Wow, this is crazy. Not only do I have time to write a post, but it’s the second day in a row! Maybe I’m just super excited about what I have to write today…
This one is going to be full of pictures and lots of words. If you’re so inclined, hunker down with a spot of tea or coffee, or a mug of butterbeer, and read on. :-)
On the second day of our vacation, we woke up at 6:30 in order to get a head start on things. We weren’t entirely sure about directions or what to do when we got to the park (we had to find the will call kiosk), so we left our hotel an hour before the park officially opened. That ended up being a good idea, even though we were just 10 minutes away. We weren’t rushing and had plenty of time to figure things out and formulate a plan!
When we got there, we easily spotted the kiosk, printed our tickets, and jetted off to the back of the park. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is located in the back of Islands of Adventure. I had done a bit of research before we left and learned that, time-wise, it is important to get to Hogwarts first thing in order to avoid lines. Don’t have to tell me twice!
The Islands of Adventure park as a whole was pretty cool. I’ll get to that more in my next post – when we first arrived, we sped past the various “islands”, me snapping pictures haphazardly the whole time. (This was about the moment when I realized I forgot my camera at home. Thank goodness for iPhones and their wonderful cameras!!)
I can’t even tell you how excited I was that whole morning leading up to when we left. When we were in the car I had the Hogwarts school song stuck in my head (“Hogwarts, Hogwarts, hoggy-warty Hogwarts, teach us something please…”) and I couldn’t stop smiling. Serious fangirl moments, these. But it wasn’t until I saw this view of Hogwarts across the lake that I was over-the-moon thrilled:
I mean, really.
How could a Harry Potter
freak fan not be excited about that??
Time for a little tip: if you go to HP World, get to the park early and make your way to Hogwarts as fast as humanly possible. Apparition is the preferable mode of transport, but if that’s not your thing, just use your feet!
There’s a ride in the castle called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and it is, in one word, amazing. Because it’s amazing, the line fills up fast, and you might be faced with an hour wait before too long. Is it worth the wait? Totally. But if you get there early and make it the top priority on your list, you’ll probably have to wait all of about fifteen minutes, like we did. :-)
Ok, I know this entire post has been me talking about rushing around, but once you get to the castle, it is imperative that you take a moment and think about exactly where you are. They make it easy to do this: the soaring soundtrack music is playing, ravens are cawing overhead, and the castle looms comfortingly above you.
I’m so glad my phone was able to take these pictures inside. Beyond this point, it couldn’t pick up anything in the darkness, but for our viewing pleasure, someone has uploaded the entire ride (in video form) on Youtube! Check it out here!
My mom and I were actually extremely lucky the first time we went on The Forbidden Journey. We were waiting in line when a worker asked for two riders. We volunteered, having no idea what we volunteered for, and followed the worker (who, by the way, called us Muggles) for a bit. She then left us at a doorway and gave us some directions – go down this hallway, get on the elevator, go up a floor, go across another hallway, and go back down a floor.
That part felt just weird. There we were, wandering the hallways of Hogwarts. I was seriously impressed that they kept the theme going throughout – it didn’t change back to normal, boring walls once we exited the main line. The walls were still made of stone and the doorways were beautiful and ornate.
Anyway, when we got to our destination, we met a very nice, older couple. The woman was handicapped, and so had to board the ride in a different part of the castle. There are four riders to a box, so my mom and I hopped on and went through the Journey with them. When it was done, we all voiced the fact that we loved it and wanted to do it again. Then the woman stopped for a moment, looked at the worker, and asked, “Can we do it again?” Because there was no one else in line, we hopped right back on and went through the Journey another time! Twice in a row, with no waiting! Talk about good fortune. :-)
After going through the Journey twice, we headed out for some photo ops. When at Hogwarts…
Hogsmeade has two butterbeer carts. You can also buy a frothy mug in the Three Broomsticks, but as the line was shorter at one of the carts, I ordered some outside.
You can get the butterbeer regular or frozen, and I highly recommend the frozen kind. Especially if Florida decides to be 91*F and exceptionally humid the day you’re visiting.
Butterbeer has the taste of butterscotch, but is very creamy – the white foam on top is like a vanilla creamsicle. It is suuuuuper sweet. I actually couldn’t finish the whole thing because of that, but it was definitely worth every penny and calorie for the experience! :-)
There are two other rides at HP World: the Flight of the Hippogriff and the Dragon Challenge. The Flight of the Hippogriff would be good for littler ones (or those who aren’t fans of rollercoasters). The Dragon Challenge, on the other hand, was awesome. Definitely my favorite coaster in all of Universal!
For lunch, we headed back to the car. We had packed food the night before and stored it in a styrofoam cooler. We also had covered parking, so everything stayed nice and fresh. Plus, we didn’t have to pay and arm and a leg for unhealthy theme park food!
After lunch, we went around Islands of Adventure (again, I’ll write about that in my next post) before ending up back at HP World. I just couldn’t get enough!
We decided to go ahead and wait in line at Ollivander’s Wand Shop.
The wizard – Ollivander – gave a small group of us a little lecture about wands, before choosing a special witch to try out a few. It was just like the scene in the book/movie when Harry gets his wand!
I had a hard time grappling with the decision of whether or not to buy a wand. On this day, I left without one…
Before leaving the park for the day, we stopped for a photo with this chap…the conductor of the Hogwart’s Express!
I really liked this guy. He had a pretty thick British accent, but when I asked where he was from, he answered “Hogsmeade!” with a look of absolute surety on his face. I loved that about this place: everyone was constantly in character, which only added to the atmosphere.
And that was my first day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was surreal, to say the least. Check back soon for Part Two of Day Two at Islands of Adventure!
Oh, and if you’re still reading at this point, you’re a trooper! Thank you! If not, that’s ok. I still like you. :-)
Questions for the day:
Are you a Harry Potter fan? If not, what’s your favorite book series?
What is your favorite theme park?
Are you a roller-coaster person?
Ever tried butterbeer?
Have a wonderful day, everyone! :-)