This past weekend I had the chance to immerse myself once again in the magical world of Harry Potter with a trip to Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure.
Specifically, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
I’ve been here twice before, but this was the first opportunity I had to really spend the whole day there. The last two times, I had only a few hours to do one or two experiences before visiting the rest of the areas in the whole Islands of Adventure park in addition to Universal Studios.
This time around, my friend Alex, who had never been before, and I explored every inch of the magical world. This is basically how it went down…
We drove over from Tampa so that we arrived at Universal Orlando at about 9:30am (the drive only took about an hour!). As always the ticket lines were confusing even though we had “Will Call,” so we ended up waiting about 20 minutes before disregarding the attendant’s instructions and sneaking over to a kiosk to print off our own tickets.
Islands of Adventure bound!
We knew we really wanted to focus on the Harry Potter area so we hung a right once we got into the park and went straight to the entrance of Hogsmeade.
It was packed (as expected), but it wasn’t too bad when we first arrived. Plus there was a bit of cloud cover that made the temperature a bit more manageable.
Knowing the longest wait would be at The Forbidden Journey ride (aka “the Castle Ride”), we didn’t waste any time making our way to the castle…
Only to find a Hogsmeadian attendant standing at the entrance telling everyone that the ride was “closed temporarily” and that he couldn’t say when it would be back up. “Hopefully today” just wasn’t an encouraging response.
Despite being super disappointed, I promised Alex that the ride frequently had temporary closings and that it would probably be fixed sooner than later. So we headed to Olivander’s for the wand experience I had heard so much about, but had never had time to wait in line for. Halfway through our hour long wait, we looked over our shoulders and saw a group of people going into the Forbidden Journey ride. Hooray!
We still hung in there for the wand experience, which was still fun though being very short and simple. It would definitely be worth waiting for if you’re a dedicated fan buying a wand, and great if you have kids.
Before heading to the Forbidden Journey, we were in need of some refreshments. Alex opted to try the Pumpkin Juice (which is delicious and tastes like pumpkin pie).
I went for my traditional frozen butterbeer.
Drinks in hand we made our way back through the village to the castle. On our way though, I spotted this couple which totally warranted a photograph…
The line for the Forbidden Journey was not as bad as in the past, when we were pretty much inching forward for 2+ hours.
(Don’t mind the thumb, it was the only castle picture with me in it, so it had to stay.)
This time, we spend much of the 1.5 hour wait meandering through the maze that is the outside pathway around the castle’s base, up through the greenhouse and then finally into the castle itself (which is the best part where you don’t really mind standing around).
It was just as good as I remembered.
Though you feel a little off-balance when you get off, it’s still the best ride in the park.
Once we got our equilibrium back, we headed back to the village for some window shopping, lunch and actual shopping.
The windows of the village are so detailed, you really do have to stop and examine each one, whether you’re looking at Quality Quidditch supplies…
Or a screaming potted mandrake in an herbology supplies shop.
Lunch was at The Three Broomsticks and it was not only surprisingly fast, due to the attendants that help you get in the quickest register line and find you a table, but it was pretty tasty too!
Since I don’t eat land creatures, the only thing on the menu for me was the Fish and Chips, but they were really yummy!
The menu had lots of delicious looking meat items though and roasted corn on the cob that made a pretty cool display on the plate with the corn husks sticking up.
After lunch, we headed over to Zonko’s Joke shop and then Honeydukes where I restocked my stash of sweets with chocolate frogs, peppermint toads, You-Know-Poo (m&m’s) and a pumpkin tart (which turned out to taste like a wonderful piece of pumpkin pie).
After our shopping was complete, we took the back path out of the wizarding world and bid the giant castle goodbye (until my next visit).
We had been in the park for five hours at this point and it was really hot and sunny, so we made our way through the second half of the park and exited with our hands full of Harry Potter goodies and smiles on our faces.
The drive back was a breeze and really we by the time I walked through my front door and plopped down on the couch, I was exhausted.
After a shower I settled on the couch, since my feet were tired from being on them all day, and popped the TV on, with my box of peppermint toads in hand. What was the first thing I saw when my TV lit up? Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on ABC Family. They were having a HP movie marathon.
Needless to say, you can guess what I dozed off watching. I’m just surprised I didn’t dream of broomsticks and dragons.
Have you been to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter yet? Which part is your favorite, or do you really want to see?