Dear Ms. Hunt,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Well y'all, it finally happened. I got my letter! Sure, I'm only about 15 years older than the rest of the entering students, but beggars cant be choosers.
A common misconception about Floridians is that we spend every weekend at some theme park or another. I'm living proof that this isn't true, because I live within just a few hours of Orlando and I just FINALLY made it to Universal Studios to bask in the glory of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time this past Sunday.
And I'm gonna tell you all about it, whether you like it or not. (But hopefully you like it...even though this could be a long one!)
While going to Universal was a spontaneous decision (and brilliant idea on Slade's part), our time spent there was pretty well thought out ahead of time. There's no way to do all of each park in one day, so it's best to go after what you want to do the most. If you are unfamiliar with Universal, there are actually two parks: Universal Studios (which I will refer to from here on as US) and Islands of Adventure (IOA). There are now Harry Potter attractions in both parks, so I definitely recommend getting the two-park pass. Hogwarts/Hogsmeade are in IOA, and Diagon Alley is in US. And...the best part? You get to ride the Hogwarts Express in between them!
Anyway, we stayed in Orlando on Saturday night so we could get the earliest start possible. We arrived to the parks around 8:30, and decided to go into IOA first and head straight for Hogsmeade. I have to be honest with you guys, when we walked through the gate and I saw all of the cute little snow covered buildings with Hogwarts in the background, I teared up a little. Sensory overload.
After I drooled and drank everything in, we headed over to Hogwarts to get in line for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. The line weaves through the castle, and you get to see all of the things that are so familiar in the movies in person. Then, the ride itself is so much fun! It's motion simulator/coaster, and I don't want to give too much away, but I will tell you that you truly feel like you are flying at some points!
After the ride, we went in search for Butterbeer. We both got cups of the frozen kind, and wandered around Hogsmeade, exploring all of the shops and enjoying the atmosphere. My favorite shops in Hogsmeade were Honeydukes and the Owl Post. Slade isn't the biggest fan of large roller coasters, so we decided to forego the other two rides in Hogsmeade and catch the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley once we had finished exploring.
Next stop...Diagon Alley! Again, the initial "wow" factor when you lay eyes on the place for the first time is the best. Why, oh why can't I just set up camp in one of these cute little buildings? (As long as the dragon isn't real of course.)
Again, upon entering, we headed straight for the most popular attraction...Escape From Gringotts. As you wait in line for this one, you get to walk through Gringotts...which is complete with goblins, winding staircases, and chandeliers. The ride itself gives you the chance to go on a crazy ride through the depths of the Gingotts vaults. It's a blast!
When we exited the ride, it had become super crowded in Diagon Alley and we were getting hungry so we decided to take a break to find some food and visit other areas of the park, and then come back to Diagon Alley later in the afternoon. We were hoping to eat at The Leaky Cauldron, but the wait time was pretty crazy, so we ended up venturing to Finnegan's Bar and Grill, which was essentially an Irish pub. I had a corned beef sandwich and Slade had fish and chips. It was yummy, and honestly not all that expensive for park food...compared to a normal sit-down restaurant anyway.
After lunch, we spent a few hours walking around Universal Studios and doing some other rides, including:
* Revenge of the Mummy (This one is SO FUN)
* Despicable Me Minion Mayhem
* The Simpsons Ride
* Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon (This ride actually isn't open yet, but we were lucky enough to participate in a ride for the soft opening! It was pretty cool.)
In the late afternoon, we found ourselves back at Diagon Alley. We looked around in the shops, took some pictures, and shared a Butterbeer ice cream from Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour. (Delicious, of course.) We also bought a Hufflepuff drawstring backpack as a souvenir, because we are both Hufflepuffs.
We ended the day by boarding the Hogwarts Express and heading back over to IOA. It was about 6:30pm by this point and we were starting to get super tired. We were going to try to ride some of the other rides in that park, but the wait times were pretty high so we decided to get ahead of the crowd and head out. I had such an amazing day. Harry Potter with the man I'm crazy about...does it get any better?
Have you ever been to the Wizarding World? Also...what Hogwarts house are you in?