Tuesday, September 15, 2015

we surprised the kids! Disney World + Universal Studios

when hubby and i were talking about ideas for our 2015 family vacation and Disney World entered the conversation, first of all YES, and secondly, LET'S SURPRISE THE KIDS! we've pulled it off twice already in 2009 and again in 2013...i just love surprises!  

of all our vacation options on the table, i voted for Disney World for several reasons (i mean, it's DISNEY WORLD) but most of all i considered the ages of our children: 7 and 10. i thought about how much they would be able to enjoy WDW in it's entirety this year, the bigger rides, the late nights, how much they would appreciate it this year, and how much more they would be able to remember this year years from now. i thought about how much they love the newer Disney movies (Big Hero 6, Inside Out, Frozen!) and what fun it would be for them to see the characters in person. i wondered if Disney World would ever be as magical for them as it is right now at this age. it probably would be, but is that a chance i'm willing to risk? 

looking at the dates we wanted to travel (off season-yay homeschooling!) we stumbled upon a very special event happening at Disney World the very week we would be there: Night of Joy. two nights of concerts at Magic Kingdom by some of our family's favorite artists: TobyMac, MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Colton Dixon, Big Daddy Weave, Francesca Battistelli, Rend Collective, I Am They, Josh Wilson, Lecrae, for KING & COUNTRY, Mandisa, Matt Maher, Jamie Grace, 7eventh Time Down, and VERIDIA.

and that pretty much sealed the deal. we were going to Disney World! i just had one special request - that we also visit Universal Studios. we have never been to Universal Studios before but this year it was practically mandatory. because in 2014, Big Girl and i read the Harry Potter series and FELL IN LOVE with all things Hogwarts. after reading each book, we gathered the boys and watched the movies, one at a time. by the end of Deathly Hallows, our whole family was hooked on Harry Potter. and in case you are unaware, Universal Studios Orlando recently opened a new park: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with a train (Hogwarts Express) that goes from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade! you know how some women tear up at Subaru commercials? i was misty-eyed when i first saw the commercial for Wizarding World of Harry Potter. not even kidding. i just knew the kids would FLIP OUT to go to Hogwarts!

this vacation was pretty much a dream vacation: Disney World, Harry Potter, and Night of Joy. we made all the arrangements in secret, we talked in code, we whispered and smirked and schemed, keeping the surprise from the kids for 5 months! torture! but totally worth it!

we finally revealed the surprise to the kids a few weeks ago. "just for fun" we had a Harry Potter movie night every week starting 8 weeks prior to our trip, watching all 8 Harry Potter movies in order. on the night of the final movie, perfectly planned for the two nights before our trip, we were all getting settled in when there was a knock at the door! the dogs barked like crazy and i looked out the window and announced "it must have been a delivery." i asked the kids to get the delivery while i put the dogs out back (and grabbed my camera). on the front porch, the kids found these letters... 

the letters are from Prof. McGonagall personally inviting them to begin their term at Hogwarts. i found the free printable and customizable letter and Harry Potter font HERE. i melted a red crayon to seal the letters and scattered feathers around the porch to make it look like Hedwig delivered it! 

the kids screamed and gasped and hugged each other and jumped all around as they read their letters aloud. i thought i was taking a video but i forgot to press the button OOPS! still, i'll never forget their reaction. sheer joy! it was amazing. i cried.

they were crazy excited to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios! over their squeals i said, "but wait, there's more..." and i handed them a gift bag...

in the bag they found their Disney World Magic Bands and Mickey Mouse t-shirts (ordered from Target) and Harry Potter t-shirts (designed by me, printed locally). 

hubby and i sat back and watched as the realization slowly hit them. it was like watching fireworks- the excitement rising and rising until finally BOOM! OMG WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD AND UNIVERSAL STUDIOS!?!? yes, my child. 

"but wait, there's more..." and i handed them each a Night of Joy concert ticket.

i made these using this ticket generator. (the internet is nice) two nights of concerts! our favorite artists! at Disney World! Bubba saw TobyMac's name on the ticket and nearly fainted. seeing TobyMac at Disney World is somehow more magical than seeing Mickey Mouse himself. 

we did it! we surprised the kids again with a trip to Disney World! it was wonderful. everything i'd hoped for and more. i'm so thankful! 

i have a few Disney / Universal travel tips to share, too. stay tuned :)