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Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Posting this here because I pretty much just like LiveJournal's formatting for this kind of thing the best...

So since it's Spring Break for me, I've been planning on going to Universal Studios Orlando's Islands of Adventure to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for quite a while - mainly since I started really getting into the series over the summer.

It was decided that an annual pass would be the better deal to get more for my money - being a Florida resident and a AAA member with those discounts applied to boot. After doing loads of research on OrlandoInformer.com and similar websites, I decided to go on Tuesday, March 6 to make the most of the lower crowds and the weather. Since it was Spring Break for just a few colleges around Florida, the crowds weren't expected to be too bad, and they weren't-- for the Wizarding World. It was still pretty busy by the time we got there around 10:30 AM. Luckily since I didn't give a crap about the rest of the park (been there, done that) I was fine with it.

It was just me and my mom since we had planned the trip around visiting the grandparents in Lakeland on Monday. Since they're close by, it's often convenient to stay at their house when visiting parks in the Orlando area - a 45-minute drive after an exhausting day to their house or a 2+ hour drive back to Gainesville under the same circumstances. We cut through Seuss Landing and The Lost Continent to get straight to the entrance of the Wizarding World, and very in-character, the entrance to Hogsmeade Village!

Crowds were pretty thick, but not too bad. Later in March is when it really gets intense since that's when everyone else is on Spring Break. We headed straight for Harry Potter's Forbidden Journey at the beautiful Hogwarts Castle, since that's the main attraction of the section. The wait was 75 minutes - which is still pretty short for that ride! I can't believe The Incredible Hulk Coaster's wait time was 5 minutes all day; Forbidden Journey has totally stolen the crown of it as IoA's top attraction.

Looks like Forbidden Journey is run by the Ministry of Magic!

Some of the websites recommended going through a 'tour-only' line for Forbidden Journey to fully appreciate the interior, but I managed to stop and take a few rad pictures of the interior on my way through regardless.

The entrance to Hogwarts Castle! This is where I really started getting giddy.

The wait was long, but the queue was pretty awesome. The greenhouse was a cool idea.

Mandrakes in the greenhouse doing the creep.

Hufflepuff beating out Ravenclaw? Puh-shaw!

(Slightly blurry) entrance to Dumbledore's office. The people trying to rush you because they can't figure out that they can go around you when you're taking pictures is probably the reason the tour only line is recommended. They made it blurry, it's all their fault!

Dumbledore's office!

The ride itself? Awesome. Basically you're strapped into a seat attached to a big claw-like robotic thing, shuffled through various rooms and lifted and turned into exciting angles. I actually started tearing up at the start of the ride, it was so amazing-- but after that I was a bit too busy screaming. I won't spoil it, but some scary stuff happens! Entirely worth the 75 minute or however long we actually waited wait. Also, protip: the lockers are free, but it's a pain to deal with them so just bring some type of fanny pack instead. They're all cool to go on the ride.

After Forbidden Journey, we were off to the bathrooms (they should really get wait times on some days, too) and the Three Broomsticks Inn for lunch. We got distracted quickly, however, by the Hogwarts Frog Choir!

We only caught the latter half of their performance, but it was neat. Looks like a fun job.

Since my bladder was doing fine, I snapped some pictures of the fake storefronts while ma' was using the bathroom.

Notice Hermione's Yule Ball dress in the window!

It's like I'm really school shopping for Hogwarts!

Then finally it was off to Three Broomsticks for lunch! There was a short line but it was really organized. You order your food and they actually find you a seat inside instead of having to fight with other hungry tourists for somewhere to sit. Super nice.

Fun fact: the Three Broomsticks that appears in the movie was actually modeled after the one in Universal since the latter came first!

While the cornish pasties were tasty, I was far more excited for that BUTTERBEER. It was so glorious.

After lunch it was off to see the Ollivander's Wand Shop wand picking experience! Line was said to be (by a cast member, since there's no wait time posted, for some rasin) an hour long, but again, felt shorter.

And just outside of the line was the perfect photo op in front of Hogwarts Castle!

I didn't get picked for the wand demonstration, but I did quickly ask the wandmaster actor after the show if he could recommend a wand for me. He asked me my name, age, birthday, and which is my 'wand hand' - the right, of course - which he measured. After some thinking, he recommended a Holly wand to me, stating that was the type associated with an affinity for animals. Guilty! I was able to buy one in Dervish & Banges next door, where the salesman explained it was the same type of wand as Harry Potter himself! The one I ended up with is 14" long (ladies), and evidently contains a phoenix feather core. Bitchin'!

The Dervish & Banges shop was packed a little tightly, but not too bad.

The Monster Book of Monsters was inside, and it got pissed at me for some rasin.

The Owl Post was connected to the other side, where you can buy...more wands. And owl stuff. And postcards that you can have postmarked even if you're not mailing them (but you can mail them too) along with other similar goodies!

Since my mom works at the post office in the muggle world, she had to take a picture with the wizarding world's version!

Snazzy Hogsmeade postmark!

Since the wait was only 15 minutes, Flight of the Hippogriff was next!

Hagrid's hut set up around the queue line!

Best picture I could get-- a very cool animatronic Buckbeak greets riders at the start of the ride.

Since ma' dislikes roller coasters, we skipped Dragon Challenge, which I rode a thousand times when it was Dueling Dragons formerly. I wanted to see what the queue was decorated like, but since I do have an annual pass now, I can return any time I like until this time next year! The rest of our time at Wizarding World was pretty much spent shopping.
Filch's Emperium is where you land right when you step outside of Forbidden Journey, and I had already purchased a very nice Gryffindor sequin t-shirt from there earlier. I went back to buy the matching bag because I have a ridiculous weakness for sparkles. Mom also treated me to a nifty time turner keychain. In Honeydukes, which is connected to Zonko's Joke Shop, it was packed. Unfortunately, since the shops are kept in realistic scale to the films and books, a large amount of tourists can't really fit in there! I made the most of it, however...

Puking Pastilles! Being a Weasley twins fangirl, this was a necessary picture to snap.

The hat selection in Zonko's. "It's a fez. I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool."

The bakery of Honeydukes is just a small addition to the loads of HP-inspired sweets inside!

Clippy's Clip Joint

About to enjoy my Cauldron Cake (basically a chocolate cupcake with chocolate mousse inside, with solid chocolate on the bottom and the handle) and Pumpkin Juice (delicious - main ingredients are pumpkin puree, apple juice and apricot puree, so it's very sweet but very good) with hair amess from Flight of the Hippogriff.

All of my Wizarding World goodies (on my bed back home!)

On the way out (or at the entrance, depending on your perspective) of the Wizarding World section is none other than the Hogwarts Express, with a charismatic conductor ready for pictures! Since it was crowded on the way in, I opted to wait until we were leaving for that photo op.

Seriously, hair, we need to have a talk.

But even after leaving that part of the park, the adventure still wasn't quite over! I ran into some trouble while exiting through Seuss's Landing...

...and opted to buy my obligatory Chocolate Frog in the main store of Islands of Adventure near the entrance instead of Honeydukes, since I worried it would melt if I stuck it away with everything else, before traveling back to the car.

Overpriced, but totally necessary - and the chocolate is really delicious, though it'll surely last me a month! This guy is BIG.

Aw yeah, Gryffindor for life!

Altogether it was just as fun as I thought it would be and I look forward to returning soon!


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 12th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
You're so adorable. <3 I MISS YOOUUU GUURRLLLL
Mar. 12th, 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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