Well I'm back from a week's vacation in Orlando, Florida. We spent most of our time at the Hotel's amazing pools, Disney World and Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
This is a bit of a personal post so I hope you don't mind. AND I'm sorry to say there's not an overwhelming amount of photography in this post. Why? Because I was on vacation so that meant leaving my camera at home and where the heck would I put it all day while I rode all those rides??? No time for lockers. So I threw caution to the wind - armed myself with only my trusty goPro, my iPhone camera and my eyes! And knowing that neither of those two cameras where great in low light situations caused me to stop shooting all-the-time. It's very hard for photographers to not just capture the moment but BE IN the moment.
I will say that both parks were amazing and definitely sensory overload BUT I literally spent 2 whole days in the Wizarding World. For those who know me and my fellow HP Fans - you understand.
So to not bore you with the details I will give you the high-lights of my trip.
As soon as I entered the park I was swept back to my 5 yr old self. That was the last time I was in Disney World. Surprisingly I remembered more than I thought I would. And honestly I might have only remembered as much as I did because of my parents tireless efforts to film and take pictures during our trip. Thanks Mom and Dad!
As far as new memories go - I saw my nephew ride his first roller coaster and see fireworks for the first time. Lots of hand clapping and him saying "Ohhhh" to all the Disney magic - what do you expect he 16 months old!
After the fireworks show we stayed until the park closed and rode more rides in the dark!
Josh and I spent loads of time at Epcot. It was so quiet there and there was lots of great food to try at the World's showcase. We loved Britain, Italy and France the most! We highly recommend the Fish and Chips at the Rose & Crown Pub and the macrons at Les Halles Boulangerie Pattiserie!
And then there was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter . . .
I was in awe of the this place. For two days I was immersed in this fictional world and felt a part of something bigger than me. Coming from a creative's perspective, the attention to detail/design was extraordinaire and inspired me to strive for perfection in my own work.
The window displays and store designs are a set designers dream. Each store and window are so unique. Unfortunately the props aren't for sale - believe me I asked.
A major high-light for me was watching my niece experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time and seeing her imagination run wild with excitement. Sharing these moments with her will forever be engrained on my memory.
And don't forget the Hogwarts Castle and Escape from Gringott's Bank attractions. The lines were long but thrilling plus there's so much to experience while waiting. And last but not least . . . Butterbeer is to die for! I'll take 10 Frozen Butterbeers to go please, thanks!
I will say that yes my trip was amazing but - it wasn't perfect. I saw some of the best and the worst in human nature. For instance I held hands with a stranger on the Escape from Gringotts ride and made friends with a family from the UK while in Diagon Alley. We learned about each others culture and laughed about the difference.
And the humanity continued, I saw a little girl puke from excitement as she walked into Magic Kingdom. I experienced kindness and selfishness from strangers. I watched families who were crazy in love with there children and would do anything to make them happy no matter their physical obstacles. And while stuck in the masses of people from all over the world I was reminded of how big this planet really is, how many people there are on it and how little of it I've known.
So Hard to Say Goodbye
I said goodbye to Hogwarts three times: Once, while I was upside down on a roller coaster and I could see the castle in the distance at sunset. Second, while I was leaving the park at night I saw it across the way. Third and final time, as we left Orlando I saw a castle peak miles away as got onto the interstate.
Then I remembered this quote from Dumbledore,
"Of course it's happening in your head, but why on earth should that mean it's not real?"
And I never really knew why that was my favorite quote until now. It sums up a lot of what I feel about photography. Sometimes what I see in my head is real and I can hold the proof in my hands with a single photo.
To close, I wills say this trip was better than I could imagine because I got to share it with people I love. My family made life long memories including my nephew saying my name for the first time. Even though we had some not so fun parts like the lines, the heat and the chaos I wouldn't trade it for the memories (and the photos as a reminder). What a gift!
And lastly, to all my fellow workaholics remember to set time aside for vacations and family. You will be surprised how inspired you will be after a positive break and yes you might be a little sad to come back to the hum drum of life but remember
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” - Dumbledore
My mind feels free to begin cranking out new possibilities again. So get out of here post vacation blues! I have magic to make!
Cheers and a happy travels!
- Lauren Athalia