahi, which I had to look hard to find under an ocean of red sauce and which came with about a pound of rice. Not to mention a fried plantain.
But the service was great. In fact so far, everyone everywhere has been friendly and helpful. When we checked in to the hotel and I requested a rollaway bed for Ben, they instead upgraded us to a larger harbor view room with a sofabed.
After dinner we found that all the t-shirt kiosks, at which Ben had spotted potential purchases, were closed. That and the fact that everywhere we walked, music was blaring so loud from speakers hanging overhead and spaced every ten yards or so that we couldn’t hear ourselves talk, (this was outside, mind you) had us on the water taxi back to the hotel as soon as possible.
But then we went swimming! Ok, it is seriously cool to go night swimming in a pool with a waterslide. We had such a good time, and will make that a nightly activity while we’re here.
I’m sure Universal Studios & Disney are the kinds of places that contribute to the whole ‘pop culture’ bias held by many in our fringe community, and I admit that there is a lot here to criticize in that regard. But I know that tomorrow morning as we are walking up to the 3 Broomsticks cafe for breakfast and some frozen butterbeer, we are going to forget the scent of fried food, the loud AC/DC music and the overpriced souvenirs. We’ll focus on what we came here for – Harry Potter and amazing rides you can’t find anywhere else. A part of pop culture we enjoy.