Universal Studios Florida

I already shared the details of my favorite part of Universal Studios Florida…The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley. But now it’s time to take a look at the rest of the park!

Even before you go through the gates, there are notable locations, starting with the globe…everyone wants to get a picture there!

There’s also the famous Universal arch:

Inside, the park is divided into different neighborhoods. On our way to the King’s Cross station, we walked through Production Central (which was home to the one roller coaster the children wanted to go on that we didn’t get to), New York, and San Francisco:

Other than Diagon Alley, our favorite part of the park was Springfield: Home of the Simpsons. It was easy to imagine we were actually there…you know, if an animated fictional location was a real place!

Other than the KidZone, the only area we didn’t walk through was Hollywood, which is too bad, because there were a couple of things we would have liked to see there, but there just wasn’t time to do everything before it got dark, and then darker, and then was finally time to leave!

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at Islands of Adventure!

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 (who told us we looked like a “proper wizarding family”).

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! As for me, I already liked Harry Potter, but Universal made me fall in love with it in a way I didn’t expect, and I’d like nothing more than to go back someday!

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!