For a little over a week, we travelled to North Carolina to visit Uncle Jason and Auntie Jen for New Year’s. From there we travelled on New Year’s Day to Florida (we were going to drive, but instead Jason helped us find a return flight that cost about $200 more than the car rental, which we jumped at since it saved us 16 hours of driving).
In addition to the fun that we had, the over-riding theme of our vacation was the weather. The entire Eastern Coast of North America was hit with a deep freeze, the worst to hit the southern US in over 40 years. It resulted in some of the coldest temperatures in North Carolina and Florida. Here in Canada, temperatures were regularly between -30 & -40 for the entire time we were away. The temperatures in Florida hovered between 0-10 degrees Celsius. And in North Carolina, the temperatures hovered around -10-10 degrees Celsius and included snow that stayed on the ground for a little over 2 days from Jan 4-, which according to Jason had never happened the entire time that he has lived in North Carolina.
When in North Carolina visiting, Jason and Jen: took us around their 11 acre property, took us to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, roasted marshmallows on his deck in his outside fireplace, sat by the fire inside, taught Aiden poker, went riding his 4-wheeler, drove around for 2 hours to find us a copy of the final DVD copy of Harry Potter so that the kids could watch it before going to Universal Studios, and rang in the New Year!!!
We flew to Orlando on January 1 because we had tickets from January 2-4 for Universal. As mentioned above, we were there during the coldest period in over 40 years. The water park was closed during our entire trip due to the cold temperatures. As a result of the cold, our best and most pragmatic purchase while at Universal was the kids Harry Potter Robes (Abby got Gryffindor & Aiden got Slytherin). They kept the kids so warm during the cold temperatures. The second best purchase was the wands, which all of us got, because all through the park we could use them to perform magic just like in the movies. Despite the cold temperatures (including an epic day 2 that included rain, high winds, and freeze warning), we had an amazing trip at Universal as seen in the videos and pictures below.
Videos of the Kids Performing Magic with their Wands
Highlights from Universal
As a result of the cold temperatures, on the last day of our trip Aiden and I went to Guest Services at Universal and asked if they would give us some money back. When at the counter, I asked how much money the FastPass was for the day and it was too much money even with the money that they were going to give us back. The amazing thing though was that after waiting at the counter for about 10 min filling out paper work with Aiden laying his head on the counter and waiting patiently, while looking sad and cold, they gave us our money back and gave us complimentary Fast Pass tickets for our last day at Universal. It was a wonderful surprise and made our last day awesome!!!