So Trek & I have had a plan up our sleeves all year long. When the Wizarding world of Harry Potter opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2015 we knew we had to take the kids. So we plotted & saved up our money & planned a special surprise for Christmas vacation.
On our way to Utah for Christmas, we stopped for a weekend at Opa & Oma's house since their house was on our way. Saturday morning we woke up, ate breakfast, & then I told the kids to get dressed for the day. I handed each of them their Harry Potter Halloween Costumes & they looked at me like I was crazy.
"Mom, why did you bring these?"
"If we're going to Hogwarts, you want to be in uniform don't you?"
Then came the screams . . . . . and then the tears . . . . & then the hugs. It was worth it for that moment with the kids. Cadence & Lorien were crying & the little ones were jumping up & down with excitement.
They quickly got dressed & started laughing at how fun we all looked together.
We were going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Harry Potter style. It was great.
Opa & Oma gave each of the kids some money for their Christmas present to spend at Universal. So fully costumed, money in hand, we hopped in the car & headed to a whole new world of magic.
I haven't been to Universal Studios since Trek & I got married 15 years ago. I was pretty excited to go too.
Right when we went into the park, there were several characters waiting to say hello to us. Everyone LOVED seeing all our kids in costumes.
Woody Woodpecker's girlfriend spent quite a bit of time with the kids since there was hardly anyone in the park when we arrived. Canyon just wasn't so sure what was happening so he couldn't stop looking at her.
But Canyon just about lost his mind when we found Spongebob. He loves Spongebob.
I loved that the characters wanted mom & dad in the pictures too.
Cadence actually chased Doc Brown down for a picture. She LOVES Back To The Future & I think Doc Brown was pretty excited to have a teenage girl shout "Doc Brown, Doc Brown! Can I take a picture with you?" He kept talking about our costumes & how the clothing of "the future" was mystical indeed.
But the thing that cracks me up more than anything is the expression of the guy in the background pointing at our family & smiling. Every other picture we took at the park has at least 1 person pointing & smiling at Canyon in his Dobby costume. I swear Canyon was the king of the park that day. Everyone wanted pictures of him or wanted pictures with him, including the staff.
Ooh, I can see Hogwarts . . .
On our way to Hogwarts, we stopped by Shrek's swamp. Poor Bladen tripped & hit his head pretty hard on the ground right before we took the picture so he's crying pretty hard. Poor little guy. But Canyon was SO excited to see Shrek.
And then we arrived . . . . & let me tell you. Magic. Truly magical in every way.
Everything about this place was amazing. Hogwarts was amazing. Hogsmeade was amazing. The witches & wizards all around were amazing. The BUTTERBEER was amazing. This place was what dreams were made of.
And then to top it off, we had Dobby the house elf with us. We couldn't walk 10 feet without someone oohing or aahing or pointing or taking a picture of him.
The first thing we did was get in line for the Hippogriff roller coaster. We convinced Taya it wasn't scary & she actually rode it with us.
I loved seeing Buckbeak in his nest. The kids thought that was pretty cool.
And you got a great view of Hogwarts from the coaster as well. Turns out, it was a fast roller coaster & Taya wound up in tears afterward (she's pretty much scared of any ride that is faster than the Dumbo ride at Disneyland, but kudos to her for trying.). But the boys LOVED it. Even Canyon was begging to ride it again.
After the ride we got in line to go to Ollivander's wand shop. It was a Saturday & 1 week before Christmas, so the entire park was crazy packed with people. We waited in line a little over an hour, but the kids did good. They kept busy talking to everyone who wanted to take a picture with them. Lots of people commented on their costumes & asked them where they were from. They enjoyed that.
Ollivander's was magical. There were wands everywhere & the kids enjoyed the little show inside the shop. They do a really great job there. After the show, we went into the actual wand shop & Cadence, Lorien, & Craiger all bought interactive wands with their Christmas money from Opa & Oma. Craiger got Harry Potter's wand, Cadence got Luna Lovegood's wand, & Lorien got Dumbledore's wand (aka the Elder Wand).
Once we had our wands in hand, we started exploring Hogsmeade with our wands. There were SO many different little places where the kids could use their wands to make magical things happen. They made a feather fly, a quidditch trunk unlatch, a music box open, & several other fun interactive displays.
They were having a blast with their wands. While they played, I took Taya & Bladen to the owlery to buy owls. Taya spent her Christmas money on a Hedwig puppet & Bladen bought a brown owl.
We spent probably 3 hours just there at Harry Potter World. The girls wanted to ride the big Harry Potter ride, but the line was almost 2 hours long so we decided to split up. Trek took the little kids to a few other things & I took the girls on the ride.
But we stopped at the Hogwarts Express before we split up.
I thought waiting in line for 2 hours was going to be awful, but much to my surprise, it was the best que I've ever seen. We actually had a TON of fun. It was great bonding time with me & my older girls.
Once we got inside the castle part, we had to put our purses & phones into lockers so I couldn't take pictures of the rest of the line, but it was amazing. We literally spent an hour winding around Hogwarts castle. We saw the house points, the portrait corridor (with talking/moving pictures), the fat lady, Dumbledore's office (with Fawkes & the pensive), the Defense Against the Dark Arts Room, & more. Seriously, that line was like a ride itself. I loved it.
The ride itself was amazing. If you ride only one ride at Universal Studios. . . THIS IS IT. It was long, it was exciting, it was scary, & it was FUN. I wanted to ride it over & over again, but we didn't have the time.
While the girls & I rode that ride, Trek took the little guys to Minion land . . .
and to a Shrek movie. They had a blast.
After we met back up again, we all went to the Universal Studios special effects show which was exciting for everyone & then rode the Backlot Tour. It was also an hour wait, but the ride itself lasted almost an hour & a half. I was surprised. It was a nice long ride & a lot of fun. It's changed over time, but I like the changes. The kids wanted to ride it again . . . ha ha ha. But we didn't have time.
After the backlot tour we headed over to the dinosaur wing of the park. Bladen is obsessed with dinosaurs & he had waited patiently all day to ride the Jurassic Park ride. While the big kids rode it, I took Taya (who was scared to ride a dinosaur ride), Craiger, & Canyon to the dino jungle gym. They loved that.
It was really really cold at this point so there was absolutely NO line for the Jurassic Park ride since it was a "wet" ride. So they decided to ride it again & this time Craiger went with them. He was a little nervous, but ended up LOVING it.
Meanwhile, Taya & Canyon & I explored some minions & the rest of the dino area.
We even had an encounter with a raptor. . . which pretty much gave both of them nightmares for a few days. The actors made you feel like this thing was real that even I was scared for a minute when I "got to close" & the trainor screamed "NOT THAT CLOSE!" Taya pretty much ran & hid behind a trash can, but Canyon let me get him somewhat close for a picture. He wasn't sure if he liked it or not though. He would smile, then look at the raptor, then cry, then smile. It was kind of hilarious.
It was cold & getting late, but we went back to Harry Potter World one more time just for a little more magic before going home.
And I got my frozen butter beer. . . even though it was FREEZING outside.
And we even ran into Dumbledore & Professor Sprout in one of the stores.
Finally we took one last turn to Minionland where everyone rode the minion ride while I hung out with Canyon in the Minion store. He was happy as he could be.
He bought a minion toy with his money from Opa & Oma.
And then it was time to go. Thank you Universal Studios for the most magical day ever.