The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Well you probably wish I would have been finishing my parents’ family room or my master bedroom over this past weekend, but instead we took a little trip to the Wizardly World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando. And it was a BLAST! I sure am tired today, but it’s totally worth it. So since I have no new big project to show you, here’s some quick pics from the last couple days…

universal studios picFirst of all, if you’re thinking of ever going to Universal Studios, spend the money to stay at a hotel onsite. You automatically get an Express Pass to skip ahead in line. Totally worth it. Some waits were about 1 hour, but with our Express Pass we got on the ride in 10 minutes or less. Plus you get into the park an hour before everyone else.

And you get to stay in really cool hotels, like this one…

hotelThis is the Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel. A little slice of Italy right in Florida!

loews portofino bay hotelSo if you remember my Christmas post, this was Ellie’s Christmas gift from us. Ok… not really. We’ve just never really taken a family vacation before and this was our excuse. She’s obsessed with anything Harry Potter so visiting Hogwarts and Diagon Alley was her dream come true.

diagon alleyOur first stop was Olivander’s to pick up a wand.

olivanders wand shop orlandoAnd Ellie was lucky enough to get picked for a wand fitting!
Talk about beginner’s luck… or really cute dimples.

olivanders wand shopThe rest of Diagon Alley was straight out of the movie.

diagon alley harry potterIncluding George and Fred’s shop filled with tricks and candies.

diagon alley harry potter worldOur favorite stop in Diagon Alley was Gringott’s Bank.

gringotts bank in orlandoYou get a tour of the place with these amazingly realistic goblins while you wait for the ride. Unbelievable attention to detail in this place!

gringotts bank goblinsNext we snapped a quick pic with the knight bus driver and the shrunken head. Yep, the head actually talked to us. Ellie thought it was hilarious.

night train harry potterWe followed up with a quick meal at The Leaky Cauldron. Throughout the Wizardly World of Harry Potter you can get Butter Beer, a sweet concoction that kind of tastes like butterscotch. I was only able to drink half at lunch because it was so sweet.

leaky cauldron restaurantThe next day we took the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade.

hogwarts express orlandoYou even got to walk through the brick wall at Platform 9 3/4.

hogwarts express train stationAnd when you get off the train from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade,
you’re greeted with this…

hogwarts schoolI wish we would have taken photos inside this castle, but you need to store your items in a locker before getting on the ride that’s inside.

Once we were done touring Hogwarts, we had some fun on the other rides like Jurassic Park. We’re in the last row at the very top of the photo. Now wait for it….

jurassic park rideYeah, Ellie’s expression is priceless.
I guess that hill was a little taller than we realized.

ellies faceThe last night we caught the parade just before sunset.

orlando universal studios paradeAnd snapped a couple tourist pics…

universal studios florida

universal studios vacation

family vacationJust two and a half days in the park, but it was actually the perfect amount of time. We had a blast, and walked about 12 miles a day. So please excuse me while I go soak my feet…

Back to the Real World

Well if you noticed that I’ve been a little absent for the past two weeks,
it’s because of this…

on the beachAnd yes, you read that right.
I’ve been laying on the beach for the past two weeks.
And I loved every minute of it.

building sandcastlesThe first week of vacation was spent with my family. It’s a tradition every year for my parents to take the kids and grandkids to Panama City Beach, Florida for a week. Lots of time on the beach, in the pool, going out to dinner, and just relaxing as a family.

vacation cousinsOh, and building gigantic sand castles to remind us of home.
We called it “Sand Louis”.

building sandcastlesWell after a week in Florida, we came home for one day then it was off to Riviera Cancun, Mexico with my co-workers. Yep, you read that right.

mexico vacationI often brag about my “day job” with the cool perks I get, but this one tops them all. An all expense paid trip with your significant other that doesn’t count against your vacation time… can’t complain about that.

mexico resortThis year we went to a Secrets Resort called Maroma. It was simply GORGEOUS. Some of the prettiest views in Riviera Cancun, plus clean hotel rooms, great food, and well… relaxation.

mexico all inclusive hotelSome of the hotel rooms even had hot tubs on the balcony.
Umm… awesome.

mexico hotel viewBut after two weeks on the beach, it was finally time to get back home and back to blogging. I haven’t had much time recently to work on projects, but I’m slowing getting back into the swing of things.

mexico vacationSo pardon me if these next few days seem slow as well. I promise to get back to the real world soon. Cause trust me, I’ve barely scratched the surface in the new house and these bare rooms are begging for makeovers.