Good news (or bad news, depending on if you like me or not): I'm baaaaaack! Last week I drove to Michigan to catch a flight to Orlando with my mom for a much-deserved vacation. This trip was in the works for almost a year, and it was not only my birthday trip, but also a Christmas gift for my mom. She was very surprised when she opened up that present on Christmas morning (see the video HERE).

To be honest with you, I'm going through a bit of post-vacation depression today. I miss laying by the pool, drinking margaritas, and not having to worry about a single thing. What I miss the most, though, is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I spent my actual birthday, May 3rd, at the park, which is partially in Universal Studios and partially in Universal's Islands of Adventure. We started at Universal Studios so we could hit up Diagon Alley first. Diagon Alley is hidden from outside eyes, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. I couldn't see a darn thing until we walked through the doorway and around the corner. When I finally saw it, I may or may not have started to tear up. It was like all of my childhood fantasies coming true right before my very eyes, so it was hard to not get emotional. We went into every single store, including Ollivander's so I could get my wand. I chose Dumbledore's wand, aka the Elder Wand, because I have the Deathly Hallows tattoo and I thought it would make for a really cool photo. I was right.

Courtlin

After we cast some spells, had some Butterbeer, ate at the Leaky Cauldron, and rode the Escape From Gringotts ride, we hopped on the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade at the other park. Hogsmeade wasn't as impressive as Diagon Alley, but it was still pretty darn awesome. Plus we got to visit Hogwarts and ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, which was one of my favorite moments of the entire day.

I really have to hand it to Universal: the details in the parks are just amazing. The technology that they use to make the scenery and the stores and the rides seem realistic is astounding. I honestly never wanted to leave, but unfortunately, I couldn't afford to stay (a water was $6!).

Aside from the amusement parks, my mom and I also ate at a ton of restaurants, did live band karaoke, watched some great live music, went to the movies, saw a drag show, visited the Sea Life Aquarium, and took a trip to Madame Tussauds. It was the best birthday vacation I've ever taken! Here's to 27! :)

Here are some of the other photos I took in Orlando: