Adventures in Honeymooning: Part TwoWednesday, October 21, 2015
I know you've been waiting for weeks for this, and I'm finally here to share our trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWHP)....
I know you've been waiting for weeks for this, and I'm finally here to share our trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWHP). If you've been following the blog lately, you may have read that I was published on HelloGiggles, where I talked a little bit about our trip to the WWHP (You can read that here.) But today I'm going to share the bulk of it with you, plus you'll get to see all the pictures. So, if you're ready to dive into this adventure, follow along!
Before buying our tickets, I didn't realize the WWHP was within another park. I knew it was part of Universal, but I thought it was it's own separate entity, and truly, I would have been 100% okay if all that was included in our package were Harry Potter parks and rides. I mean, you saw all the other cool stuff going on in Orlando (part one here), but the trip would have been worth it just to step into Diagon Alley.
When planning our honeymoon, we were able to get a really great deal by purchasing three day park-to-park tickets. This included unlimited access to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures for three days of our choosing over a period of 14 days. Our trip to Orlando only lasted five days, of which two were travel days, so we planned to go to the park on the three full days we had in Florida. While getting access to both parks was really awesome for obvious reasons, one of the most incredible perks was getting to ride the Hogwarts Express between the parks. Having a park-to-park ticket is your only way to get on-board the Hogwarts Express.
So, we had reservations for breakfast on days two and three within WWHP-The Three Broomsticks (in Hogsmeade) and the Leaky Cauldron (in Diagon Alley), so I wanted to get the rest of the parks covered in day one. As we were walking through the park that first day, I saw King's Cross Station and knew we were in muggle London. I got butterflies in my stomach and tears in my eyes, but immediately turned away. I was anxious and excited and oddly nervous. I didn't want to go inside yet. I'd waited so many years for this, but I knew I could wait one more day. And so I did.
The next day, we woke up early. Our reservation was at 9:30, but I wanted to get there early. The Three Broomsticks is in Hogsmeade, which is inside Islands of Adventure. The parks both opened at 9:00, but we had early admission, so we could get in as early at 8:00. I was worried that if we rode the train, we might be late, but it became our only option. Islands of Adventure didn't honor the early admissions ticket, so we went on in to Universal and stood in line for the train.
My eyes filled with tears as we waited outside. I knew the crying would only get worse. We waited until about 8:45 before they let us walk into the ride, but we were the first group of the day, and that in itself was so exciting!
As we walked through, it was a regular train station. I've never been to London, but I imagine that it looked very similar to the real King's Cross station. In the station, there was a billboard for the Divine Magic perfume very similar to the one in the Half-Blood Prince film. (It was edited slightly to be more child appropriate). When I saw that billboard, my heart was racing and I was nearly running to get to Platform 9 3/4.
Immediately after the billboard, the line was forced through a tiny convenience shop that featured only British foods, including chips, candies, and even beers. It was truly so incredible. After the shop, we made our way through carts of luggage, up a staircase, and eventually we headed directly through the wall between platforms 9 and 10.
|The porter was so sweet. She let me wear her hat!|
When we got off the train, we were right there in Hogsmeade. The shops were perfect, and Hogwarts loomed in the near distance.
It was all just so surreal! After walking around for about 10 minutes, we headed to breakfast. It was the perfect time, because none of the shops or rides had opened yet, so we were able to get some happy bellies, before venturing out for the day.
|First order of business, drink an ice cold pumpkin juice. It was delicious, sweet, and slightly spicy, like any good pumpkin-flavored thing should be. I actually really enjoyed it!|
|The Three Broomsticks: day two breakfast. Madame Rosmerta was nowhere to be found.|
|I chose the Traditional English Breakfast, because "Hey. We're in England, why the heck not?" It wasn't bad, but I couldn't even bring myself to try the "black pudding."|
Also, while in London, I stopped by the old Black residence (read: 12 Grimmauld Place). Every once in a while, Kreacher would open the curtains and poke his head to the window. Besides Ron Weasley, Sirius Black is easily my favorite character, so it was a huge deal to me that Grimmauld Place was a piece a park. Andre just couldn't understand why I wanted my picture by a "random old building."
To enter Diagon Alley, we walked through a hole in the bricks. We could hear the sound of the bricks "moving" to open up the passageway, and immediately the music was there-so joyous and wonderful. It was really just everything.
We were able to catch a puppetry performance of the story of the Three Brothers, and it was so entrancing. Andre swears he was trying to talk to me during the performance, but I swear I never heard a word. I didn't even get any pictures, I was just so amazed. (You can watch a video of the performance here.)
Of course, I also may a beeline for Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. It was so crowded in there, but only because it was such a perfect store. In one of the windows, there was an ad for and products of U-No-Poo, and another windows housed the Puking Pastilles. It was perfect! I just wish we could have explored the "additional" floors.
One of our favorite things about Diagon Alley (alongside everyone else that's ever visited) was Gringott's Bank, the dragon that sat atop it, and the ride that was inside. Seriously, we have more pictures of the dragon than should even be allowed, but it was just too dang cool. Every 15 minutes or so, it breathes some fire, and Diagon Alley, in its entirety, just ceases to move.
There are also other little shops and windows. They aren't shops you can actually go inside, but they really add to the area. There's a tattoo shop, and a scary little shop with spiders all over the windows, and a window full of talking shrunken heads! One of the windows has a full mermaid skeleton that just blew my mind. It was truly amazing!
We headed back to Hogsmeade at some point during day two, where we went to the castle for the Hogwarts Forbidden Journey ride. It was 100% the longest we waited for a ride out of all three days. Still, we only waited maybe 30-45 minutes, which wasn't bad considering the line moved us throughout the castle. We got to walk to the greenhouses, into the foyer, through the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, and even through Dumbledore's office. It was pretty spectacular. I wasn't sure what to expect, and regardless of what I could tell you on here about it, the ride would still be an unexpected surprise. My biggest bit of advice is to be careful getting on/off the ride. The floor is like a conveyor belt moving one way, while the seats are moving the opposite direction.The hybrid coaster would have been intense without the additional 3-D screens. It was too awesome, no matter how motion sick I got.
|Hogwarts, a home|
|House points hourglasses- Hey, at least Hufflepuff's not in last place, amirite?|
|The entrance to Dumbledore's office.|
Lemon drops, please good sir.
|The Room of Requirement tapestry|
|Dragon skeleton, DADA classroom|
After the Flight of the Hippogriff, we had planned to get some lunch then head back to the park. In reality, we found a Chipotle, ate some burrito bowls and fell asleep until like 5:00.
The next day, we visited both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley again. We rode a lot more rides, and took less pictures. We did the Dragon Challenge, which was scary. It was the one ride in the entire park where I wasn't allowed to wear my fanny pack. We had to store everything in a locker (which was surprisingly free while you ride, and your key was your fingerprint... we live in the future, y'all!), and also go through a metal detector, which freaked me out a little. We had to go through the castle, and several corridors. It was truly a maze. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures, since we couldn't take our phones, but it was really neat. We actually didn't have to wait in line at all, for either dragon. They were both really twisty and turny and I was incredibly dizzy both times. It was terrible, but they were really great roller coasters! I highly recommend them.
During our second trip to Diagon Alley, we had our breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron (I chose the traditional English breakfast again), and also got moving pictures made at Shutterbuttons. I would love to share them, but I don't think Andre would be too happy with that. I will say, they were a blast to make, and the finished product will make me laugh for the rest of my life!
I was able to get my souvenir shirt and a gift for my bff, Julie. I also got a chance to give the Ministry of Magic a call. Unfortunately, it was "out of order" at the time, but I got to hear a wonderful little message, and I was so pleased!
My one regret? Not getting a wand. WWHP has interactive wands to purchase and special places marked throughout both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade where you can cast spells with your wand. My problem is I can't make decisions (enter the "where do you want to eat?" situation). We went into Ollivander's and there are wands stacked on top of wands stacked on top of wands. I could never pick one. Fortunately, Ollivander's does a wand selection where the wandmaster will pick one person to have a wand experience. There was one young boy in my group and he was automatically picked for the wand experience, and seriously, I almost cried watching him have a wand choose him. If I had been chosen for that, I would have 100% purchased the wand, but alas, I'm a grown up and I don't get chosen for the fun things.
So, if you made it through this post, I am very impressed. The terrible thing is, I could probably keep going. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about our honeymoon trip! We really had the most amazing time, and I would definitely love to go back at some point. I will say if you're planning a trip to the WWHP, the fall seemed like the perfect time to go. The park wasn't very crowded (super short wait times), and the weather wasn't too unbearably hot.
So, any questions? Probably not, but ask away. I have so many wonderful memories I could share!