Well that was a nice little reprieve from the blogosphere – but now I am back! The month of March was an insanely busy one, and while I am glad it passed quickly, I am having a hard time keeping up. This past October I was promoted within my office, but during the transition of the past six months, I have continued to do both my old and new jobs. This has made balancing work and life rather more challenging when your work practically doubles. Thankfully this week should mark the end of the search process for a candidate to fill my former position *finger crossed* at which point I will be able to gladly pass this torch of mine. With that in mind, it’s relieved some of the stress of the piling work, but only marginally. It’s not real until the newest employee of our office signs the paperwork and shows up!
So beyond the incredible work load of the past months, March was incredibly fun and full of great memories. The month started with my first half marathon of the season in chilling temperatures and snow covered trails, and is ending with beautiful, sunny 70 degree days! Of course, living in Colorado, you know there could still easily be snow through May, but for the most part, the weather has made a delightful 180 turnaround for the awesome.
March is the month of Spring Break, and although I work at a university, the employees do not actually have off for the week. My sister and sister-in-law work at the University of Maryland (GO TERPS!), and they both had a week off to enjoy the springtime, so my family decided to plan a trip to Disney World. Needless to say, it is one of my favorite places to escape to, so I was on board all the way. The hubs sat this one out, and I couldn’t stay the whole week with my family, but I did get to spend four amazing days in sunny, hot Orlando (yeah, it’s cheesy but I love it).
This was the first time I had been to Disney with most of my family since 2011,
so it was a fun time. I left for Orlando on Friday, March 13th (I know, I was brave enough to fly on Friday the 13th! EEK!), and met up with my parents and sister at the airport. Thankfully my dad’s 26 years of military service gets him access to the Disney military resort, Shades of Green. We set off, made a few wrong turns on our way from the airport, but finally arrived at the resort in time for a little R ‘n’ R. My folks relaxed in their room while I forced my sister to explore the grounds with me. I knew I would want to get a few runs in while there, so I had to scope it out. Afterwards, we gathered back up and made our way to Downtown Disney for dinner at the Wolfgang Puck Grand Café, shopping, and an impromptu viewing of the new “Cinderella” movie. If you haven’t seen it, it’s truly phenomenal!
The next day, my dad and I went for a run around the Polynesian Resort, which was conveniently located across the street from our resort. The trails and sidewalks weren’t all connected due to some major renovations, but it was otherwise a fun and easy run with my dad. Afterwards, we got a delicious buffet breakfast and headed out to Universal Studios for, what else, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! So, lesson learned, apparently they have broken up the Wizarding World (Hogsmeade and Hogwarts) from Diagon Alley, which means you need a park hopper ticket to enter both. We weren’t aware of this difference, and only realized it when I was trying to find my sorority sister (from Maryland) who also happened to be there the same day. In order to go back and forth, you take the Hogwarts Express, but only with this ticket.
Otherwise, the Hogsmeade and Hogwarts section was awesome. It looked like
it came out of the movie – snow covered, slighly leaning buidlings, wonky little shops, and the castle rising above it all. Universal Studios does make me appreciate Disney World so much more, however, for the organization and attention to detail. Although the park was fun, it was easily crowded and not very well laid out. Once we made our way to Islands of Adventure, we headed through the world of Dr. Seuss (Seuss Landing) and the Lost Continent, until we passed through the gates of Hogsmeade! First on the agenda? Butterbeer, obviously! And it did not disappoint. This caramel, butterscotch concoction was so delicious, refreshing and sweet… I could have had several but limited myself to one.
Afterwards, we decided to check out the Hogwarts castle ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The line was about 45 minutes, although it didn’t take that long. Once we got a locker for our purses (which was kind of a hassle), we meandered through the greenhouses, past potted Mandrakes, and into the castle, complete with interactive paintings, disappearing stairwells, and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. When you arrive in Dumbledore’s office, he is there to greet you with his Pensieve and Fawkes the phoenix. The castle was very well designed, and made the waiting all the more worthwhile. Harry, Ron and Hermione are waiting for you in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and attempt to explain that you will be enchanted so you can fly on a broomstick like witches and wizards. The ultimate goal was a little unclear, but then you make your way into the final passage, past the Singing Lady, and onto the ride.
The ride itself is INCREDIBLE. I don’t say this lightly. It’s a meaningful length and completely transformative. The seats are the kind that strap you in over your head, allowing your feet to dangle. There are 4 people in a row, and then you are off on your flying adventure. The ride takes you through all of the scary, creepy, adventuresome moments in the books/movie. You find yourself amidst a Quidditch game, launched into the forbidden forest surrounded by Aragog and his eight legged friends, being chased by Dementors and dragons, and so much more. You truly feel transported into this magical world – I literally screeched a few times in surprise!
After the ride, we wandered into Honeydukes and purchased some goodies (Fizzing Wizzbees! They exist!), and then took
a gander at the wands available in Hogsmeade. Finally we decided to hop on the Flight of the Hippogriff ride, which was easy and fun. The life-size Buckbeak was really cool, nestled in his nest, occasionally peaking up to see what was going on. All-in-all, it was so much fun.
It was a pretty toasty day, so we decided not to wait for the Dueling Dragons ride, and instead, in honor of my mama’s birthday, took her to Margaritaville for a few margs in the air conditioning. I am admittedly not a huge Jimmy Buffet fan, but the margaritas at this place are awesome. They don’t skimp, and they’re delicious. Ironically, one of my sorority sisters and darling dear friends was also on a family vacay and happened to be at Universal that day! They had spent much of the earlier part of the day in Diagon Alley so I couldn’t get over to see them, but after sipping our margaritas, she had popped over to the Islands of Adventure side of the park. I went back in the park long enough to give her a big hug, snap a few photos (she was adorably adorned in HP gear), and quickly catch up. Afterwards, we headed back to the resort to meet up with my brother and his wife, who had just arrived, and get a yummy birthday dinner for my mama.
Be honest, how much am I missing from Diagon Alley? Anyone else just love Harry Potter World? It’s okay to still act like I am 8 years old as an adult, right?