My wife and I decided to Universal Studios in Orlando for our honeymoon which was two years overdue. Specifically, we went for both Harry Potter Parks, Hogsmeade and DiagonAlley. Both of us are geeks about different things, but Harry Potter is something we both love. We live in the mountains of North Carolina outside of Asheville, so we decided to rent a car and drive there, which is about 9 hours. She is nervous about flying and a 9 hour drive is nothing to us, since we have driven pretty much all of the USA.
The night before we left I packed my bags two or three times. I waffled on what to bring, a pair of jeans or a skirt, my wig or to leave it, my makeup or just leave it behind. I packed and then re-packed. I didn’t want to presume that my wife would be alright with me just being me during our honeymoon, also I was worried about the security check and the extreme heat and humidity of Florida during the summer. I ended up just packing my cotton nightgown she had bought me and a sexier nightgown for sexier times. I packed my breasts and a bra, though it was more an oversight as it was in my secondary bag and I had forgotten to take them out.
I made the decision that this time, my first time in this resort & theme park, I would go as my mask. Travel is always problematic, rests stops aren’t so bad, but if we stopped at a gas station or truck stop then my going to the bathroom would be problematic. Thanks to the interest in trans bathroom usage, now the public is looking closely at us and therefore me. Also I had no idea what to expect with the Cabana Bay resort or the Universal Theme Park itself. I hate that I have to still be behind my mask, but I am easily clocked especially if I talk, this damnable voice. So, this was for me, a scouting mission.
We spent a lot of money on merchandise, or for us, collectibles. It was Harry Potter everything it seemed and we are still going through everything. [TIP: If your rooms are with the Cabana Bay Resort, and you aren’t checking out the next day, you can have everything you buy from shops sent to the Cabana Bay Concierge, so you don’t have to walk around with your hands full.] The two best things I brought back were vastly different, my interactive wand which was Luna Lovegoods (2nd) wand, the handle looks like a closed flower. I'm Ravenclaw and feminine so it was fitting. The second best thing was a small necklace in the Jurassic park area that my wife had bought for me, the central bead had "Beth" printed on it. I almost cried.
There are things I observed behind my mask, which will allow me and hopefully others who go to Universal Studios as themselves relatively hassle-free.
Cabana Bay check-in: This was easily done and my wife ran in while I stayed with the car anyway. But the people were nice and I don’t think they would balk at a transgender person checking in.
Cabana Bay Environment: During the summer there are a LOT of families there and the place is chaotic. The bathrooms are men & women, but there are family restrooms. I found that no one watched the men or women’s bathrooms; I would have felt safe using the women’s. Also, I get the feeling that the people who work there have seen it all and won’t be thrown by a transgender person.
Cabana Bay Shuttle: The shuttle runs every ten minutes; rarely did we wait for more than two minutes. No need to speak, just walk in and sit down or stand and hold the braces. It can get crowded so if you find yourself across from someone or tightly packed against them, they may clock you. Overall though, I found that they were either too excited about getting to the park, dealing with their children, or too tired after the park to care about the person next to them. Still, very close space and made me uncomfortable despite being behind my mask.
Cabana Bay check-out: You can check out using the automated process via the television, so you never have to talk to anyone.
Universal Parks Security: For whatever reason, it had no occurred to me that we would go through security. Everyone hits a semi-circle of security terminals before you get to CityWalk (the free area that leads to all the different parks). They put out a plastic bin into which you and anyone with you places everything you have on you. This includes purses, wallets, keys, etc. which then goes through a scanner. You will go through a metal detector as well. Though most times I had no issues, a few times my belt caused me to be briefly scanned with a wand (muggle metal detector). They are efficient and quick, they don’t touch you and they don’t care who you are, just trying to get the next person through the line.
Universal Parks Bathrooms: Men and Women’s bathrooms, they are large and built into the backgrounds so they are not obtrusive. I also saw no reason why any transgender person would have an issue.
Florida Environment: The real villain here is the heat/humidity. During the summer it easily hits 90 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit with the humidity approaching 100%. For those of us who use heavier foundations, this is a recipe for disaster. There were several cis women that had problems, their makeup flowing down their face in a parody of melting wax. It’s just brutal weather, so if you go I suggest that you go during the end of the year, from Sept into Feb. The weather is cooler even if the humidity doesn’t get better. If you have to go during the summer, then I suggest you do as we did, I call it shop-hopping. Most of the thousands of shops in universal sell the same things with small changes. The best part is that every shop is air conditioned and so very cooling. It’s a brilliant marketing strategy really. So just hop from shop to shop, keeping relatively cool until you hit those rare stretches of areas without shops.
Alright, so we had a great time, despite my being behind my mask. It would have been better had I been able to be me, but that will happen next year when we come back. Though next year we bring our daughter and just enjoy the Cabana Bay resort (and it’s many swimming pools) & CityWalk, which has plenty of fun without buying the park tickets. I suppose I have to start working now towards a swimsuit body.