The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Day 19 – Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Before arriving in Orlando we had received valuable advice about how we should go about our day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter so we could avoid lines and see as much as possible. We should go on a weekday, get there when it opened, ride all the rides back to back, and then explore and diddle around in the shops and taverns. We hoped to do exactly that. We woke up early that morning, put Harry Potter on in the background while we got ready, and did our best to prepare for the exciting day ahead of us. We had stayed at a hotel that was walking distance from Universal Studios to avoid extra costs of transportation or parking. We could barely stand the anticipation.

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Entering Universal Studios immediately thrusts a childish awe upon you. There are so many wonderful colors and attractions. Everywhere you look is something stimulating and happy. We decided to head for Islands of Adventure, which would put us in Hogsmeade first. Later, we would use our Park-to-Park Pass to see Diagon Alley. From the entrance we followed signs to Harry. We passed through Marvel, Comics, Jurassic Park, and other very fun looking attractions.

The first signs of Harry Potter were the iconic musical prelude to the movie and snowcapped cottages, which provoked even more excitement within us. We quickly exchanged and confirmed verbal plans: head to the rides, then some butter beer, then take the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley, more rides, more butter beer, then we are free to enjoy all the shops and shows. I have to say, we did it right. We never waited more than 20 minutes for a ride, and as empty as the park seemed to be when we had first arrived, it was filled with bustling bodies when we left.

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Even though neither of us are big rollercoaster fans, we agreed we’d ride them all. We rode each of Harry’s rides once, except the ride at Gringott’s Bank, which we rode twice. Everything was decorated just as we hoped it would be. The paintings on the walls moved, and there were elaborate measures taken to reproduce iconic pieces from the books and movies. We ate at The Leaky Cauldron and The Three Broomsticks. We couldn’t believe we were finally in Harry Potter World. We grew up on the books, as many in our generation did. We reminisced over all three types of butter beers of nights when our mom would read us a chapter of the earlier books before bed. We read the later books on our own, and this was as close as we would ever get to Hogwarts, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and everything else we had fantasized about so many times over the years. We were already on sugar overload from the butter beers and had no interest in Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, but we got some fizzy chocolates for the road. We enjoyed a childlike wonderment as we looked around Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. There were broomstick stores, an Owlery, and, of course, Ollivander’s. While in Ollivander Wands, Allison was chosen to participate in a wand demonstration where she was “picked” by a wand that they later offered to sell her. She tried two or three others before the right kind of responses came from the wand that “chose” her. It was fun to watch and even more fun to experience, I’m sure.

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The Hogwarts Express was a ride in and of itself. The trolley door closes and the magic begins all over again. After we felt we had exhausted our time at Harry Potter, or rather that there were too many people crowding everything as the day had gone by, we walked back through the park. There was no line for the Jurassic Park River Ride so we decided to check it out. The only other thing in the park that was of much interest to us was Seuss Landing, which we found and enjoyed a mere 10 minutes of before it begin to rain, and the park again looked empty as everyone sought cover. We made our way back to the hotel where our car awaited us and drove south to our cousin’s for the night.

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