I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan, love reading (and re-reading) the books, delight in the movies and have had plenty of dreams where I could cast a nifty spell. Imagine my delight about visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during Family Forward this month! I can’t wait to tell you all about it – in the meantime, enjoy these 100+ DIY Harry Potter Ideas for crafts, recipes, printables and much more!
As part of the Family Forward Event, we received a discounted stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Florida as they were a sponsor. All opinions are mine alone.
I know this is months overdue, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to write about where we stayed during the Family Forward event, and why we’ll stay at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort again! Between the fantastic staff, beautiful rooms and views, plus the many perks, it’s the perfect hotel for your next Orlando family vacation.
One of the several perks of this resort is that it’s within walking distance to Universal Studios and Harry Potter World – and the little pathway that leads you there is actually really pretty, so a nice little stroll to start or end your day. Don’t want to walk? No problem – they have little boats that take you to and from City Walk all day long! The kids thought it was lots of fun catching the boat – and I’m happy to say we prevented any toys or stuffed animal souvenirs from going overboard 🙂
I love the views, and the overall look and atmosphere, at this hotel – so tropical! From the bridge over the river as you enter, to the flowers and fountains all over – even the leis they drape around your neck as you arrive – make it a really neat experience right from the start.
The beds were typical hotel beds – clean and comfy, which is what matters. We got 4 queens (2 joining rooms) so slept my in-laws in one bed, us in one bed, and the kids sleeping 2 per bed in the others. The kids loved hanging out in the room and playing on the ‘puffy’ beds….and they sure zonked from their fun-filled days at the end!
There’s several dining options right there at Loews Royal Pacific – but because we had so much going on, we only had a chance to dine at the poolside Bula Bar & Grill. Shaded with fans so we could escape the heat, it was great getting to enjoy being by the pool while eating tasty, fresh – and appropriately priced – foods. The kids meals were plenty, especially with all the fruit as a side, and even the adult meals were fantastic.
We never did get to try out the pool – but heard from others (and saw the several times we walked by) that it was a lot of fun, with a boat play area and plenty of space. At night they even did Hula shows right there poolside!
The view from our room was also gorgeous, even when it rained (every afternoon).
Keeping with the Polynesian-type theme, these newly remodeled rooms were fantastic! Being a fan of purple, I especially loved the wall murals and accents.
Downstairs is where you can get your tickets and special passes (with resort stay, you get the Express Unlimited Ride Pass with your Universal tickets, giving you less wait times) AND you get to enter Harry Potter World an hour before the general public. Yes, that hour is DEFINITELY worth it!
Guys, the staff here was amazing – from the valet and bell hops at the entrance, to the check-in staff, catering and even our cleaning staff – they all made sure we were happy and knew they were there to make our stay the best it can be. One night a very squeaky cart went down the hall repeatedly at about 4am, waking some of us up. I mentioned it to the staff and they were immensely sorry, ensured it wouldn’t happen again – and it didn’t!
One night we did have an issue where our room cards were somehow deactivated – we couldn’t get into our rooms! It must have been a busy time of day, because it took about 30 minutes of one of us plus the kids standing outside the room in case someone came, and the other going down to customer service to ask for them for help. It was a bit frustrating – having wasted that time when we wanted to head out, and having to ask more than once for help, but other than the kids being impatient and trying to keep them quiet while stuck in the hallway it wasn’t a big deal. I’m sure that’s not a common occurance anyway, and we all know how technology can be finicky sometimes!
The ONLY other semi-complaint about Loews Royal Pacific Resort was that every day there were pizza flyers slid under our door – sometimes 3 or 4 a day. Not a big deal, just a waste of paper and a little frustrating.
I won’t hesitate to stay here again – and highly recommend it for YOUR next family vacation to Universal Orlando!
Our family attended the 2015 Family Forward Conference, and as such we received several discounted and sponsored experiences, meals and other perks provided by the sponsors of the event. This is simply a recap of my experience that I want to share with y’all. #FamilyForward #UniversalMemories
I know you’ve probably been going nutty waiting to hear how our first time joining the Family Forward event went, right? I meant to share some of our fun times sooner – but there were seriously SO MANY pictures to go through! I also needed to think of how I wanted to break it up, because there’s absolutely no way to fit everything into one or two posts. I’m thinking 5-8 over the next few weeks? Then I can really give you the great details of The Crazy Good of Family Forward!
This post is going to break down the actual Family Forward stuff – not including the days in Universal with the special VIP Tour we got Saturday, or the exclusive time at Wet ‘n Wild park. Those will come later! And just a note – some of these photos were taken by the Family Forward team – the better ones! While we’re on that note – the team that put this together is AMAZING! A big shout-out to (from left to right in this picture) Kendra, Marissa, Jyl and Melinda for all their hardwork and fun attitudes!
Plus THANK YOU to their families and everyone else – I know it takes a village to put something like this together, and they were phenomenal! Plus this lovely lady Meredith, our rep from Universal Studios Orlando, was such a fabulous hostess even though she entirely lost her voice right before the event – what a trooper!
We signed up for Family Forward RIGHT when registration opened (sold out super fast) but kept it a big secret from the kiddos all these months! They had no idea – until Thursday morning we woke them up way early, had them get dressed and in the van, and drove to the airport. Once we were on the plane with another family that was going, we pulled out some fun activity bags filled with goodies like Minions, Transformers and Harry Potter stuff and told them. They were THRILLED!
Since we knew we’d need help with the kiddos, we invited hubby’s parents along for the trip – such a great opportunity to make fun memories with grandma and grandpa! After we check into the fabulous Loews Royal Pacific Hotel (post coming soon), grabbing a tasty lunch at their poolside grill, and settling down in the room a bit, it was time for the first Family Forward activity – a Superhero party sponsored by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals!
We got capes and masks, put together care packages to help raise funds for kids fighting cancer and other diseases, and even got to color and write cards to help cheer those in the hospitals up!
We had so much fun! We decided our family’s super power was working together.
Some people REALLY dressed up for the superhero party – sadly our hero costumes are in storage for the whole house selling crap, so we settled for Avenger shirts!
Following the party, we hopped on buses that took us to a back studio where Universal sponsored an AMAZING dinner – with 5 or 6 different food stations all themed (salad bar cart, pasta station with Italian decor, etc.) and plenty of characters to meet. Plus – we were welcomed in style with a red carpet, live band and applause! Ya – we may have gotten a bit ‘blessed’ (remember, I don’t use spoiled as a good thing – it’s BLESSED) 😀
Black Widow was most excited to meet Marilyn Monroe and Betty Boop – saying ‘mom, they’re so pretty!’ Shaggy was PERFECT for his character, and along with his pal Scooby Doo took a lot of time visiting with the families. You can’t forget Gru and his crew of Minions, of course!
Guess what we got to do after the dinner party?! Universal Studios Orlando put us on the Hogwarts Express and sent us to Hogsmeade for an EXCLUSIVE couple of hours there where it was ONLY Family Forward attendees! Free Butterbeer, dessert bar, hardly any wait for the rides, taking our time walking through Hogwarts Castle, wand-purchases – seriously it was THE BEST! I’m going to go into a LOT more detail about the Harry Potter stuff & Hogsmeade in a later post because it deserves it’s own!
If you have no idea what that is – it’s a special playdough type thing in tubes you can stick into the crafting gun, then just squeeze and it decorates any surface! The boys needed a little assistance squeezing the gun handle, but my girl handled it like a pro!
They even let us keep our masterpieces – and we managed to pack them flat and get them home without any damage – woot woot!
Royal Caribbean International provided us a neat, tropical lunch and even brought along one of their characters for a photo opp – Shrek! I was lucky enough to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise for a conference in January – and after seeing all they have for kids to do, I can’t wait to take my family on a cruise with this fun company!
After lunch was a really neat science experiment involving DNA sponsored by Monsanto, along with yummy colored melons for snack. The kids got necklaces at the end with a sealed vial of strawberry DNA at the end – how many kids can say they have that?!
We enjoyed not only the learning we got to do, but the family teamwork! I started to wonder if Iron Man would ever take his orange safety goggles off 😀
That night we got a special time at Wet ‘n Wild water park – 2 hours with everyone (it did rain a bit, but then cleared and was perfect) then 2 hours JUST OUR FAMILY FORWARD GROUP! Yup, told you we were blessed! They even provided us dinner vouchers – yum! Again, that deserves it’s own post (coming soon).
Saturday morning brought us to a delicious breakfast buffet at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville in CityWalk! Loved the decor, the DJ was so fun, and we got to rock out to some fun dancing and tunes. Great way to start the day!
We then broke into groups of about 12 – and received a VIP Tour of Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure! Seriously, this was AMAZING – straight onto the major rides with basically no wait, insider tips and information, backlot sites and so much more. LOVED IT! The 4 hours went by so fast, and we had an absolute blast! I’ll share a bit more of that in later post, too!
That night we got to enjoy The Blue Man Group! I’ve never seen them before and wasn’t sure if the kids would like it – but as soon as the show started they were on the edge of their seats (Hulk woke up from his little cat nap), danced to the music, laughed along and absolutely loved it!
The lovely Melinda from the Family Forward Team even got to go up and be part of the act!
We had a free day Sunday until a ridiculously delicious dinner in CityWalk at either the CowFish or VIVO, an Italian place. We picked Cowfish (sushi – like hubby could resist!) – more to come on that in a later post, though! Seriously, this entire event was unforgettable and I can’t wait to do it again!
Thank you SO MUCH to Family Forward and Universal Studios Orlando!
We had so much fun at our recent visit with Family Forward to Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! As part of our big ‘surprise bag’ we put together for the kids when we got there, I made this super fun and budget-friendly DIY Book of Spells for each kiddo! I thought it would be the perfect thing to share for this month’s Halloween themed Craft Lightning!
I was able to finish the first one in just about 15 minutes start to finish, then the rest were only a few minutes each since I’d already cut out the designs. Plus, each one only cost a couple bucks for everything! So fun that they have their own Book of Spells, and plenty of blank pages to journal their fun, or even make up their own spells and potions!
- Small, blank notebooks ($2-$3 at Walmart)
- Vinyl in colors of choice, or use paper and glue it on
- Silhouette, Cricut or stencil to cut out shapes
DIY Book of Spells Directions
- Cut out your vinyl/paper. You can nab the silhouette files I used for my 5″ notebooks HERE and HERE.
- Attach it to the cover of the notebook as desired – mix it up with fun colors and designs!
Originally I was just going to keep it like this…..
….but then decided it needed a little more accents to it, so used the moon from the corners to add to the Title, and the dots at the end of the wand for a little ‘magic’.
Much better, don’t you think? I really wished I had some brown vinyl for the wands, but this works out well also. The kids were thrilled to get them – and for the tiny bit of money and time it was more than worth it!
What are YOUR favorite spells from Harry Potter?
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I’m writing this a week before we head to Orlando, Florida for an AMAZING social media event at Universal Studios! I can’t tell you how excited I am, and we’ve been having fun Getting Ready for Family Forward with Minion Bingo Free Printables! #FamilyForwarrd #UniversalOrlando
It’s been planned since we bought tickets to Family Forward MONTHS ago, and the best part? We haven’t told our kids! We’re going to wake them up early on the 3rd (when you’ll probably be reading this), tell them we’ve got a surprise and head to the airport. Neither hubby or I will say a word about this great adventure until we land. Woot woot! Fingers crossed I can keep my mouth shut until then. And big SHOUT-OUT to my sis-in-law for staying at our home while we’re gone to keep our dogs and everything safe!
Even though the kids have no idea why, I’ve been doing more things involving the trip – Minions, Harry Potter (squeal!), Transformers and more. Another Dallas blogger and her family are going, and it turns out we’re on the same flight there – and her girls are about the same age as my Black Widow! They’re going to have so much fun – and she’s keeping it a secret, too.
With all the extra things I’ve been doing, I pulled together these fun Bingo cards because, well, why the heck not?! There’s three pages, and each has TWO different Bingo cards for a total of SIX different cards.
Between exclusive time at the parks, a VIP tour, performance from The Blue Man Group and more, it’s going to be an AMAZING event where I plan to make so many great memories with my family. We’ve been so busy lately, we’re definitely due for some quality time together! I have so many more ideas, recaps and such coming your way so stay tuned – and ‘hello’ from Orlando (where I’ll be when this post goes live!) 😀