Life & Other Misc.

Review: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Universal Florida

I have been dreaming of going to the Wizarding World since I was 7. That is years and years before one existed that you could visit. So naturally, when they build they the Wizarding World in Orlando, Florida, I knew I had to get there. Over the weekend, I did just that. I am now officially a wizard (I have a wand to prove it)!

First thing is first. Oh. My. God. If you love Harry Potter, this is the place for you. Universal has built 2 parks, Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and King’s Cross/Diagon Alley in Universal Studios, connected by the Hogwarts Express.

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I rode the train a total of 5 times, and each time was incredible. A video plays out the window each trip according to where you are going–the only thing missing is the trolley. It’s a perfect way to connect the 2 parks. Even if you don’t love HP, the train would be pretty cool. Now that I would know (HP for life).

I’ll start with King’s Cross.

The whole station is built as though it were London. Right down to the advertisements and departure times, you feel like you’re in London heading off to Hogwarts. Once you get through platforms 9 & 10, you find yourself at the train!

Once you arrive in Hogsmeade, you are met with all the best stores. Honeydukes being my favourite (obvious reasons).

Yes, I got a chocolate frog. It’s the size of my face and I love it. Moving on.

This place is PACKED. We tried to keep our visits to the mornings and evenings, between 9-10 and 6-8/9 (depending on the park’s closing time). This is when it was the least busy, as people with kids have already left.

Of course we had some Butterbeer at the Hog’s Head and The Three Broomsticks.

The main ride over here is The Forbidden Journey, which takes you inside Hogwarts and to the Quidditch pitch. They even got the cast in to help with the ride–FLAWLESS. The pictures talk and the newspapers move and the effects will make any fan want to move it. I’m still considering it.

On the other side, over in Universal Studios, is where the real fun begins (as if it could get better, right?!). When you walk into London you are met by everything you would expect: street vendors selling London souvenirs, The Knight Bus, and even # 12 Grimmauld Place (complete with Kreacher hiding in a window).

Once you sneak through the brick wall, you come out to Diagon Alley. This place looks exactly like the scene in the movie. It has everything: Florean Fortescue’s (strawberry and peanut butter ice cream is amazing), Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes (I am now mother to a pink Pygmy Puff named Lewis–ask for the adoption ceremony, trust me), Gringotts Money Exchange, The Leaky Cauldron (try the fish and chips), and soooo much more.

This is where Ollivanders is located (you can also buy your wand at numerous other locations, but this is THE location). Since I’m small, I was put at the front of the row for the wand choosing ceremony. This led to me being chosen as the lucky person whose wand chose them. THAT’S RIGHT! Ivy and unicorn hair, the wand and I are meant to be. Even if you don’t get picked (sucks to be you, this was the best part of my trip), it’s still a cute show to watch. For context, I’m 24 and look about 16, but there were many young children in the room, so if you’re older you can still get chosen!

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The only ride available here is The Escape From Gringotts, but it’s wonderful. You step in the bank and are taken down to the vaults, where you then must escape dragons and wizards and jinxes!

For both the main rides, I recommend waiting in the line the first go. I did the single riders line the my second go, and you miss the beginning, which is almost as cool as the ride. If you’re a fan, you will want to see it. If you’re not, the single rider line is 10x as fast. Definitely worth it for rounds 2, 3, 4, & 6 (I’m assuming you will want to see the full thing at least twice).

Overall, these parks are brilliant. The details were so authentic, I felt like I was in the books. Dreams do come true! My expectations were blown to bits. 12/10. You will need a park-to-park to ride the Hogwarts Express, so it’s a must for at least one of your days here. Each store/ride has a costume for the workers to wear, and the actors get really into their jobs. My credit card was called Muggle plastic on more than one occasion. I also recommend buying an interactive wand. It’s only a few dollars more, and it lets you cast spells all around the parks!

Also, be warned that the prices are high and you will want to buy things. I won’t tell you how much I spent, but here is a look at all the things I brought home ($$$).

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