Adventure Time: Outer Banks, NC Edition (First Wedding Anniversary Getaway!)

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Our original plan was getting away to the mountains of Virginia for our first wedding anniversary.

However, with a mid-November wedding, we didn’t realize how expensive the accommodations were at this time of year!

So, we switched to Plan B: The beach!


The Outer Banks of North Carolina are basically a 90-minute drive from our house. We’ve been through Corolla, Nags Head, and Bodie Island on previous trips.

Al hadn’t been farther south than that.

We decided on Hatteras.

It was a three-hour car ride, but it was well worth it.

We found a really nice place, the Cape Hatteras Motel, in Buxton.ย It’s right on the beach. It was literally half the cost of any place in the mountains, mainly because it was the off-season.


One of our first stops was the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse! It was just a few miles from the motel.

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The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. We couldn’t climb it – Their season runs through Columbus Day – but we could walk around and enjoy the park.

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I love these wooden signs.

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I love how it’s in the shape of an arrowhead.

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I think this was my favorite photo of the whole trip!


The next day, we drove down to Hatteras Island and explored the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. It explores the rich history of the area – Fishing, diving, shipwrecks, the USS Monitor, and its role in the Civil War and other events.

The museum is right next to the Hatteras ferry terminal, so we decided to take the ferry across the sound to Ocracoke Island on Sunday.

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We passed this ferry on the way to Ocracoke.

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I love how all the wooden signs are different.

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It’s one of the smaller lighthouses, and no one can climb it. But, it’s still a beautiful sight.

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Ocracoke is a charming island. We ate lunch at the Ocracoke Oyster Company, and had delicious seafood. The next time we travel down, we’d like to check out some more of the islands and lighthouses.

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The view from our hotel balcony during sunset and the full moon.

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This was taken the night of the supermoon. It was huge as it was rising, but this was the best I could do with my camera.

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This was such a relaxing vacation!


We tried several local restaurants during our trip, and everything was delicious!


Al is also creating a video about our trip! I’ll post it as soon as it’s finished.

We had a great time on our first vacation since our honeymoon.

Next year: We’re thinking about the Grand Canyon!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Adventure Time: Virginia Beach, VA Edition (The Magical Music of Harry Potter)

Al bought these tickets on September 12th.

On Saturday, October 29th, the wait was finally over!

The performance was at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra always puts on a good show!


Before the show, Al and I went to dinner at Bahama Breeze Island Grille, which is across the street from Town Center. It was my first time eating there, and it was delicious! We splurged on the Firecracker Shrimp appetizer, and Al had a Lemon Breeze – Very tangy lemonade.

I ate the Jerk Chicken Pasta – Yummy! It was a perfect dish for me – Bowtie pasta; perfectly seasoned, thinly sliced jerk chicken; asparagus; mushrooms; and a Parmesan cream sauce.

Al had the Calypso Shrimp Pasta – Linguine, spicy shrimp, tomatoes, peppers, onions. We both had our plates topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, after dining on Caesar salads.

We will definitely be back – We had no room for dessert!


Then, on to the show! I proudly wore my “Just A Wizard Girl” T-shirt from my awesome Little, and my new Gryffindor socks! Al and I went to a Halloween party last weekend with our Gryffindor ties and wands!

We had Orchestra seats, about six rows from the stage. It was awesome!

The orchestra was conducted by Benjamin Rous, who seamlessly inserts himself into every performance. We’ve seen several performances conducted by him (The Music of John Williams, Looney Tunes, etc.), and he is so animated and lively. He also takes the time to explain certain aspects of the music – Recurring themes, how notes are put together, and showcasing different parts of the orchestra.

Each of the eight films were showcased, and Rous lauded each composer with high praise. We know John Williams is a genius, but Nicholas Hooper, Alexandre Desplat, and Patrick Doyle are just as amazing.

Rous quoted Desplat, saying that them man considered his score a success if he even attempted to honor John Williams.


Here’s the rundown of the show. I’ve posted a few links to the music so you can hear a bit of what we did. It was awesome!

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

  • “Harry and Hermione”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone

  • “Nimbus 2000”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • “Double Trouble” (featuring the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus)

– Intermission –

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • “The Chamber of Secrets”

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone

Encore!

  • “Aunt Marge’s Waltz”

It was awesome to see a few fellow Harry Potter nerds at the show – Shelby and her husband, Jake, and Kristi and Tiana!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Adventure Time: Scottsburg, VA Edition (Round 5)

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Image Credit: pinterest.com

Every September, Al’s mom’s family has their annual family reunion in Keysville, Virginia. Conveniently, Keysville is only about 45 minutes from the Vardaro farm in Scottsburg!

Al and I took Friday, September 16th off from work, and drove the truck up to the farm. We left around 8:00 a.m., and stopped at the Hardee’s in Emporia, Virginia, which is roughly the halfway point. The typical drive from Hampton Roads to Scottsburg is about three hours. It’s a nice, relaxing drive. You basically take Route 58 West all the way there. When you reach South Boston, you turn on to Route 360. Once there, it’s only about 15 more minutes.

We spent Friday with Mom and Dad at the farm. Lunch was delicious. We explored the farm, saw Scooter the horse, and fished!

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Scooter’s so pretty!

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The cows next door were out and about!

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Scooter was very interested in Al’s camera!

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I will never get sick of this view. Absolutely gorgeous!

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Al caught a 14 1/2 inch bass!

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There was a harvest moon rising. I thought this photo I took was pretty cool – The power line is slicing the moon in half!


I got up early on Saturday and went out to fish with Mom.

I FINALLY CAUGHT MY BIG BASS!!

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Fifteen inches!

I was able to avenge the bass that took the best fishing lure on Memorial Day weekend. I was so excited!

Saturday was also the day of the reunion. We left the farm around 10:15 a.m. to get there at 11:00. Uncle Bill and Aunt Susan live in Keysville, and they always reserve the fellowship hall of the United Methodist Church. It’s always a good time!

This year, there were about 25 people, which was larger than the last few years. It was smorgasbord of food!

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The food was on two 8-foot tables. Sixteen feet full of goodness!

We also celebrated Uncle Joe’s birthday. Mom Vardaro is one of four kids – Joe’s the baby. Brenda brought a cake, and we all sang Happy Birthday. Then, great-uncle Herbert presented Joe with a gorgeous, solid gold pocket watch that has been in the Chambers family for nearly a century. It was a nice presentation, and several people shed tears. Joe promised to keep it in the family as long as possible.

After the reunion, we drove home and relaxed. Almost everyone took a nap!

Around sunset, we moseyed out again. We built a fire and enjoyed s’mores!

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The skies are always beautiful!

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The “guard donkey” that keeps an eye out on the cows. There were baby calves this time!

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Scooter was posing!

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I caught another one! It was so exciting!

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Campfire!

It was a wonderful weekend. It’s a nice escape that’s only a few hours away!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Adventure Time: Scottsburg, VA Edition (Round 4 – Memorial Day Weekend 2016)

Etsy

Image Credit: http://www.etsy.com

I need to get better about posting these adventures sooner!


For Memorial Day weekend, a good portion of the Vardaro family gathered at the farm in Scottsburg, Virginia:

  • Mom and Dad V.
  • Al and Laura Beth
  • The “Bengdaros” – Nick and Savy
  • Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Dan – Dad’s sister and brother-in-law

We also had an awesome guest:


During the weekend, we enjoyed fishing on the pontoon boat, amazing food, great conversation, and we even ventured out to the World of Sports – Cinema I & II in South Boston to see X-Men: Apocalypse!


Photo montage!

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Picture perfect – The pond, the pontoon boat, and the tractor, at sunset.

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Just gorgeous.

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Campfire, with s’mores!


We also got to see the progress on Dad’s garage!

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The front. Almost finished!

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It looks like stairs to a treehouse!

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It really feels like you are in the trees!

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This is the second story – Dad’s future “Man Cave.”

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Al on solid ground, flying his DJI Phantom 4 quadcopter.


Fishing

My first fish, in a long time! This is a brim. Photo Credit: Nick Vardaro

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Mom and Dad showing off the big bass! I think this was the one Al caught. Photo Credit: Nick Vardaro


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Adventure Time: Norfolk, VA Edition (Round 2 – Lantern Asia Exhibit)

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Perfect slogan. It truly was art and magic.

Back in April, Al and I wanted to check out LanternAsia at the Norfolk Botanical Garden for ourselves. We had heard rave reviews and seen the advertisements everywhere. It was the first exhibition of its kind to come to Norfolk and the Garden – and it was completely worth it! It was so popular that it was decided that the exhibit would be extended for an extra week, in time for Mother’s Day. By that week, nearly 90,000 visitors had come to see the mix of art and magic.

We journeyed out to the Garden around 4:00 p.m. on an unseasonably chilly April afternoon. I’m glad we bought our tickets online. It wasn’t packed, but we knew it would be by nightfall.


Art by day.

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Hanging flowers over the first footbridge.

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One of my favorite pieces. This was constructed entirely of china/porcelain bowls, spoons, plates, cups, and saucers – All held together by fishing line and wires. Amazing!

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Fabric on top, and thousands of glasses with colored water on the bottom. Incredible!

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The magnificent dragon.

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Moons and stars.

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During our visit, this was one of the few roses in bloom in their amazing Bicentennial Rose Garden.

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Fabulous archways at the end of the tour.


Magic by night.

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Taj Mahal.

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The dragon.

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A fan ablaze in flowers and light.

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Japan Fuji Mountain.

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The moon and stars light up the night.

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Amazing display towards the end of the tour. The archways are in the background.

I was in awe. I’m so glad we saw the exhibit during the day and at night. It was such a festive atmosphere. Traditional music played throughout, and different countries in Asia were represented. The information platforms were great.

I’ll have these, and the rest of my photos, in a Facebook album later today. It was an amazing experience!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Adventure Time: Hampton Roads Edition (Katie and the Sleepover, Round 2)

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Image Credit: youtube.com

” … Everywhere you look, everywhere you go

There’s a heart (There’s a heart), a hand to hold onto.

When you’re lost out there and you’re all alone,

A light is waiting to carry you home … ”

~Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay


This all started with an announcement, way back in April 2015:

Full House Revival Fuller House Headed to Netflix in 2016!

… Say what?!


Disclaimer: I’m a big believer in zero spoilers for at least a week after a movie/TV show premieres. This is a spoiler-free zone!


FINALLY … Almost a YEAR later … The day arrived – February 26th!!

My workday was ridiculously slow. This always happens when there’s excitement in the air!

Katie agreed to arrive at 7:00 p.m. It worked out perfectly – Dinner was ready!

Reminiscent of our Star Wars: TFA weekend in December, the menu was spaghetti and sauce, garlic bread, and salad! Katie also brought dessert – Princess cupcakes!

Al headed upstairs to his computer, and Katie and I proceeded to plow through the first SIX episodes! It was awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

We stayed up until 11:00 p.m. – A record for me!


Katie was the first to get up on Saturday morning, to get a shower.

We then proceeded to have the breakfast of champions: French toast sticks, scrambled eggs with cheese, and coffee!


After breakfast, Katie and I went to Leigh Allyn Jewelers in Western Branch to pick up the peridot combination ring that I ordered on Valentine’s Day.

The big event for this weekend was another trip to LUSH Handmade Cosmetics in MacArthur Mall. We both stocked up on bath bombs, bubble bars, and a few other things!

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We loaded up! Photo Credit: Katie Uyak.

One thing that we didn’t get to do with Heaven in December was the Color IQ test at Sephora. It was great! They took three photos with this nifty hand-held camera, one at the forehead, one at the cheek area, and then one at the neck, and that helps formulate your IQ.

Katie has a red undertone, and I have a yellow undertone. The really nice girl helping us showed us different foundations, lip colors, and concealers! We also signed up for Sephora’s Beauty Insider program.


After the mall, we went to see my dad at NOAA.

It was his last weekend, he is now officially RETIRED!

He gave us a quick tour of the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.

I drove the “Classic” wagon to Mom and Dad’s and we said hi to Mom. They just bought a replacement for the old girl … Sadface!


Then Katie and I picked up Al and we took Katie to Zaxby’s for the first time!

We got to episode 9 of Fuller House before Katie had to leave!

After Katie left, Al and I watched the rest of the episodes!ย I officially became a binge-watcher: All 13 episodes within 24 hours. Wow!


If you haven’t watched it, I recommend it. I didn’t grow up watching Full House, I discovered it at Longwood, thanks to ABC Family. But it’s one of my favorites.

I promised zero spoilers, and I’m upholding that.

I hope they do a Season 2! There’s a lot of potential.

Did you watch it? What did you think?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Adventure Time: Florida Edition (Round 2 – Honeymoon!)

Image Credit: quotesgram.com

Image Credit: quotesgram.com

We decided where we wanted to go on our honeymoon in June. We knew that we needed to go see Jody, a travel agent at the AAA center in Suffolk, per my mom’s recommendation.

We thought we wanted a week at Disney World.

What we ended up doing was so much better!


When we met with Jody, we told her we were thinking of Orlando and Disney World for the week before Thanksgiving. She listened, thought about it, and then said,

“Have you heard of our Harry Potter Experience package?”

… Say what now?

When we left to get Mexican food on that June Saturday morning, we had signed up for three days at Universal with park-to-park passes, spending the whole week at Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort, breakfast vouchers at Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron, and a session at Shutterbuttons Studio. Wow!

Believe me, we certainly were excited for our wedding, but we couldn’t wait for our honeymoon!


Day 1 – Sunday, November 15th

Waiting for our flight! So excited!

Waiting for our flight! So excited!

After our wedding, we stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn near the Norfolk airport. We flew Southwest, thanks to my parents for snagging an awesome deal! It was a direct flight from Norfolk to Orlando, so we landed around 2:00 p.m. Our travel package instructed us to go to the Universal Orlando store. There, we received our shuttle information and our special “We’re Celebrating Our Honeymoon!” buttons. I received a series of texts indicating where our shuttle would be and what time.

Sure enough, this fancy black shuttle came to pick us up right on schedule. The driver took our bags and we settled in. It was about a 20-minute drive from the airport to Cabana Bay, our home for the week.

Cabana Bay Beach Resort is one of Universal’s newest resorts. It looks like a classic resort from the 1950s! Imagine a lot of neon and bright colors. It was massive – Five wings of rooms, two pools, a bowling alley, an arcade, a full-service diner, and more!

We spent most of Sunday exploring the resort, which felt like it went on and on. It was so awesome!

One of the two pools.

One of the two pools.

The front of the resort, all lit up.

The front of the resort, all lit up.

They had these classic cars permanently parked outside the resort.

They had these classic cars permanently parked outside the resort.

This was a cool cook in the lobby.

This was a cool clock in the lobby.


Day 2 – Monday, November 16th

We used our Disney World Hopper passes on Monday and Friday.

We decided to hit up the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom!

All of Disney World had their Christmas decorations up! This was just beyond the entrance to the Magic Kingdom.

All of Disney World had their Christmas decorations up! This was just beyond the entrance to the Magic Kingdom.

The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.

The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.

Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.

Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree. Every park had a huge tree, and they were all different!

The Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree. Every park had a huge tree, and they were all different!

The Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life.

Beautiful macaws and parrots!

Beautiful macaws and parrots!

Monkeys!

Monkeys!

One of the staff holding a gorgeous great horned owl before the "Birds of Wonder" show.

One of the staff holding a gorgeous great horned owl before the “Birds of Wonder” show.

Expedition Everest! We were in the front row! It was an awesome ride.

Expedition Everest! We were in the front row! It was an awesome ride.


Day 3 – Tuesday, November 17th

Day 1 at Universal!

As part of our package, we were able to enter the park an hour early!

The entrance to Universal CityWalk.

The entrance to Universal CityWalk. CityWalk has shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and even mini-golf!

Hogsmeade!

Hogsmeade!

If you haven’t been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it is totally worth it. I felt like I was on the set the entire time. The sheer amount of time and effort that was put into researching these worlds – Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley – was evident. Everything looked perfect. There were several people that were visiting from the U.K., and they were impressed!

The Hogwarts Express!

The Hogwarts Express!

On Tuesday, we had breakfast at Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. Delicious! I tried the pumpkin juice there - Not bad!

We had our first of two breakfasts at Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. Delicious! I tried the pumpkin juice there – Not bad!

The entrance to Three Broomsticks.

The entrance to Three Broomsticks.

I rode the Dragon Challenge roller coaster - Front row, and with only one other guy on the train, and he was in the very back!

I rode the Dragon Challenge roller coaster – Front row, and with only one other guy on the train, and he was in the very back!

Hogwarts! This had the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride - So cool!

Hogwarts! This had the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride – So cool!

We rode the Hogwarts Express into Kings Cross station. The Hogwarts Express connects the two parks! After leaving Kings Cross, we set foot in London in Universal Studios. Amazing!

Diagon Alley. It was truly magical!

Diagon Alley. It was truly magical!

Candid shot!

Candid shot!

Welcome to Springfield, U.S.A.!

Welcome to Springfield, U.S.A.!

After exploring Universal, we went back to the resort and enjoyed the Galaxy Bowl bowling alley!

After exploring Universal, we went back to the resort and enjoyed the Galaxy Bowl bowling alley!


Day 4 – Wednesday, November 18th

Day 2 at Universal!

Breakfast at The Leaky Cauldron!

Breakfast at The Leaky Cauldron!

Superman!

Superman! This was in the gift shop after riding Terminator 2 3D: Battle Across Time.

Kings Cross Station!

Kings Cross Station!

We experienced Butterbeer! It was amazing! The frozen kind was perfect because it was warm and humid!

We experienced Butterbeer! It was amazing! The frozen kind was perfect because it was warm and humid!

The day before, we tried to eat dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp at CityWalk, but the line was insane! We decided to make a reservation for Wednesday night, which was perfect.

We timed the reservation for after the Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories show in Universal Studios. It was a unique experience – It took place on the lagoon, and they used waterfall screens of amazing movie moments, with amazing music, fireworks, and narration by Morgan Freeman!

Back at Bubba Gump Shrimp, they took us early. It was packed, but we enjoyed a delicious meal! Our waitress was fantastic, and the manager stopped by to wish us well during our stay. All the staff quiz the tables with Forrest Gump trivia at some point during the meal, and between Al and I, we got all the questions right!


Day 5 – Thursday, November 19th

Last day at Universal. We took this day to explore Islands of Adventure!

You can enter Jurassic Park through Hogsmeade! It’s so awesome.

Welcome to Jurassic Park!

Welcome to Jurassic Park!

We rode the Jurassic Park River Adventure as soon as it opened. It was wild – We were the only two on the raft!

After exploring all of Jurassic Park, we made our way to Toon Lagoon! We strategically wore our swimsuits underneath our clothes, because we hit the three big water rides back-to-back-to-back. Unfortunately, that idea backfired – We were still damp a couple hours later!

We loved all the funny comics!

We loved all the funny comics!

Marvel Superhero Island and The Adventures of Spider-Man!

Marvel Superhero Island and The Adventures of Spider-Man!

Dr. Doom!

Dr. Doom!

In the afternoon, we made our way back to Diagon Alley for our Shutterbuttons studio session. It was awesome! We got to star in our own moving portraits, with robes and all! We love the DVD we received!

For dinner, we went toย The Cowfish restaurant at CityWalk. It sounds bizarre at first – A sushi burger bar?!

It was amazing!

We both got bento boxes - Sushi and a burger slider in the middle! So good!

We both got bento boxes – Sushi and a burger slider in the middle! So good!

One of the best experiences that we had was a gift from our dear friend Key – She bought us tickets to Blue Man Group! The venue was right outside Universal. It was so fun!

Selfie before the show! We couldn't take pictures or video, but it was an amazing show!

Selfie before the show! We couldn’t take pictures or video, but it was an amazing show!

If you haven’t seen Blue Man Group, you are missing out! It’s totally worth your money. It’s an amazing experience!!


Day 6 – Friday, November 20th

Last full day in Orlando. Womp womp!

But, we thoroughly enjoyed Day 2 at Disney World!

After breakfast at the resort’s diner, we took a taxi to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

First on the list was Star Tours, obviously. It was awesome! We got even more excited for Star Wars: The Force Awakens at this point – Check out my movie review!

We did The Great Movie Ride as well.

First in line for MuppetVision 3D!

First in line for MuppetVision 3D!

Pixar Studios! This place was nuts. We wanted to do Toy Story Midway Mania!, but it was over an hour wait!

Pixar Place! This place was nuts. We wanted to do Toy Story Midway Mania!, but it was over an hour wait! I guess we just have to come back again …

Instead of waiting for a Disney bus to head to Epcot, we took a boat ride! It was such a cool experience. We got to see several of the Disney resorts, and then we were dropped off at Epcot!

The amazing model railroad in Germany!

The amazing model railroad in Germany!

We ate lunch in China – Delicious!

Obligatory.

Obligatory. Spaceship Earth!

We also rode the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom!

We had an absolutely wonderful time!!


Day 7 – Saturday, November 21st

The shuttle picked us up and took us to the Orlando airport.

Like our flight down, we had a direct flight back to Norfolk.

We came back home to sunny weather, but 54 degrees!

My wonderful parents picked us up and took us home.

If you take away any tips, I highly recommend leaving for a week-long trip on Sunday and coming back on Saturday. We needed that Saturday and Sunday to rest up and get ready for the following week!


We had an amazing week together that kicked off our married life.

I can’t wait to go back!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚