We happened to be in the Orlando area just weeks after the Wizarding World opened at Universal Islands of Adventure. My mother left our family a last gift of a vacation together, so the fifteen of us (including my dad, my siblings and their spouses and children, and Tom & I) hopped an island cruise from the Orlando port. We figured that while we were there, we would be bad Potter fans if we didn't get to check out the new park - even though we knew it would be incredibly crowded. What we did not realize was that it would also be incredibly hot - like, well upwards of 100 degrees - and they'd march us the long way around the park! So by the time we got there, we were soaking wet but still happy to be there.
I'm going to show mostly detail photos, and try not to include too many spoilers - I know a lot of my readers haven't been there yet.
|We wish the Hogwarts Express was actually running - would've |
been a cooler way to arrive (figuratively and literally!)
|Young wizards' trunks on the platform.|
|We headed right for Hogwarts, where the Forbidden Journey ride awaits.|
The queue is amazing. Better than any queue I've seen. Which is a good thing...
|...because we were about to spend two hours in it.|
|Flying warthog greets us on our way in.|
|We coiled around outside for about an hour, until we finally made it into the Herbology greenhouse.|
|And finally inside the cool - past the Mirror of Erised.|
|The moving portraits were by far my favorite aspect of the park. This picture does not do them justice.|
|We traveled through several classrooms, an office and a house common room. |
Here's a detail from the Defense Against the Dark Arts room. A Lockhart book!
|Very overheated at the entry to Dumbledore's office.|
The heartbreaking thing about The Forbidden Journey is that when it first opened, it could not accommodate larger riders. Two members of our party - including myself - were unable to board. I knew going in that it would be the case, but it didn't make it any easier when I finally got to the front of the queue and knew that I couldn't enjoy it with my family. Tom offered to stay with me, but I wanted him to enjoy the ride and tell me all about it, so I sent him on his way.
To this day, this was one of the two most upsetting size-related experiences I've had. I'll write more on the other one, one day. This is one of the many reasons I am glad to be on a path to good health - to avoid similar experiences.
I'm told that the ride now accommodates some larger passengers. And I'm really looking forward to returning and enjoying all of the rides.
From there, we headed into Hogsmeade.
|Love the little details everywhere.|
|The shops were brilliant. Everything beautifully themed, and the souvenirs were fantastic.|
|A self-stirring cauldron! Great use of animatronics throughout the park.|
|Scrivenshaft's Ink and Quills - from the outside.|
|Scrivenshaft's elegant window display, up close.|
|Weasley Wizard Wheezes! The Puking Pastilles "waterfall" was my favorite of all the window displays.|
|But Honeydukes was my favorite, inside! There was a long line just to get into |
some of the stores - and at the registers. So we got a lot of Honeydukes photos.
|Crowded view of Honeydukes.|
|Bertie Bott's display.|
|They look just like the ones from the movie! No cheaping out with plain packaging at WWoHP.|
|Same goes for the Chocolate Frogs - looks like they're hopping off the shelves.|
|Lots of traditional British candy, too. I didn't get a photo, but |
I LOVED the sherbet pears. Wish we could find some around here!
|View of Hogsmeade, with Flight of the Hippogriff in the background and frozen Butterbeer keg in the foreground.|
|We ended our day with a hearty pub lunch and a frosty glass of Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks.|
We were so hot, and it was so crowded, that we totally skipped the rest of the park. (Except for a ride on short-lined Cat in the Hat for the benefit of air conditioning.) I really liked what I saw in passing, so I'm really looking forward to our eventual trip back, whenever it might be.
I thought I'd leave you today with a comparison photo. Since the trip was exactly a year ago... I thought we should take a look at how far I've come.
|Me in front of Hogwarts, at the least flattering angle possible.|
|Compared with my photo this morning - weirdly angled and make-up free just like I was in Orlando.|
And that brings us to the end of our adventures today. I'll bring you that Ghostbusters-cemetery-recipe post next week, and I'll be back with an unusual post tomorrow. Until then - keep taking care of you, and I'll do so, too.