So to celebrate the opening of the new Harry Potter – Diagon Alley in Universal Orlando, I thought I would dedicate this post to my first visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
In 2010 we went to Florida as a family for my cousin’s wedding. We attempted as much of Disney as we could in a day (my aunt got blisters) and then drove and checked into Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando. We had decided to stay on property since that meant you got early access to the park (aka Harry Potter Wonderland). In 2010 when we went just Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure was open. Now both Hogdmeade and Diagon Alley are open and connected via the Hogwarts Express. We are heading down in October to experience both parks!
Now when I say I am a huge Harry Potter fan I mean it. I have read all the books (I used to re-read the series when a new book came out to “refresh” my memory), seen all the movies (multiple times) and seen the traveling collection of things from the film in Boston and California. Cheryl and I went to Universal Orlando for the day and ONLY stayed in Hogsmeade. We did not go on a single other ride in the park, and I was the happiest person ever! Here is a day at Universal Orlando Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
We woke up EARLY and got in line at the boats to take us to the park. There was already a decent line in front of us which was crazy! Once we got to the main gate Cheryl and I started merrily walking/jogging to Hogsmeade. We had to walk through a few different areas of the park first, but then I saw the gates!
When you first enter Hogsmeade you see the Hogwarts Express. I can’t wait to actually ride on it in October!
I loved the detail they put into Hogsmeade. Even though the rest of the park surrounded us I felt immersed in Harry Potter. The whole street looked like Hogsmeade. I loved the touch of snow on the roofs as well.
We wanted to wait for our aunt who was making her way across the park before we got in the ride lines. So we figured why not look in the stores! The first store we went in to was Honeydukes.
SO MUCH CANDY! I wanted to buy a few things as souvenirs, but it was hot so I decided to wait until later. Ever try Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans? I got an earwax one once…gross!
Next we figured why not try butterbeer! It was hot out and there was a little stand selling them in souvenir cups.
It was delicious! So refreshing and unique. Definitely not the only one I had that day!
Next we wandered around the street a little heading over toward the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. There were a bunch of storefronts, but you couldn’t go inside. It would have been cool though!
One of my favorite touches were the “moving” posters all through the street. Sirius Black was one of my favorite characters. This moving wanted poster was awesome, just like the movie!
Finally my aunt made it and we headed over toward the Forbidden Journey (or what I call The Castle Ride). There was a pretty long line, but it was really early so we didn’t mind waiting.
We jumped in line and started heading into the castle. They had so many details all over the place it was hard to see everything. Some of the reason there was a line was people taking pictures of stuff. We were all VERY excited though.
We weaved our way through the first inside corridor (the dungeons) and then headed outside into the gardens. Mandrakes in pots and plants weaving all over. It was very cool. I felt like I was on the castle grounds!
Then…the line stopped moving. At first we thought people were holding up the line, but an announcement came over some speakers saying the ride was down and they were not sure when it would be fixed. A few people left the line, but most just hunkered down and waited like us.
It was a good 45 minutes until the line started moving again and you could hear cheers from everyone!
Then we were finally inside the castle! There was so much to see I kept looking all around. The house points were on the wall and then there was Dumbledore’s staircase and maps and tapestries all over.
Inside where all the portraits were hung most of them talked and moved. It was so cool, but my camera couldn’t get any good pictures of them. Then we went through classrooms and finally we saw the trio (a hologram) and we were all set to ride!
The ride was amazing. I was squealing with joy after it was over. You “rode” a broomstick along with Harry. It seriously was so cool the way they did it. No more spoilers other than that.
Once we left the ride (after looking through the gift shop) we went back toward the main part of town. We heard drums so we walked over and saw the Triwizard Spirit Rally with the ladies of Beauxbatons and the men of Durmstrang.
Next we went to Ollivanders and the Owl Post. I didn’t get many pictures because the places were SO crowded, but I did get pumpkin juice which was awesome! I also met a conductor of the Hogwarts Express.
After we had a drink and did a little shopping we decided to try out the other rides. First was the Dueling Dragons. The path to the ride was also littered with amazing Harry Potter things like Hagrid’s Hut and the Flying Ford Anglia.
There wasn’t really a line for Dueling Dragons (it was lunch time at this point) so we went straight on.
I love roller coasters that flip. This one you are going head to head with the other roller coaster so that was cool. We rode the Hungarian Horntail the first time. When we flipped at the same time I thought I was going to kick someone on the other coaster! After we rode once we said why not try the other side (Chinese Fireball) and since there was no line we did!
After Dueling Dragons we figured we should eat something. We had waited hoping the lunch rush would die down. We headed over to the Three Broomsticks and of course it was packed. Cheryl and I headed next door to the Hog’s Head and grabbed a beer (in a souvenir cup) while we waited.
They had a pretty limited food selection, but luckily I eat anything. I had the fish and chips and Cheryl had shepherd’s pie. They were just what we needed.
After lunch we headed back out to the square and saw another show starting. This one was the Frog Choir.
Then we got a call from our cousins who had been wandering the rest of the park. They heard the Forbidden Journey ride was great so they were headed over. Of course I wanted to ride again so we waited for them and jumped in line. The wait was a lot longer now, but luckily the ride didn’t break down so we slowly moved through.
This time around I noticed even more little details I hadn’t noticed the first time through. My family loved the ride just as much as me, but they were tired and decided to head out to the hotel we were staying at near my cousin’s wedding venue.
Cheryl and I were not done with Hogsmeade yet! We stayed and went on the Flight of the Hippogriff. It was ok, more of a kid-friendly roller coaster. The rest of the day we spent in the Hog’s Head cooling off with butterbeer (and regular beer). The hog’s head on the wall behind the bar would grunt and snort every once in a while.
As the sun was starting to set we realized we had been in Hogsmeade ALL DAY. I had no regrets about it whatsoever. We were also the last of our family in the park. The rest had headed to the hotel. Cheryl and I were exhausted, but it was such an awesome day we didn’t care.
I cannot wait until October! Some of the new things you can do at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are:
Ride the Hogwarts Express
You board at King’s Cross Station on Platform 9 3/4 by Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade. The windows of the train show the scenery of the British countryside. I heard the opening day lines were hours long. Let’s hope it is less hectic in October!
Escape from Gringotts Ride
The goblins inside move and look at you, and the ride is a multi-dimensional trip through the volts of Gringotts. I think there might even be a dragon involved!
Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes
I cannot imagine how many things I will want to buy! You think they give a twin discount?
Borgin and Burkes
I bet the dark magic stuff in there is so cool
Madam Malkin’s Robes
I will not be buying a robe, but I definitely want to try one on!
Animals everywhere! I wonder what kind of stuff they will have. Maybe I can get an owl?
Quality Quidditch Supplies
With the popularity of quidditch I can image there will be a lot to look at.
Ollivanders and Gregorovitch Wand Shops
I will have to look through each. I do already have a Snape wand, but maybe Sirius?
I must get some stationary!
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream
It might not be super hot in October, but I cannot go without trying some ice cream
THE LEAKY CAULDRON
Really what else can I say. More butterbeer and delicious food to try! I wonder if Tom will be the bartender?
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is every Harry Potter fans dream come true! Have you ever been before?