On my last full day of vacation, a few of us (it was a family vacation) went to Universal Studios primarily to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Being a huge Potter fan, I was excited to go and see Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, and Diagon Alley! Although we only spent 1 day there, I took a billion pictures of everything there. They did a superb job at making everything so detailed. Since I took so many photos I’m splitting this visit to the park into two posts just so I don’t inundate you with so many photos. I think I picked out over 50 photos to share with you all which is pretty good when you consider that I took over 150 there!
So I figure the best way to split this post up is by telling you about the first half of the day in this post, which consisted of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, some rides, breakfast and getting on to the Hogwarts Express. Tomorrow I will write about the second half of the day which consisted of Diagon Alley, lunch, rides, etc.
We arrived at Universal Studios around the time it opened. If you’re familiar with Universal Studios Orlando, you know there are two parks – Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. The two parks are right next to each other and you can walk between the two if you buy a 2-park ticket. We got 2-park tickets because Harry Potter attractions are in both parks. Tricky! Upon arriving, we decided to do Islands of Adventure first and headed over to Hogsmeade. I was so excited as soon as I saw the entrance! Hogsmeade looked amazing! The Hogwarts Express was to the right and the walk through Hogsmeade leads you to Hogwarts where Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey ride is.
Isn’t it beautiful?! The attention to detail is amazing. Hogsmeade looks wonderful and it’s always “snow” covered since in the books/movies they seem to always go there in the winter when it’s snowy, but since I went in December it really was perfect. I love all the Christmas decorations too! And the bridge at Hogwarts with the arched windows makes me want to look up and see if I see Harry looking out!
The entrance to the Forbidden Journey ride is at the Hogwarts building and the line takes you through Herbology and inside to a classroom and Dumbledore’s office. There were lots of life-like videos to make it seem like Harry, Hermione, and Ron were talking to you and helping you escape class which plays in to the ride. The portraits even moved and talked like in the movies and books!
The ride was a lot of fun and luckily the wait was less than an hour.
We then went on a more kiddy Harry Potter ride – The Flight of the Hippogriff – which is like a kid roller coaster. I didn’t get a shot of the hippogriff but there was a giant one that bowed it’s head down every few minutes. I did get a shot of Hagrid’s hut though while waiting in line!
We then headed to The Three Broomsticks for breakfast!
After breakfast, we walked over to the other sections of Islands of Adventure to ride a Jurassic Park ride and a King Kong ride. Then, we walked back over to Hogsmeade to take the Hogwarts Express over to the Universal Studios park so we could check out Diagon Alley. You can walk to the other park, which may have taken less time since we were in line for at least 25 minutes to take the train, but you can’t go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and not ride the Hogwarts Express!
The ride was pretty cool, you go into your own little car. I thought you’d be able to see out the window but the windows are actually screens and they show you what it would look like outside the Hogwarts Express and you see Harry and co. riding the hippogriff etc. It did make me wonder what was really outside the train window – I’m thinking the parking lot or something! On the other side was the sliding train car door which was cool because it was also like a screen and you could hear voices and see shadows. At one point, Harry and friends are looking for an empty car and you see their outlines outside your door and hear them say the car was filled with first years.
Once you get off, you’re in King’s Cross Station!
Below I have a video of the Hogwarts Express pulling up and two little videos of Hogsmeade/Hogwarts.
Hogsmeade and Hogwarts were beautiful. I wish I got to see them all lit up at night, but we were dead tired after going to Diagon Alley, which I’ll talk about tomorrow! It’s fine though because I’m sure I’ll go back in a few years and they’re already building an expansion so there’ll be even more to see! I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 featuring Diagon Alley!