Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Land of Harry Potter

So, to pick up where I left off, during our big Florida trip we planned to spend a day at the Universal theme parks. I'd been there once before and even without Harry, I wanted to go for a day just to take Drew on Spider-man (long held as my favorite ride) and Jurassic Park. With the addition of Harry Potter land, there was no way we could pass Universal over. When the day arrived, the bus service picked us up at our resort (about a half hour later, mind) and off we went. It was a bit of a drive and everyone on the bus was a bit annoyed when we had to stop at Sea World to drop off TWO people, but in the end we arrived and we were gleeful and excited.

We could see Hogwarts from the park entrance, but, correctly assuming everyone would rush there and leave other areas deserted, we first went to Spider-man (and walked on). I loved that ride so much when I went before, and luckily it was just as much fun as I remember. We then went along to the Jurassic Park area, which is always awesome, and walked on to that ride as well. Unfortunately it wasn't *quite* as exciting as I remembered (I swear the t-rex used to move). BUT it was dinosaurs and stuff so I was hardly disappointed. I will add that it was also wetter than I remembered, which caused me some trouble with my bangs. They dried all flippy and weird. Exciting, right?

Anyway, our detour hardly took any time at all and soon we made our way to Harry Potter and it was just like a dream! Everything was so...REAL and right there. It was crowded, but honestly, I didn't even notice the crowds because it was exhilarating to be there. Seriously, there was nothing that disappointed. NOTHING.

The food: We ate lunch at the Three Broomsticks and for a bonus, our lunch was Cornish pasties and shepherds pie. It felt like being back in our beloved England. We tried both the regular and frozen butterbeer (regular wins), and naturally got the commemorative mug. We also bought a bottle of pumpkin juice that was DElicious (the juice, not the bottle). When we were in the Disney parks we were quite thrifty with our food. We refilled a water bottle the whole time and we brought a lot of snacks with us. But here? We were ready and willing to give them any amount of money necessary for such authentic fare, and the same went for souvenirs. Luckily the food was pretty reasonably priced, but really, I would have happily paid $20 for a cup of butterbeer. I mean, how often does the opportunity come along, right???

The rides: The family-friendly Buckbeak-themed coaster was fun. You go right by Hagrid's Hut and Buckbeak bows to you. The much wilder Dragon Challenge roller coaster is also fun. I went on it before, and really, not much has changed except the queue theming--which on its own makes the ride worth it. The real gem of the place though is the all new ride housed in the Hogwarts castle: Harry Potter and the Final Journey. No, that's just what I always THINK it's called--it's actually Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It's amazing and SO much fun. First, the line goes through the castle, which is a treat on its own, and you see classrooms, talking portraits (including the founders), the Fat Lady, the sorting hat, Dumblydore's office--so many things! The ride itself is an amazing concoction of characters, creatures and places and is also a mix of video, motion and actual creatures (I mean like things that are real that you could touch [if touching were allowed]. Is there another way to describe that?). Truth be told, my head was spinning a bit after but it's totally worth it.

The shops: There are bunch of very authentic shops to explore. You could spend hours just in the shops (we did) checking out all the goodies they have. You could also spend a LOT of money, very easily. We spent a tidy bundle ourselves, but again, how often do you get the opportunity?? They're very clever to sell a lot of things you never see anywhere else, which makes it seem all the more like you MUST buy it, haha. Naturally we both got wands at Ollivander's but we also got a set of playing cards, a magnet, a photo frame that looks like the mirror Erised and various other little goodies.

Okay, that's a lot of words. Time for pictures!
I would like to take this moment to say there was a total lack of anything BSG related! I made up for it by ding-ing the prologue music as we stood in front of the globe.
It's a pretty sweet entrance. What do they got in there, King Kong?
I'm happy to report that Drewbles liked this ride a lot too. So fun!
Hogsmeade! Do please note the shirts we bought in advance especially for this day.
Hogwarts!!!! Seriously, it was so exciting to look up throughout the day and see it there, looking down on us benevolently.
Don't touch it! It's a portkey!
This makes me look like a huge Sirius fangirl, but really, I wanted to do this to pretty much everything. (Though also I just love Gary Oldman and this movie.)
Oh please take us to Hogwarts! Never mind, we can just walk there.
Little bitty Cornish pasties! Oh Harry Potter, you really are magical.
It just looks so real. I mean, it is real. But REALLY real.
Lemon drop!
ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY. (No, that second straw is not going up his nose.)
Drew tried on Voldemort's wand for size.
I was a little taken with Sirius's (again with the Sirius, but I mean look at it!).
In the end, we had to go with Hermione's and Harry's. How could we do otherwise?
(When we go again, I might definitely have to get Sirius's.)

We tried on some robes at one of the Universal stores. Not only do they assume you will, an employee will even offer to take your picture with other goods! Nice.
Ah, beautiful.

I'll admit that I was a little sad to not be going back to Hogsmeade the next day. But going on Dinosaur first thing did lift my spirits.
We took hundreds of pictures at Hogsmeade, many of which I've posted on Facebook. If you would like to see them and don't have Facebook, I would be happy to email the link to any interested parties.

Until next time, Harry!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your Facebook pictures immensely, but reading about how much you loved Hogwarts was even better. I need to go there now! I must go there! As soon as my checkbook recovers from my own recent trip, that is.