Friday, July 25, 2014

Harry Potter Happiness

In the weeks before our trip, Universal Studios started running ads for their new Harry Potter attraction.  We hadn't made plans to go to Universal, because it was expensive and having been there nine years ago, didn't think they had much to offer then.

But then, there was an hour-long TV special on Diagon Alley, at Universal Studios.  Will and I watched together, amazed.  I said to Brian, "Now I'm dying to go!"  Because he's so wonderful, he said "Not like we're going to Orlando all the time.  Since Sean and I won't get anything out of it, why don't I drop the two of you off one day?"  :)

And so we went!

Hogsmeade, the Magical Village.  We got to try butterbeer here!  It's delicious and tastes like butterscotch.

Trying to pull off a selfie in front of Hogsmeade.  

Look!  It's one of Hagrid's "Monster books."  This was creepy-looking up close and actually growled.

Hogwarts!  The ride "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" is inside, and you walk all through Hogwarts to get to it.  We went through some passages that had talking portraits just like in the books.  In one area, the portraits of the four founders of Hogwarts argue with each was incredible.  I had to beg/convince Will to go on the ride with me, it wasn't easy.  Afterwards when I asked what he thought of it, he said " had it's ups and downs.  I liked the quidditch flying but was scared of the dementors."

Bought him his very own wand.  One of the COOLEST features of the Harry Potter Wizarding World is that there were wand prompts everywhere, and they were interactive with the wands.  Standing in front of Honeydukes, if you made a particular movement with your wand arm and repeated the spell written on the ground, a big box of chocolate frogs would open in the window and start ribbitting.

Bertie Botts every flavour beans!  We brought some home and are afraid to try would be too with flavours like earthworm, earwax and ugh....VOMIT.

This is where we picked up the new Hogwarts Express Train and took it to the other side of the park, to Diagon Alley.  Diagon Alley was simply incredible.  You step out onto what looks like the streets of London, and have to go looking for Diagon Alley because obviously there's no signs.  And then suddenly, there you are!  It was absolutely crowded, but you couldn't hear the people in Diagon Alley from the street.  I don't know how they do that!

Weasley's Wizardly Wheezes.

I can't say enough good things about this experience.  I love how Universal Employees really get into it.  We were in a shop and looking at hats and gloves with "Gryffindor" markings and an employee said "Professor Trelawney warned me to expect this....need to restock the gloves!"  I was paying for a Christmas ornament in the same shop and when it came time to sign the receipt the cashier said "Your signature for the Ministry, please."  They did such a great job bringing the pages of the book alive!

p.s.  the only thing I feel that we missed out on was not getting to ride "Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts."  Brian dropped us off really early, soon after the park opened.  We went to the Hogsmeade Side first and by the time we made it to the Diagon Alley side the ride had a 300 minute wait.  Yeah.....that's five hours.  FIVE HOURS.  There's no way a seven year old can stand in a hot line for 5 hours....and I promised no more wild rides after the last one!  There's always next time.  :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hello, Disney!

We just got back on Saturday from Orlando.  Whew!  I cannot put it all in one post, but in a word, I can tell you that the trip was FANTASTIC.  And after that....I can tell you most of it in pictures.  Day One:  Magic Kingdom

 The boys' first flight was great.  They loved it, especially Sean. 

 Mom and I arriving at the Magic Kingdom.

 My parents and Will on Main Street USA, with a glipse of the Castle in the back.  Sean is currently going through a phase where he doesn't like his picture being taken.

 Everyone told me that it would be hot in July in Orlando, but it wasn't unbearable.  The parks had lots of cooling stations and splash features for kids.  Here's the boys, cooling off.  

Oh, and those great tie-dye shirts that we did?  Yeah......I didn't "cure" them so they stained all over everything.  Bummer!

 Happy Seanie....take him to Disney World and he's happiest playing in a puddle.

More pictures, more posts, COMING UP!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fourth of July Weekend!

These are all the things that made for a special Fourth weekend.  We tie-dyed shirts (and I'm still washing dye off my fingers, and oddly, two left toes.)  The next picture is of my mom at my SIL's annual family picnic in RI, showing off her homemade pie skills.  (It was just as delicious as it looks here)  The last one is of my boys playing with the BALL that comes out at the picnic each year!  It was the first time that the picnic was held on the fifth of July, due to rain/thunderstorms/Hurricane Arthur.  It was a gorgeous day for it, though.

But the biggest part was finally letting the cat out of the bag to the kids....We're not going to the Cape for vacation as promised....we're going to ORLANDO!!!  At first they were a little skeptical, now they're totally excited!  And making lists and schedules of what we're going to see, Will watching the TV special of "The Making of Diagon Alley" the newest Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios....etc etc.  We're all so excited!