The Wizarding World of Harry Potter–Hogsmeade

I already shared how awesome the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley (located at Universal Studios Florida) is…today I’m taking a look at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade, located in Orlando’s other Universal theme park…Islands of Adventure.

Like its counterpart, Hogsmeade is a fantastic reproduction of the village from the books and movies. There is a train station which connects to Diagon Alley, familiar shops and restaurants, including Honeydukes and Three Broomsticks, an Owl Post, places to use your interactive wand, and just down the path, the crowning glory of the area…Hogwarts itself! You can meet students from Hogwarts, Beauxbatons, and Durmstrang at the Triwizard Spirit Rally, and hear the frog choir sing (which sadly we missed). There are also two rides: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which takes place inside the school, and the Flight of the Hippogriff, which swoops past Hagrid’s hut.

After dark, Hogwarts lights up, and while we didn’t get to see it at the park, we could see it from our hotel room, and that’s also a fun attraction. This is another great way to get the experience of being a character from the Harry Potter story, and there’s plenty for the whole family to see and do (even Chickadee was able to ride the Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster!).

Tasty Tuesday–Three Broomsticks

For the first time ever, I’m reviewing a restaurant in a theme park! This is very unusual for me, mostly because we haven’t really gone to a theme park before this summer (unless you count Six Flags, which I don’t). But while we were at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the Fab Five and I ate lunch at Three Broomsticks, which is in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade area of the park, and we enjoyed our meal so much, I thought it deserved to be shared!

The atmosphere, like everything else in both Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas, is perfect. You really feel like you’re in one of the books or movies, eating in a restaurant in an actual village called Hogsmeade. The place was crowded, and we did have to wait in line, but it moved efficiently, the staff was very friendly, and we had so much fun looking around, it made the time pass quickly.

On to the food. I had assumed that theme park food would be only ok, and the portions would be small, but I was wrong about both. The fish and chips, which Bunny and I both ordered, were excellent…among the best I’ve ever had, and they even had malt vinegar on the tables, which made it even better. Turkey ordered a smoked turkey leg, which he really enjoyed. Ladybug felt the same about the chicken legs she ordered from the children’s menu. And Moose and Chickadee both liked the mac ‘n’ cheese, and the serving was so generous, I could hardly believe it…I can’t think of another restaurant I’ve been to (aside from Red Robin and their bottomless mac ‘n’ cheese refills), that dishes out such a large portion…and there were grapes and applesauce to go with it! The butterbeer, a staple in Harry’s world, was pictured at the Leaky Cauldron, but is also available at Three Broomsticks, and was delicious. Very sweet, but also quite refreshing…we’ve already figured out how to make a copycat recipe at home!

I won’t lie…the prices were pretty high for us. But I don’t think they were unreasonable, given the experience, the quality of the meal, and the amount of food we received. If we ever find ourselves back at Universal, I would happily eat another meal at Three Broomsticks!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter–Diagon Alley

I’ve already shared a glimpse into our day at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure, but now it’s time for a closer look at one of the best parts of our trip…visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida!

When you first arrive at that section of the park, you might think you’re in London (or is that just me?)…but you also run into some famous sights from the Harry Potter movies, including the Knight Bus!

There’s a “hidden” entrance, which leads you to Diagon Alley itself, and it looks just like it did in the movie, complete with shops, restaurants, plenty of places to do magic with your interactive wand, and even Sirius’ motorbike!

The big ride in this area of the park is Escape from Gringotts, and the walk through the bank is very impressive! The Bigs tell me the ride was also great, too!

Of course you can’t visit London without going to Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross (as long as you have tickets to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where the Hogsmeade portion of the park is located), and again, you feel like you’ve stepped right onto to the set of the movie…or the streets of London!

Diagon Alley was my very favorite part of our day at Universal’s theme parks, but it was just one part of the experience…stay tuned for more Harry Potter fun!

Markel Family Summer Vacation–Day Three

Last Friday was a HUGE DAY for us. We started early in the morning, because the SpaceX Dragon was scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral at 5:42 a.m. I wasn’t sure if we’d actually be able to see anything, since Orlando is over an hour away from the launch pad, but we thought it was worth a shot…and our early morning efforts were rewarded! We not only saw the rocket go up, we also saw the separation stage, and Turkey and I even thought we heard a rumble during lift-off!

That wasn’t even the biggest moment of the day for us, though, because Friday was Universal theme parks day for the Fab Five and me (Ryan spent the day in Daytona Beach at the CEO fighting game tournament, which the reason we went to Florida in the first place)!

Our main goal at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure was seeing as much of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter as possible. Our trip to Legoland was a dream come true for Turkey, but walking in the footsteps of Harry Potter was beyond Bunny’s wildest dreams! So once we were in the gates of Universal Studios Florida, we made a beeline for Diagon Alley. We got to see the shops just like we were in the movie, and our first stop was at Ollivander’s to buy a few interactive wands. We also got to see things like the Knight Bus, Sirius’ motorbike, and Platform 9 3/4 (which is where we headed next, to board the Hogwarts Express!).

After getting off the train (we had tickets that less us travel between both parks), we found ourselves in Hogsmeade (located in Islands of Adventure), where there were more shops, places to use our interactive wands, two fun rides (including Chickadee’s second roller coaster), and an opportunity to meet some of the participants in the the Triwizard Tournament.

While we were at the Islands of Adventure property, we also visited Seuss Landing, which was a fun and very colorful part of the park:

We walked back over to Hogsmeade (in the rain, of course) to eat lunch at Three Broomsticks:

Once the lightning stopped, Turkey and Ladybug tormented me by riding the Incredible Hulk coaster at Marvel Super Hero Island:

We then took the Hogwarts Express back to Diagon Alley, where we stopped at the Leaky Cauldron for Butterbeers:

After Chickadee and I waited for The Bigs to ride Escape from Gringotts, we visited Springfield: Home of the Simpsons, and went on a fun virtual reality roller coaster:

And got donuts at Lard Lad…they were ENORMOUS!

After walking through Diagon Alley a bit more, we took the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade, where I finally remembered to ask someone to take a picture of all six of us. I can’t even begin to describe how much fun it was to share the experience with the Fab Five and see their reactions to everything!

After 12 hours at the parks, we finally boarded the shuttle bus back to our hotel. We were all exhausted but extremely happy…it was a fantastic day!

Up next…a relaxing day at the hotel, which we all needed!

Quote

Quote of the Day

“Oh, you may not think I’m pretty.
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Sartorial Saturday–HufflePUG

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our planned trip to Universal Orlando this summer, where we hope to see all of the Harry Potter sites. This of course let me to think about my wardrobe, and my Pinup Girl Clothing Yellow House Harlequin skirt…I’m a proud HufflePUG!

I’ve even got the perfect HufflePUG accessories!

To which house do you belong?