a surprise 13th birthday trip

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Cameron and I have been throwing around the idea of taking the kids on a surprise 13th birthday trip for a few years. Before we knew it the time was coming to pull the trigger or not. So we pulled :) Last fall Aiden and I finished the Harry Potter series (me for the 2nd time) and since then he's been dying to go to Universal Studios Orlando to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We knew we would somehow make the trip this year so we decided why not make his 13th birthday surprise trip! Originally we were just going to take him but in all honesty everything we do we do together. So it seemed kind of wrong planning a trip without the 5 of us. So planning away I went. I found an amazing deal for plane tickets and park tickets which made it easy. The hotel was the hardest part. I knew an on site would break the budget so we found one right outside the park entrance that ended up working out nicely. Now we had to plan how to surprise him. That was the fun part! At their school every Wednesday is a half day plus with his birthday being that Friday (Feb 1) it was a no brainer to try and leave after school Wednesday so they could miss the least amount of days possible. So Cameron and I picked them up last Wednesday and told them they had a dentist appt. They were a little surprised Cameron was with me but we just told them that he didn't feel like going to work and they didn't really question it. After picking them up we pulled over to a gas station and Cameron got a gift bag out of the back of his truck and gave it to Aiden. In the bag was a letter from Hogwarts inviting him to the school, 3 tickets for the Hogwarts Express and a Hogwarts t-shirt. I filmed his reaction and y'all it was amazing! At first he guessed going to Universal and he was excited but this was his reaction when I told him we were going straight to the airport.

and Ash and Amelia's.

It was perfect! They were so excited especially when we told them we would be at the parks for 3 days! So off we went!

The flight was great and getting there and to the hotel was easy breezy. It was already late so after checking in and dropping off our bags we walked to the closest restaurant and grabbed dinner then headed back to get rested up for our first day at Universal!


Our goal for today was to spend the majority (if not all) the day at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. I had done a bunch of research and decided to start off in Diagon Alley just like Harry did. Walking up to the parks we were SO excited!

There was hardly anyone there which was amazing! We grabbed all the kids 1st time visit buttons and Aiden a birthday button and off we went! Before heading back to Diagon Alley we stopped by the Night Bus and had a chat.

Then grabbed a picture with Kreature at the Black house

And into Diagon Alley we went!

Y'all I almost cried. I'm the biggest nerd ever but I was so taken back by how beautiful and real everything was. So much more then I could have imagined.

While standing in line at Ollivander's we saw the dragon breathe fire!

Then into Ollivander's for the wand ceremony. I was really hoping Aiden would get chosen but he didn't and that was totally fine. When we walked into the store he started checking out the wands and immediately grabbed the Ivy one.

As they say the wand chooses you. We also let him get the interactive one so he could get the full experience.

We decided to ride Gringotts because the wait was only 15 minutes. Everything in here looked so real! It was unbelievable.

This place was amazing! And the ride...oh man it was my favorite. I just loved it :)

We stopped and let Aiden try some spells

before heading into Knockturn Alley

Next it was off to get Aiden the proper school robes!

Love my fellow Hufflepuff :)

And of course we had to try some butter beer

It was delicious! Needless to say we had more then a few on the trip. We walked around a bit more, stopped in a few shops and bought some goodies.

I just couldn't get enough of Diagon Alley. It was so magical and everything was perfect. Around lunchtime we did decide to head over to King's Cross station to hop on the Hogwarts Express!

Walking through Kings Cross station was really neat. There was a small wait but we didn't mind because we just took it all in. You even get to walk through platform 9 3/4 and I wish that I had a better video of it because from the side it really looks like you are walking through a wall. Very neat.

The train ride was so much fun! It has Harry, Ron and Hermione, Dementors in the hall...such a neat experience!

And then we were in Hogsmeade! 

I was dying to see the Castle so we walked through and up to get a good view of the castle. So magical! 

It was lunch time so we walked back down to grab lunch at the Three Broomsticks. Lunch was traditional English food and we all enjoyed it. then it was off to explore and ride the Forbidden Journey.

Walking through the Castle was so much fun. We were careful to walk slow and take in everything!

Universal has this great option called child swap. Because Amelia couldn't ride the ride we were taken out of line and got to move up to the front! They put us in a waiting room while Aiden and Cameron rode it. Then once they came back Cameron stayed with Amelia and Aiden rode it again with Me and Ash. This ride was unreal! This actually ended being my favorite ;) So much fun.

After we left the castle we just walked around. Aiden did some spells, Cam and I grabbed a beer at the Hogshead Inn and of course we stopped by Honeydukes

This part of the park was so insanely busy. Compared to Diagon Alley we were really surprised how busy it was. It was around 3pm and we had pretty much done all of the Harry Potter stuff for the day so we decided to wander outside of this area and check out the rest of the park. The first area we came to was The Dr. Seuss land. We rode a few rides

then headed over to the Marvel Superhero area to get in a few more rides. We rode a Hulk roller coaster that was intense, a Spiderman ride that was really fun...another fav and then this little spinning ride which is similar to the teacups at Disney.

This is by far my fav video from the trip! Cameron had us flying.

It was starting to get dark but we were really trying to get the most out of the day so we walked up to the Jurassic World park and rode a King Kong ride that was super fun.

Then Cameron and I rode a ride with Amelia that was so much fun! The boys were too tall to ride which was a bummer because it was fun! At this point it was late and the park was about to close to we headed out to find somewhere fro dinner. 

But before leaving Asher had to buy himself a nice gift ;)

We got back to the room around 9 and hit the sack. Only to be woken up around 3am with a sick Amelia. She had an awful stomach bug. I was devastated. She ended up being up all night sick. 


Friday morning we woke up, sang Happy Birthday to Aiden and told him the bad news...the Sissy was sick and I was going to stay back with her at the hotel for the day. Cameron made sure that matter what, Aiden's birthday was going to be perfect! And for him it was. They were texting me all day telling me about all the rides they were going on. For dinner Cameron took him to a burger and sushi restaurant and both boys tried sushi for the first time. Thankfully Amelia wasn't sick anymore for the day. She wasn't 100% but was much better so we were hoping that Saturday she would be back to normal.


Saturday morning the boys and I woke up, got dressed and walked to the park while Cam stayed back with Amelia so she could get moving. Their plan was to come and meet us around lunchtime. 

I was so happy not to be in the room anymore and we started off the morning with breakfast ate Voodoo Donuts.

We rode all the rides I didn't get to the day before and by far the Jimmy Fallon one was favorite. We are huge Jimmy Fallon fans so that might have been why as well :)

We took a bunch of pictures

Of course we had to go back one last time to Diagon Alley

Before meeting up with Cam and Amelia at Toothsome's Chocolate Factory for Aiden's late birthday lunch!

Pretty much as soon as lunch was over we had to ride the Minions ride. Here's a little tip...if you don't mind being on the moving part of this ride they have stationary seating. The line for this ride is insanely long and I knew all the jerking around would make Amelia sick so I asked if we could do the stationary seating. Y'all, they walked us straight up to the front of the line! We waited maybe 5 min instead of 60! It was so cute and after the ride when you come out Kevin is waiting for a picture.

We also caught the tale end of something and got to meet Spongebob and Patrick 

We also saw the Trolls

Before leaving this park we hopped on a little roller coaster

Amelia took a little nap while we walked over to The Islands of Adventure to end our day.

The park was really busy and our goal was to try and do the few rides we didn't get a chance to do. One of them was a Jurassic Park water ride.

Luckily we didn't get too wet :) We decided to end our night over in Hogsmeade. We got there just in time to grab some drinks (butter beer for the kids and real beer for the adults ) and then see the light show at the Castle.

There was one last ride we needed ride which was The Flight of the Hippogriff. We stood in line for 45 minutes, got the the very front and it started raining. Then they closed the ride. I was like NOOOOOO!!!! This cannot be how we end our trip. With only 10 min until the park closed I made the executive decision to get out of line and run over to the Forbidden Journey to try and ride that. When we got there I told the lady what happened and they gave us 5 express passes for this ride! Yay!!!! We went straight up to the front of line, took turns riding (which I loved it more the second time) and were all on a high. It was such a great way to end the night. As we were leaving Hogsmeade it was practically empty because of the rain and lucky for us it had stopped. 

This trip was so magical. Yes Amelia got sick and me not getting to spend Aiden's actual 13th birthday with him was a bummer, but everything else so perfect and fun that in the end it didn't matter. I am so happy we decided to make this new tradition for our family. Aiden we love you so much and hope this was a birthday you will never forget :)

Oh and in case you were wondering if anyone else got sick? The answer is yes. Me. On the way home. And yes. It was awful 😐

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