Yep… That’s me, my youngest daughter and my husband at the Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando FL!!! This was only the beginning of our fabulous adventures in FL!!
As some of you may know from my previous Harry Potter post, I am a HUGE fan of the books, and the movies, and just about every merchandised item that has come out. So when I heard about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in FL, I knew my family and I would have to make the pilgrimage some day!! Then I heard they had added onto what was originally built!!! I knew the time was now!!!! So my family and I headed south for the vacation of a lifetime!
Outside the secret entrance (via Universal Studios) we spotted Stan Shunpike and the Knight Bus!! Oh, and we also had a very fun interaction with the Jamaican shrunken head, who was quite quick witted!!
We also got a chance to see Kreacher sneaking a peak at all the dirty Muggles outside 12 Grimmauld Place!!
Before entering Diagon Alley, we decided to give the Ministry of Magic a ring on the phone. There’s a number on the dial which you use to dial up and hear a recorded message from the Ministry!!! Such a cool detail!
Upon entering into Diagon Alley my daughter could hardly contain her joy!!! Just look at the excitement on her face!!!
It was truly magical!!! No detail was over looked! Our first stop was Ollivander’s to get my little witch her first wand!! We knew about the Harry Potter Wand Experience, where a group of visitors are brought into the back part of Ollivander’s for a fabulous interactive wand choosing experience. We were in a group of about 10-12, and a younger couple was chosen to experience the magic first hand. It was so very fun the way Ollivander’s representative witch explained how the wand chooses the wizard as much the other way and they would intern learn from one another. The couple tried their hand a a couple wands with not so outstanding results. A vase of flowers were wilted away with one wayward spell, a group of books disheveled by the wrong wand. Until at last they were each paired with the right wand for them.
As we were leaving with our group Ollivander’s witch stopped my daughter, and told her she had felt very powerful magic from her. The rest of the group was now gone and my family and I were in the room all alone for the most magical one on one wand experience EVER!!! My daughter tried her hand at a couple wands before the perfect one found her! The witch at Ollivander’s was such a wonderful performer and made the experience feel as real as possible and as magical as the movie itself!!! I had tears of joy and excitement in my eyes and goose bumps the entire time!!! Just look at the fun we had!!!
Even the lights dimmed as a spotlight shone on her once the right wand was found!!! With each interactive wand comes a map of Diagon Alley and Hogsmead, detailing spots where each witch or wizard can try out their spell work. Armed with this knowledge, we quickly headed over to get a good set of robes to complete the look! Even the mirror complimented my daughter on how stylish she looked!
After shopping, we needed some much deserved libations, and what else but Butterbeer would suffice!
I wondered just how good it could be as I read a million reviews of its glory and I promise you I was not disappointed!!! I drank more Butterbeer than water while there for I knew I would not have such delectable treats back in the Muggle world!! I recommend the frozen Butterbeer over just the cold, it tastes so much more refreshing!!
We next raced over to the Harry Potter’s escape from Gringott’s ride. The detail payed to each section of this ride, even waiting in line was a thrill!! I had to do a double take on the animatronic goblins, I thought they were actors the movements were so real!!
The ride itself was just as mind blowing!! Its a combination of ride and 3D visual screen effects. You find yourself careening through the tunnels past the vaults of Gringott’s with the music from the movie building the suspense as you go! First lead by Griphook, one of the goblins, then set loose on a run away cart once your presence is detected by Gringott’s defenses. You encounter Belatrix Lestrange and even Lord Voldemort himself all while trying to escape, just like Harry, Ron and Hermione in the movie!! You feel yourself being almost toasted by a dragon, hosed down with water, and then plummeting towards your doom, only to be saved by the fabulous Bill Weasley!! This ride is so wonderfully intense and like nothing I had ever experienced before!!!! The whole family LOVED it!!!!
Once you exit Gringott’s Bank there is this awesome statue of a goblin standing atop a huge stack of gold coins:
Oh and did I mention there is a dragon on top of the bank that breathes fire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was so damn cool!!!!! Even when it wasn’t breathing fire it was breath taking!
Everyone at Diagon Alley really gets into their roles as well.
And the details everywhere were astounding!! Like this super cool fountain, that happened to also offer young wizards the chance to try out their new wand skills!!
We caught the Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees show as well while in Diagon Alley.
We made stops at Honeydukes for some pumpkin juice and by Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes too.
You can even adopt any number of magical creatures at the pet shop as well!!!
They also had a super cool snowy owl puppet whose head would rotate!!! And outside was a giant animatronic snake, clearly a kin of Nagini’s!!
Of course we also had to take a walk on the dark side as well, and made our way through the dark winding alleys to reach Knockturn Alley!
Borgin and Burkes did not disappoint, it was filled from ceiling to floor with all sorts of dark arts memorabilia and supplies.
We even saw the vanishing cabinet Draco Malfoy used to sneak Death Eaters into Hogwart’s!!!
Again I state, no detail was overlooked when they created this magical world, and I truly felt as though I was inside J.K. Rowling’s wonderfully magical and whimsical world!!!
Once we exhausted ourselves in Diagon Alley it was time to take the Hogwart’s express over to Hogsmead and see the the Hogwart’s Castle!!!!
The streets of London wiz by as you make your way to Hogsmead! Along the way you get to hear and see other passengers walking past your door, even Harry, Ron and Hermione!!! There are also a few other surprises for those riding the train, but I’ll keep somethings a secret!! I do insist you ride the train both ways! As in real life, the trip back is always different than the trip there!!!
Hogsmead has the most quaint shops and each one is capped with snow!! It is magical to say the least!
After a stop off for some grub at The 3 Broom Sticks…
check out the dope decor!!! And the food was SPECTACULAR!!
Next we headed off to see Hogwart’s and experience all it had to offer including the Forbidden Journey ride!!!
This was another 3D super interactive mind blowing ride through the halls and secret tunnels of Hogwart’s even the quidditch field!!! But before we even got to the ride the interior was just as magnificent as you would hope!
Talking and moving pictures interact with one another and entertain all those present.
Even the Fat Lady brags about her glorious Gryffindors and their accomplishments!
You walk past the entrance to Dumbledore’s office, the Mirror of Erised, classroom doors, even Dumbledore himself, along with Ron, Hermione, and Harry! The Sorting Hat also provides entertainment!! Again with wind, fire and water, it is another memorable ride!!
In Hogsmead we caught the Singing Toads concert, along with a fabulous show of talents by the lovely Veela’s of Beauxbaton’s Academy and the hardy gents of Drumstrang!!
After the show we went over to the Flight of the Hippogriff ride!! In line you get a close up peek at Hagrid’s Hut!
The best part though is the super dope animatronic Hippogriff Buckbeak who sits in his giant nest bowing to all riders as they ride by.
This is a ride the whole family can enjoy too. Fast, and fun without too many steep drops, and it was just about the smoothest roller coaster I’ve ever been on!!
Be sure to stop by the Owl Post and mail yourself some super cool postcards. They even use the Hogsmead stamp on them!!!
As we made out way back to the Train Station, with joy in our hearts, we knew that some day we’d have to come back!!!
I hope this has inspired all you Harry Potter fans out there to do your very best to go and experience the magic for yourself!! From what I’ve read J.K. Rowling herself made sure each detail met her standards, so you know its the real deal!!
Remember to take pics and share them too!!! Have fun and safe travels!!!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my fabulous family vacation to Florida!!!!