3 theme parks + 1 rocket launch in Orlando, Florida

Hey friends! I’m currently writing from Orlando, Florida, where Joe and I spent the last 2 weeks. We are LOVING Florida and its hot and steamy climate, which is perfect for our RV road trip as we’re approaching winter. After boon-docking in scenic Pensacola, we headed towards central Florida and had a complete 180 in Orlando, where we’ve enjoyed amenities, stimulating entertainment, and metropolitan life each day. I have two whole weeks to cover, so grab your snacks and water for this one!

Our main source of fun was visiting the theme parks in Orlando. In our 2 weeks here, we spent a total of 5 days visiting 3 different parks. The first was Universal Studio’s Island of Adventure, where we spent 2 days. The rides here were my favorite, as there were more thrill rides at this park. Joe and I visited Six Flags together recently, and boy was this a completely different experience! Universal Studios was WAY nicer — efficient lines, cheaper food, and nostalgic-themed sets…it exceeded my expectations!

Our favorite part of Island of Adventure was the Jurassic Park section. Joe and I love the Jurassic Park franchise, and we ended up spending the most time here. Our favorite ride was the Velocicoaster. πŸ™‚

Did I mention how much I loved the lines? Time flew by as there was constant entertainment while we whizzed through the lines. Genius.

We also loved the Jurassic Park river ride. We rode this one several times!

We may have gotten drenched on it…

The Harry Potter World was also neat. Joe and I aren’t big Harry Potter fans (I know…we’re bad millennials), but the sets were super cool — we could really feel the “magic.”

For our second park, we spent another 2 days at Universal Studios (separate from Universal’s Island of Adventure). Overall, Universal Studios had less exciting rides, but an overall nicer environment – we enjoyed walking around and admiring all the different cities — from NYC, to San Francisco, to Hollywood, to London! The “old me” would have gone on ride-after-ride at these parks, but now I certainly enjoy taking it slow and doing non-thrill activities…my body certainly needed it. πŸ˜›

We loved the San Francisco section — they got the details just right!

My favorite was the Jimmy Fallon ride. It took place in a replica of the 30 Rockefeller Plaza building, where the Tonight Show is filmed — I actually used to work in this building during my NYC days…they got everything just right!

The animal show was super cute.

After 4 days at the Universal Studio parks, we had some extra energy and wanted to see Disney World, so we added one extra day to our itinerary at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The last time I was here…circa 1999. It’s amazing how old some of these rides are.

We had a marathon day here — a total of 12 hours. Our favorite section was Star Wars. The Rise of the Resistance ride was my favorite ride out of all 3 parks.

The best part of our day at Disney was the night-time fireworks show which was very impressive.

Despite the fun we had, overall, I felt like Disney World was kind of overrated and Universal Studios was a better experience. The overwhelming memories I have of Disney were the insane crowds and the soul-crushing lines. We waited 1.5-2.5 hours for each ride at Disney, versus 30-45 minutes at Universal. I also felt like the sets at Disney were outdated and Universal had a more modern, “magical” feel. If you are deciding between the two, I 100% recommend Universal Studios!! They are an underdog but so worth it.

Other than the theme parks, Joe and I had a special activity one day…a rocket launch! Joe is the biggest space buff, and it was on his bucket list to see a live rocket launch. We decided to spend a good chunk of our trip in Central Florida near the Kennedy Space Center, where we could be on standby for their rocket launch schedule (which can be unpredictable). Fortunately, we found out that SpaceX was launching the Falcon Heavy rocket one day, and so we headed to the space center to watch it. πŸ™‚

We woke up at 3:30am to drive to Kennedy Space Center and camp out on the lawn — about 4 miles from the launch pad (which was the closest spot to safely watch the rocket launch). It was a lot of effort, but it all felt like part of the experience as we joined the other space nerds there.

We watched the beautiful sunrise. The rocket launched just over the river.

The actual launch left us with mixed feelings. Sadly, the fog was thick so we couldn’t actually see the rocket take off. But the loud rocket sounds and rumbling feel were pretty extraordinary. Overall, I was happy to have this experience and share Joe’s bucket list item together. ❀

Outside of our activities, we enjoyed plenty of downtime at our RV park: Lake Magic RV Resort. The park itself was super nice — spacious, right next to a lake, hot tub, and pool. We enjoyed a more upscale RV experience and all the amenities that came with it.

Another update – we got a charcoal grill! This has been on Joe’s list for a while now, and we finally took the plunge. Our kitchen in the trailer is pretty small, so it’s been nice to extend the cooking outside. We also realized that indoor-outdoor living is the true magic of RV life. πŸ™‚ We are very happy with this purchase and have spent several meals perfecting the art of charcoal grilling.

On a different note, I’ve started meditating. I’ve always been intrigued by the concept but had many failed attempts to consistently meditate. Having this free time and relaxing space over the last month has inspired me to start meditating again as well as read up on it, and for the first time, I feel like meditation finally “clicked” for me.

Over the past month, I noticed a shift in my attitude — I tend to spend a lot of energy worrying and planning for the future (seriously, you would laugh if I told you the things I worry about), but I feel like meditating has helped lower my anxiety and be more present. Meditating in the evenings before bed has been most helpful for me, as that’s when I tend to spiral in thoughts.

One book that helped was You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. I’ve read a few of his books, and I love his compassionate, simple way of explaining meditation and making it feel approachable. My other favorite of his is Peace in Every Step.

We were originally planning to head to Florida’s east coast next, but we found out there is a hurricane coming! To be on the safe side, we extended our stay in Orlando until the storm passes. As first-time RV-ers, Joe and I had some anxiety about this, but we got some preparation advice from others at the RV park who helped give us peace of mind. Things will be quiet here the next few days, but we’re hoping to make it to the east coast by the end of the week. πŸ™‚

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