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It’s not exactly a secret that Samwell and I are obsessed with Harry Potter. As in, watch-all-the-movies-multiple-times-a-year, use-Harry-Potter-speak-in-every-day-language, both-re-reading-the-whole-series-this-year, want-to-get-Harry-Potter-themed-tattoos (that’s really just Danielle), name-our-dog-Severus obsessed with Harry Potter.
And we also want this blog to be a collection of our travel adventures along with our athletic endeavors; after all, when it comes to traveling, isn’t it always the longer, the better? So, this is the perfect opportunity to start adding in some travel adventure recaps to the blog.
When I signed up for the Dopey Challenge, I would be lying if I didn’t factor in the opportunity to spend several glorious days at Harry Potter World while we were in Orlando. The Dopey Challenge was already intriguing, but this pushed the awesome bar much higher.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
There are two Harry Potter parks at Universal Studios: Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.
Before the fun stuff, let’s discuss important information on ticket buying. Diagon Alley is in Universal Studios Florida, while Hogsmeade is in Universal’s Islands of Adventure. These are two different parks, which require different passes. Well played, Universal. In order to ride the Hogswart Express, you need to have a pass that will get you in both parks, which is a bit more expensive.
We got “buy 2, get 1 free” passes, so essentially 3 day passes (for the price of 2 days) that could be used at one park. We went to Diagon Alley one day, Hogsmeade another day, and then back to Diagon Alley the last day. We also spent time in other parts of each park, but most of the time we spent in Harry Potter World. It depends how obsessed you are with Harry Potter.. you really could do both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade in one day, if you just want to walk around a little bit and go on the rides.
However, I could have spent all day of each of the days walking around and going in the shops and drinking Butterbeer and going on the rides…
I LOVED the shops. The detail that went into each of them was amazing. I could have just walked around and looked in the shop windows forever.
When we went, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade were much busier than the rest of the Universal parks. For this reason, I would recommend going to Harry Potter World either first thing in the morning (not an option for us) or later in the afternoon when it starts to clear out. Otherwise, it’s difficult to take everything in because THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. We were in both parks in late afternoon, and it’s so much easier to walk around, peruse the shops, etc. Plus, Diagon Alley was pretty neat looking at dusk too.
One pretty cool thing about the wands is that you could get an interactive wands for an additional cost. Then, you could go all over Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade and MAKE MAGIC WITH YOUR WAND! So, essentially, you could make things happen that us mere mortals could only dream of doing. We didn’t end up buying a wand, but we sure watched a lot of kids waving them around.
The ride in Diagon Alley is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. We really enjoyed this ride! The line winds through Gringotts Bank, which in itself is pretty cool. Then the actual ride is kind of a roller coaster mixed with a 3-D movie simulation. I think it was the only ride we went on twice.
We didn’t eat at Harry Potter World, but we did enjoy some mighty fine beverages. First of all, Butterbeer. Holy yum. You can get Butterbeer frozen, cold, or hot. I honestly liked it all three ways and didn’t really have a strong preference. I’ve heard many people prefer it frozen though.
Second, there is are two beers (I think…maybe only one) that are specially made for Harry Potter World. Sam tried one of them and thought it was delicious.
Lastly, the beer (and other drink) selections were, in my opinion, much better in Harry Potter World than the rest of the park. I had a few delicious Strongbow ciders, and I didn’t see them being sold anywhere else in the park. The also sold wine, and I believe some mixed drinks. And then you could just walk around and get in ride lines with your beverage. Baller.
There were shows and things going on in Diagon Alley (including a musical performance by Celestina Warbuck), but we were more interested in walking around and going on rides than hanging out and watching these. To each their own!
Hogsmeade was GORGEOUS. And Hogwarts. Le sigh.
It seemed to us that Diagon Alley focused more on shops, and Hogsmeade focused more on rides. It did have Three Broomsticks, which we didn’t experience since it had a line. It also had an Ollivanders shop, which Sam was very upset about since it’s not a chain. It doesn’t exist in Diagon Alley AND Hogsmeade. Universal took some creative money-making license there.
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – This. Was. Awesome. The line for the ride goes through Hogwarts. You get to see different classrooms in Hogwarts and a little interlude with Harry, Hermione, and Ron. And, again, the detail is just so cool. I especially loved the floating candles from the ceiling.
- Dragon Challenge – This is your run-of-the-mill roller coaster. I like roller coasters and all, but actual ride just wasn’t super Harry Potter-y. There were two different roller coasters that you could choose from, though, which represent different dragons (the Hungarian Horntail and the Chinese Fireball). I thought that was pretty cool. However, my favorite part was all of the decor leading up to the roller coaster. It was all themed around the Triwizard Tournament, including signs cheering on Fleur, Harry or Cedric. You also see the Weasly’s flying car!
- Flight of the Hippogriff – We actually didn’t go on this ride, as it seemed geared more towards the younger crowd.
Though not directly related to Harry Potter World, one does have to eat while they stay in Orlando. I’m a fairly picky restaurant eater.. If I’m going to spend the money eating out, I want it to be delicious. These were my two picks of the places we ate out at while in Orlando.
- Breakfast – Tasty, reasonably priced, and loads of vegetarian options. Delicious fresh-squeezed OJ.
- Pizza – Given the name and the location (in a strip mall), we were a bit skeptical, but it was super tasty. We got the Scream’n Demon and Xtreme Veggie. Highly recommend.
Also, there is a nifty app we used to look at wait times for all of the rides. I would recommend it.
- If Hermione were the main character of in “Harry Potter”. So. Funny.
- You’re such a Gilderoy.
- Okay, seriously. HP tattoos are awesome. Here are some examples to tempt you. And some more. Last one.
- This would so be me. Is it wrong to want to have children just so I can do this? I just googled “Harry Potter onesies”. That’s going to be so much fun.
- My absolute favorite scene from all of the HP movies. Get me every single time.
- Lastly, an oldie but goodie.