Saturday, November 8, 2014

for my boys

Lucas's new favorite pastime is reading my blog. So, buddy, this is for you. I love you.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Florida Vacation, Part II: Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Lego Land.

 Remember the time we went on vacation and all you wanted to see were the pics from Harry Potter World? Well... three months later - here you go!

First we went to Legoland. Evan refused to go on a single ride. A. Single. Ride. But he throughly enjoyed sitting in this car.
 I was impressed with all the cool lego charaters and the details the artists added.
Look at this detail! Ha! There were lots of pretty places with pretty green plants, and lego creatures added in, too.

We saw a Clutch Powers 4D show. The rides were closed for a long time because of rain, which was a bummer. We hit up Cypress Gardens. By this time Lucas was hungry and cranky, but Evan was happy to walk around and explore. Check out that Banyan tree!

I went on one last ride all alone, and then Lucas and Ben went on this spraying ride before we hit the road. They each got a toy before we left, too. Evan scored an Ironman set.
 My mom and Lisa came down from the farm for one day/night. We stayed in a lovely resort in Orlando (thanks, VRBO!) and explored Downtown Disney on the 4th of July. Deciding where to eat dinner was a headache. Evan and I trekked to Rainforest Cafe to see how long the wait was, but he was terrified of the crazy animals (and I was terrified of the wait). He did like the volcano outside, though. After waiting for a table at Planet Hollywood, we decided it was too crazy and decided on Chick-fil-A and watching fireworks from our room. We did some sparklers, too.
 Check out our mad skills!

 Mom and Lisa headed back that very night. The next day we decided to be crazy and go to Universal Studios, despite our bad luck at LegoLand with Evan's fear of everything that moved and cranky kids. It was the BEST DAY EVER! Lucas is obsessed with Harry Potter, so it was a great time to take him there. I have also been known to be obsessed, but he is MUCH more knowledgeable than I will ever be about all things Potter.
We got passes to Universal Studios - Islands of Adventure, where Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade is, as well as regular Universal Studios, where Diagon Alley was due to open THE NEXT DAY. Lucky for us, a sweet boy told us they were having a soft opening that very day at 2:00! So, we got to go walk around Diagon Alley and shop, but the Gringotts Bank ride wasn't operating. It was still fantastic!
The first thing we did was book it to Hogsmeade. We were wise and forked out the cash for a double stroller, which meant the kids weren't as exhausted. Lucas and I went on the Forbidden Journey, which goes inside the castle. While you wait in line you can look around and really feel like you are at Hogwarts. The ride was really fun and a little scary because there were dementors. While Lucas and I rode, Ben waited in the child swap area (so great!) and then we switched places. Lucas got to go twice - lucky duck!
That is where I learned that Diagon Alley was indeed open and we could ride the Hogwarts Express over to see it!
After some delish butterbeer (both kinds - we like the frozen butterbeer better). Lucas and I rode the Flight of the Hippogriff first (where we saw the Weasley's old car). Then Ben and I rode the Dragon Challenge, which was fast and terrifying  - especially because we just drank butterbeer.
 And THEN we found the Hogwards Express! 
 And its not just a boring train ride, they give you a fun show in the window, which is really a screen. We had a run-in with dementors, but also saw fun and beautiful things out the window. The show is different to and from Diagon Alley.

 When you step off the train you see this London street....
 Until you find the entrance! You really have to just squeeze in between the wall here.

Inside you find all of Diagon Alley, perfectly designed down to every last detail!
Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes!
 Gringotts Bank - the dragon periodically blows fire.
There was a line to get into Olivander's Wand Shop. Lucas really wanted to go in. They take a small group in at a time and give you a little tour... then you get to meet Olivander. Olivander chooses one lucky kid to choose his wand. Today it was Lucas! He had Lucas try a few wands, just like Harry in the book. First, things go wrong. Then, when the kid picks up the third wand a magical beam of light cascades down onto the child and you know you've found your wand. And that you've just spent $47.
 Look at all those wands! The first picture is before you go in Olivander's room. 
The second picture is of the store.

We ate lunch at The Leaky Cauldron. I got a kid's cottage pie, which is basically a shepherds pie. It was good. Ben got fish and chips and the kids got a chicken sandwich and macaroni and cheese. The food was good. We also ordered a sticky toffee pudding for dessert, which they forgot to give us, but they just brought it to us outside, no questions asked. Everyone is so nice there!
Here are a couple more shots of Diagon Alley
We managed to find Sirius Black's house, and even got a glimpse of Kreacher peering out the window!
By this point, the boys needed a little rest to avoid core meltdown. We found a Curious George water play area. The boys were just starting to have a blast, when the lightning and rain started. We went inside to this room where you can shoot balls all over the place. And being the mean parents we are, we made the kids nap while we waited for the rain to stop. It was a challenge to get the kids to sleep with noisy kids everywhere and balls occasionally pelting someone in the head. But it worked!!

I think after the rain we headed back over to Hogsmeade and Lucas and I rode the Forbidden Journey again. The rain kept messing rides up and we ate dinner at Jurassic Park. Eventually it was time to leave and as we walked out we saw so much more we didn't get to explore. You really need two days for both parks. There was the cutest Dr. Seuss land, oh, and Ben and I went on the new Hulk ride right before closing, which was awesome!! Probably my favorite ride.

We had a wonderful day and I can't wait to go back some day. Such a fun place! And I'm seriously impressed with the employees of these parks. Oh, and I think we were happier because we just gave up on saving any money whatsoever and bought our kids $12 hamburgers, etc. Less whining = happy parents. But, our kids know not to whine too much about gift shops... at least after we bought that $47 wand :).

I love these boys.