Thursday, October 16, 2014

Universal's World of Harry Potter - 2014

This past week I was at Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!  On July 8th the new Wizarding Park, Diagon Alley, was opened to the public, and I was excited to finally see it.  As a lover of the books and movies, I was eagerly awaiting my look at this enchanted world.

My trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter started when I booked the Exclusive Wizarding World vacation package from Universal Resorts.  This package included pickup at the airport!

Harry Potter

I had an awesome room at the retro Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
and welcome package - my own owl!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I decided to start at Diagon Alley in the Universal Orlando park since this was where Harry first encountered the Wizarding World.  As soon as you enter Diagon Alley from the streets of London, you will find the movie has come to life!  From the cobblestone streets, to the store fronts, to Gringott's Bank at the end of the street, the scenes have been expertly recreated to immerse you in the Harry Potter experience.   

My first stop was Gringott's Bank, and it was amazing!  The recreation of the bank was in exact detail and the animatronics of the Goblins were astounding: their movements and gestures had you guessing if they actually were real!
Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Since I was arriving at midday, I chose the Single Rider line.  (You must get to the park early to take part as a standard rider and gain the full experience of the bank and vaults.)

The ride was amazing and true to the Universal experience:  you will leave wanting to ride it again!  My plan was to utilize my Universal Resort benefits of early park admission and be one of the first in line on my next morning at Diagon Alley!

My next mission was to buy one of the new interactive wands at Ollivanders.  

Diagon Alley

Even though Ollivanders is at Hogsmeade, too, it is at home in Diagon Alley.  This made it special to me, and I had to get my new wand here. 

Diagon Alley
There are wands from floor to ceiling.  With 16 interactive and 36 original wands, there is a wand for everyone.  I choose an interactive wand based on my birthday, August 28th, but I could have chosen one of the characters' wands such as Hermione or Harry, also.

As you step out of Ollivanders, you must take a look back at the bank.  Approximately every 15 minutes, the Ukranian Ironbelly on top of Gringotts Bank will growl, and moan at the guests and eventually spew fire!

Diagon Alley
This dragon is grumpy all day long, and keeps the guests in awe each time he erupts!

From Ollivanders I wandered back to the front of Diagon Alley to see Weasley's Wizard Wheezes next.

Diagon Alley
This brightly colored shop is where you go to find all the tricks that George and Fred loved to sell at Horgwarts.  There is something in every nook and cranny of this shop, and you can spend lots of time browsing the shelves and planning your own jokes on your friends!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

And of course, a day on vacation would not be the same without ice cream; and I had 2 scoops from Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour.  I tried a combination of clotted cream and salted caramel blondie.  Delicious!
Diagon Alley

I didn't want day 1 to end without a ride on the Hogwarts Express.  This attraction lived up to the anticipation and my imagination!

From walking through the brink wall,

Diagon Alley
to the train ride itself,
Diagon Alley

you are surrounded by the journey from London to Hogwarts and relive the story with Ron, Hermione and Harry.

These few experiences were only just the beginning of my travels through the new Wizarding World adventure!

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Are you planning to go to Diagon Alley soon?  What are you looking forward to see when you go?

Let me know - comment or email me at kesselrunner77@gmail.com