Monday, September 8, 2014

Let Me Tell You About...the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

One of the best parts of living in Florida is the great access we have to all these fun theme parks. Jared had a rare day off this weekend, so we decided to take an impromptu trip to Orlando and visit Universal Studios. Jared has been dreaming of seeing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in all its splendor since the day we arrived in Florida. I knew he had it bad when he watched a whole documentary about the making of the park...

I was also excited, because I grew up with Harry Potter. And it intrigued me to see one of my most beloved book series come to life!

Harry Potter's world is divided into two parts at Universal Studios: Hogmeade and Diagon Alley. The Hogwarts Express connects both parts of the park. Just an FYI: if you ever decide to visit Harry Potter at Universal Studios, make sure you get a park-to-park ticket! This will allow you to ride the Hogwarts Express to each location.

It's humid in here we are in our theme park gear, ready to start the day!

Our first stop? Butterbeer in Hogsmeade! You can get it cold or frozen. We also had some pumpkin juice later during our visit. Both were delicious : )

One of the best parts of the experience was the interactive wand! We saw a short show in Ollivander's Shop and then purchased our own wand (selected by birth date, of course). Now I'm not gonna lie: the wands aren't cheap, but they make the experience so much better.

What can you do with the wand? Why magic, of course : ) Many of the shop windows in Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley allow you to manipulate something with the wand. Of course...Jared and I are adults, we knew the wands were some fancy laser pointers. But the fact you could make something happen with a wand really WAS magical. Jared was our main wizard for the afternoon, because he was so enthralled : )

After doing some magic, we had some good English fare at the Three Broomsticks! The food was actually very good, which in my opinion is a rarity at a theme park.

We rode a couple of rides in Hogsmeade, including one at Hogwarts. The detail was incredible! Our wait had us winding through the corridors of the castle, including several rooms with talking portraits. Very impressive, Universal Studios...

Then we headed to Diagon Alley via the Hogwarts Express! Notice how the photo looks smoky? It's because the train is so realistic, is belches real smoke! Jared and I watched one of the Harry Potter films when we got home later, and the inside of the train looks like an exact replica of the one in the film. There's even a mini show as you travel from park to park, so make sure and ride the train both ways!

At the entrance to Diagon Alley...the Knight Bus! I think my favorite part of the whole experience was the detail! Jared and I recognized so many characters and events from the books. One impressive detail (which I regret not getting a picture of...) was the dragon perched on top of Gringott's in Diagon Alley. The dragon would periodically breath real fire!!! Jared and I could feel the heat all the way on the ground. We just loved reliving some of our favorite literary memories.

If you love Harry Potter and ever get the chance, make sure you visit Universal Studios!