harry potter world! …and the rest of our disney pics.

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the main reason for our trip to disney world and orlando in november was because we are in the midst of reading the harry potter series to our older three kids and pretty much everyone over here at the davis household is a major potter fan (i can’t speak for madalena and beatrice on this one, but i have a feeling!)

i’ve had a few questions about when we started the books with the kids and what we think about the content being appropriate/not too scary for little ones. i think this sort of thing will totally depend on your what your little one can handle, is into, isn’t into, etc.  i will say though, that i really do not recommend the illustrated books, i recommend the regular original series when reading harry potter to kids. we made the mistake of reading the second book through the illustrated version and those drawings are pretty scary (although so beautiful, too?! it’s hard). when you’re reading a book and you’re little, your imagination can only make the character or scene as scary as you allow it, and so my kids really aren’t bothered when we read from the original series. but some of the drawings in the illustrated book were a bit spooky (we hadn’t watched the movies at this point) and so a couple of times we were covering the pictures when reading the words. we haven’t finished the series either, since i think the books get a little more scary and the content for someone a bit older towards the end. but my kids love the first two or three books (and movies) and so going to harry potter world has been high up on their list for the past year or two.

photos in this bunch from harry potter world at universal studios and also from hollywood studios. i mentioned in my previous post from magic kingdom that our disney experience felt overwhelming and like a lot for our family to digest over the few days we were there. i know a lot of people go first thing in the morning and then do a break mid day with naps and resting at the hotel and then go back later on. my older three don’t nap anymore and i knew if we took a break midday at our hotel, it’d be impossible to get back out to the disney parks when the hotel pool was kind of magical in and of itself. so we decided to just start each day as early as we could with our family, map out what was most important to us that we wanted to do at each park that day so we weren’t back tracking or going in loops, and trying to plan as best we could with our fast passes (which helped a lot with waiting in line for rides. although fast pass or not, the lines were insane pretty much everywhere.) we knew we wouldn’t be able to get to everything and i also knew we’d go mad if we tried, so i think it helped to pace ourselves and just do what was most important. this plan worked pretty well for us the first few days but the last day at hollywood studios, we were all beat and we really weren’t feeling that specific park (i think we’d enjoy that one more if our kids were older. or maybe if they were into toy story more?) we enjoyed a few star wars things but we decided together we’d rather swim and play at the hotel pool so we left after lunch and never looked back.

some photos from harry potter world and also hollywood studios…

after we got our robes and wands, we wandered through diagon alley and did a lot of fun magic with the interactive wands. those were pretty awesome. the thought behind the details with those things was impressive.

i have some video from harry potter world i haven’t put together yet, but you’ll have to watch the highlight videos on my insta stories if you missed it of conrad putting a spell on the gringotts dragon on top of gringotts bank. i think he really believed he was doing it! and he didn’t care about a soul around him as he cast his spell. i love this age so much.

me and what i came for. the sweet shop which i found an excuse to wander into like 3 different times during our morning. lol.

my three cuties all ready to hop on the hogwarts express and head to school!

we knew we could end up spending a lot of money rather quickly on this trip on ALL OF THE THINGS, so at the beginning of each day, we gave the kids a budget for the day (this excluded their robes on the day we were at harry potter world, which we planned to purchase for them when we arrived. ) each of their budgets had enough to cover an interactive wand if they decided on one plus some other smaller things. both eleanor and samson used their remaining money on an owl (like harry’s) and in a shocking plot twist, it was our 3 1/2 year old who decided he wanted to save his remaining money (besides buying some bertie bott’s every flavor possible jelly beans) and not spend his remaining dollars on anything else. proud of you, conrad! how sweet are these little owls though? our kids have a thing for stuffed animals apparently, because it’s what they seem to gravitate towards whenever we are in a hotel gift shop or toy store.

we timed the smaller roller coaster at hogwarts (after we took the hogwarts express over to hogsmeade at adventure island) just right and were able to go 3 times in a row without waiting in any line! it was a godsend after the lines at the beginning of this day. we had started the day at ollivander’s wand shop in diagon alley where the line was out the door and once we were inside, we were shoulder to shoulder with people the entire time. i was a bit worried in the morning as we started out our day this way because nothing was really feeling all that magical when you’re standing hip to hip with a lot of people in a tiny shop (it was impossible to try to squat down and kneel beside conrad as he chose his wand with me because this crowd was rather insane) so this was a better moment for us during our day together because it was the first time we weren’t waiting in a 40 minute line for something and listening to my three older kiddos squeal and giggle and yell with excitement as they rode this ride made me so so so happy. all of it, worth it for those laughs at the end of our day.

a family photo at hollywood studios!

and probably one of my favorite photos of my bunch from our trip. for those asking about the kids watches, those were the fast passes we purchased ahead of time at our hotel for each day at the parks. you’d just scan your watch at each ride depending on if you were using the fast pass or not.

like i said before, TROOPERS. someday we will go back when they are at an age to enjoy all this disney and potter magic! i’m so glad that time isn’t anytime soon ;)

first week of november and disney had full blown christmas decorations and christmas music playing. i really appreciated it.

and had to include this photo from our very first night of conquering harry potter world at universal studios. celebratory dinner of churros, hot dogs, pretzels and a bucket of popcorn. woot woot!

this concludes our disney world orlando trip of 2018 that i finally blogged about in 2019. merry christmas to meeee!

  1. I’m currently rereading Harry Potter for the first time, and the Potterhead in me has reawakened! I would love to revisit Harry Potter World. The last time I visited was a few summers ago at Universal Studios Japan. My family and I spent all our time at USJ in Harry Potter World. The only thing we did outside of Harry Potter World was one extreme roller coaster on our way out of the park haha. // The first memory I have of Harry Potter was watching the first film, which scared me a lot, and which scared me away from reading the series for a few years. But our house had a beautiful edition of the first book that had gilded pages, and I eventually got tempted to give the series another shot. The rest was history! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  2. Sara

    Great post! Timely for me since my family (from Utah) is heading on a Florida vacay tomorrow! We’ll be hitting Universal and Disney as well as Sea World and a couple days at the beach and also Atlantis (in Nassau, Bahamas)… I’m curious if you took your Canon into the theme parks or just used your cell phones for all your great photos?!? We leave for Orlando tomorrow and I’m undecided. I always take my big camera and can’t stand the thought of not having it, but am wondering if I should take my husband’s advice and travel lighter this time around with all 5 kids!

  3. Nikki

    Thanks for the tip about the illustrated books! I was going to pick up a copy of the first, thinking my son would like it better, but I was worried about the books being too scary for him anyway.

    I haven’t been to Islands of Adventure since before they put in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was put in and the area was still the lost continent. I’m sad they took out the big Dueling Dragons rollercoaster, but the Harry Potter stuff looks so well done!

  4. Natalie

    That first picture of Conrad is the sweetest thing! You can tell he really believes…good job fostering a sense of magic in your children’s lives xo

  5. Mary Ellen Mitchell

    My daughter (8) read all the books leading up to starting third grade so we took her to Harry Potter world last October. It’s been interesting to see how almost every family has policies around the books and movies but I just let it unfold as she sought it out and it’s seemed ok. She’s now seen all the movies and is on round 2 of the book. It’s been sweet to watch her first obsession unfold, complete with fan girl photos of Harry on her wall. We’re certainly on top of a lot of things when it comes to kids content but this has all felt harmless and really threw her headfirst into a love of reading.

  6. erra

    I haven’t been to Islands of Adventure since before they put in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was put in and the area was still the lost continent. I’m sad they took out the big Dueling Dragons rollercoaster, but the Harry Potter stuff looks so well done!

  7. Em

    After reading your Disney and Harry Potter blog post, I feel the need to give you a little Disney advice! I have been to Disney many many times.. probably 16-18 total with each trip staying a week there. Most of these trips were with my 6sibling and parents. Being the oldest I learned A LOT of tips and tricks from my mother I new use when we I take my own kids to Disney. #1 tip hands down, you HAVE to stay at a resort on the monorail route. Makes life so much easier when hauling strollers and kids, it’s so easy to walk right up too, jump on and your at the park. No lines, no buses. LIfE SAVER. I also recommend staying at the Polynesian!! Our favorite by far and we have stayed at them all. No please like the Polynesian❤️

  8. Sadie

    Looks like fun! I have one and one on the way, and I’m still astounded at your ability to travel so much with yours!



  9. My twins are 9 months old and I am seriously counting down the days until I can take them to Disney World! I am a Florida native so I pretty much grew up there :P Loved seeing the pics, you seriously rock for enduring 5 kids at Disney!

  10. Michelle

    Glad HP World was a good experience for you. Haven’t done Universal in FL yet. Did it in CA a few years ago, before HP was up and going there. Was an okay experience for our family. Our youngest has Muscular Dystrophy and quite honestly, Universal was pretty awful on accommodations. Not to mention the park guest who cussed out my husband (in front of an employee, who did nothing) for just trying to navigate my son’s wheelchair past him as he blocked the wheelchair ramp. So as much as my family loves HP and as much as we all want to experience HP World…there really is a reason why Disney is better at certain things in our book. But it sounds like this was your main motivation for the trip, so I’m so glad that was a success for you.

    That’s a shame your kids didn’t get into the Star Wars stuff at Hollywood Studios. Eleanor is right at the age and look that the Disney staff usually hand picks for Jedi training (my daughter got picked right around her age, back when they only did one show a day) and her older and younger brothers thought she couldn’t get any cooler for being the first one to volunteer to take on Darth Vader. That seems like something Josh and your older three would have really enjoyed together.

  11. Mara

    Thank’s Naomi, it’s so nice. Thanks for sharing!!!

  12. Anica Gilbert

    I love Harry Potter world! Thanks for sharing tips on how to keep kids happy at amusement parks, it can be rough! Your pictures are wonderful and I am glad you had a good experience!

  13. Kitty

    I think this is a really great blog! Very creative and I love the way
    they put their clothes together. All the work they put into this blog
    to make it so amazing! I want to read every article and find all the
    clothes! These outfits rock!! The harry potter pictures are awesome