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Orlando and Beyond

My journey to Florida for the first time ever.

By Joe PattersonPublished about a month ago 7 min read

What happens when your best friends invite you on a trip to see a place that you’ve dreamed of visiting your whole life? A chance of a lifetime. For me that chance came in the form of going to Orlando, Florida and seeing Universal Studios up close and personal in spring of 2022.

Universal Studios

Back in 2016 I met a group of some of my best friends who are all nerds like me at the movies. It wasn’t until a year later when we became friends thanks to church that our journey began. During the times that we would go watch our favorite movies in theaters as well as go to Comic Con and Galaxy Con together they started telling me about how they all liked going to Florida to see Universal Studios in Orlando. I mentioned to them how much it was a dream of mine to go there since I was a kid and over the next couple of years they invited me to join them, but I wasn’t able to go because of how busy my life was during the times they went. By early 2022 I was working a better job and was in a better place in my life post-Covid where I was finally free to join them, so when the offer came in March of 2022 I didn’t hesitate to take them up on it when they said they were going in May.

By Drew Coffman on Unsplash

In the couple of months leading up to this trip I was going through a hard time in my life. I fell out with a friend of mines who I was close with after they did me dirty and my mind was just in a very bad place. As the journey to Florida was drawing close I didn’t know if I was mentally gonna be able to enjoy it because of the ordeal I just went through, but I couldn’t let what was one of the worse days of my life spoil what was going to be one of the best times of my life. As hard as it was I knew I had to cast out all the pain and hurt from what I felt before so that I could enjoy this coming trip. My friends were doing me a blessing by inviting me on this journey and if I stayed bent out of shape because of bitterness I was carrying towards the friend that did me wrong then I wasn’t going to be able to give my friends the appreciation they deserved.

By Talia on Unsplash

I will never forget the night of May 19th, 2022. It was the night before we were all set to make our road trip to Florida. My friends Jordyn and Taj suggested that I spend the night at their crib instead of having to drive from my house at four in the morning to meet them. We watched a few movies, ate some McDonald’s and went to bed early excited for our trip. I woke up that morning way too excited.

Our road trip begins

We made our journey in two separate cars. I rode with Taj and Jordyn rode with our friend Hank. On our way to Florida we had to pick up Taj’s girlfriend Maya and her friends in Atlanta who were joining us on the trip. We had a great ride there bumping our favorite Hip Hop artist for hours on the way to Georgia. After picking up Maya and her friends we continued our way to Florida going through both sunshine and rain.

We arrive in Florida.

When we finally crossed that border into Florida it was like a movie. I always imagined Florida would look like the action movies that I grew up loving like Bad Boys and 2 Fast 2 Furious, which took place in Florida. Strangely enough it did look like the scenery of those movies thanks to the palm trees. It was so uncanny that it wasn’t even funny. When we made it to the resort we were staying at in Orlando I let out a satisfactory laugh. Even in the stormy rain this place looked amazing and I felt lucky to be able to call this place home for the next week.

Our resort

When we woke up the next morning it didn’t really feel like I was waking up, but that I was still in a dream because the beautiful sight of this resort had me in a daze. When we all got up to go explore the resort we found ourselves in Heaven. This place had it all. There were several restaurants, a couple different pool areas, and a gaming room. Hundreds of people were there. It felt like we were on spring break. I looked around this place and said to my self “I can’t believe I’m actually here”. It was an incredible sight.

Our 2nd day in Florida.

Over the next couple days leading up to our first day at Universal my friends showed me some nights on the town. We went to downtown Disney and saw all the stores, landmarks and pop culture staples of everything we love from Marvel and classic Hollywood nostalgia. Planet Hollywood was where I really geeked out from seeing all the props from so many older movies I grew up loving like Terminator, Child’s Play and A Nightmare On Elm Street. I was like a big kid in a candy store and all my friends were happy for me.

A night on the town in Orlando

The first day we went to Universal was nearly too incredible to put in words. We all woke up that morning and made our way to a place that I had only ever dreamed of going and my heart was racing. The traffic on the way there was heavy and when we arrived it was jammed pack with people. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to blink them a few times and then ask myself am I really here? Yes, I was really there.

Universal Studios

As soon as we made it through the entrance it was like I left my reality and stepped into a new one. The first place we went to was a Virtual Reality Minions rollercoaster and let me tell you something, that ride was life. I had never been on a virtual reality roller coaster before and it really felt like the real thing. When the ride was over all I could think was yep, this is only a great preview of what’s to come. While my friends all waited in line for another ride I decided to go look around a bit at the surrounding area. This park was another world. I saw all of these different sections for places like the Transformers movies and the Mummy films.

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

As our group continued we ended up getting on a bunch of rides and rollercoasters dedicated to our favorite movie franchises like The Fast and the Furious and Harry Potter. My friends even tricked me into getting on a few scary rides that took me surprise. I both hated and loved them for the craziness.

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

Me and my friends stayed at Universal from 9:00 a.m. when they opened to 9:00 p.m. when they closed. As the night ended my friends went to get on another ride one last time before we left. I sat in the middle of the park with a satisfied exhaustion running through my body. I couldn’t believe that I actually achieved a childhood dream. I even met a couple of strangers who went to church like me and had a great conversation about life with them. I knew this was a day that I would never forget.

Universal Studios

Over the last several days of our trip we all just hung out and enjoyed the city and its company. We were scheduled to go to the other side of Universal Studios known as Islands of Adventure on our second to last day. While I was enjoying the city I was also doing a lot of the things I was doing back home like walking for exercise and writing for a website called which I had been a member of for nearly four months.

Orlando at night

On our second to last day in Orlando we went to Islands of Adventure, the other half of Universal and once again I was a kid all over again. Of course my friends took me to the Marvel section and we got on some fun and scary rides and I got to see a whole section dedicated to one of my favorite childhood movies, Jurassic Park. With everything I had seen the most incredible display the park had that left me in awe was the world of Harry Potter. I couldn’t believe I was standing in Diagon Alley and looking up at Hogwarts. The lifelong Potterhead in me was taken to another universe.

Marvel at Islands of Adventure

Jurassic Park at Islands of Adventure

The world of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure

When we went back to the resort we all decided to just chill and enjoy that final day celebrating Maya’s birthday. We all went out to eat and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. We had been in Florida for only a week, but with everything we had done it felt like a month. I went to sleep that final night and there was something different in me, but I didn’t realize what it was until that Friday morning when we woke up and packed our things to head home.


As we headed home I realized how truly blessed I was to have my friends. They not only gave me the chance to live a dream, but they pulled me back up and lifted my spirit out of one of my darkest times in the process. The crazy thing is they never knew the second part. To know that they were happy for me and loved me enough to want me to be happy was the greatest gift that came out of this trip and made it the greatest vacation ever. I will always remember what happened in Orlando and beyond.

Orlando and beyond


About the Creator

Joe Patterson

Hi I'm Joe Patterson. I am a writer at heart who is a big geek for film, music, and literature, which have all inspired me to be a writer. I rap, write stories both short and long, and I'm also aspiring to be an author and a filmmaker.

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Comments (4)

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  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶20 days ago

    So glad you had such a fabulous trip with wonderful friends… what a blessing. Surprise 😮… ‘ I got to see a whole section dedicated to one of my favorite childhood movies, Jurassic Park. ’🤣 Imagine that! You like dinosaurs 😃.

  • Vicki Lawana Trusselli about a month ago

    You had so much fun !

  • The Dani Writerabout a month ago

    That seemed like such a great time and I'm so happy for you! I too have experienced those short vacation periods that feel way longer because of total fun immersion. And it's always great to meet another "Potter Fan." 😁 Thanks for sharing your travel experience!

  • Moharif Yuliantoabout a month ago


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