Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

November 18, 2018

My Dream Come True

The actual purpose of the trip to FL was so that I could finally get to see Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.  To say that I bawled my eyes out when we arrived would be an understatement.  I couldn't believe my dream had come true.

I cannot say enough about how utterly PERFECT this place is.  Every single detail lovingly attended to.  

My only issue is that in order to visit Hogsmeade, ride the Hogwarts Express and visit Diagon Alley, you have to buy the 2 day, 2 park ticket, which is obscenely expensive.  But this is something I have wanted to see for so long so we sucked it up and shelled out hundreds of dollars.  

Our first stop was Hogsmeade.  The line to ride the first train to Diagon Alley was a mile long so we opted to explore 

First I got an interactive wand at Ollivanders.  I picked Luna's.  The wand works in front of certain windows.  There is a marker on the ground that shows you the wand movement and where to stand.  I didn't find that they worked very well at all, for adults or kids.  And the lines to do it were also long so I only did a couple.  I put the wand safely back in the bag because I was afraid I'd lose or break it.

Hermione's Yule Ball dress at Gladrags Wizard Wear

Hogwarts!!!!!!!!  There is a 3D ride inside but I'm not a ride person.  I think the first part starts out OK but then gets a bit too extreme for me.  I get motion sickness.

I tried both the regular and frozen butterbeer.  The frozen one is way better.  But both are delicious.

 Aberforth's bar the Hog's Head

We had breakfast at the Three Broomsticks.

We had the American and their food is incredible!!!

Next stop was Honeydukes Sweet Shop

Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans

I really want more of these.  I only got one. The packing is gorgeous.

We were happy to see that the line thinned out to the train so we took that opportunity to take the trip to Diagon Alley.

This is a prop train in front of the station.  You can have your pick taken in front of it with a man dressed like a conductor.

Inside Hogsmeade station.

In the windows to the outside runs a really cool effect of rushing past the scenery, with characters popping up from time to time.  Hagrid waves to the train heading out.

Those are the compartment lights reflections.

Buckbeak flying by

In the frosted windows to the corridor are shadows of the characters and you can hear their voices talking.  The trolley witch goes by too.

It's a very short ride to King's Cross in London.

I thought this was an inspired bit of decorating, putting up the mural from the beginning of 'Half Blood Prince'.

When you walk out of King's Cross, you are in 'London', which is in the Universal Studios Theme Park (hence the need of the 2 park ticket)

The Knight Bus and Stan Shunpike are on the street too.

 The shrunken head moves around and interacts with people. 

Once you get to London it's up to you to try and find where Diagon Alley is....

Where could it be?

November 14, 2018

Bonus Trip!

When we left OH we drove through the night to make it to Orlando, FL so that I could finally see Epcot and also Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  It was soooo hot and humid and it was very surreal for me to be there because I haven't set foot in Florida since 1978 when I was in 8th grade.  40 years.  Long before Epcot was built.  In a side note, we traveled through Kentucky and Tennessee so I got 2 more states under my belt, even though it was in the wee small hours and I slept through most of it.

We did a couple of rides first thing. I took a gazillion pictures on this trip so it was hard to pick just a few.


Manatee in Living Seas.

 We were eager to get to the international countries which opened at 11.

First up is Canada.  I loved that there was more of an emphasis on the Pacific NW.

I was admiring these gardens and thinking, 'Sure reminds me of Victoria and Butchart Gardens'.  Then I saw the plaque saying that this was inspired by Butchart Gardens.

Russell enjoying his beer at the Rose & Crown in England.

Next was France.  It should be noted that there are penny press machines all over the park and in each country, except for France.  Figures.  😒

Morocco was one of my faves.  The tile work, lamps and textiles are exquisite.

Then Japan.



Germany.  We stopped into the Biergarten for their buffet and it was so good.  Best food ever! With an oompah band too, that did 'Paloma Blanca', which I was so stoked to hear.  They sang it first in German and then English.

I have always been a huge fan of German Christmas items and I saw quite a few of these in Gettysburg back in August but they were very expensive.  We spotted this one for a very reasonable $75 (vs. $1,000 in Gettysburg) so we bought it and had it shipped home.

After we stuffed our faces, we continued on visiting countries. The next one was Africa (although I guess that's technically a continent).


Norway.  At this point it was starting to sprinkle.

Mexico was next and the skies just opened up and poured down rain.  To visit this country, you go inside that pyramid instead of the other countries that have separate buildings but on the street level.  Needless to say everyone was pouring into it to get out of the rain.  It was packed solid.  And dark.  Serious claustrophobia.

Inside the pyramid.  If there was a penny press machine, I couldn't find it but I also didn't look.  I left as fast as I could.  I'd rather get soaked than deal with that crowd.

By the time we worked our way back to the front it was pouring off and on. It was a long day but an amazing day.  I was so happy to finally get to see this place!!!

We were exhausted by the time we got back to our hotel but with a million memories, and pictures! And souvenirs!