Four days and three nights in Orlando

Forget Disney World — Universal Studios is the happiest frickin’ place on Earth.

Over the weekend, I took my first paid vacation to a town not named New York City and spent four days in Orlando, Florida.

Did I say Orlando? Well, I actually spent one evening in a cave surrounded by dinosaurs eating at a restaurant named “T-Rex.” My girlfriend and I mistakenly stumbled into a Downtown Disney eatery Friday night, where we ate moderately-priced food while surrounded by a family of triceratops. Yes, it was a family restaurant and little kids were practically crawling on us to get to the dinosaurs (one little girl got her hand stuck in the baby triceratops’ mouth, finally removed it, in pain, then proceeded to stick it right back in the robot’s mouth), but we had to get our visual dose of birth control for the trip!

We spent time in Hogwarts on Saturday morning, battling dragons and everything else you read about in the Harry Potter books. Islands of Adventure did a phenomenal job of re-creating the world of Harry Potter in amazing detail — there was even snow on the roofs in the central Florida heat.

We spent time in Jurassic Park, getting poached by raptors and one massive Tyrannosaurus Rex. Noticing the T-Rex theme of the trip yet?

We spent a lot of time drying off after riding the river rapids, where Popeye yet again called my name to get soaked repeatedly. It was the 74th consecutive time that I walked off a rapids ride as the most waterlogged person on my boat. I’m just so lucky.

We spent time shooting aliens, fighting mummies and riding out a tornado.

We even spent a little time dining in downtown Orlando, which is morphing into a great southern town. We had flatbread pizzas at Urban Flats, and it was a nice escape from the tourist traps scattered all around the resorts near the parks. We also had a sushi night at Sushi House, which has three locations: Orlando, Universal Citywalk and … Atlanta. If you have the time, I highly recommend it.

Now, you can spend some time checking out more photos from our trip, which are posted below. It’s almost time for me to go back to work, and you know how tough that is to do after a vacation.

Islands of Adventure boasts the most realistic interpretation of Hogwarts … I’m sure of it.

Universal Studios’ new roller coaster, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
The only time I have ever seen a completely empty lot at either of the parks … we were there early Sunday morning!
Years after a fake shark tortured me, the Jaws ride has been demolished and I finally got my revenge!

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