On Thursday, Matt and I tore ourselves away from Disney long enough to head to Universal Studios for the day. Why leave the awesomeness of Disney to go to Universal you ask? Well, when we first planned this vacation, we always knew that we wanted to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Matt’s a fan of the films, and me, I’m a HUGE fan of the books. So, of course, we were interested in seeing what they came up with in terms of the world of HP.
We called a cab right after finishing up breakfast (Yum—gf waffles!) and got to Universal around 10AM. After entering the park, we made a beeline for the Hogwarts section, bypassing everything else as we went. When we finally arrived, we were both speechless. The look of the place is perfect. Tall, pointy shops make up the little town of Hogsmeade and there was glistening snow topping the roofs (and even at a blistering 87 degrees, you still got the feeling you were in the wintery witch town).
Upon first entering Hogsmede, we walked past the Hogwarts Express, still steaming from its trip from England. A few feet past that, were several stores including Zonko's Joke Shop and Honeydukes. I was expecting a lot more from the wicked Weasley brothers, but there seemed to only be about 10 items in all of Zonko's (one of which were extendable ears). The candy shop also had a limited amount of items for sale and only offered assorted Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans (Matt had wanted to buy a bunch of gross-tasting ones for his office, but unfortunately there weren’t individual machines dispensing grass, puke or snot tasting jelly beans).
After this, we went straight to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. The line was out the gate, but we joined it anyway, because no way were we leaving without the Potter experience! As we were waiting, we were able to really get a good look at the enormity of Hogwarts. Whoever designed this section of the park truly did an amazing job. Standing tall and regal in the sky, the magic school was incredibly impressive. And no little detail was left out. From stones lighting up with silvery writing, to characters in paintings walking from one frame to the next (just like in the books and movies!), no part of the ride was left un-Potter-fied. Even the speakers and trashcans fit into the theme.
After a 40-minute wait in line, we finally made it to the ride and were strapped into our seats. The ride itself is difficult to describe, as I’ve never been on one like it before. It was full of twists and turns, screen shots, giant spiders and made you feel like you were soaring through the air. Honestly, there’s nothing like it. And though the gift shop at the end was rather small (I was hoping for a bigger selection of stuff), all in all, this ride was a must from start to finish!
After this, Matt and I cooled off with frozen Butterbeer (in commemorative mugs= $24 for 2). The slushee-type drinks come in soda form or frappaccino style and are sickeningly sweet. It tasted like cream soda with butterscotch, and I have to admit it was so sweet, I couldn’t even finish mine. But it WAS tasty (and gluten-free!).
And a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Ollivander’s Wand Shop. This was actually the longest line we waited in, approximately for an hour, to get a wand. The wait wasn’t really worth it, as the show inside consisted of a wand shop employee fitting a little kid with a wand. Then, after the 5 minute bit, we were ushered inside the actual shop where we could choose our own wands. I bought Hermione’s, though you could also purchase Harry’s, Ron’s, Ginny’s, Voldemort’s, Dumbledore’s and many more! The wand was a whopping $30, but I got it anyway and will be displaying it on my wall.
So, that was our trip to Universal. You should definitely stop by next time you’re in Florida! Nothing like a little magic to make your day special.