The 10-Year-Old Trip to Disney: Part Four

When our children turn ten, we treat them to a 10-year-old trip. To catch up on the full story with Clare, check out part one, part two, part three, part four and part five. And, if you want to follow our escapade on Instagram, just search the hashtag #clarecelebrates10atdisney

You knew we’d eventually land at Harry Potter. I fully recognize not every family loves the boy who lived as much as we do (100% okay). For us, however, this day was *highly* anticipated.

If only for the butter beer {recipe below!}.

We used Über for transportation to/from Universal and it was super easy. I was really worried about there being tons of people using them and we wouldn’t be able to find a ride (#andothercrazythingsiworryabout), but alas, there was no mass exodus of people leaving. We requested our Über driver on the elevator ride down, waited two minutes and arrived at the park in less than 20. Easy peasy. More details on those shirts here.

Because Clare had received the royal treatment with her Disney birthday button, we found a Universal employee and asked if they had one. “Of course!” she said. Thus, began one of our best birthday days yet. Every single person who worked at Universal told her happy birthday. That is not an exaggeration. I felt like I was walking around with a celebrity.

We arrived before the park opening and were part of the first 100 in the park. We started with Jimmy Fallon’s new ride. Super cool and well done. Then, it was all things Gryffindor.

Knight Bus! Kreacher! Ministry of Magic phone booth! Grimmauld Place, oh my! Universal leaves no cobblestone unturned. I teared up when we walked into Diagon Alley for the first time in 2015, and I did it again this trip.

After riding Escape from Gringotts (oh, how I love that one) and waiting all of five minutes to do it, we walked across the plaza to, where else? Ollivanders. I mean, you just can’t get your wand from anyplace. As we were standing in line with all the other folks to enter, a guy and his girlfriend look at at Clare’s birthday button and they exclaim, “Oh, Ollivander has to pick you! Has to!” And then they pushed her up to the front. Literally, our entire group was pulling for her. When Ollivander did survey the crowd, we all held our breath, and then he chose Clare! That resulted in many a fist pump and high fives.

I was beside myself. True story.

It’s true the wand chooses the wizard. It’s also true that wand is not free. But, it is awesome and she had a blast trying it out around the park as it was one of the interactive ones.

We were feeling awfully brave, and lucky, so we jumped on the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade so we could ride Dueling Dragons. That train is a ride all to itself. It takes you from one Universal park to the other and so, so well done.

With game faces on, we made our way to the massive coaster. There was ZERO wait and we walked right up it. Juuust as we got ready to take our seats, the guy looked at Clare and wanted to double check her height. Y’all. She was 1/2″ too short. Half an inch. I totally know he was doing his job and his job is keeping people safe, but we almost had a meltdown. From both of us. Super sad panda face. Guess we’ll have to go back.

We rallied and hopped on Flight of the Hippogriff (front row baby!) and Forbidden Journey. They were both just as great as I remembered. Clare tells me Forbidden Journey is her favorite, but I just kept looking for my legs after we got off!

We decided to reward that bravery with butter beer and lunch at Three Broomsticks. Feeling extra lucky, we popped over to the train station to ask them some questions, but before I could get any of them out, the conductor had us wait a moment. When she came back, she gave Clare a hug, told her happy birthday and handed her four Express Passes to be used on ANY ride at Universal.

We couldn’t believe it so we immediately celebrated by treating ourselves to Honeydukes. Wouldn’t you?!

Because those passes were burning a hole in our pockets, we took one last walk around Hogsmeade, before heading back to Diagon Alley on the train to ride Escape from Gringotts one more time.

Funny thing happened, though. When we presented our passes, they waived us through to the front of the line and refused to take them. “Use them on another ride!” they said. I think we floated to those VIP seats!

We *had* to stop in Weasleys for the final sibling gift. That’s a place I could easily spend hours. So much great detail and Clare had the hardest time choosing the perfect purchase with her muggle money.

We wandered around Diagon Alley, waiting for the dragon to breathe fire, taking a quick stop in Knockturn Alley (one doesn’t want to spend *too* much time in that place) and sneaking a peek in the Gringotts bank.

We took one last look around Harry’s stomping grounds and bid it adieu. With a bit of nostalgia in mind, we found ourselves using two of our passes on the E.T. ride. Anybody remember that? As a kid, it seemed a lot scarier back then riding bikes through Elliot’s neighborhood! Clare loved it. It’s the last remaining “original” ride at Universal. I hope they keep it forever, says the child of the 80s.

Clare and I debated riding more coasters or seeing more things and 4pm, she looked at me and said, “Mom, can we call it a day?” So we did. We caught Über back to the hotel and Clare and I crashed for an hour. That was heaven.

We awoke refreshed, spent some time FaceTiming the crew back home, sitting on our hotel balcony and then heading downstairs for dinner. There was a great Italian-themed Disney restaurant just a short two-minute walk from our room. They treated Clare SO good. This is becoming a theme, I realize. I reminded her re-entry would be hard. We ended our night early, packed and retreated to bed to rest up for our final day at EPCOT.

Tomorrow, we conquer some serious rides, spy a fine English nanny, break another ride, sneak into France and find an unlikely seat mate on the plane. Your final day is almost here!

Recipe for Butter Beer
2 liter creme soda
Whipping cream
Butterscotch topping

Fill two ice cube trays with creme soda and freeze. Chill the remainder. Whip the whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks, reserving some for the garnish. Add the frozen cubes and the chilled creme soda to the whipping cream and combine in a blender. Add 1-2 tsp. of butterscotch topping. Pour into frozen mugs, top with remaining whipping cream and drizzle with butterscotch. Cheers!


  1. […] story with Clare, I’ll link all the posts here: part one, part two, part three, part four and part five. And, if you want to follow our escapade on Instagram, just search the hashtag […]

  2. […] trip. To catch up on the full story with Clare, check out part one, part two, part three, part four and part five. And, if you want to follow our escapade on Instagram, just search the hashtag […]

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