I’m a huge Harry Potter fan; read all the books, went to see all the movies in the cinema when they came out….I even went to get the last book at 12 midnight the day/night it was released because I was working the night shift and midnight was my lunch hour….so why not!
So obviously I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios while we were in Florida for the Disney half-marathon. I love theme parks…..the bigger and faster the rollercoaster the better. I’ve done every coaster I possibly could in both 6-flags (California) and Alton Towers (UK), but Kathy hates them. So I pre-selected two simulation type rides in Harry Potter she would agree to do...then later on we agreed that if the lines weren’t too long I’d queue up for one big one she shopped.
We woke up bright and early on Monday morning, with stiff post half-marathon legs and even stiffer post marathon legs for Kathy (she did the full marathon on Sunday).We got to the parks about 8.45 and headed straight to Hogsmeade and straight up to Hogwarts Castle for “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”….we’d been warned that it would probably have a long line so we made it a priority. Unfortunately, we actually only waited about 10 minutes for the ride. I say unfortunately because the queue twists and turns its way through the castle where you get to see so many fun things like the Gryffindor common room, a classroom, the sorting hat (and lots more…..I don’t want to spoil the fun!). The actual ride itself was ok….just ok but worth it for the chance to see Hogwarts in my opinion.
We shared a butterbeer then visited Ollivanders. I saw that the Dragon Challenge ride (big coaster) had a 5 min wait time so I ran on to do that while Kathy looked in Honeydukes. This ride was based on the Goblet of Fire with lots of fun things to see in line (like the Ford Anglia) – it turns out this ride is actually two coasters and you get to choose the Chinese Fireball dragon or the Hungarian Horntail dragon to ride….I picked the Chinese Fireball and laughed and screamed my way through it. From the time I left Kathy outside until I met up with her again after the coaster was a grand total of 7 minutes…crazy huh!
Next up we took the Hogwarts Express to Kings Cross Station…..lots of fun little extras on board to make the journey entertaining. Outside the station we spotted the Knight Bus and found the entrance to Diagon Alley. Can I just say wow…when we walked through the hole in the wall I gasped it was amazing!
We spent a long time in Diagon Alley and went in and out of every shop. “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts” was fanstastic….again waiting inside Gringotts was one of the best parts…..the goblins looked spot on! The ride itself was fab too, 3D simulations and a rollercoaster combined…..awesome!
We ate lunch in the Leaky Cauldron which was ok (not a lot of choice for vegetarians and pretty pricey but that’s to be expected). One of my favourite parts was waiting on the street outside for the dragon on top of Gringotts to breathe fire and you can feel the heat of it on your face. After exploring every nook and cranny, including Knockturn Alley, we ventured out into the rest of the universal studios park but by this stage Kathy was fading fast and the weather was looking more and more like a thunderstorm was on the way. There was however a 5 min wait time for Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket so I did that (not as good as the Dragon Challenge…..even though it looks scary as hell!) before we headed back aboard the Hogwarts express to Hogsmeade again.
Hogsmeade was hopping at this stage, easily five times more people than the morning but for some reason there was still no line for the roller coaster. I ran back to the Dragon Challenge and this time chose the Hungarian Horntail and finished off the day on a high!
It was exhausting but a fantastic day and totally worth it!