Friday, January 16, 2015

Mischief Managed

It's official: I've left the muggle world and entered Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Universal Studios at Orlando has truly outdone itself with the addition of Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, The Hogwarts Express, Hogwarts, four rides (two rollercoasters) and interactive wands that actually work. Walking through the Harry Potter section of the park made me feel as if the books and movies were a living, breathing experience. The first picture with the candles was taken during the Forbidden Journey ride in Hogwarts, where you sit in a rollercoaster type chair while fighting animatronic dragons, spiders, death eaters and other creatures while also playing a quidditch match in the ride's 3D simulation. It was a breathtaking experience... one that we revisited quite a few times.

As you can see, Hogsmeade is perfectly decked out with fake snow on the roofs of cute little shops (which were true to the books/movies, by the way: the Owl Post, Honeydukes, Three Broomsticks Inn, etc.) that you can enter and buy magical candy, treats, clothing, pets and souvenirs. Diagon Alley was a similar experience, including restaurants and shops such as The Leakey Cauldron, Magical Menagerie, Ollivanders, Slug & Jiggers Apothecary and even stalls on the streets selling butterbeer. Speaking of butterbeer, I had a total of four cups throughout the entire visit. Sorry not sorry, but it is quite the delicious drink: a mix between cream soda and the bitter taste you find in real alcoholic drinks.

During our first day at Universal Studios, it started to rain around 4pm and my family and I had to hide in a photobooth for almost an hour to keep dry. I was cold, wet, cranky and decided if it was going to rain, why not make the best of it? So we put on our rain ponchos, dashed out and rode the Forbidden Journey another hundred times until it finally stopped raining and we could take the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley. 

(Photos taken at Universal Studios, Orlando)

The other memorable ride at Harry Potter World was the Escape from Gringotts, which took you through the Gringotts bank while you attempted to escape from the wrath of Bellatrix after sneaking into her bank vault. This one was set up more like a rollercoaster, with a few drops and fast turns here and there. Most of the ride used 3D simulations, similar to that of the Forbidden Journey and many other Universal Studios rides. After my adventures through the wizarding world of Harry Potter, I can finally end by saying, mischief managed!