We’ve been out of school for a week. ONE WEEK. Already my kids have had moments when they pull the ‘I’m Bored’ card. Luckily there were so many great ideas in my original 75+ Summer Activities post for me to look to – but why stop there? Y’all loved that list so much, I decided to share 75+ MORE Summer Activities! Plenty of fun kid activities, crafts, family games and even delish summer snacks you can all enjoy.
I participated in Family Forward 2015, resulting in extra experiences and discounts. See more info here.
I freely admit that I’m a HUGE fan of Harry Potter – and my girl is even more so! She was in the middle of the series when we had our First Harry Potter World Experience in Orlando, so it was a really magical experience. Literally!
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Since there’s so much to tell about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I’m breaking it up into a few posts – this one I’ll share our thoughts on the atmosphere, rides and just the overall experience. Now there’s TWO separate areas for Harry Potter world – Diagon Alley in Universal Studios and then in Universal’s Islands of Adventure you have Hogsmeade. Make sure you have the park-hopper ticket so you can go between the two. The easiest way is on the Hogwarts Express, or you can just exit one park and go in the normal entrance of the other – but it’s quite a bit more walking as the Harry Potter stuff is near the back of both parks.
The Hogwarts Express was a fun experience – you get put into your own private train compartment (the 8 of us fit perfectly fine). Watch out the window and you can see some favorite characters from the show like Hagrid, the Weasley twins, even Hedwig! You HAVE to try the train both directions because each is completely different. Heads up – on the way from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade there’s a little dark moment with a ‘Dimentor’ (don’t worry, it’s just the screen and lights, not like a costumed person) that may scare little kids. Going the opposite way, those frightened of spiders may get a little ‘eeky’ moment, but again it’s just the screen. Our kids did fine after the first time, when they knew what to expect and just closed their eyes at that part. The train was one of their favorite things after that!
Be prepared and nab your Free Printable Universal Studios Florida Height Requirements here!
Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida
Right before you enter Diagon Alley from the Universal Park, you’ll see the Knight Bus – don’t forget to talk to the shrunken head and take some photos!
Head over to the famous ‘moving brick’ wall – the bricks don’t actually move, of course, but listen for the sound and your kids will be CERTAIN they can see them! Once through, there’s the path with plenty of shops and fun on both sides – and straight ahead is Gringotts bank, with the famous 60-ft Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon on top. He roars loudly and breathes fire every 10 minutes. You’ll hear a light rumble from him right before, so you have time to have your kids cover their ears if needed.
I LOVED the buildings and how well they did at making you truly feel like you were in Diagon Alley, even with all the ‘muggles’ around! A few stores down from the bank is the Gringotts Money Exchange – you can go in and talk to the head goblin, and even exchange your muggle money for some Gringotts Bank Notes (useable at Universal/Islands of Adventure as well as the Harry Potter lands – or keep as a souvenir). The kids thoughts this was AMAZING getting to use ‘wizard money’ to make some purchases.
Back by the Money Exchange is a out-of-the-way area which is less crowded than the main street – and has a lot of fun things to see such as a Mermaid well, The Hopping Pot (different beer brews, all FOUR varieties of Butter Beer, as well as some snacks and other drinks and Eternelle’s Elixers. The Elixer place is neat because you can buy different ‘potions’ (flavorings) to mix into your water for a fun little drink.
Both parks have PLENTY of photo opportunities – from a Hogwarts Express in Hogsmeade to a ton of fun window displays – try the Puking Pastilles at the Weasley’s joke shop in Diagon Alley. Check out the monster book or magical creatures at the pet shop, too!
I thought the Escape from Gringotts ride was remarkable – a 3-D, roller-coaster type ride where you need to get away from Voldemort, guards and more!
And yes, the top hat at Weasley’s store works just great – it’s right inside the brick entrance to Diagon Alley, and the Leaky Cauldron restaurant is right across from that. So much to do!
Rides in Diagon Alley: Escape from Gringotts, The Hogwarts Express
Where to eat in Diagon Alley: Leaky Cauldron, Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour
Shops at Diagon Alley: Ollivanders, Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, Borgin & Burkes, Magical Menagerie, Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Quality Quidditch Supplies
Hogsmead at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Hogwarts castle is definitely a centerpiece of Hogsmeade – huge, beautiful and the detail is incredible! Inside is the Forbidden Journey ride (this was amazing – feet hanging in the air as you ‘fly’ through a Quidditch match, escape a dragon and brave the forbidden forest – warning if you get motion sickness easily!) – but you get to walk though the castle rooms on your way to the ride entrance! The pictures move and talk, there’s fun wizard newspapers, say hi to The Fat Lady and the Sorting Hat, plus hear some words from Dumbledore in his office.
The castle looks even more beautiful at night – and the rooftops were ‘snow-covered’, making the whole experience as real as possible! I seriously couldn’t get over the amount of detail that went into the whole village!
The Dragon Challenge was fun – a roller coaster where you’re almost ‘racing’ the other coaster! Red or blue – which do you pick? My kiddos absolute FAVORITE ride of the entire vacation was Flight of the Hippogriff – a kid-friendly roller coaster that was decently fun for the adults (which is good since they asked us to go on it dozens of times) but a real non-scary thrill for the younger ones! Don’t forget to bow to Buckbeak!
Rides at Hogsmeade: The Forbidden Journey, Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff, The Hogwarts Express
Where to eat at Hogsmeade: Three Broomsticks
Shops at Hogsmeade: Dervish & Banges, Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods, Honeydukes, Ollivanders
We only had a few days for all of Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure AND the Harry Potter stuff, so it was a bit rushed. I wish I had a whole day to truly look around into each thing – perhaps next time!
Coming Soon: Food at Harry Potter World, Great stuff for your visit to Harry Potter World
Book your Universal & Harry Potter World Vacation Now – use promo code: BMHDisney for $10 off your package!
Check out other fun family vacation experiences!
Today I’m thrilled to be participating in See Vanessa Craft’s 20 Crafty Days of Christmas! I thought it’d be fun to share a new tradition we’re starting in our family – these adorable DIY Family Wish Wreath! Isn’t it festive?
To get the SIMPLE tutorial (really, it’s uber easy!) head on over to See Vanessa Craft and get your holiday craft on! I wonder what special things will be put into YOUR Family Wish Wreath!
Check our some of our other popular holiday posts from previous years!
I received some of these products to help facilitate this post. All opinions are mine alone. Some of the links are affiliate links.
Our family loves getting gifts we can all enjoy TOGETHER for the holidays – whether it’s games, an activity, tickets to an event, whatever. We decided to help others do do the same by sharing the Best Family Gifts for 2015!
The world’s most beloved beagle is back! A legend in his own mind. Snoopy takes off as the Flying Ace in constant pursuit of his nemesis; The Red Baron. It’s high-flying fast-paced fun around the Eiffel Tower as Woodstock and his team of mechanics lend support from the ground. Pick up the most tiles to win!
Professional-quality soft serve ice cream, yogurt, sorbet and sherbet is now available right at home, with the Cuisinart Mix It in Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker. Not only does it make everyone’s favorites, but with three built-in condiment dispensers, it makes them extra delicious! Just a pull of a tab send sprinkles, chips and other mix-ins down the chute to mix right into frozen desserts as cones or bowls are filled. Operation is fully automatic; simply pour in the ingredients and turn the dial!
Disney Infinity 3.0 Edition now welcomes Star Wars to the ever-growing collection of Marvel, Disney and Disney Pixar characters, stories and worlds. Together new heroes can join forces with characters from previous editions and embark on adventures as big as your imagination in the 3.0 Toy Box! Disney Infinity encourages you to play your way, whether you explore open-world creation in the Toy Box or story-driven gameplay inside Play Sets!
Now for the first time ever, a whole new world of Disney’s ALADDIN is revealed in a whole new way on Blu-ray and Digital HD — with never-before-seen bonus! With the help of a hysterically funny, shape-shifting, 10,000-year-old Genie, street-smart commoner Aladdin and clever, confident Princess Jasmine join forces against the evil sorcerer Jafar to put an end to his plans to take over the kingdom!
Exclusive Super Color technology offers a wider color range for true-to-life image projection, while sound enhancement technology delivers improved sound quality. With advanced audiovisual features, flexible connectivity options, and an affordable price, the PJD5155 is ideal for use in education and small business environments.
Whether you prefer Disneyland or world, Universal or a beachy cruise vacation – give your family the gift of memories! Plus, layaway is only $125!
Twist your words for the wordsmithing win with the Scrabble Twist game! The game unit displays 5 letters at a time, and the more 3-letter words you can find in them, the higher your score will be. Just tap and twist to bank each word and move on to the next! You can start in Easy mode and work your way up to being a pro, whether you’re playing against others or just yourself. With 3 games to choose from and room for up to 7 other opponents, if you can win Scrabble Twist you’ll know you’re the word champion!
Brushed Twill Bedrest in Navy provides a functional pillow that allows anyone to lay in bed and read work or just watch TV comfortably.
Monopoly: Here and Now Edition is a whole new twist on the classic property trading game.
Oh, a lovable misfit from another planet meets a girl named Tip. The two unlikely friends embark on the greatest journey of all time…the journey HOME.
What family wouldn’t get a hoot from risking a pie in the face? Have your camera ready!
Good intentions wreak havoc when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) unwittingly creates Ultron (James Spader), a terrifying A.I. monster who vows to achieve “world peace” via mass extinction. Now Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) — alongside Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) — must reassemble to defeat Ultron and save mankind…if they can!
Pass them out as gifts after the main event, Kids love playing with these. or save them for another fun occasion.Great Fun at Weddings, Birthdays Parties.
When 11-year-old Riley moves to a new city, her Emotions team up to help her through the transition. Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness work together, but when Joy and Sadness get lost, they must journey through unfamiliar places to get back home.
The Original Whirley-Pop stovetop hand-crank popcorn popper brings it all back with its one-of-a-kind design. You can enjoy light, flavorful popcorn (makes up to six quarts) that you prepare yourself right on the stovetop in just three minutes.
Meet the next generation of villains in Disney’s DESCENDANTS! Imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost, home of the most infamous villains who ever lived, the kids of Maleficent (Kristen Chenoweth), the Evil Queen, Jafar and Cruella De Vil have never ventured off the island… until now. Sent to idyllic Auradon to attend prep school alongside the children of beloved Disney heroes, these villainous kids must execute a plan that helps their evil parents achieve “world domination” once again! Will Maleficent’s daughter (Dove Cameron) and the other rebel teens follow in their rotten parents’ footsteps or will they choose to embrace their innate goodness and save the kingdom? Co-starring Booboo Stewart, Cameron Boyce and introducing newcomer Sofia Carson, this wickedly cool comedy adventure is awesome to the core!
Beat the Parents Family Challenge is the game of friendly family competition! Everyone competes in four kinds of events: Vision, Agility, Smarts, and Luck. Each event card deck has 27 unique mini games that share that theme. Vision games test your perception and visual memory such as memorizing a picture and then answering questions to see how much you remember. Agility games test your physical skills and dexterity, such as flipping and catching a medal with the card. Smarts games test your knowledge and quick-thinking ability. Rely on your good fortune with Luck games, which leave the outcome purely to chance. By the time all four Event Medals have been collected, the team that has won the most challenges and medals wins the game! With over 100 mini-games available to compete in, Beat the Parents Family Challenge is the ultimate game of family fun!
The Minions, breakout stars from “Despicable Me,” are presented in an origin story that showcases their unpredictable personality and physicality, and pairs them with equally memorable human characters. As it turns out, Minions have existed since the beginning of time. They have evolved from single (yellow) cell organisms into the familiar beings we know, and they live for a collective purpose: to seek out and serve the most despicable master they can find. Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock will lead the voice cast of the human characters as Scarlett Overkill, the world’s reigning super-villain of the 1960s.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #iamprotective #CollectiveBias
I don’t watch the news – it just makes me sad and concerned about the world. With social media, and especially being a blogger that’s online a lot, I can’t help but catch some things that happen. When I hear about a sudden tragedy to someone I know, even if it is just a little through blogging, it gives me a hard reality check! You never know when things will happen, and I want to ensure I plan ahead for Protecting the Ones I Love, should the worst happen, like Protective Life suggests in many of it’s articles.
Recently, a fellow blogger was away from home and her husband passed away. Suddenly, without warning, and she wasn’t even home! Just yesterday (as I write this) in my area a man was killed instantly when a texting driver hit him head on. He was a husband, father, grandfather, friend – just heading home from Kroger like a regular Saturday. He never made it home.
It’s things like this that I hear and just have to say a little prayer – for the families, of course, but also for my own family and how grateful I am that this hasn’t happened to us. But it could – nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. When Hubby and I first got married and had Black Widow, we knew that if something happened to one or both of us, we wanted her taken care of. Even though our friends thought we were crazy and ‘irresponsible’ we bought life insurance. Even at that young age, we wanted to protect our family. We have many friends who aren’t sure if they ‘need’ it or not – this article from Protective Life is helpful for people who aren’t quite sure.
Now that our circumstances have changed significantly since then, from now owning a home, having more children, a higher income we rely on and more financial responsibilities, these recent deaths made me realize I need to re-evaluate to see if what we have would still cover our needs. It’s super important to keep up with it – because looking into it now, I realize that what would have been plenty to provide for back then hardly covers our needs now!
Even though many think life insurance is just confusing, it’s actually quite a simple process to figure out – just see the 3 steps here. Once we re-access our insurance situation, we want to make sure we’re protecting our family in other ways too – for example, if Hubby died, I have no idea most of the computer passwords or where important files are. If I suddenly passed away, he’d be struggling badly trying to figure out our budget, when/how bills are paid and things such as that.
I continue to be grateful that our family hasn’t dealt with something so heart breaking and tragic (knock on wood), but I’m still going to ensure we’re protected in case it ever does happen. After all, this bunch of crazies is my whole world – whether I’m here or not, I want the best for them!