This week I went on a tour to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. I had been there a few months ago, just before they opened the new Harry Potter section. Therefore, the plan this trip was to do a cursory walk around of the other areas, then spend the day submerging ourselves in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! We were not disappointed!
Hogwarts from the village
A friend of a friend works for Universal and told us that they spent $300 million on the new section of the part. It shows! The attention to detail is spectacular and makes the experience an unforgettable one. As you walk into the section from Jurrasic Park you are greeted by the formidable form of Hogwarts castle. Cross the bridge and you are in Hogsmeade village!
Our first stop was to try some Butterbeer. We had heard very good things about its taste, once again we were not disappointed. In our opinion the butterscotch flavoured beverage is best served frozen (you can choose frozen or regular servings) but the best part is the cream on top! I also tried pumpkin juice while I was there, equally delicious!
Delicious pumpkin juice and Butterbeer
As we walked around Hogsmead we were greeted by well known Harry Potter landmarks - The Three Broomsticks, where we ate lunch, The Hogs Head, where we drank more Butterbeer, Gladrags, Zonko's where you can buy extendable ears, sneakoscopes and puking pastilles and of course Honeydukes! Here you will find all the sweets you might want to try including Chocolate Frogs with Wizard cards and Bertie Botts' Every Flavour Beans.
The Three Broomsticks
The window of Zonko's
At one point we were actually in line to go into one of the stores (we thought it was amusing too!) - Dervish and Banges is the main gift shop and is attached to Ollivander's Wand Shop and the Owl Post, complete with roosting owls inside. You are given the opportunity to purchase Harry Potter postcards which can then be postmarked with the Hogsmead stamp!
The Owl Post
Throughout the day small performances take place near Hogwarts. Students come out and sing a selection of school songs with frogs. You are also greeted by students from Durmstrang and Beauxbaton who put on a little show, then pose for photos. I think I might make myself a Beauxbaton uniform for next Halloween :-)
The ladies of Beauxbaton
Our two favourite moments of the day were the main Harry Potter ride and Ollivander's Wand shop. I don't want to spoil Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey for you, but lets just say you get to play Quidditch, meet the Whomping Willow and see some familiar faces. We went on it twice! Ollivander's is a small show within the shop where a member of the the audience is chosen to find their wand. My friend was lucky enough to be the chosen one - and we haven't heard the end of it since! The wands are very beautiful and you can even buy replicas of the wands used in the movies.
My friend with Ollivander finding his perfect wand
If you are in the Orlando area you really need to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I would go back for the Butterbeer alone, let alone the atmosphere, rides and cool merchandise!
I may be MIA for the next couple of weeks as I have cast changeover on the ship, so I will post as soon as I can, promise :-)