As an exceptionally great Christmas present this year, my parents took me and my sister to Orlando for a whirlwind two-day trip right before Christmas. The main reason was to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Islands of Adventure, which we’d been chomping-at-the-bit to see ever since we saw the concept art. It was also a chance to get in some Disney favorites (*cough Safaris cough*) — I’m lucky enough to be able to go to Disneyland quite often now, but I’ve been missing my Florida home and chances to see old friends.
So, immediately after spending a full day flying with a small puppy (tiring, but relatively easy) I turned around a got in a car for a 10 hour car ride! My very best friend from college, Anne-Marie, had stuck around an extra day so that we could drive down together — she was heading home to Tampa for break and the long ride was excellent catch up time. (I then proceeded to wake up at about 6 AM for the next two days and run around for 16+ hours each day — let’s just say the jet lag catch-up was a doozy.)
DAY ONE: THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
At the advice of some friends, we were parked in the Universal parking structure by 7:00ish…when the park didn’t even open until 8 AM. Until park open, we were slowly shuffled through check-points in Islands of Adventure until we were allowed to enter the Harry Potter section of the park.
From there it was a mad dash to The Forbidden Journey — the new ride that takes you through Hogwarts Castle, and is pretty revolutionary in terms of theme park technology. Getting into the Harry Potter area exactly at 8 meant that there was only an hour wait (and trust me, by the time we got off, it was already 2 hours, and the wait to get into the Harry Potter area itself was at least 2 hours too.)
Later in the morning Dragon Challenge (the dueling roller coaster) only had a 15 minute wait! We spent the majority of our time though waiting in line for all the really great stores they’ve recreated.
And Dervish & Bangs
And definitely Ollivander’s wand shop, were Mr. Ollivander helps a wand pick a kid in a short show. (This had the longest wait of any of the stores.)
It makes sense that they limit the amount of people into the Harry Potter land — it’s very realistic to the movies/books, which means that the streets and stores are very narrow by theme park standards. It really helps you feel immersed in the world though, and it’s not a wonder that Wizarding World of Harry Potter is such a success 🙂
After spending all morning there, we breezed through Seuss Landing on our way out for some Grinchmas cheer:
And then spent the rest of the day at the outlet malls in the Orlando area until it was time for dinner at Fulton’s Crab House in Downtown Disney — a family favorite!
Next up: The insanity that is 5 Parks in 1 Day (yes, you read that right.)