Tag: harry potter

Top 10 Disney World (& Universal Studios) Moments: Part 2

I have spent my “Disney” time the past few days working on our photo book. Miranda’s dear pal in class was at WDW the same week we were and has already brought her photo book for show and share time, so the pressure is on.

Here we continue with this visit’s great moments~

*Miranda Becomes a Pin Trader
We initially bought the girls “pin starter kits” just because… they are classically gaudy princess lanyards with 4 or 5 generic pins on them. We have added to them on each subsequent trip to the park, with nary a thought for what is rare or unique or whatever; mostly, the girls pick out characters they like.

During one of Miranda’s times of whining (I think we were waiting for a few people to come out of the bathroom), I suggested she could go and trade a pin with a Cast Member. Paige took her and…score! Turns out Randa knows how to trade up. She traded 2 of the generic pins and another slightly more special one for better ones, and of course, wanted to do more. And I had a realization: what a great way for your kids to get “new things” at WDW without you having to spend any additional money!

*Resort Mugs
We have used the Disney Dining Plan during our last several trips there, and loved it. Honestly, we might take a break after this trip. We’ve fallen in love with a few of the restaurants, but one can only do so many character meals before…meh. Also, it’s clear that like pretty much every other establishment in this econonmy, the quality is not what it used to be. And finally, the price has now risen to an extent that it’s easy to see getting the dining plan really is an act of convenience and the only thing you save much money on are free desserts that you might not eat anyhow. So…we’ll see.

One new perk of the dining plan that we greatly enjoyed, however, was the inclusion of the Resort Mugs. These little plastic puppies hold hot or cold beverages, have lids, and can be refilled limitless times at your resort during your stay. (If you play the system, you can fill them at other resorts, too, but we didn’t visit any others this time around). Since we were just a walk across the breezeway from the beverage stations, we filled ours nearly every night and morning, and now that we’re home, they are great on-the-go cups. Score! (see? Miranda loved hers.)

*You mean there’s another theme park?
Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure
I admit: though this was my 8th lifetime trip to Orlando, I have never been to Sea World, Busch Gardens, Gator Land…and I don’t care. I have been to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure on three other trips, but it had been awhile, and Paige, Rod, and I had to get to The World Of Harry Potter. Thanks to the sadly-now-defunct Chase Rewards program, we were able to get free tickets for all of us to go.

We’d heard the day before that there had been a one hour wait just to get into the Harry section of the park! So even though we were in vacation mode, we got ourselves together and were at Universal by its 9am open. Mom and Dad took the little girls to the Shrek show and the Woody Woodpecker Coaster, and we worked Hogesmeade like it was our job. We enjoyed a less than one hour wait through the cue line known as HOGWARTS, rode the indescribable Forbidden Journey of Harry Potter (followed by the rethemed and still fun Dragon Challenge), and gulped a delicious butterbeer. Well done, Universal. WELL done!

We returned later with the rest of the family for another round (Forbidden Journey in the single rider line, my new favorite thing), Dragon Challenge again, and more butterbeer. Ah…

It was fun for the kids, too. They rode the iconic E.T. ride, did everything in Seuss Land, and loved Spider-Man, which is still a wonderful attraction. The Hulk Coaster might very well still be my favorite, though I have to say… after 8 total thrill rides that day, I was feeling the 35 years I had celebrated the day before!

*Impromptu Character Moments
I eluded to this in my last post, but all the character meet and greets (we do a lot of them) can get pretty predictable. In fact, I have to really coach Miranda that it’s ok to talk to the characters and not just pose and smile for the camera. This time, along with our introductions to Tinkerbell and Rapunzel, two moments stuck out for me.

One was when Kaity saw Buzz and Woody. Mind you, she met them twice on our last trip, but she’s possibly become a more obsessed fan since then. She was bearing a Toy Story shirt, and Woody made a big deal of pointing to himself and Buzz and then their images on the shirt. After much hugging and posing, we started to walk away, but my little tough/shy-when-convenient girl turned around, inched closer to Buzz, look up, and finally moved in for once last hug. There’s no photo of it. This mama was way too busy feeling the magic of that moment.

At the Chef Mickey breakfast, I found myself feeling a little blah about the whole thing. We didn’t have a great table, the food wasn’t as jaw-droppingly wonderful as last time (first world problems, I know), and the character stuff was just perfunctory. It was the morning of our last day and I thought maybe the kids were just over it. And then, Mickey happened.

After his meet, greet, pose with the girls, during which he analyzed their fairly full breakfast plates, he returned to our table no less than 4 times to check on Miranda’s progress. It was hysterical, especially because we could tell she was getting aggravated but didn’t dare want to be mad at Mickey. Yay Cast Members,  for those little extra moments.

Though repeat theme park experiences run the risk of becoming same-old, there are a few pieces of our “Disney life” that we hold dear.
~ we begin and end at Magic Kingdom
~ Our first ride always seems to be Pirates of the Caribbean
~We have to have dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern. This was introduced to us by Doug and Amy, and is non-negotiable and wonderful.
~We have to do the pictures in front of the castle and “the big ball.” No use arguing with me, k?












~No matter how little we buy, we have to spend a little time shopping at the Emporium, which is about the most obnoxious Disney store in the world… and I love it!
~We have to eat hot dogs and/or nachos from Casey’s Corner (passed on from Aunt Jen), in front of the castle, before we leave the park.

Several of these hot dogs ended up coming all the way home to Myrtle Beach with us, but it’s the tradition that counts… the tiring days, the pseudo-panic over what we might miss if we don’t HURRY-GET-FAST-PASSES!, the jumping up and down, the feeling of kiddie magic, the overeating, the overplaying, the window shopping, the fireworks-wishing, the castle ooh-and-ahhing. I love it all… and when we are there together, it is ours.

One Christian Fan’s Viewpoint of Harry Potter

I came out of a closet on FB:

I posted a status about my family going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

It should not be a surprise; it’s listed first under the “books” section of my profile, but I guess people don’t routinely check those when they friend you on FB. Instead, it seems they assume because you count yourself a Christian that you automatically carry all the same viewpoints they do.

I was not lashed out at personally, per se, (people are usually passive-aggressive about this sort of thing because it’s much easier than engaging in actual discussion) but I saw some lashing occur.

And I only have this to say about it:

Secular entertainment is secular entertainment. The world of Harry Potter is not a spiritual one. There is not God nor in there satan. There is magic. There is good. And there is evil.

And while J.K. Rowling most likely didn’t set out to make it as such, Harry Potter – like Chronicles of Narnia, like Star Wars, like Lord of the Rings, like, yes, even Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is an allegory for the Gospel:

There is the world that needs rescuing.

There is an evil force trying to destroy it.

There is a figure willing to die to save it.

Harry Potter is  many things: a hurting boy who grows into a thoughtful young man, a brave, selfless soldier, a loyal, protective friend. Unlike Jesus, he is flawed. He makes mistakes. But unlike a lot of other figures in our culture, he takes responsibility for his mistakes, he works to fix them, he learns and grows.

Not a bad role model for kids… way better than  lot of athletes who drink, smoke, swear, fornicate and yet seem to get amnesty amongst the same Christians who find Harry Potter a gateway to damnation.

I get that people are going to think what they will.  However, I do take issue with uneducated opinions and I especially take issue when “brothers and sisters in Christ” accuse others of some sort of wrongdoing for participating or enjoying something they’ve decided is a sin. The fact is, the Bible gives us guidelines, but many, many things in the world require us to consider and discern. And sometimes, we will come out on different sides.

I happen to dislike the Oprah show immensely. I haven’t watched it in years, but nothing about Oprah herself or the particular ideology she subscribes to and promotes seems remotely Christian to me. Yet, I have a lot of Christian friends who watch the show faithfully. Do I think that means they are any less Christian? Um, no.

When the first Harry movies were coming out years ago, I did some research for a Christian website I was writing for. I came across Connie Neal’s What’s  A Christian To Do With Harry Potter? I went back to this reading today, and was particularly struck by this thought:

It’s one thing to see how two people can look at the same work of literature and see two different things. But how can two Christians use the same Bible and come to opposing positions about what is right and still both be right with God. There is a biblical explanation for this covered under the heading of disputable matters (found in Romans 14-15 and 1 Corinthians 8-10, which I will address momentarily). In such cases, where cultural, personal, and spiritual issues overlap, individual Christians must finally agree to disagree. Sincere, Bible-believing Christians, who seek the Lord with all their hearts, can be led by the same Holy Spirit to opposing conclusions. This is not relativism nor situational ethics. This is not compromising our commitment to godly conduct under mere social or political pressure. Instead, this is a personal decision about the appropriateness of disputable conduct. Yes, the Bible does allow for such cases.

…the issues raised over Harry Potter don’t lead to a single “Christian position.” Reading Harry Potter is a disputable matter because we are not debating whether it is okay for Christians to practice witchcraft or cast spells. The Christian position on that is clear. We agree that we should never participate in or practice anything listed in Deuteronomy 18:9-14 (see chapter 7). But reading Harry Potter is not the same as practicing witchcraft or even – as some assert – promoting it. However, some can take it to mean just that. Therein lies the disputable part of these issues that Christians debate in earnest.

I can’t really sum it up any better than that. But I will add to it only by saying: There are other kinds of secular entertainment or temptations I stay away from, things that might attract me to sin or something potentially harmful to me. Some of the types of shows I used to watch led me to feel unpleasantly distracted or even depressed. I no longer watch them. For the same reason, some music I used to listen to no longer finds its way to my ears. As I have grown in my relationship with God, it’s become much easier to identify what is harmful to me and what is not. Harry Potter, not for one single moment, has caused me to question God’s sovereignty or what is good and pure versus evil and demonic. Another Christian suggesting as such, without having read Harry Potter and especially without knowing my heart, is misguided.

I simply don’t see the value of ignorant and blanket criticism of pop culture. I don’t see how it builds relationships, nor do I see how it invites unbelievers to view Christianity as something attractive to them. I do see the value of educated and sensitive discussions. I see the value of sharing experiences in order to learn from each other. And, I see the value of a few hours spent in a movie theater with my family watching something that not only entertains us, but gives us a huge secular foundation for many conversations, including important spiritual ones.