I solemnly swear I am a nerd. When I heard that Universal had opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter I quickly added it to my bucket list….and in December 2015 I crossed it off the list!
If you are thinking about a trip to Universal I recommend (if your schedule allows) going the first week of December. The crowds are way less everywhere you go. We waited in ride lines at most 15-20 minutes. The weather is warm but not blistering hot. Universal is decorated for Christmas at this point so you get the holiday feel as well.
My next tip is to stay at a Universal resort. We stayed at the Cabana Bay Resort – a retro themed resort. It was just a short walk from the hotel to the park – no need to worry about driving and parking. There is also a shuttle from the resort to the park in case you are to exhausted from all the fun you had in the park that day. You get admission into the park early and anything you buy can be sent directly to your room so you don’t have to lug it around all day—unless you buy a wand -you want to keep that with you so you can cast spells in the park. Also when you stay at the Universal resorts you get exclusive deals on park passes.
Universal has other attractions besides HPW (Harry Potter World) but my main interest was in the HP attractions. Although it didn’t stop us from some quick photo ops…….
Another tip I have is buy the park hopper passes. This gives you access to Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure. Yes, there are two parks with different attractions. You need the park hopper passes if you want to ride the Hogwarts Express — and you will want to!
Mom and me on the Hogwarts Express
Jake and me on the platform getting ready to board the Hogwarts Express
The first thing I wanted to do was get my wand so we did the Diagon Alley attraction first -Ollivanders Wand Shop is there. In true HP fashion the wand did actually choose me. I was standing in the shop looking at box after box when someone bumped into a shelf and several boxes began to fall. I put my hands up to cover my head and ending up catching one of the boxes. I decided to open it to see what it looked like and I loved it. So my wand did indeed choose me.
Had to get a wand picture in front of the store
Diagon Alley is home to all the shops that wizards shop at and Gringots bank.
Gringotts is guarded by a dragon that shoots real fire from his mouth. Be ready, it’s loud and hot! You can feel the heat of the flames even though the dragon is so high up in the air.
You can go on a ride through Gringotts and meet up with Harry, Herimone and Ron as they try to escape as well!
Mom gave the ride a thumbs up!
A crescent moon at HPW!!
Had to get a picture in front of the pumpkin juice sign!
We had 2 days passes so we concentrated on Diagon Alley the first day and then did Hogwarts/Hogsmeade the second day. I recommend getting at least 2 day passes. There is so much to see and do you want the opportunity to take it all in.
Yes, I did have custom shirts made for both my mom and me and yes we wore them both days we spent in the park. I did not wear the glasses the entire time, I do have some limits on my craziness. Quick note, Jake gave me the scarf as an anniversary gift as a promise we we would go to HPW – 2 people came up to me asking where they could get one. Surprisingly the famous scarves are not sold in the gift shops in the parkes – there are plenty of souvenirs to choose from though! If you’re curious he got it on Amazon.
Remember my wand? Well it’s interactive and allows you to cast spells in the park. The Hogwarts/Hogsmeade side had more places to cast spells….me and the children on vacation with their families.
The scenery is amazing as well! You feel like you are walking in the same place as the characters in the movie!
The Hogwarts Castle
You can get a special HPW postmark at the Owlery. Yes, I had several postcards stamped with the postmark.
Hogwarts Castle selfie!
And of course we had to have Butter Beer! You can get it in several forms..hot, cold, frozen and as ice cream. It was good but I preferred the pumpkin juice…I know you are surprised!
It was a great trip. I got to see Harry Potter World and spend time with these special people in my life.
Now to convince Jake that I need to see the new HPW they opened in Hollywood, CA…..