⭐⭐⭐ Starfish ⭐⭐⭐ Have you ever touched a starfish?

We have and it was pretty rough.  That was Emily's descriptions by the way.

I love that we get to do these things so that the children have their own memories and experiences to draw on in the future.

One day, I hope that they will be writing a story at school and they'll use a simile like
🦑🦑🦑 Jellyfish Garden 🦑🦑🦑 First up, I need a jellyfish emoji.  Poor old squid has had to step in today.

We loved the jellyfish garden though.  It was like a weird magical place full of the strangest creatures on Earth.

I'm not a fan of jellyfish.  I'm not sure what the point is, but I am aware that that is probably just me being ignorant.

If I spot a jellyfish in the sea then I am out SO FAST.  They creep me out.

That said they are mesmerising and fascinating.  The way they swim and move around.

We need to learn more about these funny little blobs. ❤️ #jellyfish #sealife #sealifesydney #sydney #aquarium #underthesea #deepsea #exploringtheoceans #exploringtheworld #travelblog #traveljournalist
🌊🌊🌊 Sealife Sydney 🌊🌊🌊 After a week of walking around quoting Finding Nemo (think
👸👸 Sisters👸👸 Anyone else got one?  We've all got one.  Mummy's got a sister, Daddy's got a sister and Emily and Alice have each other.

It is funny watching these two together. It reminds me so much of the relationship I had with my sister growing up. 
They love each other so much, but sometimes they can't stand each other.

A lovely game can turn into tears and screams within seconds, but is usually resolved with a grumbled
🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️ Mermaid Rocks 🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️ I coined little rocks that jut out like this
🦀🦀🦀 Rock pooling 🦀🦀🦀 Another thing that we loved about Balmoral Beach were the rock pools.  We'd done a bit of rock pooling back home but this was another level.

The rock formations around the edge of the beach were beautiful and created natural pockets of water full of shellfish and crabs.

The girls had a great time climbing over the rocks and peering into pools on the hunt for crabs.

We saw several of them scurry off and hide in dark corners but one or two stopped to pose for a photo. ❤️ #rockpools #worldschool #exploretheworld #crabbing #beachlife #childrenoftheworld #learningontheroad #bigwideworld #sydney #australia
🌴🌴🌴 Balmoral Beach 🌴🌴🌴 No trip to Sydney would be complete without a trip to one of their gorgeous beaches.

After getting chatting to a random guy in the park, he recommended Balmoral Beach as a great place to take the children.

This was then backed up by a recommendation from the doctor that we took Emily to see (another story). With two recommendations, we packed our bags and jumped on a bus.  And wow!  This beach did not disappoint!

With two sandy coves separated by a rocky point in the middle it was the perfect spot for the kids.

It is sheltered nicely from the big waves that roll in from the Pacific meaning that you an go in and swim properly. ❤️ #beachlife #sydney #australia #kidsthatexplore #traveltheworld #familytravel #kidsthattravel #travelingtoddler #seetheworld #bestbeach
⛲⛲⛲ Darling Harbour ⛲⛲⛲ After some rather firm demands from the kids, we set out to find a playground in Sydney.

The first one we found was incredible.  The best playground we've been to.  EVER!

It is in the Darling Harbour area, which is a stunning place with lots of restaurants and entertainment.  But the park is by far the best it.

It had the usual swings and slides, which were better than average anyway.  But the best bit was the water play. 
There were three water play areas.  One with a series of dams and waterwheels where you could change the route that the water flowed through.

Then there was a huge paddling pool with stepping stones that i love soaking my hot and sweaty feet in.

But the bit the kids loved the most was this.  The jets of water.  It was the bit that ruined my
🌉🌉🌉 Sydney Harbour Bridge 🌉🌉🌉 On our first day in Sydney, we caught a train to the North End of the bridge.  Our plan was to use the pedestrian path that runs along the east side to get some great views of the city.

Walking along the (free) path was grand but, due to the fires in New South Wales, some smoke had blown in and limited the views.

It is a spectacular bridge though.  Work started on the bridge in 1914 and was designed to look like Hell Gate Bridge in New York.

The bridge was finally opened in 1932.  It is the tallest steel arch bridge in the world and until 2012 was the widest long-span bridge too.

Aside from the iconic views, it attractive tourists for another reason: you can walk right over the top of it.

If I'm honest, just looking at the people walk over it made me feel nauseous.  But Emily said she wanted to do it.  Thankfully, she's too young, so she will have to come back when she's a bit older. ❤️ #sydneyharbourbridge #newsouthwales #sydneyviews #travelphoto #photooftheday #seetheworld #kidsthattravel #somuchtosee #travelbloggers
🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 Sydney Opera House 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 This hugely iconic building was a must see on our list of things to do in Sydney.

It was pretty hard to see it really as it sticks out and train into the city went right past it.

Getting up close to it was incredible though.  It is MASSIVE!

One thing that I didn't realise was that the roof is actually covered in white tiles.  Not sure what I thought it was made from but it wasn't tiles.

Plus the views from around the opera house are stunning too.  You can see the botanical gardens and the harbour bridge and so much more. ❤️ #sydney #sydneyoperahouse #australia #nsw #travelblog #familytravel #travelphotography #travelfamily #globetrotting #wanderlust #downunder
🐦🐦🐦 Parrots 🐦🐦🐦 How cool is this picture?

Sydney Opera House in the background and a parrot on her shoulder.  It is one of Emily's favourites from the whole trip.

We've seen some pretty cool birds on our travels.  We saw some random parrot on the beach in Colombia.  But nowhere feels quite as exotic as Australia.

Even the bin chickens (white ibis') where exciting when we got here.  Until we realised that they were just fancy pigeons.

But you'll see green lorikeets fly up to balconies and they are just beautiful.

Much better than crows and sparrows back home. ❤️ #sydneyoperahouse #birdsoftheworld #parrots #binchickens #australia #sydney #traveltheworld #travelblog #kidsthattravel #worldschooling #exploretheworld #learningaroundtheworld

One day, two parks; exploring Universal

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

I’ll be honest, we weren’t sure whether to visit the Universal parks at all.  It seemed like a lot of money for me to visit the Harry Potter bit.

 

But we booked our tickets at the last minute because there was no way that I was not going to do the Harry Potter bit.  Let’s face it, we were always going to go.

 

To keep costs to a minimum we booked to go to both parks in one day and paid for the park-to-park tickets so that we could ride on the Hogwarts express.

 

This meant that we had an action-packed day.  Check out what we did:

 

Seuss Landing

First stop was to Seuss landing in the Islands of Adventure park.  And a great first stop it was.  The colours and the characters got the kids majorly excited and they instantly wanted to go on everything.

 

I took Emily on One Fish, Two Fish, which is a roundabout ride where you go up and down (there are loads of these in Disney).  It said we might get wet, but we were clever and avoided and splashes.

 

Next up was a ride on the Cara-Seuss-el.  A standard carousel but with whacky creatures for you to ride.  Emily loved it.  Alice not so much.

 

Alice loved exploring this area and trying on the funny wigs in the shops.  She was mesmerised by the creativity behind it.  It was good that she was happy just walking around though as she was too small for most of the rides at Universal.

 

Harry Potter

After leaving Seuss Landing, we powered through the next area, whatever that was, and headed straight for Hogsmeade.  There was a brief stop en route to give Puss in Boots a cuddle though.

 

Hogsmeade

So Hogsmeade is great!  Like really great!  The shops have been made so well, parts that move and come alive to make it feel truly magical.

There’s snow on the rooftops and cobbled streets to walk along.  Along the paths are people sell drinks and food all themed into the wizarding world.

 

We popped in several of the shops and Honeydukes was our favourite.  We had a look around and the children chose a treat each.  I wanted to buy everything but exercised some great self-restraint.

 

Butterbeer

Butterbeer at Orlando is both gluten and lactose-free.  Woohoo!  That was all I needed to convince me to get one so that’s what I did.

 

You have two options for your butterbeer: cold or frozen.  I opted for the cold because frozen butterbeer sounds wrong.  I necked that whilst watching a display from the students of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons.

 

Hogwarts

Hogwarts Castle sits on hill way above Hogsmeade.  You can’t miss it as it looms over the village.  From the age of 11, I dreamt of going to Hogwarts so it was quite emotional to see it up close.

 

Hogwarts Express

By far the best bit of the whole Universal complex is the Hogwarts Express.  This train takes you from one Universal park to the other and I totally recommend that you ride it in both directions.

 

At each end, the stations are made up to look like either the Hogsmeade station or Kings Cross.  We had to queue for a while to get on but the train comes frequently enough that you won’t be waiting too long.

 

The train ride itself is phenomenal.  You will sit inside a little cabin just as they do in the films.  Then as you travel along you will see the landscape pass by exactly as you would expect travel from Hogsmeade to London and vice versa.

 

On top of that, you will see the silhouettes of activity in the corridor.  This includes conversations between your favourite characters as well as visits from dementors.

 

If you are visiting Universal, do not miss out on this experience.  It was truly amazing!

 

Diagon Alley

After hopping off the Hogwarts Express in London, you will have to find your way into Diagon Alley.  It’s not hard but it is concealed like it is in the books.

 

With a whole other magical world to explore, I was too excited and gave myself a headache.  Probably should have drank more water.

 

You will get to walk along Diagon Alley and see all the well-known shops, including Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and Ollivanders.  At one end, you will Gringott’s, complete with a fire-breathing dragon on the roof.

 

You can also stop off at the Leaky Cauldron was some fish and chips and other food typically found in London.

 

We watched ??? perform in the street to a large crowd and then took a quick trip down Knockturn Alley.  I didn’t buy anything, I promise!

 

Simpsons bit

After leaving Diagon Alley, we headed to the Simpsons area.  The children haven’t really seen the Simpsons so it was a bit wasted on them but they enjoyed the colours and the characters.

 

Emily went on another of those up and down, round and round ride again.  This time with an alien theme, Kang and Kodos if anyone is a Simpsons fan.  Alice and I hung around the arcade games and pretend that we were playing them even though I was too tight to pay.

 

Shrek 4D Show

We hadn’t taken the kids on a 4D ride before and figured that Shrek might be a good one to start with.

 

This ride has moving seats, but given that we were a bit nervous as to how the kids would react we opted for the static ones.  Turned out to be a good shout.

 

It was an OK ride, but Emily found the 3D video a bit scary and kept dodging all the things that came at her.  Like rocks and arrows.  It was pretty sweet, but I understood that she must have been worried.

 

We did all have a laugh when Donkey sneezed and we all got wet.  Urgh!  Donkey bogies!

 

Parade

As left the Shrek show, the parade was just about to pass us.  Unlike the Disney parade, we were able to get front row seats.

 

This meant that we got lots of waves, high fives and interaction from the characters that went by, which meant that we all loved it.

 

We saw minions from Despicable Me, the animals from the Pets movies and Spongebob Squarepants.

 

Final thoughts on Universal Studios

 

As much as I enjoyed the Harry Potter bits, we really did only need the one day there.  There’s not a huge amount for really small children to do and even for bigger ones, it is limited.

 

Many of the characters are aim at older audiences, so if your kids are 8+ then they will probably have a better experience.

 

We had a good day though and we are glad that we went.  I’d love another butterbeer though, so if anyone wants to grab me one that’d be great!

universal in one day

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

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1 Comment

  • Allena Glinka
    November 25, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the info!

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