Friday, June 26, 2015

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hogsmeade

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hogwarts castle

Hello Dreamers and Creators!

Summer's here, are you going anywhere for vacation this year?

If you follow us on Instagram, you might have already known that we recently traveled to Florida to visit Universal Studios Orlando, home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We were very excited for this trip and took lots of pictures. We wanted to share some of the pictures we took on our trip and our experiences with you guys in case you are thinking of visiting Universal Orlando in the future. So read on if you are curious of our experiences there or if you just want to see all the pictures we took!

*This is going to be a rather picture heavy post. We divided our pictures into 3 parts. One for Hogsmeade, one for Diagon Alley and one for the rest of Universal Studios Orlando. So there will be 2 more posts after this one!*

Hogsmeade entrance
Welcome to Hogsmeade!
Since we stayed at one of Universal Orlando's on-site hotels, we had early park admissions, so our first stop was Hogsmeade!

hey it's a snowman and snow owl

We were a bit surprised at how many people there were at 8 in the morning. There was a line pretty much everywhere, even in the shops.

Hogwart's crest

Our first ride of the morning was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. We both loved it and ended riding it multiple times for the next couple of days of our stay.

lots of talking portraits

We also managed to take a tour of the castle and snapped a lot of pictures. The tour for the castle is a bit different than the line for the ride, however, we suggest you do both for the full experience. The story is worth listening to!

talking portraits

The tour line gives you all the time in the world to takes pictures of the castle and listen to the full story that leads up to the ride. If you are in the ride line, you won't have such luxury because the lines inside the castle moves super quick and you always miss some parts of the story.

talking portraits and hall waytalking portraits Salazar Slytherin

 The pictures above shows the talking portraits that starts the story.

Professor Dumbledore's office

Professor Dumbledore's office. The details in this room are amazing and this alone should be the reason to take the tour. P.S. there are 2 (or was it 3) slightly different versions of Dumbledore's talk. We were clearly in that room for way to long.

Oh and all the rooms and tunnels are rather dark, which makes it perfect for the ride atmosphere but not so much so for the picture taking aspect. But hey, you are there for the experience right?

skeleton

This is the room where you'll meet Harry, Ron, and Hermione. There are also 2 slightly different versions of the story here as well. But it all leads to the same end point, which is the ride.

the Fat Lady talks a lot herestained glass

Moving on you'll see the Fat Lady and a couple of other displays like the stained glass. There's still lots more to the castle, but we'll leave that for you to see when you visit there.

a sea of people at 9am

See what we mean about a lot of people? We believe this was like 9am or so. 

Ollivander and his wand shop

We, of course, had to pick up an interactive wand and also checked out the special Ollivanders experience, where they choose a lucky person in the group and try to find a wand that would be perfect for them. Kind of like the scene where Harry tries out the wands to discover the one that picks him. Since we were the last people to leave the room, the awesome Ollivander posed for our picture.

more broomsticks

Here are some of the pictures of the adjoining shops.

Harry Potter gear

There's also Harry Potter gear for purchase.

Nimbus 2000

The second floor of these shops are closed to the public, but it's nice to look up and see that everything fits the theme to a T. The amazing details are quite awesome.

Oh and it's good to note that when you are in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter you don't want to just look left and right. You want to look left, right, up, down, 360 degrees because there's something special in every corner and there are many specials hidden in the corners where no one looks.

owl post with owls and owl poop

There's also an Owl Post next to the wand shop and you can actually mail post cards there.

a bunch of wands

Before we get to more shop pictures, let's talk about the Three Broomsticks.

Three Broomsticks entrance

If you decide to visit Universal Orlando and decide to stay in one of their on-site hotels, there's a special Harry Potter vacation package you can choose. The package includes breakfast at the Three Broomsticks for one morning and breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron for one morning, it also comes with a welcome package and early park admissions. Depending on the hotel you choose, you may also get a fast pass as well.

Three Broomsticks Interior

Anyways, we got the Harry Potter package, so that meant we had breakfast reservations for 2 days. We always had breakfast at 10am so that we could get in a couple of rides before eating and stuff.

a wall of antlers

The Three Broomsticks was really detailed as well, like just about every corner of the park.

Three Broomsticks interior

There were a lot of people in here too. Oh and sitting in this place is assigned even though it's like a order at the counter and go kind of food place.

Butterbeer!

Yes, we tried Butterbeer and we loved it. It's definitely sweet, but since we both love sweets, we had no issues with this. The icy version of the Butterbeer is less sweet than the cold version, however, for breakfast they only offer the cold version.

interior of the Three Broomsticks

Some more pictures inside the Three Broomsticks.

inside the Three Broomsticks

Connected to the Three Broomsticks is the Hog's Head Pub.

hog's head pub

The Hog's Head pub does serve alcohol to those of age. By the way, the hog's head moves too!

Honeydukes

Honeydukes is pretty much heaven for those of us who loves our sweets. We loved their decor and wished we had all those candy jars at home filled with candy!

so much candy!

We saved our candy shopping for the last day so we didn't have to carry it around and didn't want to worry about chocolates melting either.

shelves of candy

If you've seen our sweets haul, then you'll know what goodies we purchased at Honeydukes.

found inside Honeydukes

By the way, does anyone remember what this is in the picture above? We can't seem to remember.

a bunch of candy

Some more yummy candy.

Honeydukes outside

Chocolate Frog!!! We got a couple of these for ourselves and as gifts. Oh this was also one of the stations for interactive wands!

chocolate frog

Aside from candy and chocolate, Honeydukes also sell baked goods like pumpkin cake and cauldron cake. We did try the pumpkin cake, which was shaped like a pumpkin, and it was pretty good. A bit too sweet for our liking though.

interactive wand locationwhen not activated by a spell

Another interactive wand station is right outside Honeydukes to the left. Not sure why we are calling these stations, but for a lack of a better word, we guess stations will do. When you purchase the interactive wand, a map will be provided that shows the locations of the interactive stations. There are also some hidden spots as well. Once in a while, one of the stations can be broken, in which case an 'Anti-Jinx' can be found at that location.

mandrake

We found a mandrake next to another interactive station, it's quite detailed. 

Most of the times, you don't have to use the map to find the interactive stations because chances are there's already a long line at each interactive station with people trying to cast the spell. If you are having trouble, there are usually helpers located at or near each location to help people out.

interactive wand location

Some people yell out the spell they are casting while others, like us, are silent casters. We found that either way there's bound to be times when it doesn't work. You just have to keep on trying and trust me, if you have issues with it chances are many others do too.

Hogsmeade

Honestly, it's kind of odd to see snow roof tops during the summer times. Wish they could have changed it to fit the seasons or something, cause that would be awesome. There are also some repeated details from both parks. For instance, to the right of the picture above, you can see a bunch of cauldrons stacked on top of each other. In Diagon Alley, there another set just like it. 

Hogwarts train photo op

The Hogwarts Express is another ride you'll want to visit while you are in Hogsmeade. There's actually a separate area for pictures near the station and there's always a train conductor there to take pictures with you. 

train station

As always, the decor looks on point and the experience is amazing, even at the Hogwarts station. On a good day, the wait is just 10 minutes or less. That's enough time to take a few pictures, hop on the train, relax for a bit while watching the 'view' as you pass from the Hogwarts station to King's Cross. On a bad day, the wait could be an hour or more, and that might get boring and annoying. 

train station

When we say the 'view', it's really a short movie played on the window side of each train compartment. It's made to look as if you are looking at the passing views as the train goes from one station to the next. It's nice and feels rather magical. 

If you don't like the muggle's explanation, just know that it's really a magical train and you don't want to miss one minute of it.

Hogwarts Express train

A bit blurry here as the train went to a stop. Really wish there was an area where we can go onto the train and play/take pictures. That would have been awesome. But we suppose sitting in it will do for now. 

You do need to have a park hopper ticket if you want to ride this train, since it takes you from one park to the other. 

the Hogwarts Express train

You can see in the train's reflection that there are a lot of people lined up for this short but awesome ride. Each compartment fits up to 8 guests, so one train can take quite a lot of people back and forth. 

We took this train a couple of times and every time (except once) we always ended up in compartment G. As the train conductor says, G for Gryffindor. We think the train's trying to tell us something. 

inside the Hogwarts Express

There's only one train taking people back and forth, so the drawback here is that sometimes the line can be just too long. It is the easiest way to get from one park to the other, but we kind of wished they made 2 trains instead of one. Another (funny) thing about the train is that there's only one railroad for it to go on. It doesn't turn around or anything so from Hogwarts to King's Cross, it's the trains butt(?) that's leading the way. While coming from King's Cross to Hogwarts it's the head leading the way. So, it just looks kind of funny. 

All in all though, it's really a magical and fun experience. We cannot wait until the one in California opens in 2016. It's much closer and  we would be able to go often too. 

That's it for this post. Hope you look forward to the other 2 posts coming up about Diagon Alley and the rest of Universal Orlando!

Until next time!

~Helen and Michelle

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