I closed Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows after reading the series for the second time and decided it was time to make a trip to Florida and immerse myself in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I convinced my best friend to join the party, my sister was currently stationed at NAS Jacksonville, so she was down to join and would bring a friend from her squadron. We were fully prepared to geek out for the next three days.
Couple of notes before I get to the good stuff. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split into two sections – Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Diagon Alley is located inside Universal Studios Orlando and Hogsmede is located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You can go between the two parks by riding the Hogwarts Express! If you want the full Harry Potter experience buy the multi-day park hopper pass. We spent three days in Harry Potter World, and I felt that I had seen and experienced everything I wanted too.
We went in April which I thought was perfect. It was shorts and tank top weather, but not overbearingly hot. As Goldilocks would say, it was just right. Harry Potter World is an attraction in Universal Studios, but it’s the reason why we were there. The second we made it through security it was a mad dash for Diagon Alley! Before you walk through the magical brick wall, you will see the Knights Bus parked outside 13 Grimmauld Place and Kings Cross Station. Then you walk through the brick corridor and are instantly transported to Diagon Alley. The first two shops are The Leaky Caldron and Wesley’s Wizard Wheezes, but your eye is instantly drawn to the fire breathing dragon perched on top of Gringotts Bank.
Once you’ve started breathing again, it’s time to start exploring. Check out Ollivanders, exchange your muggle money for wizard money that you can use in the park and get yourself a Butterbeer! The park even brews their own Harry Potter Themed beer. Cruise down Knockturn Alley and peak inside Borgin and Burke’s. The only ride in Diagon Alley is inside Gringotts, and it was by far my favorite ride. You take a trip deep into the vaults, and have to make a quick escape when Voldemort shows up! Make sure you explore every nook and cranny. So much detail was put into the design, that you can easily spend ½ your day there – which I’m pretty sure we did. My sister wanted to ride some other rides, so we had to head back to the muggle world.
The second day we entered through Islands of Adventure to check out Hogsmeade. This might be the only place you’ll ever see snow in Florida. While in Hogsmeade, you must do what our favorite trio does and stop for some Butterbeer at the Three Broom Sticks and get your chocolate frog at Honeydukes. I can’t tell you how excited I was when the charge on my credit card statement read, “Honeydukes.” The first ride is Flight of the Hippogriff which is like your typical rollercoaster except you can pick which dragon you want which will vary your experience. Hopefully, the line isn’t too long, so you can ride all three. Watch the Durmstrang dance on the stage and make your way to Hogwarts! This is another moment where you’ll want to make sure you’re still breathing.
Hogwarts is an interactive 3D ride, and the line takes you through the corridors of the castle. It was my second favorite ride. We took a break in the outdoor patio of the Three Broom Sticks where we tried all the different varieties of Butterbeer – frozen, cold, ice cream and potted cream – while gazing at Hogwarts in the distance. The Islands of Adventure park had more rides that my group liked, so we ventured back into the muggle world to check some of them out.
At this point, we had not taken the Hogwarts Express yet! So, before we concluded day 2, we boarded the train to from Hogsmeade to Kings Cross. I unloaded the candies I had bought at Honeydukes – chocolate frogs and Bernie Botts Every Flavored Bean when the train started to shake. We heard a voice that told us to stay put, and the cabin lights dimmed. Then we heard a thud, and a dementor was at our window! We saw another one at the door of our train cabin, but luckily Harry was there to cast Expecto Patronum. Did I mention I really like Harry Potter? We made one last stop at the Leaky Caldron and called it a day, plus the park was closing.
My sister and her friend did not join us for day 3, they had to report back to base, so she took off and my friend and I headed back to Harry Potter World that afternoon for round 3. We rode rides twice that we really liked, did some shopping. I really wanted a Gryffindor tank top since that is my house, but I could only find the Dark Mark (yes, I got it). We took the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade and then again back to Kings Cross. We were sitting at a table in Diagon Alley enjoying a Harry Potter themed brewed beer when a voice came over the intercom and said the park was closing. I felt pretty proud that I closing down Diagon Alley. It was the perfect way to end the perfect trip that was all things Harry Potter.
So, would I go again? Absolutely, and I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time. Plus, I read they have a new ride coming out. I haven’t been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios LA, but that one is condensed on a much smaller scale. I’m sure I would love it just as much, and it’s a lot closer to home. Okay, now that you have read my blog, I have a request – go do something Harry Potter. Start reading one of the books, download the audio books, watch a movie or book a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! And when you do, tweet me @keeliec5, so we can nerd out over Harry Potter together.
Until next time…