This year, we did something very different for Christmas.
We didn’t buy any presents for our kids.
Instead of spending time and money at the mall or on Amazon, we surprised the children with a 4-night, 3-day vacation to Universal Studios. I found an sweet package deal for an amazing Harry Potter-themed adventure.
All three of the older kids have watched the Harry Potter movies and read the books, and love the stories. (Let’s face it, Jason and I are huge fans, too.) We knew that this vacation would be a perfect gift for them. It was unbelievably hard to keep the trip a secret, but we managed to wait until they returned to us at noon on December 28. We sat them down and handed each of them an envelope. Inside was a letter (bearing the Hogwarts crest) explaining the trip, a packing list, some spending money, and maps of the parks. They FREAKED. Hollyn cried!
We left that afternoon and arrived in Orlando by dinnertime. Our package included early admission to the parks, so we hit the hay.
Monday morning we entered the gates just after 7:00 a.m.
We made a beeline for Diagon Alley.
JUST LIKE THE MOVIE, OMG OMG OMG.
After breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron, we spent the whole day exploring Diagon Alley, riding the Hogwarts Express, and wandering around Hogsmeade. In short, we TOTALLY GEEKED OUT.
Tuesday we went back to Universal Studios, where we explored the rest of the park. We started later in the day and went back to Diagon Alley at night, which was a different (but equally cool) experience. Wednesday we devoted to Islands of Adventure, and on Thursday we came home.
The trip was outstanding. The kids are old enough to spend a whole day on their feet without losing their minds. They loved the Harry Potter worlds, and rode a ton of rides. We loved being able to give them an experience, rather than things that they will outgrow and cast aside.
Hazel was an angel the entire trip. She was happy to go wherever we went, as usual. Like her big brother, she’s a delightful traveling companion.
I can’t say enough good things about the Harry Potter attractions. They are truly immersive experiences, and it’s obvious that a lot of thought went into each detail. I am not the biggest fan of theme parks, but I was blown away. If you’re a fan of the books or the movies, it’s worth a visit.
Happy New Year!