Around the World in One Day: Disney World and Universal Studios

My mind is still in summer because I cannot get over the fact that I went on an amazing trip with some amazing friends back in September of 2018!

At the end of September, I was blessed to be able to take a trip with a few of my closest friends to Disney World AND Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. I cannot, literally cannot, express enough how thankful I am to have gone on this trip.

Here’s a visual diary of the trip! Photos are taken by either Jessica Bustamante or myself. Enjoy!

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This is the hotel we stayed out. Amazing isn’t it? It’s called the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, part of Universal Studios Orlando’s string of hotels that it owns. I love the retro, 50’s/60’s vibe throughout the whole location. The architecture and design of everything was impeccable: the colors, the themes, even the amenities such as this lawn where we found hula hoops and outdoor lounge areas. When we weren’t in the parks, we spent our time floating around in their lazy river or heading to the gym. 

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I loved Disney Springs. This place is kind of like California’s equivalent to Downtown Disney, except a lot bigger. There are more high end shops here as well as some amazing places to dine. It basically felt like a large, aesthetically pleasing, outdoor mall with a lot of water.

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Disney Springs

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Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs – This was our first dinner spot. I was still on my diet at the time and trying to save as much money as possible, so I ended up ordering a poke salad. I have more photos of the interior, but the main point is I COULD NOT GET OVER THE ARCHITECTURE. There was a bar on the second floor, and if you followed the table top, it actually turns into a whole sculpture winding its way down to the first floor and turns into the receiving desk. It really brought the whole building together and created a sense of unity. So beautiful.

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This was not part of the original-original plan. However as we got closer to the actual trip, surprise-surprise we got tickets for Universal Studios Orlando!!! It has been so long since I even visited the one back in California. I was really looking forward to this part of the trip because the “lands” are so different and the rides are so different. I think one of my favorites (other than Harry Potter World that’s a whole different animal) was riding the Rip Ride Rockit Coaster where you get to pick a song of your own and it plays while you ride the coaster. The other favorite of mine was riding the Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon ride. Before you go on the ride, there’s an opportunity for a mini show. 10/10 recommend!!!
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Fun fact: My parent’s first date together was at Universal Studios Hollywood. Universal Studios in general isn’t my *favorite* theme park, but it does hold a special place in my heart. On my parent’s 20th wedding anniversary, I surprised them with tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood to re-live their first date. When I saw the globe in Orlando, I knew I had to take a photo. The plan now is to send them to Orlando for their 25th or even 30th wedding anniversary. 

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ALRIGHT this was hands down THE best part of the Universal Studios Orlando. HARRY POTTER FRICKEN WORLD!!! This was…*breathes*…THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I HAVE EVER SEEN (other than Disneyland of course). I was head over heels in love with every part of the experience to go to Hogwarts and Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Harry Potter World is split into two parts. You have the King’s Cross station that goes into Diagon Alley, then to get to Hogsmeade you have to take THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS!!! HOW FRICKEN COOL. And the train?! Let me tell you about the train. You sit in the compartment, and everything around you (via screens) is just so… it was so crazy. Because there were dementors, and then centaurs, and then the characters outside the door, and I was just, I was having a heart attack it was so cool. I was just in awe the whole way. And of course, I had my first butter beer out here so that topped it all off!

 

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These are my travel buddies and some of my closest friends!!! From left to right, it’s JD, Bryan, me, and then Jessica. On the bottom photo, you see the beautiful amazing wonderful human in the black shirt? Yeah that’s Megan, aka mom aka queen aka THE BEST TOUR GUIDE AND UBER DRIVER EVER. She was our guide the entire trip and it was so much fun getting to know her. I will be honest though, when I first met her back at JD’s dinner party, I was intimidated by her. She’s so confident and beautiful and me, being the chicken ambivert I am, was hella shy. However, getting to know her more during this trip made me really appreciate her as a person. So Megan, if you’re reading this, COME TO CALIFORNIA ALREADY.

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ANNNND HERE IT IS FOLKS. DISNEY FRICKEN WORLD. So because we were only in Orlando for the weekend essentially, we only had time to visit two parks at Disney World. Therefore, we chose Magic Kingdom and Epcot! I am so eternally grateful for my friends and the opportunity to experience this with them. 
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BASIC CASTLE PHOTO BUT NOW I CAN OFFICIALLY SAY I’VE VISITED THREE DISNEY CASTLES. (Paris, Anaheim, Orlando) Now the thing with Magic Kingdom is that it essentially is very similar to Disneyland in California. However two differences that I experienced were Liberty Square where there are no bathrooms and Fantasy Land where everything is prettier and there are more things to do. 
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Look how cute we are!!!
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Alright, if you know me (well now you know and you can’t say you did not know) I LOOOOVE Disney Princesses. My top three favorite Disney Princesses in order are Tiana, Rapunzel, and Mulan. I did meet other princesses while I was at Disney World, but YO. You best bet I was hella fan-girling when I saw Tiana and Rapunzel IN THE SAME FRICKEN ROOM. I had a mini heart attack basically. These princesses are all about chasing after your dreams, doing the impossible, and hard work. I love them so much. They’re so great.

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EPCOT! We came at just the right time because the International Food & Wine Festival was happening! Pretty much throughout the entire park, there were little kiosks/stands that had specialty foods and *drinks* to purchase from each different country. Guess who had a field day?
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This was honestly the beginning of the end. I have a thread on Twitter on how many drinks I bought for myself and let me tell you: not spending so much at Morimoto’s was the best decision of my life. If I remember correctly, I had about 7 or 9 drinks? I don’t remember. I still had the best time going around Epcot getting/being lit and eating really good food. No regrets.

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Fun fact: Before we took this photo, I didn’t even know Mulan was there. JD was the one who pointed her out. Keep in mind, I was pretty lit, so I was like breathing heavily because omg SHE IS SO PRETTY. Before we could even approach her, I had to maintain my composure and remember to breath. She was pretty hidden too. As you can see, we’re on a bridge kind of thing with some bamboo, and when we approached her there was no line. I have so many pictures with princesses it’s the best. Side note, I even got a photo with Belle in Magic Kingdom! And that is a rare opportunity indeed 🙂

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On our last day before our flight, we visited Disney Springs again and went around to the resorts for Disney World. My heart stopped. They. Were. So. BEAUTIFUL. If you didn’t figure it out by now, I’m a huge architecture geek (I mean I grew up with architecture parents but that’s beside the point). Each hotel had their own theme and lemme tell you: DISNEY YOU DO NOT DISAPPOINT!!!! Polynesian Village, the Contemporary Resort, and the Grand Floridian all were AMAZING!!! They are all connected by a Monorail and are connected to the parks as well. Guests who are staying at these resorts have easy, convenient transportation to and from the parks and to each resort to just bask in their glory. I wish I got to visit the Grand Floridian’s wedding pavilion, but there was a ceremony going on. One cool thing about the resorts and the wedding pavilion is that on the path connecting the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian, there are stones with the names of couples who got married there. HOW. COOL. IS. THAT?! Well considering the amount of money you spend just to have a wedding there, you better get a personalized engraved stone that will stand the test of time. 

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Yes we all have matching jackets. My brother has one too but you know, this is Florida crew. Spending over 72 hours with these individuals has been nothing but amazing. During this trip, I really wanted to get away from California because I was so stressed back home. Being with them helped me sort through all my worries and remind myself that I need to live in the moment and really appreciate what is in front of me. You can’t do much with the past, or the future, but you can do so much with the present. 

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