Tag Archives: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Ally

29 Feb

Here’s part two of my vacation wrap-up/guide to visiting the Universal Orlando parks. I spent two days at Universal Studios two weeks ago and I want to share my experience as it pertains to Harry and give you all some advice about how to make the most of your experience.

2016-02-15 09.14.38We rushed back to Escape from Gringotts on our first day at Studios. As predicted, the line was better than later in the day, but many people had the same thought. I had to stop on the way to take a picture with 12 Grimmauld Place. There were people lining up to number 14 (come on, people!) so I jumped right up to 12. The ride line wove through a bunch of switchbacks and then into Gringotts, very similar to the set from Deathly Hallows Part II. The goblins even looked the same! We went through some vault rooms and into the offices. Again, we could have kept our phones with us but I didn’t know! A nice fellow Potterhead took my picture and emailed it to me so I’d have at least one memento. The ride itself was fun. It featured Bill Weasley rather prominently and I believe he had more lines in the ride than he did in all the movies combined. It was a 3D ride which isn’t my favorite because glasses don’t layer. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot.

2016-02-15 10.58.53We walked through a lot of the shops for a while. I fell in love with a pair of knee socks that said ‘Hogwarts’ on them that I ended up buying but I kept my spending to that. I did have fun walking through Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and Borgin and Burkes. We stopped at the purple Night Bus parked outside the entry wall and I had a great conversation with Simon (not Stan) the conductor and his talking head. We had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron which was again delicious. I had the Toad in the Hole and really enjoyed it with some Pumpkin Juice. The rest of our day we spent seeing most of the rest of the park and indulging my husband’s big fandom, the Simpsons.

2016-02-16 11.42.09And then the second day. We went back to Escape from Gringotts in the afternoon and I brought my camera this time! It was great to snap some pictures and know what was coming up in the line as we went through. I had such a good time and I’m glad we went twice though of course the thrill was a bit reduced the second time through.

2016-02-16 12.35.29We walked through the stores again for a bit and explored Knockturn Ally. There was nothing like that at Islands and I liked getting to see the darker objects that were available. We were able to catch a puppet show of the Tale of the Three Brothers which I thought was wonderfully done. The puppets were gorgeous and the actors superb. I was pleasantly surprised because I didn’t think the Islands entertainment was of this caliber and I was really impressed. If you’re at Studios, I highly recommend stopping by this one. Another fun side note, the dragon on top of Gringotts breaths fire every ten minutes! Stick around and watch. You’ll know it’s coming because there’s a lot of rumbling and growling before hand.

2016-02-16 12.59.41We had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron again on the second day and, this time, I got the Banger Sandwich which was, again, really good. I can’t reiterate enough how impressed I was with the food and dining in WWHP. Even if you’re going as a non-Harry fan, it’s a great place to eat.

That about wraps it up! We had a great trip and the memories and pictures will last me for years to come. I do hope to make a pilgrimage to the forthcoming WWHP park near Los Angeles, CA at some point soon. My brother-in-law and his wife live close by and it’s always fun to make a Muggle pilgrimage.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade

25 Feb

As many of you know, I spent last week in Orlando, Florida going to the Universal and Disney parks. As much as I’d love to talk about my trips and show you pictures of me and Buzz Lightyear (see my Instagram), I wanted to talk about some things more relevant to books, specifically my experiences in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter sections of the park.

 My husband and I spent our first full day at the Islands of Adventure Park (to the left when you walk in). We did not do a park-hopper so I didn’t ride the Hogwarts Express so that will be out of this discussion. I wanted to talk about the rides and experiences and share my pictures. If you had a different experience, please share it in the comments.

We got to the park just after it opened and raced back to Hogsmeade. The line for Dragon Challenge was short so we jumped in… to be immediately kicked out and told to put our backpack and belongings in one of the free lockers. It’s worth noting that Dragon Challenge is one of two rides we encountered in the park (along with Rockit Rollercoaster) where you couldn’t have your backpack or anything in your pockets. That means no cell phone and no pictures! Once we got through the metal detector (yep, no joke), we zipped through the line. There were a lot of cool things to see in the line including the Goblet of Fire and the Triwizard Cup but again, no pictures of those. The ride itself was well designed and a good high-level thrill ride that I recommend.

Right after that, we jumped in the hour-long line for Flight of the Hippogriff. The line was really slow and we realized it was because there was only one car running and that was because the ride was so short they couldn’t put a second one on. I was a little disappointed by how short the ride was and that there wasn’t much to see while waiting in line. There was a replica of Hagrid’s hut, but that was it. You could see the Buckbeak animatronic a bit, but it was meant to be viewed from the ride. Overall, not my favorite.

 We took a break to have some Butterbeer and see the rest of the park. The line for the Butterbeer cart was long but it moved fast. It was $6 for a standard cup ($7 for frozen) and honestly, I didn’t like it very much. It tasted like cream soda with whipped cream on it. My lactose intolerance was instantly on high alert! It was good, but we didn’t purchase it again. It was nice to see the Wizard and Frog choir perform while we waited in line, though!




For lunch, we stopped in The Three Broomsticks. I had fun with the employee regulating the line. I told him I wasn’t a Muggle, I was a Half-Blood. He scoffed and said he wasn’t a Slytherin so he didn’t care about my blood status. It was great.

The food was well priced and pretty good. It was some standard pub fare and I enjoyed the Rotisserie Smoked Chicken platter. The most memorable for me was the Pumpkin Juice. It was really good and I recommend it over butterbeer. Imagine a pumpkin spice latte met with some apple juice. It was really good. We stopped in the Hogs Head and we had the Hogs Head Brew, which I really liked!

The rest of the day was spent in other parts of the park. One thing I noticed is that it was hard to walk through Hogsmeade when going to different ‘lands.’ It was really crowded all the time and the bridge to get around it wasn’t on the map (though we found it later). I read that it’s better to go in the morning and I believe it.

 Our last stop of the day was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts castle. It was AMAZING! This was everything I wanted from my WWHP experience. We had to lock our backpack up but we could have kept our phones! I didn’t know this so I don’t have any pictures of it and it’s the only thing I regret from the experience. You first wind through the greenhouses and see little mandrakes there. Then you go through Dumbledore’s office, DADA classroom, and corridors until you get into the car. The ride is great and I can’t recommend it enough. The best part is that I didn’t have to wear 3D glasses!

I ended up buying a Slytherin scarf in the gift shop. In Michigan, a scarf is a necessity in the winter and I’ll wear mine a lot. Plus, it’s the same colors as my husband’s alma mater so I’ll wear it when we go to tail gates and pretend it doesn’t have a snake on it.

I’ll be back next week with some tips about Diagon Ally at Universal Studios. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!