The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Monday, September 27, 2010

The first full day of our trip was devoted to the Magic of Walt Disney, but the second day was devoted to a completely different kind of magic. The Harry Potter kind. I have been waiting for years to see this park, literally for years. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a Harry Potter nerd. The kinds who dresses up, talks about mandrakes, yells "Expecto Partronum" on rides and buys wands. It's ok, I understand if you are just now grasping the full effect of my nerdiness.

The Wizarding World is at Universal's Islands Of Adventure. We had season tickets to Universal when we lived in Orlando so we had been to the park many many times. When we got there we decided to head straight for Hogsmeade and Harry Potter land. This time of year is not very crowded anyway so there weren't a ton of people at the park, however, I think every person there had the same idea we had: bypass Seuss Landing and The Lost Continent and head straight for Hogsmeade Village. I was like a kid sprinting to see Santa Claus while we walked through the park. The rest of the islands were like ghost towns just hoping to catch some waves from Harry's wake. I had pretty high expectations and hopes for what lied ahead but the Wizarding World exceeded all of them.

We approached the sign that said, "Hogsmeade, please respect the spell limits", I was in awe. It by far exceeded my expectations. The second we walked under that sign we were transported to a wintry English village with cobblestone streets, stone shops with weathered signs and the bustle of people battling the Florida heat. I was like a tourist in Times Square for the first time, I gasped and walked slowly just looking up and around, taking in my surroundings. Zonkos and Honeydukes were to our left, the Hogwarts Express and Hogsmeade station were to our right and a butterbeer cart was directly in front of us. I was in Potter heaven.

We decided to head straight for the new ride, The Forbidden Journey. Seemingly, this is what everyone else did as well. The line was wrapped around the sidewalk but said it was only a 30 minute wait so we hopped in. This ride is in the Hogwarts castle so we could see the amazing castle in front of us. I was reluctant to admit, but I think I liked this one better than Cinderella's castle. (Steve asked me which I liked better and I gave him a lame answer like that is comparing apples and oranges. He totally called me out cause it is comparing castles and castles). We had Cian with us and were doing the kid-swap thing so we by-passed some of the line. Sweet, I am not above using my child to move ahead in a theme park line. We walked through the gates to the castle and shortly came to the greenhouse. In typical theme park fashion there was a weaving maze of metal directing the line. I was so glad we had come in an off season and didn't have to wait through the entire thing. We made friends with the lady waiting behind us in line and she told us that at times in the summer there had been a three hour wait. That is nuts! I talked about mandrakes and herbology while we were in the greenhouse and we even saw some potted mandrakes! Upon entering the castle we could see the phoenix statue and the entrance to Dumbledore's office. I won't give away the entire castle, but we saw the cylinders keeping the house points, talking paintings, the pensive, and the defense against the dark arts classroom. This makes waiting in line so much fun! Steve and Rob rode the ride first and I took Cian into the kid-swap room where they had "The Sorcerer's Stone" playing on a tv. Cian saw the screen and yelled out "Potter"! He is so my kid. After they had ridden Steve and I got on the ride and it was incredible! We were taken through a Quidditch game, the Chamber of Secrets, past the Womping Willow and into the Dementor's clutches. I actually screamed "expecto patronum" at the dementors. Unfortunately I cannot produce a patronus so Harry had to come save us.
Cian yelling "Potter"at the TV

There are two rides in that section that have been revamped with a Harry Potter theme, Dueling Dragons is now the Dragon Challenge and don Tri-Wizard tournament decor and The Flying Unicorn is now Flight of the Hippogriff. The lines were really short for the other rides so we were able to ride the dragon challenge a few times in a row. For the first time I felt nauseated from riding a roller coaster so I had to skip a couple rides after that. We got some butterbeer and visited a few of the shops. We tried frozen and regular butterbeer and the frozen was my favorite. It tasted like a mix between butterscotch and cream soda but so much better. (This was Steve's analysis, all I could come up with is really really good). We came back throughout the day and visited the owlery, Ollivanders and Honeydukes.

We got a wand that is made of vine (like Hermione's). They had wands of the Harry Potter characters and wands associated with your birthday. Mine must have been the Virgo wand. At Honeydukes there was a chocolate frog in the window that croaked and jumped, Cian really got a kick out of it. I did get some goodies including a chocolate frog. We skipped on the Bertie Bots because it might have broken us to buy everything. (We didn't bring enough gallions).

We did hit up the rest of the park and our wait times were usually 20 minutes or less. Cian didn't do as well here because there wasn't much he could ride and he was cooped up in his stroller all day. This is torture for an almost two year old. After a rather embarrassing screaming and crying fit we finally took the hint and fed the kid and took him to Seuss Landing where he could ride the Carou-seuss-al and see Cat in the Hat. He loved this!! We rode the Carousel twice because he loved it so much. I probably should have just gone straight there after WW and stayed for the rest of the day so the boys could have enjoyed the other rides. I felt especially bad for Rob who had to wait around on us while we tried to calm our screaming banshee. At the end of the day we had a great time but on our way out it started pouring. You know, the afternoon downpour that Central Florida gets every day! It was actually kind of a nice cool down.We had a great time and I can't wait to go back to visit. I wish I could go every year...I guess I will have to settle for every three to four. (Sorry Steve).

Rob and Steve on Dr. Doom (this was during my nauseated period)

Steve and Rob on The Hulk


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's true what they say, Walt Disney World is magical.

I can (sort of) remember the first time I went to Disney World when I was four and can really remember all the subsequent trips, so I was very excited to take Cian for the first time. We went on my birthday and it definitely started off the last year of my 20's with a bang! We were only in Orlando for a few days so we decided just to go to the Magic Kingdom. (The other days reserved for Harry Potter and visiting friends).
For anyone who is planning a trip to WDW, I would highly recommend going the week after Labor Day. Our longest wait was about 30 minutes--which was awesome. We didn't even have to fast pass anything. When you get to the Magic Kingdom you have to park a mile away from the park and ride the monorail or the ferry. We were able to get on the front of the ferry so Cian could see as we approached Cinderella's castle!
It seems the natural progression to start with Tomorrowland and work your way back around to Main Street for the light parade and fireworks. (I think this is how I have done it every time and we had a mere ten hours to do this). It goes like this; Tomorrowland, Toontown, Fantasyland, Liberty Squqare, Frontierland, and Adventureland. The park is great because there are so many rides that Cian can actually ride on. The only ones he really can't ride are the "Mountains": Space, Splash and Thunder. They have kid swap for those rides where you can wait in line together and then take turns holding the little one while one parent rides. Then you get to go right onto the ride without waiting in line! This worked out especially well for Ryan (Steve's cousin) and Rob (Steve's brother) because they were able to ride multiple times on the rides. It was cool having them there as well because Steve and I could ride together sometimes. Cian really liked all the rides and when we rode Dumbo I took him all the way up and asked him if he wanted to stay up or go down and he said up! I think now our family is two against one, two WDW lovers and one bah humbug.

Maybe in this case a picture is worth a thousand words so without further adieu...
At the hotel before leaving for the parkRiding on the speedway. I think I can actually run faster than this ride goes...
Too bad Ryan and Robs teacup couldn't spin like ours..
Dumbo. I think I look more excited than Cian does
Yo ho, yo ho a pirate's life for me
Steve and Cian on the Alladin ride
As it started to get dark we headed back to Main Street for Wishes, the fireworks display. On the way we stopped to get candy and a birthday fudge covered Oreo. Because we were late the street was really crowded so we had to head back to almost the end of the street where we stopped to watch the show. Well, apparently we stood in front of the wrong lady. I should start by saying that there was definitely something slightly off about this woman. Unbeknownst to me she had asked the boys to move because we were standing right in front of her. This would seem a logical thing to ask if there were not a thousand people standing between us and the castle. 999 of these people were in front of us. Since nobody moved she came and stood directly in front of me. I mean inside my territorial bubble, mere inches from my face. Well unlike normal Becca fashion I didn't say anything smart to her, I just said, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you ask us to move." She turned around and told me she has been standing in the spot for three hours. THREE HOURS. This spot was not the creme de la creme, it was at the end of the street--far away from the castle and with a tree obstructing our view of the fireworks! This poor lady proceeded to walk around and complain to everyone around her, who were all trying to watch the show, about how we came and stood in front of her. There was one man videotaping the fireworks and unfortunately his video will have her complaints overpowering When you Wish Upon a Star. When the show was over we hightailed it out of there in case she called the mouse police on us.

We walked from there back to Frontierland to watch the light parade.

I always said I would never buy one of those leashed that keeps your child connected to you. Never, those were horrible. Well that was before I had a 22 month old and we decided to bring him to an amusement park. We went to three different places to find one that wasn't a backpack. It turns out he hated it and tried to take it off the entire time he was wearing it. I think the backpack would have been better. For the record, I did get looks like I used to give that said "that poor child is on a leash." Too bad they don't know that this child would be off and running screaming see ya suckers" at the first chance he had. This is what we used to keep Cian with us...

When we found a spot to watch the parade Cian and I went to stand right next to the street while the boys sat back on a bench. We sat next to a family with a boy around 8 and a girl around 11. Cian immediately wanted to hang out with them. He was running around them and giving them five. He liked the brother more than the sister, I think he suspected she had cooties. He was eventually running around and giving the brother hugs and then wanted to sit in his lap. The poor kid didn't want to tell him no but learned that he was glad he didn't have a little brother.

Once the parade started Cian was all oohs and whoas. He kept yelling, "Whoa, who dat?" and Whoa, wha dat?" as the new floats would come. He sat in my lap almost the entire time and just watched as the floats and characters rode by.
It was so awesome to see Cian so excited and it really brought back the magic of Disney to see him experience it for the first time. I can't wait to take him back and take our next kid for the first time!

Party Planning

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So, I started trying to come up with a theme for Cian's second birthday party months ago (so what if his birthday is not until November) and came up with a theme that I absolutely love, "What Are Little Boys Made Of?". What are they made of? Why "snips of snails and puppy dog's tails" of course.

My friend Mary Leigh has a son, Bates, whose second birthday is in December so she helped with the theme and we are going to do the same theme for both the boy's b-days. This is fun because I have a partner in crime for planning and we can split everything which means twice the party for half the price!!

Here is my inspiration board so far:

As for details, you will just have to wait until November and December...
Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground