Welcome back and so sorry for the delay in sharing the latest update on my adventures! Its been a busy 2 weeks. Between work and my adventures, I am just now getting the chance to settle in and up date you on the latest and greatest. While I have been blog absent, I haven’t been adventure-absent! I know you all were worrying about my ability to commit! My cousin called me on my lapse; which I greatly appreciated and needed! But, you will be glad to know, I have kept up with my adventures … 5 weeks into the year and 5 adventures down! You will learn about my 5th adventure next week, but for now I will update you on adventure #4.
Adventure #4 (and really work) took me to Orlando. While there, I was sure to make the most of my time! I was privileged to have the chance to attend the Disney Institute – a program run by Disney to share insights into how they have created a best-in-class culture, leadership strategy, and service experience. It was a fascinating program and I learned a ton in a really short amount of time. The conference sent me back to work renewed and inspired to implement numerous cultural and leadership strategies.
While at the Institute, each day was crammed with learning, site visits, and applicable exercises to reinforce the principles. Then at the end of the day, unlike many of my co-workers, I headed into the parks and spent my free time wandering around, indulging my inner child and not so inner foodie!
While in Orlando, I visited the Magic Kingdom… and rode all the rides I could. I was that random old person in line to ride the tea cups, the only adult without a kid in tow. And the flying dumbos. And the haunted mansion. : ) Really everything I could cram into my evening!
I also spent some time Epcot for the food and wine fest. The festival was packed with people, delicious food, and tasty beverages. Over the course of a few hours, I walks 10K+ steps, had some champagne, and sampled food from Japan, Spain, Morocco, and Italy … not sure where else in the world that could happen! While there, I also rode a few rides and my favorite was definitely Soarin’ … a hang-glide simulation that took you all over the world. The ride is enhanced by added smells to align with where you are in the worl. It really took the experience of the ride to the next level!
I loved my time at Disney and having the chance to learn from the tops in the service experience world! After Disney, I met my friend Christina and we totally geeked out and fan-girl’ed at Harry Potter world in Universal Studios. We spent the weekend riding rides and logging miles across the park. A unique and fabulous girls weekend!
The best part of the weekend was the Harry Potter section of the parks. I was amazed at the world they were able to recreate, tranportting us to Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, and at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. IT. WAS. AMAZING.
The rides were great and even the train (the Hogwarts Express!!!!) that took us between the 2 sides of the park. I would imagine most are aware (I cannot imagine anyone not being aware .. can you?!?!), but the magical world of Harry Potter spans the 2 main Universal Parks – Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.
I was a little surprised that there were not more rides in the Harry Potter sections of the parks; there were really only 2 rides plus the train. Only 2 rides. I simply cannot understand why there are not more rides! Why they did not capitalize more on the legacy that is Harry Potter. Don’t get me wrong it was a magical experience, and with the shows, setting, stores, and interactive wand opportunities you really did feel as if you had been magical transported into the books and movies.
At the recommendation of random folks we met in line for one of the rides, we treated ourselves to frozen butter beer, which I will admit was DELICIOUS! A little on the sugary side, but mighty tasty.
The rest of the parks were a blast. We walked our feet off and rode our hearts out on all of the rides. The Mummy, Kong, and the canyon ride (I cannot recall the exact name) were all fabulous! Be warned on the canyon ride … you will get completely and utterly drenched. I am 100% serious. Socks to shirts to unmentionables. Nothing will be left dry!It was a fun ride, but we were not prepared!
Universal’s has a new water park, Volcano Bay, that opened this year, and it is definitely worth a visit. They had tons of attractions – slides, lazy rivers, wave pools; but my favorite, by far was their water coaster. This probably doesn’t suprise some you given my love of the water coasters at Holiday World! We spent about 7 hours in the park and hit every ride, except for the vertical drop slide. On the drop slide, the floor literally falls out from underneath you and you fall 125 feet at a 70 degree angle in about 2 seconds 2 seconds. We skipped this ride for 2 reasons – 1 total fear at the idea of the slide, and 2 the insanely long line. Ceck out a vide of the ride here. My official story is that i didn’t ride because of the lines…
So, I am 4 weeks into my adventures and am so glad that I decided to do this! But I am also beginning to wonder what on earth I signed myself up for. How on earth will i be able to come up with and execute on 52 ideas?! Its becoming slightly logistically overwhelming…
I would appreciate any and all suggestions for adventures!