During my two week vacation in Florida we went to one theme park: Islands of Adventure. We picked this theme park because my daughter and son-in-law are HUGE Harry Potter fans and we wanted to see the Hogwarts Castle. Now we did enjoy the rest of the park as well, but I have so much to share on the Harry Potter section of the park, that I decided to split this week's travel post into two posts. This week I'll cover Harry Potter and next week I'll share what else we did at the Islands of Adventure.
Now although my daughter and son-in-law have read all the Harry Potter books and seen every movie multiple times, I have not. I only read the first book, and saw just the first three movies. So to prepare for our visit to the park, we did a Harry Potter movie binge first! Yes, I watched every single Harry Potter movie! I wanted to make the most of my experience at the park, and thought I would appreciate everything more if I was more familiar with all things Harry Potter. And it worked!
If your a Harry Potter fan or know someone who is, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando is not to be missed. Everything and anything went into building this spectacular attraction. Not a single detail went unnoticed...as you will see further on into this post.
But first, let me explain a few things. There are two parks in Orlando that are owned and operated by Universal Studios: Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Now here is the catch: The Harry Potter attractions are located in BOTH parks. The castle and Hogsmeade Village are in the Islands of Adventure park, and Diagon Alley is in the Universal Studios Park. You can ride the Hogwarts Express to go from one park to another, but it costs an additional $50.00. Since the tickets already cost $100, we decided to just go to the Islands of Adventure since that was where the main attraction - the castle- was.
Here is the entrance to Hogsmeade Village in the Island of Adventure.
To say we were beyond excited to be here would be an understatement. The village of Hogsmeade looked like it came right out of the movie. The attention to detail was amazing. If it weren't for the crowds of people wearing shorts and tank tops (and we went on a slow day, during the off season), one would have thought we actually were in the actual world of Harry Potter.
The castle exterior was mind-blowing! Just the sheer size of it was phenomenal, not to even mention all the intricate details of the windows, spires, and rock formations.
Inside this castle is the ride "Forbidden Journey". This ride was so fun we rode it THREE times!!!! While waiting in line for this ride, you walk through the castle and trust me...you will not be bored because while you are 'waiting', your touring the inside of the castle. You get to see holograms of Harry Potter and his best friends, you see framed photographs that move and speak, and you see many other exciting rooms and objects that are in the movies.
Now I didn't take any photographs or videos while in the castle, but I did find this one on Youtube if your interested in seeing more:
The Forbidden Journey ride was so fun! It is an actual ride that moves like a coaster and you experience the World of Harry Potter by becoming a part of it yourself! Your watching scenes take place, but because you are moving too...it feels like you are really experiencing it. You soar above the castle, as if you were part of the Quidditch game...you meet magical creatures like fire breathing dragons and other mystical creatures. It is such a blast!
There are two other Harry Potter rides to be enjoyed at the Islands of Adventure: The Dragon Challenge and The Flight of the Hippogriff. Ashley and I did not dare to go onto the Dragon Challenge as it was a high speed roller coaster too intense for us, but Jason, a roller coaster lover, went on it not once, but twice!
We did go on The Flight of the Hippogriff because it was described as a family-friendly roller coaster. It was mild, for a roller coaster, but my arm kept bumping on the side of the car and just look at the bruise I had the next day!
Many of the stores and hang outs in the movies are in the village too. Remember Honeydukes candy from the train rides in the movie? Well, they made an actual Honeydukes candy shop where you can buy the fun candy in the movie like "Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans".
The train station that takes you from Hogsmeade Village to Diagon Alley was so realistic. Here is the outside of the station:
And just look at this train!
I love how they piled a bunch of old suitcases and trunks right next to the train.
This is Zonko's Joke Shop, which was a favorite place for the Hogwarts Students to stop and buy prankster items to play jokes on their friends.
In a previous post, "What I Ate While Vacationing in Florida", I talked about the amazing meal I had at the Three Broomsticks Cafe. The food and ambiance were absolutely fabulous. Every where you looked, there were props from the Harry Potter movies. I loved the peaked roof and the spiral staircase.
We got to sit right in front of the fireplace on the far wall.
They serve both Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice at the cafe. I got the Butterbeer and Jason had the Pumpkin Juice. Both were delicious, but I preferred the Butterbeer. They were expensive, at $6.00 a piece, but they were all so worth it! And no, the Butterbeer is not real beer. It is a delicious cream soda type beverage.
They also sold these drinks at several Butterbeer wagons outside. The lines were long and non-stop all day!
To walk through the Village of Hogsmeade is a feast for the eyes. There is just so much to look at. Every single window has a display from the movies inside of it.
A music shop window display.
A cauldron display.
Owls in cages display. I should mention that these displays are interactive as well. Some of the items in the windows move on their own, but others can be made to move by a wand. You purchase the wand for about $40.00 and then stand on a certain spot in front of the window display and say a 'spell' and wave your wand. Then something in the window happens. Now we didn't do that as $40.00 for a wand was a little too rich for our blood, but it seemed like every child in the village did purchase a wand so we just watched them have all the fun.
Many of the stores in Hogsmeade Village are open for business and decorated with as much attention to the detail as the outside. Everything is made to look just like it does in the movies: dust, dirt, and even water stains on the ceiling included!
These are all the wands in boxes on the shelves. They are for all for sale too!
We had so much fun at Hogsmeade Village that after we toured the rest of the Islands of Adventure, we came back at night to see the village lit up. It was so beautiful!
And as you tell by the photos, the crowds have definitely thinned out.
You can actually see the window displays better at night because there is no glare from the sun.
Have a Great Day! Amy
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