Posts Tagged ‘ harry potter ’

How to Get Into Diagon Alley Early

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Seeing pictures of hours-long lines at Universal Orlando Resort, full of fellow Harry Potter fans eager to get into the newest Wizarding World on it’s first day, got us scheming: How can you get into Diagon Alley before the crowds?! Obviously no day will be as busy as that opening day, but still. Here are some places to stay that will get you in an hour earlier than most muggles!

Stay at a Universal hotel. All four of them, Loews Portofino Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort (named one of American Baby’s Most Baby-Friendly Resorts), and the brand-new, moderately priced Cabana Bay Beach Resort grant you early access to both Universal parks. Read all the fine print here, but the bottom line is, there’s not much fine print. As long as you have park tickets and an active room key for one of the hotels, you can get in early, which usually means 8am versus 9am. The other obvious advantage to a Universal Hotel is you’re right next to the parks and can either walk or ride a free shuttle, skipping the parking hassle. Hey, every minute counts!

There’s a $135 per adult, per night, tax-inclusive offer for a four-night stay at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort that includes multi-day park-to-park tickets and some breakfasts, so it’s a deal, as long as you can do a four-night getaway. Travel has to be August 17 to October 2, or November 30 to December 18, and must be booked by July 31. Start here. There are upgrade options too!

Buy a Universal Orlando package. Quite a few hotels in the area partner with Universal Orlando Resort and, if you buy a Universal-specific package, you’ll be granted those same benefits (early admission, park-to-park tickets) for about half the cost, you’ll just need to drive to the parks. For instance, Hilton Orlando’s “Universal Orlando Vacation” package boasts early admission and two park-to-park tickets for just $102/night for two people through December 18th, 2014, and $50 off if you book four or more nights using the promo code UNITRAVEL. (Based on availability, and some blackout days apply.) Those savings will buy you a serious amount of butterbeer and probably a wand, too!

Watch one staffer’s 11-year-old’s take on the Hogsmeade features at Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal Studios: Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Universal Studios: Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Universal Studios: Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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What’s New In Orlando This Summer (Hint: It Involves Olaf and Harry Potter)

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

If you’re planning a trip to Orlando this summer, you’re in luck: Several way-cool attractions and resorts have opened or are debuting soon. Don’t miss:

* Frozen Summer Fun Live!
Since your kids can’t get enough of Anna, Elsa, and Olaf, Disney is launching Frozen-themed activities and character appearances at Hollywood Studios from July 5 to September 1. Highlights include Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome on a horse-drawn sleigh at 11 am daily, a 20-minute sing-a-long celebration in the Premiere Theatre presented several times daily, a “Do You Want to Build A Snowman?” area with winter activities, an ice skating rink, and Frozen Fireworks at 9:45 pm daily. How cool does all that sound?

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Diagon Alley
Calling all wizards in training: This much-anticipated area of Universal Studios will hold its grand opening on July 8. Families can ride the Hogwarts Express back and forth from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Hogsmeade (inside Islands of Adventure, the sister park of Universal Studios) to this new re-creation of London. Several other fun rides and attractions are on tap too; learn more here.

The B Resort & Spa
The stylish (but not stuffy) property recently opened in the Downtown Disney area. Many rooms feature bunk beds and kitchenettes. You can borrow an iPad or hang at the pool area, which has lots of fun features for kids. Bus transportation is provided to Disney Parks.Get a Parents-exclusive deal: For $560 (a $120-discount), you can stay two nights in a room with bunk beds, receive four complimentary breakfast buffets at American Q, get four items from the B Treated Tray, and snag four ice-cream cones at The Pickup. Use promo code PARENTS; offer valid for stays between now and September 30, 2014; book by July 31.

Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands
Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands
Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands

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Harry Potter Fans: All Aboard!

Friday, January 24th, 2014

If you’ve got a wizard-in-training at home, you might want to start planning a trip to Universal Orlando. Since 2010, Universal’s Islands of Adventure has been home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a magical land with rides, shops, and restaurants that transports you into J.K. Rowling’s beloved books. This summer, the company plans to open another Harry Potter-themed area, Diagon Alley, at its sister park Universal Studios. A Hogwarts Express train (the place where Harry, Ron, and Hermoine—the three main characters in the series—first met) will transport you between the two parks. My daughter, who started reading the books shortly after her eighth birthday, flipped when I told her that. (Side note: Check out her HP Birthday party from a couple of years ago.)

I listened in on a webcast yesterday, and then spoke with Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative, to try to pry a few more details out of him. I wondered how long the train ride would be, and while he couldn’t give me a time, he promised that it would be “an experience.” Once you’re in Diagon Alley (the area in London where Harry and the other wizards buy their wands and other supplies for wizardry), you’ll see the Knight Bus, a purple double-decker that provides emergency transport for a stranded wizard. Although Woodbury told me that kids won’t be able to climb in and pretend to drive (that would be a fun photo opp), he did say that the bus would have interactive features. He hinted that it will involve a “shrunken head.” I had no idea what he could possibly be talking about, but my daughter thinks it might have something to do with the animated shrunken head that Harry Potter once encountered on the Knight Bus.

Diagon Alley will also feature Escape from Gringotts—a multisensory ride that’s along the lines of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in the Wizarding World. This one will take guests through the vaults of the Goblin bank. There’s no word on other rides yet, but Woodbury mentioned that Universal will be announcing some things in the next couple of months that will especially appeal to younger Harry Potter fans.

The new area will also have its own Ollivander’s Wand Shop, a popular attraction in The Wizarding World. A few years ago, my family waited in line over two hours to get in—but we were rewarded because my daughter was among a few guests chosen to participate in a “wand experience,” similar to how the wand choose Harry in the books and movies. Woodbury told me that the location in Diagon Alley will make the experience interactive for many more guests. Tons of shops and restaurants (including ones that serve Butterbeer and strawberry-peanut butter ice cream) are also planned.

If you’re thinking about where to stay if you do make a trip this summer, keep in mind that the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, a new, value-priced hotel on Universal grounds with family suites, a bowling alley, and a lazy river ride, will open in March.



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Get an Exclusive 15% Discount: “Goodnight Little Me,” Illustrated by Mary GrandPré

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Goodnight Little Me by Jennifer Dewing and Mary GrandPre - ISeeMe.comIf you’re a Harry Potter geek like me, you’ll recognize Mary GrandPré as the illustrator of the famous U.S. book covers and chapter art. So when I got the chance to meet and interview her yesterday, I felt like a bona fide fangirl.

GrandPré was in New York with children’s book writer Jennifer Dewing to talk about their new book, Goodnight Little Me, a dreamy bedtime book that can be personalized with your children’s names, ages, and birthdays.

The book, out later this month, is the newest title from I See Me, a line of personalized children’s books. What makes I See Me truly special is the unique way they integrate a child’s name and photo into the illustrations on each page. For Goodnight Little Me in particular, your child’s name can be seamlessly woven into a starry sky and the socks of dancing dogs.

Take a virtual tour of Goodnight Little Me — you’ll see how Dewing’s lyrical rhymes dance and propel the story forward and how GrandPré’s whimsical illustrations saturate and pop off the page. And note all the places where “Elizabeth” can be replaced with a different name.

Can’t wait for the book to come out? You’re in luck! You can now purchase the Goodnight Little Me book or Goodnight Little Me gift set (which includes a plush lamb). Even better, has provided readers with an exclusive discount code that gives you 15% off your total order. So you can add Goodnight Little Me and other titles to your shopping cart.

Starting today, use the coupon code PARENTS during checkout to receive the 15% discount. The code expires on Sunday, December 15, 2013.


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Daniel Radcliffe: ‘I Do Want a Small Army of Children’

Friday, January 6th, 2012

It’s tough not to be charmed by Daniel Radcliffe, who will always be known first and foremost as Harry Potter.  He’s very articulate, intelligent, funny, and hyper-aware of the downfalls of being a child celeb.  In fall 2011, I had the chance to see Radcliffe being interviewed for a Broadway Talks event at the YMCA in New York City and he was surprisingly down-to-earth. recently interviewed Radcliffe about his first post-Potter movie, “The Woman in Black,” a supernatural thriller in which he plays a young father who has lost his wife.  In a candid video, Radcliffe shares how he adjusted to portraying a father on screen and why he would want to, in his words, have “a small army of children.”  Watch the video below and read highlights from the Parade magazine interview with Radcliffe


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Go Holiday Shopping with Harry Potter

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Harry Potter HedwigIf you haven’t visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the new theme park at Universal Studios in Orlando, you can still bring some magic into your Muggle home.

Unique merchandise from the theme park is now being sold in their new online store, and there is something for every Potter fan in your house.  Along with the requisite t-shirts, tote bags, scarves, and mugs, you can buy a Sneakoscope from Dervish and Banges, a Pygmy Puff from Zonko’s, the Sorting Hat and Mad-Eye Moody’s staff from Filch’s Emporium, the Elder Wand from Ollivander’s, and Hedwig from Owl’s Post.  There’s something for fans of every Hogwarts House…even something for fans of the Dark Arts.

Skip the Black Friday mall madness and take a virtual Hogwarts Express to buy Harry Potter gifts quicker than you can say, “Wingardium Leviosa.”

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