For years, I have been dreaming of going to the Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida. Harry Potter, the series of books that were such an integral part of my growing childhood, that ultimately got me interested in reading, that had me captivated for years as J.K. Rowling released each book. I grew up with the characters and I loved them as if they were real.
Dammit, they are real!
You can imagine my sadness when the Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida’s Universal World and it takes me years to make my way there. Even when my boyfriend of three years, who is from Florida, goes to back to his home state several times during the time that I’ve known him, it was difficult for me to join him and just head on to Harry Potter World! BUT FINALLY, finally, I went! And it was such a victorious day!
After a whole day walking around in Epcot, I wasn’t sure how I was going to last in HP-World. I wore 15 year old sneakers that were falling apart with each step I took (literally) and this awesome Slytherin jacket my sister gave for my birthday. With all the excitement in every corner of the HP-World, my feet ended up being the last thing on my mind.
As soon as we entered Universal Studios, we made a bee line to Harry Potter World. Really, nothing else mattered! The first thing we saw when we entered the Harry Potter part of the park was the building of 12 Grimmauld Place, which was SO cool. Once in a while, you can see even Kreacher peeking out of the window above.
Too bad we couldn’t go inside. Ah, wells.
Right across from the Grimmauld building was the Knight Bus and a Stan Shunpike look-a-like. I don’t think we were allowed inside the bus, but people were taking photos with ‘Stan’.
Aaaah, making our way towards Diagon Alley! Love that they have this entrance just like in the series!
First stop, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes! I was SO curious as to the merchandise they would have in the store. This storefront definitely stood out above others in the Alley though – ultra-colorful displays and a huge redheaded man poking out the ceiling. Watch out, his eyes follow you as well.
Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, mostly known for its joke products in the Harry Potter universe. A lot of the products that was sold in this store were edible deserts in the packaging of the Weasley’s products like Sniving Snackboxes, Nosebleed Nougats, Flying Fudges, etc. Most of my Harry Potter purchases actually came from this store because I absolutely loved the packaging!
LOL! Only at the WWW would this be available.
Soon, we made a visit to Knockturn Alley where Borgins and Burkes was.
Another thing that I adore is that each store is has its own theme. For instance, Borgins and Burkes (pictured below) has mainly Dark Arts related things. Another shop, Madam Malkin’s Robes only sells robes and other Harry Potter clothings.
One thing that became apparent quickly was how everyone had wands! Kids, adults, they were all looking so cool carrying and swishing their wands, I wanted to be part of that crowd.
So off we went to Ollivanders. Joseph and I actually spent quite a long time in this store trying to pick our wands. There were so many different types to choose from. There were wands of the characters, there were wands that were uniquely designed, and there were interactive wands.
One thing was for sure: I wanted to get an interactive wand. This meant that I could make ‘incantations’ at various parts of the park (there are markings on the ground to show you where) and, when done properly, things would happen. For example, if you do an incantation in front of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes’ window display of the toilet, the toilet will flush. There were tons of things you can do with this wand and I was super excited to try them myself.
After much deliberation on whether I should get Luna’s wand or Hermione’s, Hermione’s turned out to be the winner!
However, prior to getting the wand, we made a stop next-door to Ollivanders. There, you will be able to see a ‘real’ wand sorting. This guy that acts like the wandmaker will pick a person from the audience (during our presentation, he chose a young girl who was vocal and interacted with him). There, she had to do a few ‘tests’ to find her perfect wand. It was a pretty funny live-demonstration.. but only one person went through the experience while everyone else watched.
Tip: We tried to eavesdrop in on the conversation of the young girl afterwards and I believe if you’re the person chosen to be part of this interaction (like the young girl), you will get the option to buy the exclusive wand that “chose you”, which is not sold to the public.
Ah, I absolutely love that there’s a dragon on top of Gringotts!
ESCAPE FROM GRINGOTTS RIDE: I didn’t get a picture of the Escape from Gringotts ride because they didn’t allow loose objects on the ride. But I absolutely had a fun time on there. The line wasn’t too bad.. about an hour. But you go through Gringotts and see the beautiful hall as well as the animatronics of the goblins, which made waiting in line not so bad.
The ride itself involved getting in a cart and getting jerked around (not in bad way at all) through Gringotts while Harry, Ron, and Hermione help you out. Another cool thing that I just thought was the bee’s knees about this ride was that Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange looked at you, the audience, and basically try and kill you!
I love how interactive this ride is, and how the actors that we’ve come to know and love, is a part of the park and this ride in particular.
Inside the owlery shop. No products in this store, unfortunately, but a ceiling full of owls and cages.
Finally, LUNCH TIME!
And of course, we couldn’t come to Harry Potter World without feasting at the famous Leaky Cauldron.
There was a fairly well-sized line to get inside the Leaky Cauldron. However, the thing I really like about this restaurant is that, although you order at the counter, they give you a number, then you are seated by a waiter, and they deliver the food to you. This means no fighting over tables and a much nicer restaurant atmosphere.
If you’re wondering what I’m looking at, it’s a map of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade that was provided with the interactive wand. With it, you’re able to see all the places where you can use your wand to make incantations.
I ended up getting Bangers and Mash, which I’ve been told is a traditional English plate, as well as a cup of Pumpkin Juice (we’ll save the butterbeer for later *wink*). I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this plate, partly because we are in a theme park. But to my surprise, the food was delicious! With all the walking and the excitement that had been taken in, I wolfed the food down.
Couldn’t really say the same about the Pumpkin Juice, however. But I think that fault is my own, as I’m not really fond of Pumpkin-related things. For the sake of trying things out, it seemed like a good option. Plus, it’s constantly referenced in the books.
Actually, I originally wanted to try Gillywater because I was curious what it actually was. Joseph then told me I should ask before ordering in case it didn’t sound appetizing at all and $4.00 just goes down the drain. So I asked. It’s just water…
I loved the atmosphere and the decor of The Leaky Cauldron, and overall very pleased with my experience dining there!
Confession: I tried a few times to make incantations and I failed like an utter n00b! Soon, I ended up stashing my wand in my back jean pocket, like a pro wizard, and left the spellmakings to the true pros: the kids.
Once we thought we’ve seen all of Diagon Alley (we did go to basically every shop. I didn’t take photos of all shops because, well, that would be a blog post overload!), we headed to Kings Cross towards Platform 9 3/4 to head to Hogsmeade.
TIP: You do need a Park Hopper ticket to get to Hogsmeade from Diagon Alley because they are on different Universal Parks. Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios. Hogsmeade is located in Islands of Adventure.
Similar to Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade is a village full of shops. We went to all of the shops, though Diagon Alley definitely had more shops. The items were basically the same items that you can find in Diagon Alley so we were able to go through this area pretty fast.
What drew us in immediately was the Hogwarts castle.
It looked MARVELOUS!
We stood in line to ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and this took a lot longer than the Escape from Gringotts line. I think it’s because this ride is newer, though.
Anyway, I thought it was super cool that we stood in basically the Herbology part of the castle as we waited in line. The rustic bars, the hanging plants.. I could see Neville teaching here!
Finally, we made it to the inside part of Hogwarts, where the house points (C’Mon Slytherin!!) and the entrance to Dumbledore’s office was displayed (TOO COOL!). There were also talking portraits hung on the wall, and we witnessed the Hogwarts founders having a spat with each other. Eep!
The ride itself was fun! Like Escape from Gringotts, we were led by Harry, Ron and Hermione through the Castle in order to escape. It was really well done!
Once we were done with that ride though, the sky had turned quite dark and my feet were pretty tired.
We made one final stop at Hogsmeade, and that was to The Three Broomsticks.
This restaurant is a lot more laid back. You order the food at the counter, and you wait at the counter for your food to arrive, and pick the table you want.
I wasn’t too hungry so I just ordered the Butterbeer that I had been wanting to try! Just the regular cold for me (though there is the option of frozen or hot).
But as soon as I stirred, the foam went nuts and overflowed out of the cup! I had to clean up quite a mess, aiya. The drink was delicious though – like the butterscotch candy but in drink format. Yeah.
TIP: Do not stir the butterbeer!
I absolutely had a blast in Harry Potter World.
As a huge fan of the series, these two parks did not disappoint. So much detail into everything – the shops, the products, the set. It felt like I was honestly living my childhood, and I cannot wait to go back!
Have you ever been to Harry Potter World? What were your favorite parts?