Thursday, December 8, 2016

Celebrating CC's 10th Birthday Harry Potter-Style at Universal Studios Hollywood

Birthday fun at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Harry Potter, Hogwarts and Hogsmeade were popular topics on Sunday, as CC and I celebrated her 10th birthday mother-daughter style at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.

The Boy Wizard has been a popular theme around our house after I finally convinced CC to start reading the series this summer. It took some convincing—she was a little gun shy (wand shy?) after having caught a glimpse of the first movie a few years ago and getting pretty scared.

My trick? I just started reading it to her at night, and about 30 pages in, she was like, "Ok, Mom. I've got this. I'll take it from here." Now, she's already on Book 6, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

(And yep, I am patting myself on the back right now.)

So after her blow-out Harry Potter birthday party on Saturday with Will, our neighbors and kids from her class, I surprised her with a trip to Universal—and we loved it!

Honeydukes for candy

Our first stop was Honeydukes, the adorable candy shop that offers everything from chocolate frogs, jelly slugs, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, chocolate wands and butterbeer fudge. Yes and yes. What a magical little shop! Let's just say, we didn't leave empty-handed.

Hogwarts!
Next, it was off to Hogwarts to check out Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey! The ride is beyond cool, but waiting in line has never been so bearable. As you wait to board, you're taken through a tour of Hogwarts that includes Dumbledore's office, the Gryffindor lounge and the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. With talking portraits and moving books, you feel completely immersed in the Hogwarts world.

The ride itself is like nothing I've ever experienced. (I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it's true.) You sit in a pod of four seats, which takes you flying over Hogwarts, narrowly escaping dragons, dementors and a huge whomping willow. Not only that, but as you watch larger-than-life screens, you feel as if you're actually flying over the school of witchcraft and wizardry. It's amazing!

CC and the Frog Choir
While we wandered around Hogsmeade afterward, we came upon the Frog Choir, featuring singers from each house (Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and CC's own Hufflepuff), and CC was completely smitten by the singing frogs. I mean, who wouldn't be? And we had to get a pic.

We had such a fantastic day, and we can't wait to go back. And, as an L.A. resident it's especially easy. I bought the California Neighbor Pass ($119 per ticket online), which allows us to come back as many times as we want for the next nine months! Amazing! (Of course, blackout dates apply.)

And trust me, we'll definitely be going back.

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, Calif. 91608
Tickets: $99 and up

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