Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Break

My children had spring break last week, which coincided with my daughter's 12th birthday. She has been pleading for us to take her to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Florida, and even though theme parks really aren't our thing, we decided to go for it.

I love driving through Kentucky in the spring.

We stopped in Gainesville and toured the University of Florida campus. They are the Gators, and they actually have gators on campus!
On to the theme park. My photos are posted here in the order I took them, so you'll get a real sense of how much running back and forth we did.




This is the Sorting Hat, who talks to you while you wait inside Hogwarts for the Forbidden Journey ride. He looks so realistic that I think magic must truly be in use there!

We went to the Hog's Head for butterbeer.

Don't let the fake snow fool you. It was 90 degrees, and people were elbow-to-elbow. The throngs in this photos are just a fraction of what the crowds became later in the day.
Seeing all those millions of people standing around drinking Butterbeer struck me as bizarre. J.K. Rowling's imagination has spawned quite an enterprise!

Palm trees and Hogwarts don't mix!!! I'm certain palm trees do not grow in Scotland.
We were in the park on my daughter's birthday. One of our birthday traditions is to read Happy Birthday to You, by Dr. Seuss, on the eve of her birthday, but I didn't pack it. By happy circumstance, Seuss Landing is just a few steps from Hogsmeade at Universal, and not only do they have book stores, but they also sell the book Happy Birthday to You! I grabbed a copy off the shelf and read a bit out loud to her before she sidled away. I guess it's one thing to read it in the privacy of your own home, and quite another to have it read to you in public, but hooray, our tradition lives on!
We had a scenic walk from our hotel to the park. I enjoyed the pretty colors.
The moon was full the nights were there. It was quite fitting for Hogsmeade:
No detail in that village is overlooked. The chimneys smoke merrily away, and the smoke is highlighted at night.
We spent one day at Kennedy Space Center.
The area surrounding it is a wildlife refuge, full of alligators and eagles, and this really prehistoric-looking bird. No worries, though--there is a full pane of glass between me and this flock. Otherwise I'd have been a blur running in the opposite direction.
Back to Hogwarts. We just couldn't leave it alone!
But eventually we had to say good bye.

We enjoyed ourselves, even if this was a vacation outside of our norm. I've blogged before about my daughter's love of rock shops, and how we always have to stop at rock shops when we travel. That is easy to do when we are visiting national parks, but it's a little harder to find one in theme park central. I kept getting fooled by this one:
Hard Rock Cafe. Oops. Wrong kind of rock.