In case you haven’t noticed the full theme of The Wandering Toucan these days, it’s split into three: Past, Present, & Future. The past is quite obviously for places that I visited some time ago, and reviewing all the nuances there. The present is for places that I’m currently exploring, like my last post about the Everglades was present because I had just been there a few days prior. I think most of my posts from now on will be present because there’s so much more to say, so many new and fresh emotions to document when you’re currently experiencing a location.
But future is unique because of the dilemma it set me with. Future was obviously about places that I’ll be seeing in the future, but did I want to just make it a wish list of places I had never been to? My only real issues with that are:
- I wouldn’t have much insight to share about the location if I’ve never been there
- I’d have to use other people’s pictures, or Google Images, and that feels…wrong
So I decided against making future a wish list of places I hope to visit one day, and instead opt for making the Future Series all about places that I will revisit one day, and, after having experienced it, what I would do differently the next time I went and why I would go back at all. Which brings me to the gift that just keeps giving: Orlando, FL.
The newly re-opened Incredible Hulk roller coaster. This is about half of the ride itself.
More specifically, I want to talk about Islands of Adventure, my favorite theme park in the world. The list of theme parks I’ve been to: Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Busch Gardens, Disneyland, Dollywood, and Disney World in Japan. So I haven’t been to a million, but I’ve been to enough to know what’s good and not good in these places, and for my money, Islands of Adventure does the best job at being fun and exciting.
As a matter of fact, it does such a good job at putting a smile on my face that I have an annual pass to that park and Universal Studios (free parking!!) because I go back so often. Now, when you live in Florida, you know that your two destinations are Miami Beach and Orlando. Obviously, since I live in Miami, I don’t actually consider Miami Beach a destination, but Orlando is just a 3 hour drive away, which means any time I have a long weekend, and there are no extraneous plans, it’s time to head to the theme park capital of the world. How many times have I been in Orlando? I’ve absolutely lost count, but if I had to guess, over the course of my 24 years of life it’s been anywhere between 75 to 150 times that I’ve revisited this place.
Filming a video for my vlog here in Islands of Adventure. Back when I had no idea what I was doing. I still have no idea what I’m doing.
So what makes Orlando so special? Specifically, what makes Islands of Adventure so special? For me, it’s 3 big things:
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
First and foremost, there is probably nothing better in all of Orlando than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s one of the most well done thematic places that has ever come to fruition. Stepping into the Wizarding World very literally feels as though you’re walking onto the set of any of the Harry Potter movies. Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade both feel like real, bustling cities. If you grew up reading the Harry Potter books and watching every single movie like I did (twice) then this is just a surreal experience to be a part of. Something fictional coming and invading the real world is absolutely insane. and it’s probably worth the price of admission all on its own.
Oh and the butterbeer, don’t even get me started on that stuff. That stuff is literally crack. It causes addiction. If they sold that stuff outside of Islands of Adventure, I swear I’d have a problem.
The immersive experience at the Harry Potter themed area is a must-do for any visitor to Orlando
2. Candy candy candy
Want to know how to make a Wandering Toucan happy? Give him candy. Candy is his absolute favorite thing in the universe, and a staple of his diet (and consequently, a big reason he now needs to lose about 15 lbs). And guess what there is in Islands of Adventure? LOTS and LOTS of candy. Like 5 candy stores and like 25 locations that sell some type of sweet. And if you’re a gummy fanatic as I am, then you’ll find that some of the best sour gummies on the planet exist in the candy shop inside of Seuss Landing.
3. Fun for everyone, no matter what
Sure, not everyone is old enough to ride a roller coaster, and maybe you’re not even a roller coaster person, but there is still a ton to see and do at Islands of Adventure to quench your thirst for fun! My mom, just as an example, is the biggest scaredy cat there ever was. She’s afraid of her own shadow. So she would never ever ride the Incredible Hulk ride, let alone the dozens of other rides around the park, but she still has fun! Why? Because Seuss Landing, a place modeled after the illustrations and stories of Dr. Seuss exists and isn’t scary at all!
And that’s not it! There’s a mechanical dinosaur you can meet in Jurassic Park, a playground for kids, Toon Land, water rides that just get you soaked….the list goes on and on, but Islands is truly fun for the whole family.
The entrance to Seuss Landing with a cloudy night incoming in the background
Truly, Islands of Adventure is worth it for anyone who wants to have some fun.
I’m definitely excited to be heading back this weekend!
-The Wandering Toucan