Showing posts sorted by relevance for query kids room. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query kids room. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query kids room. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query kids room. Sort by date Show all posts

5 Household Items Party Games for Birthdays

5 Birthday Party Games for Kids Using Household Items

Kids want to be entertained, especially on their birthdays. Give your kids a fun, memorable birthday celebration with games for birthdays that use household items. These kid party games are easy to do with little prep, and you probably already have the items in your house. No need to plan ahead when you do these household items party games for Birthdays!


5 Birthday Party Games for Kids Using Household Items

This post contains affiliate links.

Playing interactive games that get your kids moving at birthday parties is a great way to introduce them to kid activities that are active and engaging. Perhaps the next time they have a playtime choice, they’ll choose one of these games rather than a video game. After scouring the internet for games to play at birthday parties, we found several games for kids that are simple to set up with common household items. As always, we've updated old games with fun new twists! If you don't want to plan the party activities and implement them yourself, Yabadoo Kids Parties are another fun way to make birthday parties fun and memorable.


5 Household Items Party Games for Birthdays

Keep your kids in the loop. Give them choices and let them help plan their own birthday party by scrolling through this list of kids party games and letting them choose their favorite activity to play with friends and family.

Common Household Items Party Games


  • Life Size Board Game

This great game for kids is suitable for kids of all ages. Life Size Board Game is a  fun party game activity that has players jumping forward two spaces, singing a song, turning in circles, telling jokes, reciting  nursery rhymes, jumping up and down periodically, and moving back three spaces.

During game play, the players begin by rolling oversized  dice to see where to move. The first person to reach the finish line is declared winner.  You can simply use white paper or the inside of recycled cereal boxes to create the game board. To make a permanent yard decoration, use stepping stones.

  • Clothespin Snatch Game

Every player is given a clothespin. Wrapped candy and trinkets (you can even use coins) are sprinkled on the floor. During this game, players will try to pick up as much candy or trinkets as they can using only their clothespins. Set a timer for one minute and let the fun begin!

  • Marshmallow Catch

Marshmallow Catch is super easy to set up. Grab a bag of mini marshmallows a timer, and some plastic party cups. Standing on opposite ends of the room, players try to catch marshmallows that are thrown by other party-goers. After one minute, the team with the most marshmallows in their cup wins.

  • Spoon Relay Race Game

The Spoon Relay is an old party favorite, you can make this party game more complicated by adding fun elements like playing while turning in circles, skipping, walking backward, or any fun way that will make the birthday party game more challenging or difficult for the players.

Any small household object will do, but mini marshmallows and cotton balls are the most common items used with plastic or wooden spoons. In the course of this game, players race against each other to be the first team finish. Divide party guests into two or more teams. Each team is given a marshmallows and a spoon.

Lining up single file, the first person on each  team takes a marshmallow and begins passing it down the line using only their spoon.  The first team to get their marshmallow to the end of the line wins.

  • Balloon Bust Game

Before the party, fill balloons with candy or small prizes. Rub the balloons on your head to give them static cling and then place them on a wall or table. Play begins with birthday party guests choosing a balloon. Tell the kids to hold the balloons with two hands, careful not to pop it. Then, tell them to sit down in a circle using their balloons as chairs. On the count of three, have everyone tries to pop their balloon chair to discover the prizes. First one to pop a balloon, gets a special grand prize in addition to the trinkets inside.

Have you played these games with different variations? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear about more fun birthday party games and ideas for kids that use household items.


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Christmas Party Games for Kids

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Marshmallow Activities for Kids



Best Homeschool Organization Tips

Homeschool Families Get Organized Tips


Homeschooling! Whether you are just starting out, or you've been at it for awhile, you know the importance of getting your homeschool family organized. You've got curriculum to store, ideas to keep track of, assignments, art work, transcripts, oh my! What's a busy homeschool parent to do? Kids, you need to stay organized too! We've scoured the web and our favorite homeschool blogs to find the best homeschool organization tips. Enjoy!


Best Homeschool Organization Tips


This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.


Christmas Gift Ideas for Tweens: Gift Guide Review

Find the Best Christmas Gifts for Preteens (Tweens)


Searching for the best Christmas gift ideasChristmas gift ideas for tweens? Check out our gift guide for tween boys and girls aged 9-12 yrs. These Christmas gift ideas for tweens were tested by our staff's own children and have received a two thumbs up! 

This post contains Affiliate links.




Finding the right gift for preteens is tough, because they’re not little kids anymore, but they’re not quite teenagers yet. Most tweens are outgrowing their favorite toys and developing their own tastes. What they loved yesterday is old news! Tweens often like gifts that are related to their interest and seem cool and fun: Think Nifty

Because shopping for teens and tweens is difficult, it's tempting to take the easy way out and give them money or a gift card, but a great gift is much more memorable and lets them know that you really care. Below are some of our top picks for teen and tween Christmas gifts.


5 Top Picks for Tweens Gift Guide Review


  • Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Camera



holiday gift idea for preteen tween girl girls


Our tween girls love this camera! Nifty is its middle name. The Instant Camera is the perfect gift for tween girls. It’s stylish and it's an excellent value for the price. The Fuji camera comes in a range of funky colors and uses automatic exposure to help make it easy to use for beginners. All you have to do is turn the power on, adjust the dial, take the photo and wait for the film to develop. The tiny photos instantly pop out like old fashioned Polaroid pictures.

The camera is compact and lightweight so tweens can easily carry it around with them and even take photos one-handed. A highlight is the simplicity of the design because it doesn’t overwhelm kids with features and accessories they won’t use. Be sure to stock up on lots of film, kids love taking pictures of everyone during the holidays!

  • My Cinema Light Box

Last year, this was a hit with our preteens and tweens! A cinema light box is another nifty gift that helps tweens express their personality by showcasing a message they can personalize. Kids can share their own fun or inspiring messages to friends and family. Plus, there are lots of fun emojis included and plenty of room to add a range of messages that tweens will love. The light box has a cool color changing background with different settings that include fade, flash, and strobe to give a variety of effects. This is a truly unique gift for theater and other creative kids. Put their name in lights under the tree and brighten your preteen’s holidays.



  • Kanken Classic Backpack

The iconic Kanken backpack design is Retro which automatically translates to cool these days. Available in a wide range of colors, the large capacity storage space allows for plenty of room for school supplies and tablets. In addition to the main compartment, it has two side pockets and a front zippered pocket. The laptop pouch in the main compartment is perfect for a 13" Macbook Pro but won’t fit any larger laptops. Material is durable and water resistant, so if you're tweens are outdoorsy, it’s a great bag to take on hikes.





  • Electronic Drum Pad Set

Music lovers will have hours of fun with the electronic roll up drum pad set. Tweens can learn about the different sounds a drum kit makes and develop a sense of rhythm by playing a beat along to their favorite music. Use it with headphones to play at night and it won’t disturb your neighbors.

An electronic drum set pad is a great alternative to a full size drum set. Who has the room for a full-size drum set? It’s also easy to roll up and carry, so your kids can take it anywhere. We bought one of these for our tween boy last year. Pardon the pun, but it was a hit! We also bought this electric roll up piano for our musical tween daughter. She takes it with her everywhere she goes!





  • Crystal Growing Kit 

Crystal growing kits are a hit with 9 and 10 year-olds. If your preteen is into science or shows an interest in precious gems, the crystal growing kit is a perfect gift idea. Kids can grow red, blue, and white crystals and monitor their progress day by day as they transform into fully grown crystals. Once they’ve grown, add them to an LED display to show them off in their full glory. How cool is that?






These Christmas gift ideas for tweens are some of the best rated gifts for preteens on Amazon and have been proven hits with our own kids. If you didn’t find the perfect gift for your preteen, check out some more cool suggestions on Good Old Gifts. Hopefully, you'll find a gift suggestion that matches your preteen’s interests so you can give them something they’ll truly love this Christmas.



Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest to stay up to date on our reviews and travel tips!


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Christmas Gift Ideas for Tweens: Gift Guide Review





Eric Carle Surrealist Lesson Activities: The Nonsense Show Book Review

Surrealism in Children's Literature: Art Lesson Activities


Eric Carle has written and illustrated another book! The Nonsense Show is written to introduce children to Surrealism. Completely nonsensical, the beautiful illustrations will capture the heart of preschoolers while the concept will boggle the minds of everyone else. We've included a book review and Surrealist Activities for your Art Lesson planning, as well as, educational games and online lessons for homeschoolers. Enjoy!


Eric Carle Surrealist Lesson Activities for Art: The Nonsense Show
Surrealism in Children's Literature: Art Lesson Activities.
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.* 
We were given a copy of "The Nonsense Show" for review.


Eric Carle Surrealist Activities: The Nonsense Show Book Review and Art Lesson
Eric Carle Surrealist Activities: The Nonsense Show Book Review:
Surrealist Art Lesson

Art develops critical thinking. Many beloved children's book authors have tinkered with the idea of surrealism and Crazy Surrealism Art- Think, Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Lewis Caroll, and L. Frank Baum. So, it is no surprise that Eric Carle has joined the list. Always an artist first, the illustrations in The Nonsense Show don't disappoint. 

On December 14, hop over to win your own copy of the book by visiting the Facebook page of Penguin Kids, finding the post about this book, and leaving a comment.

So, let's get started on our online lesson in Surrealism. Mati and Dada is a fun art cartoon for elementary kids. In this episode, they talk about the surrealist painter, Magritte.



The most famous Surrealist, Salvador Dali, is best known for his melting clock painting. Learn about Dali and Surrealism in the video below. The Dali video introduces a fun, group drawing game called, Exquisite Corps. Be sure to watch the full video for instructions on how to play the Art game with friends.




Art History Component. This free online Art History Game focuses on Surrealism. Recommended for (4-12th grade). It is for older children because a lot of reading comprehension is required. At first, it looks complicated, but it is essentially just a drag and drop into the timeline game. So, give it a try!

For Brainpop subscribers: Watch this movie on Surrealism.

After you review the book, The Nonsense Show, create your own nonsensical art. Below, are some fun ideas to try.



easy Surrealist art project for kids
Easy Surrealist Art project for kids from Le Dada de L'enfant Terrible blog.

  • Language Arts Component. To get into the mindset for creating surrealist art, sit down and free write. Start writing whatever pops into your head. Don't edit, don't try to make it go somewhere- just write!
  • The Art Room Plant shares this fun drawing activity. It is similar to the game in the Dali video above.


fun Surrealist drawing activity for kids
Fun Surrealist drawing activity for kids from The Art Room Plant.

Recommended:

Dada and Surrealism Art for Kids

Jake's Journey in Art: Water Color Lesson

Get The Nonsense Show by Eric Carle*



ADS DISCLOSURE: We've partnered with some wonderful advertisers who may sponsor blog posts or send us samples to test. Some companies pay us to review their products. *We also use affiliate links, if you make a purchase we get a tiny commission. Kids Creative Chaos participates in the Amazon LLC Associates Program*, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a mean for blogs to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon properties, including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com. We also offer Tapinfluence, Google Adsense, SoFab, and Izea ads here. Thanks so much for helping us keep the lights on! :)


Things to do in Indianapolis Indiana: Downtown Central Library for Kids

Central Library's Learning Curve in Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana has Free Things to do that are Fun for Kids

Recently, we took a trip to the downtown Indianapolis Central Library. I've been meaning to do this for sometime, but after several years of summer day camp and kid's misplacing books or videos, we have quite a hefty library fine. I plan to chip away at it slowly. If you also have a library fine and are under 18, keep reading. We found out the library has a program where you can "pay off" your fines with good behavior! More info about that later. In the summer, we are always looking for FREE, FUN, and EDUCATIONAL things to do in Indianapolis or other parts of Indiana. This futuristic architecture, in the form of a public library, fits the bill perfectly.

Things to do in Indianapolis Indiana: Downtown Central Library for Kids
Central Library Funnel in Reading Nook. It plays a little movie.
This year, my goal is to treat each week like summer camp with my own kids - Less the getting up at 5:30 a.m., the toting 12 other kids everywhere we go, the need for epipens, a change of underwear (and a bag for the previous soiled pair), the waivers, the checklist, and the stress! We are on a mission of discovery. Anything within 2 hrs. of our home is up for an impromptu field trip
In this Futuristic Library, you can lounge and read, listen to a story, or watch one.
In this Futuristic Library, you can lounge and read, listen to a story, or watch one.
The Central Library is very cool. If you are looking for a futuristic library, you've come to the right place. You enter the library through an old, historic building with an incredible view of the American Legion Mall which is really just a large, green space with war memorials. Be sure to turn and enjoy the view as you enter. Then, you enter a breezeway where you'll find the info desk and a small, reasonably priced cafe. Keep going, and you'll be whisked into the children's area, better known as The Learning Curve. 


The Learning Curve: A Children's Area at the Central Library, Downtown Indy.
The Learning Curve: A Children's Area at the Central Library, Downtown Indy.
The Learning Curve is housed in the modern, glass, curved building directly behind the main entrance. Don't be intimidated, just keep walking. The librarian help desks are mobile carts that float throughout the large children's area. Don't be shy. They are happy to help. Don't have a library card, (or have one you can't use) but you want to use the computers? Ask the librarian for a guest pass. No pressure, they don't try to upsell to a library card :) The passes are good for 1 hr. from the time you log in, but you can get another passcode as long as computers are available. This is a safe internet zone. The kids can play and share games with other kids within the library.

Study Pods, Think Tank, Kid's Activity Wall for Preschoolers, Pacer's Rent a Bike Program, and See-a-story spinning seats at The Learning Curve, Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana in the Central Library.
Study Pods, Think Tank, Kid's Activity Wall for Preschoolers, Pacer's Rent a Bike Program, and See-a-story spinning seats at The Learning Curve, Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana in the Central Library.
We went to see a FREE DISNEY MOVIE in Clowes Auditorium, Tinkerbell's, "The Pirate Fairy". It was awesome. During summer camps, we visited our local branch of the library and watched the movies in a large room while sitting on the floor with a bunch of sweaty kids and little or no air conditioning. At the downtown Indianapolis, Central Library, we sat in comfy, purple seats in an acoustically correct, air-conditioned theatre.You can rent the 300 seat Clowes Auditorium space for special events too.

After that, we headed to the children's theatre. When they aren't having puppet shows or reader's theatre, the kids can jump up on the stage and enjoy some creative play in front of a large green screen. While bouncing around, they can watch themselves on one of the video screens. They might walk on the moon or climb a mountain!

On the opposite end of the Learning Curve, you'll find the Think Tank.This is an enclosed space (it's stuffy in there) with whiteboard walls and a table full of dry-erase markers. Brainstorm an idea, solve a math problem, or just draw a cartoon. You can be noisy, because it is somewhat soundproof. 

There is also a tinkerlab, a preschool activity area, a techlab, a wall to learn braille, study pods, futuristic, spinning chairs where you can listen to a story, and (my favorite), a super comfy reading lounge with a central animated funnel. I sat down and did not want to get up. Next time, I'll work in this area while the kids enjoy the library. They couldn't sign up for the summer reading program or check out books because of those nasty aforementioned library fines. The library now offers an amnesty program. I need this too, dear Indy Library. 

So, what is the take away? Don't stress, get cool, stay out of inclement weather... Wait, there's more. The library has a parking garage- find the rates here. We parked in the street at the fancy, modern parking meters that accept credit cards (now there's a learning curve) and walked. At the front entrance of the library, you can rent yellow, Pacer's bicycles- but they are all adult size, no kid seats, or tandem bikes... hint hint.

There are so many fun things to do in Indianapolis! We hope you'll join us (virtually, of course) as we discover the wonderful things downtown Indianapolis has to offer. We will feature some of our favorite things soon:

Mass Ave. 
Toy Store, Flying Cupcake, Hot Dog Cafe, Fair Trade Market

The Circle
Ride or climb to the top of the Monument, Candy Store, Chocolate Cafe

Universal vs. Disney Orlando

Orlando, Florida Vacation Tips

Are you planning a trip to Orlando, Florida? Wondering which park to attend on limited funds? It can be quite a condundrum knowing that this could be your only family vacation to Orlando. Can you do both during the same vacation? Yes! In this Universal Studios Orlando Florida Review vs. Disney Orlando Florida Review, we share tips on the best rides, rides with the shortest lines, and which attractions to save for fast passes. Enjoy!


This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.*

Georgia rest park, just before entering Florida, Spring 2016.

First of all, everything in Orlando is better. The roads are better, the weather is better, the McDonalds is better! Only one thing isn't better, the traffic on the freeway.

Orlando Largest Best McDonalds
Orlando Largest Best McDonalds.
If you can't afford an amusement park, but you drive through Orlando, visit the largest McDonalds. The Play Place is pretty cool, and the food isn't just burgers and nuggets. The menu will suprise you.

Orlando Hotels

Should you stay in an Orlando theme park hotel or a theme park friendly hotel? Yes. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

While we were visiting Universal Studios, we chose to stay at a nearby Kissimme hotel. Kissimme, FL is similar to Pigeon Forge, TN --- Orlando's little sister. There's lots to do here. Many of the hotels offer buses or trolleys to the theme parks for FREE.

While FREE always sounds good, it might not be what you expect. You'll have to stick to their schedules and battle other tourists for seats. If you miss the bus home, your stuck. That means, you will have to shell out money for a taxi. Nope, you can't walk back.


We were planning to take the bus, but when morning came, we chose to sleep in a little later than the bus schedule allowed. We ended up driving. Regular Parking at Universal is about $20. Those extra hours for refueling were priceless. I call it worth it!

We stayed at the Seralago. It is bright and cheerful with a fun atmosphere. You will find many mixed reviews online. This is an older hotel. Even so, we thought it was just fine.

Room at the Seralago Hotel Orlando Kissimmee
Room at the Seralago Hotel Orlando Kissimmee.
The room included a fridge, coffee maker, and mini- microwave. We went out and purchased mac and cheese for our Disney stay, but the Pop Century hotel didn't offer a microwave. Aside from the age, there wasn't much difference in the two hotels. One was further away (Seralago) and one was somewhat smaller (Pop Century). Yes, the price is significantly different.

The Seralago offered a cafe that was open late, swimming pools, a hot tub, and a play space with video games and the like.

The negative would be reservations. They are VERY busy. They don't get back to you in a timely fashion or ever. I emailed and left many telephone messages before finally letting the operator know that I would wait to speak to a live person.

The same thing happens upon arrival.

Guests who have already checked in know the drill. Several of them cut the line for various reasons. Frustrating. Two even cut the line to ask for an extended stay.

Hey, I was going to do that!

Tip: Don't go during Spring Break, especially the last week of March which is typically the busiest time.

Next to the Seralago is an amuseument park, a mini golf-course, and a nifty shopping center called Old Town. Grab a flyer from the hotel lobby for discounts at Pirate's Cove mini golf, a nearby Chick-fil-a, and lots more local attractions.








Insider Tip: There are two Old Town Theme parks. Do not follow the ferris wheel lights to get home! One is in Kissimme and one in Orlando. Yep, don't.

Frugal Alert: The older amusement park is $99 per day. If you aren't going to one of the major theme parks, great. Have all the fun you want, get a pass out, and come back in the evening for more. If you are visiting a major theme park, you will want to skip this one.

Florida Theme Parks

There are so many theme parks in Florida from which to choose. On our last visit, we visited Tampa parks. The Lowry Park Zoo is a win! Don't miss it. We also visited Busch Gardens. It is okay, especially if you want to skip the major crowds. Clearwater Marine Museum - eh. It is nice, if you don't buy into the hype. It is also very crowded!

Universal Studios Orlando Florida Review Tip

Gringott's Bank in Diagon Alley area of Universal Studios: Harry Potter.

So, as a blogger, I got media passes. It was difficult. Okay, I didn't exactly get Media passes because it was Spring Break. I had tried on several occasions to get the passes, and it was always during their "busy season."

I never called, that's a no-no, but I did email a few different contacts many times. I wasn't getting a timely reponse from the online contact page, and I needed to know if I had scored tickets.

I did not, but rather than giving me another no, they offered fast passes and tickets to a Blue Man Group show. I took it! This saved us a considerable amount of money, however, I spent a considerable amount more.

Would I do this again? Probably not. At least, not if I didn't get regular passes. After going through a security check, we went to the reserved tickets kiosks. That took a minute, but it was faster than the ticket lines. Then, I had to go to guest services to get our fast passes. That took way longer than a minute.

Tip: Don't go to the first guest services you see upon entry. Find one less busy further into the park.

Then, I had to go to the Blue Man ticket office to pick up those tickets. That was a no. I saved it for the next day.

After all the waiting in line, I asked the kiddos what they wanted to do first. We hadn't eaten! What did they want to do? Of course, they wanted to visit Harry Potter Hogsmeade.


Universal Studios Florida Rides

This is the line for Gringott's Bank. It is long, but there is lots to see.



























We waited in line: tired, thristy, hungry, and eventually needing to go to the restroom. It was not pleasant. May I suggest finding a ride that is less popular for your first attraction so that you may have time to regroup after all of the rushing to get inside the park. I was too stressed to get pictures of this line.


Hogsmeade.

Gringott's Bank. Sorry, it was dark and everything moves. My camera didn't like it.

Still in line at Gringott's Bank.

Be prepared. The line didn't seem super awful. But, there are major issues with this one. Heed those claustrophoic warnings. Watch out for the lockers. Everyone is rushing to get a locker, others are rushing to retrieve their belongings in a very tiny cramped space. They ask you to send only one person to the lockers, the others are directed down the corridor. My others were my kids, 9 and 11.

I panicked. I rushed. I have allergies and claustrophobia. I smelled something. Maybe someone's perfume or deodorant? I was starting to react to the scent when I  saw a tiny corridor coming up. After the locker experience, I wasn't sure I could handle it. How would I escape? Then, I realized that I had followed their instructions and locked up everything in the locker.

Everything.

Everything for me was an Epi-pen, an inhaler, and liquid Benadryl in case of an ashthma attack or anaphalaxis. There was a lot of perfume, deodorant, and who knows what else. I have no idea if I was having a panic attack or an allergic reaction... One came on quickly after the locker escapade.

I didn't want to go back there until I had to.

I didn't want to leave my kids alone again. I tried taking many deep breaths. I was terrified and then we were outside in line again. The corridor was very short.

Okay.

The kids didn't like this turn of events. They both wanted to get out of line and do something else.

Are you kidding me. No way! And then, they announced that the ride was shut down but we were welcome to wait.

So, we waited.

Kids were not happy. I was not healthy, nevertheless, we waited.

Finally, as we got to the top of the platform, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was all slow going and then boom, get on this seat quickly, pull this bar down.

Hey, why is that strange man between me and my little girl? Hey, switch seats. What is happening. I think I want out of here. I feel like I can't breathe. I'm not scared, but I am terrified that I am having some sort of attack. Hey, can we lift this for a minute. I think it is too tight. Hey, If I could just get my hair out of my face. I- I-I think I need a med-

We went flying into the air. I couldn't catch my breath. I kept my eyes shut while counting and breathing. I didn't want to die on the ride with my kids locked in beside me. I thought happy thoughts. It seemed like eternity before I opened my eyes.

Then, I opened them and tried to concentrate on the scenery rather than the contraption I was locked into. Pretty cool. Worth seeing. Worth the panic? Not sure. Would I do it again, not sure. Not with just myself and two kids.

I needed another adult.

I was so glad it was over but the worst part wasn't. Now, I had to leave my kids in the gift shop while I retrieved our things from the lockers.

I wanted to hurry.

I didn't want to leave them alone. I had no choice. And now, people boarding the ride were in a frantic rush to find a locker. They wouldn't let me in. I finally explained to someone that if you let me use the screen first, I can get my things and then you can have my locker.

People weren't happy to see me "cutting in line."

People, this is how it has to work. Universal, you need a redo on the locker situation. There were lots of panicked parents.

Once you've ridden the ride and know what to expect, it isn't so bad.

My mother took my niece, she shared a similar story. She refused to leave my niece alone. The reason they do this is to keep the crowd out of the lockers, but it ISN'T WORKING!

What can you do to avoid the fright? Don't take anything that needs stored in a locker. Hide a fanny pack under your shirt. Don't leave your life saving devices in the locker!! Eat and pee first.

So, the kids felt like we were running out of time. They wanted to see the rest of Harry Potter and Hogwarts.

We must eat.

She passed on the Butterbeer at Three Broomsticks, but you shouldn't!
We had dining passes. We got in line at Three Broomsticks and waited for a good while and then decided that the restaurant wouldn't take our passes.

There wasn't anything else nearby. We went back and asked; they do take the dining plan. This was the one place that makes the dining plan worth purchasing. The food is expensive, but you get a lot. Our meal cost more than our dining plan, and we still had snacks left.

Turkey leg at Three Broomstick's in the Hogmeade area.

Jake got a turkey leg the size of his head.

Be sure to use the restroom next door to get the full Harry Potter experience.

After filling up on food, we got our drinks. Worth it. If you don't do a food plan, be sure to do a drink plan. Some places have long lines; some have none. Down point, you have to carry that cup. You have to put those cups in the lockers. If it is full it might spill all over your $50 wand bag. Dump it before you ride the next ride requiring a locker.

Boy, do I have another locker story. I'll save it for later. Best tip I can give - find a way to avoid the lockers and avoid the STRESS!

Best thing better about Disney - they don't make you use lockers!!!

So, the train was a 40 minute wait. I coaxed the kids into seeing a show. Sinbad! It was a nice way to relax, regain composure, and enjoy the park. It was a very hot day.

My kids wanted to go to Gringott's Bank and then leave.



Are you kidding me? No, way. This was hardwork to get here. I have things I want to see! Like, Shrek 4D, Minions, Simpsons, and MIB.

It was going to rain. The park closed at 9. We had to hurry to do everything.

I know what you are thinking- just use those express passes to save time. Guess what, you can't use them in any Harry Potter areas!

So, we tried out Jurassic Park. Great place to rest and eat. My kids weren't so impressed. My son is a huge fan, but we are TWEENS now. This was more for younger kids. Plus, we have the world's greatest children's museum in Indy. So, we felt like, been there, done that.

This is a giant puppet! You control the movements.

Once we did have the opportunity to use the passes, it was AMAZING. They are worth the extra cost. We used them on the SIMPSONS ride, which was my favorite part of the park. I think I felt about the Simpsons area the way the kids felt about the Harry Potter areas.

We ate there.

We ate chicken and waffles here. So good!

We photoed there.

Simpsons Universal
Jebediah Springfield statue at Universal.

We had fun there.








We didn't make it to MIB. Kids vetoed it!

We ran to Shrek 4D - which was okay. It was a nice place to cool off. There was a short line. The Minions line went on forever. We skipped that and went straight to the Transformers ride. With our express passes we felt like VIPS.




A lot of people left due to the rain. Anyone who had to catch a bus left early too. So, we saw more in the last two hours than we had the whole rest of the day. We buzzed through The Cat in the Hat and Spiderman.

I had to con the kids. Once they got their $50 wand and Butterbeer ice cream- they were done. We were soaked and their feet were covered in blisters.

I was not done.

This day, even with passes, had cost me nearly $1000. I don't have that kind of money to spare. We were going to ride as many rides as we could.

All the kids cared about was Harry Potter and Diagon Alley. Yes, it is extememly cool. The $50 wands (there are less expensive ones) interact with the store windows. The wand shop is like the real thing. You are there. It is awesome, but everything costs a lot!

We got chocolate frogs for the train ride. Get your frog, before you get on the train!

Eating Chocolate Frogs on the train. Magical.

Hey, can I just say that the train ride, despite the incredibly long wait and the creepy guy eyeing my kid, was the best part. On the way back there was no line. It was so very awesome.

Yes, creepy guy. I told him that I saw what he was doing. He wasn't the kind of guy I should have been interacting with, but he wouldn't stop. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't let your kids go to the restroom alone. He never said a word, never looked away, but looked guilty every time we made eye contact.

Never mind that, I didn't let the rain rain on my parade. No creep was going to ruin it for us.

Later that night, my son had to go to the restroom. He asked someone where the nearest restroom was and took off! Grr... I was waiting for an order and couldn't make chase. Luckily, he couldn't find it on his own, but found his way back. Yep, he got a talking to!

Don't give me a heart attack.

Don't miss the Hogwart's Express in Universal Studios.
Train ride back, awesome, even though walking to the gate was closer. No one cared, until we had to walk to the gate from the train. Their feet stopped working.

My son actually laid on the ground, "You just don't know how my feet hurt. Your feet have never hurt this way."

Yes they have! They do right now!

"No, they don't or you couldn't walk!"

Yes, they do. I have no choice. I have to walk, and so do you!

Oh my... how will we possibly visit the happiest place on Earth tomorrow?

We won't. We couldn't. We took a chill pill. We played golf, ate at Chick-fil-a, bought souvenirs, watched television, and then we went to the Blue Man Group.

I had to trick my son.

He didn't want to go back to Universal Studios...


After a relaxing day, he was okay with it. After the security check (where my daughter had to hand over her toothpicks), we rushed to the Blue Man ticket booth.

Hard Rock Cafe, Universal Studios, Florida.

Michael Jackson's jacket!

We were hungry, we had wanted to eat somewhere else on the main strip (which by the way you don't need a ticket to visit), but we ate at the Hard Rock Cafe next door to the studio.

We rushed back to our seats. It was air-conditioned. I had to pee again. The kids didn't want to go. I didn't want to leave them. I thought I'd wait until the show started. DON'T. JUST DON'T. LOL.

Luckily, I didn't.

Blue Man Group- Worth it! Totally awesome, best show ever! The kids loved it. There were ZERO complaints. They both THANKED me. Hear me? They both THANKED their mother!!!

Best night ever.

We thought we'd go to Disney the next day, but there weren't any hotel rooms available anywhere in Orlando or Kissimme under $400.

So, we went to Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was only an hour a way but we still hadn't regenerated. Going from winter to hot summer-like heat takes a lot out of you.























We recuperated at the beach.




I also had free media passes from Disney. I didn't think we were going to be able to do it. We were just so worn out after all of the rushing.

Universal Tip: Even though it might be possible to do everything you want to do in one day, don't do it. Especially, not on Spring Break, the lines are too long. Get two day passes. Take it slow. Stop and enjoy the Butterbeer! We missed a whole section of the park and many rides.

Will we go back? Probably some day. It was raining. We didn't get to use our $50 wands. They don't do anything special once you leave the park. Did I mention that our wands cost $50. I want you to know, because there aren't any prices anywhere. Once you pick out your wand- I mean, once your wand picks out you, you head to the cash register. It took my kids a good half hour to decide. They were looking for a particular wand!

ASK THE STAFF--- whisper if you have to, but ask! Time's a wastin'.

Jest aside, I was surprised how much visiting the wand shop in Diagon Alley meant to my son. It was really special to him. It was truly magical. He exclaimed that it was the best thing he's EVER done.

At eleven, he is at that stage where nothing is cool. Everything is dumb or boring. This was a special moment.

A memory that is truly priceless.

That is why, even though I hadn't budgeted for $50 wands, I charged them anyway! Being my son, he was concerned when he saw the price. He offered to get a $30 wand. It was plastic. It did nothing but cost $30. I said, no way, you only live once! Besides, where were you when I bought two, eleven dollar chocolate frogs?

"The frog cost that much?"

It sure did.

Yep, I had qualms at buying the frog. I was sure my money was going to run out, but how many times do you get to buy a magical, chocolate frog and eat it on the train to Hogwarts? This epitomizes the meaning of the word priceless.

Even if it takes me all year to pay off the credit cards.

Should you go. Yes. Should you go if you have to choose between Disney and Universal?

That depends.

How old are your kids? Are they Harry Potter fans? Harry Potter is a must see. I feel like, in general, Universal is better for older kids. If you have little kids, go to Disney first. Universal can wait.

Eventually, we felt like we could do it. We headed to Disney World. My parents told us to come back to their house to spend the night. It was only an hour drive, but it was an hour drive in the wrong direction. I wanted to keep moving forward and make the best use of my time.

There were still no hotels available. We even had an in at the Seralago, but no luck.

I downloaded the DISNEY APP ---- Best tip ever!

Don't go to Disney without the APP.

How was Disney vs. Universal Orlando? Find out here: Disney Trip Tips and Tricks.


Recommended:

Easy Shepherd's Pie

Things to do in Tampa

Harry Potter Wand*

Clearwater Marine Museum

Butterbeer Recipe

Lowry Park Zoo

Busch Gardens
















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