Universal Studios – Hogsmeade

One of my new year’s resolution for 2015 was to finish reading the entire Harry Potter series, watch all the movies, then visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando. Due to scheduling issues, we had to go in February, which didn’t give me enough time to read all the books and watch all the movies by the time we headed over to HP land. I’m currently halfway through The Order of the Phoenix.

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I ordered the books on Amazon back in October/November. It’s almost impossible to buy a set of HP books with the original cover art, but the art on these ones aren’t that bad. It’s not as conspicuous when I read on the bus, especially since my round glasses make me look like a die hard Harry Potter wannabe. I was seriously concerned that I would get bullied on the bus, thankfully that didn’t happen, but I have been called Harry Potter on several occasions at work – Not cool.

I was planning to finish reading the entire series before blogging about our trip to Universal Studios, but I think it might take me longer than I expected to finish the series at this point. The fifth book starts off slow and it was hard for me to get into it and that threw off my reading momentum. Nevertheless, I am determined to finish the series, just not within the next couple of weeks.

Knowing that HP Land would be packed with people (we went there on a long weekend), we knew we had to get there early. They have early access to HP Land at 8am (the park opens officially at 9am), so we headed to Universal Studios at around 7am and waited in line with Potter Heads from around the world.

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Empty Park.

The staff opened the gates at around 7:45am to let the anxious visitors in. Basically everyone sprints to the Forbidden Journey ride and we did the same thing.

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Hogwarts and entrance to the Hogwart’s Express.

We bought a 2 day pass with a complimentary 3rd day. We did the same thing on all three days, arrived early and did all the Harry Potter Rides first. Because the Harry Potter rides don’t accept Express Passes, the line ups would be 2 hours long throughout the day, instead of the 10 minute wait if we did the early access. We didn’t have the patience to wait that long in line for a ride, and we are early risers anyways so it wasn’t that bad.

The idea is to go to the Forbidden Journey ride, then sprint towards the Hogwart’s Express station and head over to Diagon Alley for the Gringott’s Escape ride. It sounds very intense, and stressful, but what would have been more stressful was waiting 2 hours in line for a 5 minute ride. Trust me, it’s worth it.

On our first day, we didn’t take the Hogwart’s Express right after the first ride because we didn’t really know what we were doing. So after the first ride, we actually stayed in Hogsmeade and just walked around. We knew we were going to be back for 2 more days so we weren’t too rushed on the first day.

We went to Ollivander’s in hopes of becoming the chosen one. Sadly, we were not chosen. To give you some background, visitors get admitted into the shop in a group and there’s a short skit where the owner comes in and chooses one person in the audience to be chosen to test out a wand. In the end they get escorted into the actual store where you can buy the wands and everyone else follows suit. They chose a girl that was celebrating her 11th birthday that day – very fitting!

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My plan was to buy a bunch of wands as souvenirs, but after realizing how much those plastic wands were, I decided it was just not worth it. (They were $42 + tax). Basically everything on the park, especially Harry Potter related items were overpriced. Despite being brainwashed into the whole Harry Potter cult at the park, I was not ready to pay $120 for a cloak that I would never wear to work or around town. It would have been fun, but not worth it if I were only going to wear it for 3 days.

We then had lunch at The Three Broomsticks. It’s basically self service breakfast and you just order at the cash register and find your own seats.

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The breakfast wasn’t that good, but the atmosphere was nice. The place was bustling and exactly what I would have expected for The Three Broomsticks.

Next Stop: Springfield

Thanks for reading!