Having a Moment

Do you ever wake up and realize you’re three days away from turning 21?!

No? Okay, maybe it’s just me.

I’m currently having a moment. Growing up is scary–really scary. But that’s why I’m spending my 21st birthday in Walt Disney World, because not only is it my happy place, but it has no age limit.

Since I leave Thursday for my magical weekend, I decided to share one of my favorite Disney moments with all of you. Who doesn’t love to hear about magical moments?!

Here goes:

I am a Disney Princess. I may not be an official one, but I’m totally an honorary one. However, as much as I love princess interactions, I was so excited to meet Mickey Mouse, for the first time, during my last trip to Disney. Everyone remembers the first time they met the mouse that started it all, and I made it a priority to meet him.

My family, boyfriend and I were walking through Epcot and were passing the Epcot Character Spot. The wait time said five minutes, so we decided to head inside because really, who can resist such a small wait time? We had NO idea what character(s) we were going to meet, which only increased the anticipation. I didn’t have an autograph book, but I had a fanny pack my boyfriend had bought for me with a Mickey Mouse stitched on it by my mom. I whipped out my sharpie as we rounded the corner, and I gasped as I saw who we were in line to meet: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy.

I completely freaked out. I was about to meet the big cheese, the boss man himself. When it was our turn, Mickey hugged each of us, joked around with my boyfriend and dad, and took a picture with us. When we got back in line to continue meeting the rest of the characters, I realized I hadn’t gotten him to sign my fanny pack. My mom flagged him over, and he LEFT his meeting spot and came to us in line. He happily took my fanny pack and the sharpie, signed the entire front of my fanny pack, handed it back to me and hugged me. I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t crying right now thinking back to that moment.

You can say that it’s childish and silly, but to me it’s a memory I will cherish forever. One day I hope to be a Cast Member, and I can’t wait for the day that I can call him my new ‘boss.’

Okay. NOW I’m excited for my birthday. Let the magical festivities begin!

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Do you remember the first time you met Mickey Mouse?

What has been your favorite character interaction?

Welcome to Diagon Alley

It’s no secret that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter–Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure has been a huge success since its grand opening in June of 2010. However, the creative team at Universal has brought to life an area that very well may trump its predecessor. What area is this, you may ask?

Why, it’s the Wizarding World of Harry Potter–Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.

Tip #1: Get to the park BEFORE it opens.

I cannot stress how important this is. For the remainder of the summer, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure will open at 8 a.m. each morning. Diagon Alley is located in Studios, so make your way there FIRST. If you are under the impression that you can get into IOA, ride the Hogwarts Express (more to come on this later), and get into Diagon Alley that way, you’re wrong. You will STILL have to wait on a line in order to get into Diagon Alley, so your best bet is to go straight to Studios.

When my family and I arrived on July 9th (the day after Diagon Alley was officially open to the public), we were allowed into the park before 8 a.m. and were held with the rest of the early morning crowd behind a rope on the ‘street’ that is home to Terminator 2: 3D and Theatre Magic (aka the ‘Hollywood’ section). *Note: On-site resort guests were able to get into Diagon Alley starting at 7 a.m.* When 8 a.m. arrived, Universal employees walked WITH the rope down toward the entrance to the line for Diagon Alley, which is located next to Men In Black: Alien Attack. This was an excellent strategy for crowd control–it allowed the guests to safely, and SLOWLY, make their way through the park, reducing the risk of injury and fights. I was quite impressed with this, actually. Kudos, Universal.

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Once we made it over to the entrance to the line, we were only held up for about 25-30 minutes until we were moving, fast, through the queues. We did stop a few times briefly after this, but we were able to enter London and make our way into Diagon Alley within an hour. Yes, you read that right. The day after the grand opening and we were IN Diagon Alley by 9 a.m. You may gasp. I won’t blame you.

Tip #2: Do Not Take A Return Ticket

If you are already on line to get into Diagon Alley, do NOT, for any reason, leave to get a return ticket, thinking that it will save you time. We saw several people get off the line to get return time tickets that ranged from 9:30-10 a.m. Had they stayed on the line, they would have gotten in WELL before those return times. If you are waking up early to get into Diagon Alley, just wait on the line. It’s the best option if you want to experience everything, including the new ride, before the day is over.

We entered London and even though we all wanted to stop and and take pictures, we were on a mission: Get in line for Harry Potter and The Escape From Gringotts. We walked through the ‘wall’ into Diagon Alley, and were immediately greeted by the focal point of the entire area–Gringotts Bank and its guard dragon. That first sight is honestly breathtaking. My jaw dropped, and I walked in a daze, snapping quick photos as we made our way to the line. The current wait time was 330 minutes, or five and a half hours. No surprise there. However, we took a different route, and this is my third tip for you.

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Tip #3: Wait in the Single Rider line

Okay, okay. I know half the fun of this attraction is the line itself, but if this is your first trip to Universal, do you want to spend a HUGE chunk of your day waiting in line for this ride? In addition, if you’re one of the unlucky few (or hundred) that waited 5+ hours just to get INTO Diagon Alley, do you want to wait another 5 for the ride? That would be 10 hours just waiting in lines. If you have older children that can ride alone, do the single rider line. You may not get to experience the entire queue area, but you do get a quick glimpse of the bank on your way to a hidden corridor until you meet up with the other line in a stairwell leading up to the attraction. Trust me. It’s better in the long run.

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My family and I waited approximately two hours to ride and, luckily for us, we got to ride with each other! My dad and mom got to ride together, and my sister and I got to ride together. In fact, my sister and I got to ride twice. While we were on the ride, it stopped moving. While it didn’t bother us too much because we’ve dealt with malfunctions on new rides before and understand that it happens, many guests were outraged. The whole ‘experience’ was kind of ruined because we did miss a few parts, so the employees allowed us to ride again with a minimal wait. I was very pleased with how they handled this, but I was disgusted by the rude remarks made by the guests who were getting to ride AGAIN.

They were completely rude to the attraction attendants who, of course, have no control over the ride malfunctioning, and are allowing all of us (and there were quite a few of us) to ride again. Be courteous and respectful to these employees. They’re doing their best and it isn’t their fault. Keep the curse words and nasty attitudes to a minimum, please.

I won’t spoil the ride for those of you who will be making a trip to Universal and want to be surprised, but I will say that it’s very different from Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey. If I were to describe it, I would say it’s a mix of Revenge of The Mummy and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. However, I honestly won’t be waiting to ride it again until that wait time goes WAY down–but that’s just me.

Within 3 1/2 hours, we had gotten into Diagon Alley and rode Gringotts (twice, in my case). We were feeling like winners–we had managed to do the impossible. This left plenty of time to explore Diagon Alley and, of course, take a ride on the Hogwarts Express.

Tip #4: Stop and Smell The Roses

There may not be any actual roses to stop and smell, but the point of this tip is that it’s important that you take your time to truly explore and take in everything that Diagon Alley has to offer. Watch the stage shows, get a butterbeer ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour (which, in my opinion, is better than ButterBeer), get in touch with your silly side in Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, purchase a wand from Ollivanders, explore Knockturn Alley, or exchange your Muggle money for Gringotts Bank Notes at Gringotts Money Exchange. There’s so many things to do, and once you leave Diagon Alley you may not be able to get back in due to long lines, so make sure you do everything you want to do before you head out!

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Before leaving Diagon Alley, of course we had to dine at the Leaky Cauldron. The atmosphere was perfect, the food was good, and the service was friendly. If you’re not feeling courageous enough to try their signature dishes, there are a few familiar dishes that are sure to satisfy your hunger, including a chicken sandwich. I would definitely recommend eating here during your trip to Diagon Alley.

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Upon leaving Diagon Alley, we visited the Knight Bus before heading into Kings Cross Station, where we would board the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure.

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This leads me to my fifth tip for you:

Tip #5: Make Sure You Have a Park-to-Park Ticket

Because you will be traveling from Universal Studios Florida to Islands of Adventure, you need a park-to-park ticket, or an annual pass, in order to board the Hogwarts Express. Unless you really have no desire to explore the other park (I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to), then definitely get the park-to-park ticket. You’ll be able to fully experience everything the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to offer, as well as the other attractions within both parks.

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Another side tip–ride the Hogwarts Express in both directions, meaning ride it from Kings Cross to Hogsmeade and then from Hogsmeade to Kings Cross. You get a different experience each way, and they’re both worth experiencing.

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I hope this post has helped you with your own Universal trip planning, has gotten you excited, or has informed you in some way. If you have any questions about anything mentioned or anything left out, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment! I’d love to help make your trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter even more magical.

Oh, and don’t forget to stop and take a picture of the dragon breathing fire 😉

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Big Summer Blowout Indeed!

Can I, just, say something crazy?!

(I hope you love crazy!)

Disney is giving you the chance to ‘finally do what frozen things do in summer’ starting July 5 when “Frozen Summer Fun–Live at Disney’s Hollywood Studios” debuts!

This summer-long event, beginning on July 5 and ending on September 1, gives guests the chance to experience the world of “Frozen” in a way they’ve only dreamed about–until now.

Here’s a list of the cool events and experiences you can partake in if you’re heading to DHS this summer:

Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome– Everyday at 11:00 a.m., your favorite royal sisters will make their way down Hollywood Boulevard in a horse-drawn sleigh, greeting guests along the way! Kristoff will be there, too, along with various ice skaters, skiers, and more. Once Anna and Elsa reach the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage, they will officially welcome their royal friends to ‘Hollywoodland.’

Olaf on Summer Vacation– Oh the sky will be blue, and hopefully you’ll be there, too! Olaf is finally letting off steam and enjoying his very first summer vacation, and you’re invited to join in the fun! Pick up a Take-Along Olaf from various locations throughout the park (TBA) so he can be part of your summer adventures during your day at DHS. Don’t forget to snap some photos and upload them to your social media sites using the hashtag #OlafSummerVacation. You may even see your pictures displayed later on that night!

For The First Time In Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration–

I mean, it’s crazy.

What?

We finish each others–

LYRICS!

Anna and Elsa invite guests to join them in the Premiere Theatre for a retelling of their kingdom’s history along with sing-along moments from “Frozen.”

Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland– Yoohoo! Big Summer Blowout! Soundstage One has been taken over by Oaken and his cousins who have created a frozen funland, just for YOU! Inside you will find cold weather activities, fun photo opportunities, and much more! There’s even a frozen pond where ice skating demonstrations will be held, a “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” play area for children, plenty of “Frozen” merchandise, and special “Frozen” inspired foods and beverages.

“Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party– For the first time in forever, I’ll be dancing through the night…at DHS! At 5:30 p.m. each day, a DJ and live band take over the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage to bring you classic and contemporary summer rock ‘n’ roll hits. They’ll even play a medley of “Frozen” songs to get you dancing!

“Frozen” Fireworks Spectacular– Is your day at Disney ever complete without a fireworks show? Mine isn’t, and Disney has prepared for that! At 9:45 p.m. each night, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf will come together on the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage for a grand finale to end the day’s festivities. But, of course, the real finale will be the thrilling, and enchanting, fireworks display set to music of “Frozen!”

I will rise like the break of dawn out of my bed to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for “Frozen Summer Fun” this summer! How about you?

Will you guys be there, too?!

Hopefully a trip to the wonderful world of “Frozen” is in your immediate future! ❤

*All information featured in this post can be found on the Disney Parks Blog!*