So, if you know me, you know I'm kind of a huge Harry Potter nerd. If you know my mom, you know she falls into the same category.
Ever since Universal Studios announced they were creating a Harry Potter World earlier in the year, my mom has been telling me that we're going to go. She kept her word this weekend and the two of us headed down to Orlando for a girls weekend of Potter and Butterbeer. (One of the awesome perks of Delta letting even non-dependent kids fly free!)
Although I got in late Friday because of weird flights (the downside of previously noted perk) we still managed to get up and head to the park just a bit after they opened on Saturday morning.
Now, the original plan was that going in the fall, in a weekend so close to Thanksgiving would lead to fewer crowds. Yes, that was the original plan. Ha! I can't imagine what this place was like when it opened. It was FULL! We didn't get to see everything because some of the shops had an hour wait just to get inside! BOO!
Oh well, we still managed to enjoy ourselves and soak up all the fun magical details.
The park is set up as the village of Hogsmeade leading up to the Hogwarts Castle.
You are greeted as you walk in by a steaming Hogwarts Express.
As you can see, we weren't the only ones here! This place was HUGELY popular.
As you wander through the streets of Hogsmeade, we were delighted to find all our favorite stores, complete with details straight out of the books. I loved the whimsical crooked chimneys and the shop windows displayed everything from extendable ears and puking pastilles to self stirring cauldrons.
"Please do not walk on the walls."
The Three Broomsticks, where we stopped for lunch and butterbeer.
For future reference, at least in the US, butterbeer is like a really rich cream soda.
We also had Pumpkin Juice, which is kind of like drinking a pumpkin pie, quite yummy!
Inside Honeydukes Sweets Shop.
I brought home a box of these for Alex to try. Watching someone eat Every Flavour Beans, may be the most entertaining thing ever. :-)
One of the places we couldn't get in due to the long lines.
We also didn't get in Ollivanders, however, the Universal crew got confused here, as the wand shop is in Diagon Alley not Hogsmeade!
From Hogsmeade you approach the castle, which really is quite awesome.
There is a ride inside the castle or you can just do a tour, we did both and thoroughly enjoyed it. They did a really great job inside, though it was a little dark for photos and I didn't have a good flash.
The paintings spoke and followed you as you walked by.
The desk in Dumbledores office.
The office with gross point and shoot camera flash.
Bulletin Board in the hall. The picture moved like the Daily Prophet!
The ride in the castle was sort of a combo of motion ride, roller coaster-ish, disney magic ride. It almost actually felt like you were flying on a broomstick around the castle and through the quidditch field. (Side note: one of my co-workers actually spent this weekend at the quidditch world cup, yes, there is one in real life, who would have thought??) The ride was filled with dementors and dragons, and all sorts of fun magic things and left you quite breathless by the end of it! Fun times for sure!
Overall I'd have to say the park did a great job, getting most all the details right and it was great fun to bring the book to life. The only con I would give it is that it's too small! There were so many things they could have added and so many directions they could have taken it, I think we both got to the end and were like, "that's it?" What was there was excellent, but I wish there was more to see. The wizarding world is by far the most popular area of the park, so it seems a little silly they cut things short! Perhaps they have plans for the future to expand?
Thanks mom for a super great time!