sozobe
 
Reply Mon 5 Sep, 2011 12:25 pm
I'm thinking of taking sozlet to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for her 11th birthday. (HP fans will see the significance.) She's never been to any theme park, really wants to, and her birthday is at a time when theme parks are less crowded/ cheaper, I'd imagine. (That's part of what I'm trying to figure out.)

I was thinking of doing this:

http://www.universalorlando.com/Landing/HPNovCelebration.aspx

But really she likes the books more than the movies and in researching it the lack of any names of actors is a bit suspicious. (I'm guessing it'll be, like, Professor Sprout.)

I'm thinking that maybe going in between this and Thanksgiving weekend (that is, the weekend of November 18th-20th) might be the best way to avoid crowds.

We've already missed the big gala (packages that include it are sold out) but there is fine print about having more chances for that -- so maybe I'll keep an eye out.

It'd be just the two of us, and for a short time. Maybe miss Friday @ school, so Thursday afternoon - Sunday or Friday morning - Sunday.

Some good airfares between here and Orlando, I have that part covered. Just looking for cheap packages and/ or tips on what to buy exactly.

We don't require nice weather, lack of rain would be good but cooler is better really.

I've done some Googling but I'm just not really getting anywhere on deals. Is there anything not-obvious that you can point me to, preferably from previous experience?

Thanks.
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Mon 5 Sep, 2011 12:58 pm
@sozobe,
You might do some research on Mouse Savers. It might be directed mainly at Disney World, but it could have some general info on Orlando.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Mon 5 Sep, 2011 01:43 pm
I say call a travel agent. They do still exist and they know all the deals and can bundle it with air fare, hotel, etc. Give them your budget and see what they come up with.

If sozlet isn't all that interested in the movies I'd skip the celebration. I'd also wonder about that weekend. If they're offering things like this there's a reason for it. Orlando schools are out or something.

Midweek is almost always better than a weekend. Hotel rates can be dramatically different. Even taking Monday off from school instead of Friday can make a big difference on your hotel bill. Most hotels near theme parks offer free shuttle service so staying close to the park isn't really necessary.

We always splurge on the express passes to the rides so we don't spend the whole day waiting in lines.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Sep, 2011 01:51 pm
@boomerang,
Thanks, DrewDad and boomer!

She does really like the movies, but she likes the books more -- if the movie thing is significantly more expensive than what we'd do otherwise, and will mean that the place is especially crowded, then I'd rather do another weekend. But I'm sure she'd be jazzed about it.

Good point about mid-week, too.

I was reading about the express passes, it does sound like a worthwhile expense.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Mon 5 Sep, 2011 01:54 pm
We haven't been to Orlando, but there are so many vacation packages out there through the usual (expedia, tripadvisor, hotels.com etc.)...look here
4 nights at the westgate plus 2 tickets for all parks. (family ticket)

http://www.westgatereservations.com/specials/orlando-3-nights-plus-2-universal-park-to-park-tickets/

Here are more options

http://www.orlandothemeparkvacations.com/
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  4  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 12:03 pm
I went ahead and contacted a travel agent via email, she just got back to me and nothing amazing yet but I'll follow up with her and see.

Meanwhile, I got this idea in my head and now I think I have to do it.

It's the morning of sozlet's 11th birthday, a school day. She gets dressed and stumbles downstairs. At the bottom of the stairs is our mail slot. She sees a big envelope hand-addressed to her. She opens it and sees a Hogwarts acceptance letter (morning of her 11th birthday!), exact wording to be determined but something like, after the initial bit, "due to the fact that the school term is in session currently, you may depart for Hogwarts immediately. You will find that your belongings have been packed. Your mother may accompany you for the first leg of the journey."

Then we grab our packed bags (I will have done that previously obviously) and we go off to the airport IMMEDIATELY. (I had this thought when looking at flight times and thinking of when we'd have to leave the house/ when she'd need to wake up to take the morning one.)

This would all be sprung on her with no warning, complete surprise.

Then we're off to Hogwarts!

Wouldn't that be cool?
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 12:17 pm
@sozobe,
Amazingly cool and utterly unforgettable for the rest of her life!
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 01:28 pm
@sozobe,
Awesome. Full of win.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 01:40 pm
@sozobe,
OMG, better than the owl bringing the envelope :-)))
Yes, unforgettable for her and the surprise on her face will be priceless for you!
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 02:07 pm
@sozobe,
Set up a video camera in a discreet location....
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 02:16 pm
@sozobe,
Will there be any birthday-related events scheduled at school that might need to be headed off? verra verra discreetly
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 02:37 pm
@ehBeth,
Yes, good point. I would definitely be getting permission from the teachers etc. before we left, though she'd only have to miss one day. They'd be sworn to secrecy!!!
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 05:43 pm
@sozobe,
Will she notice/wonder if you're not making party plans?

<I'm thinking of a very suspicious young person in my life - she'd be expecting discussion of birthday plans so she could be making arrangements with her various bffs - no discussion would have her antennae quivering>
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 06:08 pm
@ehBeth,
We'd have that too, but low-key. Her party last year ended up being pretty low-key so that wouldn't necessarily be a big deal.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 06:16 pm
@sozobe,
I still don't know if I could actually do this/ afford it -- lots of ducks would have to align. (Not just money but timing in terms of her birthday, crowds, other commitments, etc.) But it would be cool if it worked out, and I'm definitely pursuing it as of now.

I briefly thought of having this BE her party -- bring some of her BFFs there -- but that thought lasted only about 10 seconds. (No number is good -- she'll make one of two people very mad if she brings just one of them, those two would be annoyed at each other and put a damper on things if she brought both, and beyond two is getting crazy-ridiculous price-wise, even if we all stay in the same hotel room. Well bringing ANYONE is crazy-ridiculous price-wise really. But if I had a lot more money that'd be fun.)
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 06:40 pm
@sozobe,
It is a wonderful idea - especially with the birthday morning mail delivery.

I hope you get it sorted and that both of you have a fabulous time!
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Sep, 2011 07:00 pm
@sozobe,
Maybe you could have the letter delivered to her in class, first thing in the morning? That way her friends could kind of be part of it.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2011 10:03 am
(This was on the back burner but now I think I'm going for it. I'm going to plonk some finds here -- I need to bury 'em someplace where Miss Mucks About on My Computer isn't likely to find them. No bookmarking for example. If anyone has any further tips -- CJane's for example was very useful -- let me know. The travel agent was minimally helpful but didn't seem to be providing much that I hadn't already found online.)

Travelocity flight + hotel seemed to turn up some good deals. It looks, so far, like my best option is to do a hotel + 2-park ticket package (then airfare) or the airfare + hotel package (then park tickets).
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2011 08:33 am
It's a go! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

For various reasons (timing, relative costs of hotel and plane tickets, other events going on, etc.) we're not doing the get-the-letter-and-out-the-door thing. But still a close variation which might be closER to Harry Potter depending on your reading.

She will get the big envelope/ acceptance letter the morning of her birthday, which will say that she's leaving in about a week.

Then she gets to go to school and wave it around and jump up and and down and screech (or whatever) with her friends and have her regular school birthday celebration.

We're leaving on a Wednesday after school, so we'll have all day Thursday and Friday there (hopefully less crowded). Then some of Saturday too.

EEE. Can't wait. Very Happy Big thing now will be keeping it secret. Hope we can.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Oct, 2011 09:40 am
@sozobe,
You rock!
0 Replies
 
 

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