Thursday, June 25, 2015

Universal Studios and Harry Potter

The second to our last day in Florida, we visited Universal Studios.  I was so excited to visit part of Harry Potter's world.

This is on our way into the park.  Syd had to stop and get her picture taken a few times as we made our way to the very back.

WARNING:  Universal Studios is very expensive, more than Disney World; especially considering we had to fork out extra dough to get their "hopper pass" to see all of Harry Potter.

Recognize the Hogwarts Express?

We visited Hogsmeade first.  Eric made a bee line for the butterbeer.  He absolutely loved it.

It was such a magical place.  I felt transported to Hogsmeade.  Everything looked completely authentic, including snow on the roofs.  The store windows were spectacular.

The book behind Syd and Eric is the "Monster Book of Monsters."  Of course it was behind a cage as it snapped at passersby.


Ollivander's Shop had shelves upon shelves of wands.  On a regular basis a small group of people was brought into a special room and one person was chosen to select a wand.  There was a small performance about the "wand choosing the wizard."  Suze was selected for one of these groups and received an interactive wand.

Eric bought an interactive wand.  He and Suze stood in front of store windows performing incantations.  If you did the incantation correctly, objects in the window front moved.  They loved it! I loved it!

My favorite part in the park was the Hogwarts Express.  It took you from Islands of Adventure to Universal Studios.  Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley were in two different parks.  The only way to see both was riding on the Hogswart, compliments of your hopper pass.  The train was incredible.  We sat in our own compartment.  The door was shut.  We could see Hermione, Ron and Harry's silhouettes outside in the train hall.  They were talking about the possible first years in our compartment.

As the train moved, we were treated to the beautiful countryside of England outside our window.  We saw Hogwarts and Hagried.  I could have happily stayed on that train all day.

Telephone booth, much like the one Harry and Mr. Weasley used to enter the Minstry of Magic.

The Knight Bus

Diagon Alley was bustling with all kinds of activity. We even were able to walk through a magic brick wall to reach our destination.

We had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron.  It was authentic English food.  Michael and I loved it.  My fish and chips were scrumptious.  The kids endured their meals.  They had "hot dogs," only they weren't really hot dogs.  The cashier assured us that they would never know they were really sausage dogs.  She would make sure they were prepared like hot dogs. Uhh...really!  My seven-year-old knew immediately that this was no hot dog. Daddy ate two lunches.  Suze and Eric were good at eating theirs...and we bought Syd more food after lunch.  It was outrageously expensive.  We paid over $70.00 for lunch.  You definitely pay for the ambiance!

The fire breathing dragon at Gringotts Bank.  Don't stand to close when he spews.  Hot!

Hagrid's Flying Motorcycle

Suze performing a spell!

Unfortunately for me, more and more rides are 3D interactive.  They make me sick.  This was the case in Hogwarts Castle.  I went on it!  It was intense and spectacular...riding a broom stick...I was whooping and hollering about how fantastic it was....until halfway through I suddenly felt sick.  I closed my eyes and took deep breaths until the ride was done. Stupid motion sickness!

I had to opt out of the Gringotts Bank ride.  Mike told me it was fantastic; the robotics and special effects were out of this world.

I am definitely going back, even if I sit on the side lines the entire day and soak it all in.  That is how much I adored this place.

P.S.  We saw very little of the rest of Universal Studios.  Definitely take two days!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Disney Boardwalk and Hot Tempers

My kids need structure on vacation.  This was never more evident than the day we went to Disney Boardwalk.  We took a day off from parks to chill a bit.  Michael and I thought the kids might appreciate some down time.

We didn't plan anything concrete.  We thought it might be nice to check out Disney Boardwalk.  I was struck by the beauty the instant we arrived.  It was incredible! 

Cool store windows!

One of Disney's grand hotels.

Syd bought these ears with her own money.  They are so her with the pink, sparkles and frills.  She didn't keep them on for long.  Guess who got to carry them?

The kids found a bean bag the hot, blazing sun.  Yeah, it was at this point that we realized how sweltering the day had become.  My children were wilting.  It was time for lunch.

 We had a nice, relaxing lunch in a cute restaurant along the boardwalk.  It may have been too comfortable.  Within seconds of exiting the restaurant, everyone was complaining about the heat.

 I have come to my own conclusions about boardwalks.  They may exude a certain charm, but the temperature is way too hot!!!  We left and went to Downtown Disney, hoping to find something there.

We parked valet and spent ten minutes in Downtown Disney.  We left with three crying kids and two angry parents.  It was too hot!  No one could agree on anything.  I suggested a movie.  No go!  I suggested something else. Again, no go!  Always one person voted I voted we go back to the hotel.  No one was allowed to talk to me. I went into the bedroom and took a long nap.

A guilty mom woke up from her nap and took the kids swimming in one of our condo's pools.

We just don't do well without a plan!  Too many decisions!  Too many people wanting to do different things.  Every trip is bound to have a melt down.  That day was the melt down of five people.

Universal Studios and Harry Potter tomorrow!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

More Disney

The day Suze and I spent at Discovery Cove, Michael took the kids to Downtown Disney for lunch and shopping.

Daddy said Sydney got on stage at the House of Blues and danced her little butt off.

These are left over pictures I found from the day at the Magic Kingdom.  Suze at Liberty Square.  Do you see Eric in the background?  Not sure if he is flexing?

Sydney after the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

The Haunted Mansion

In the Stocks

Love these three little people!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Discovery Cove II

So....two nights ago, I became preoccupied with finding my cell phone.  After I threw a bit of a temper tantrum, Suze was able to locate my phone through face time.  Eric tried previously and we did not hear a sound.  It was either my prayer or Suze's finger crossing! Whichever it was, the situation put the blog on the back burner.

A day later, here are the promised pictures from Discovery Cove.  These pictures were taken by disposable underwater cameras that were given to us in the park.

Cuddly Loki

Gorgeous Suze sitting with her colorful, feathered friends.

Suze makes a face as those disgusting meal worms wiggle in her hands.

Although you can't see them, there are some cute otters behind us.  There is a clear wall between them and us.  We fed them raw fish through a tube.

The lazy river was incredible.  The route was dotted with caverns....

Radiant birds....

Tumbling Waterfalls....

Suze took to snorkeling like...

a fish

What an experience to swim alongside the sting rays.

I will never forget this day so I know Suze will always keep this special day forever with her!