With tomorrow’s release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One, I thought it was time to tell you guys about how I got to live out one of my dreams a few months ago: I got to go to Hogwarts. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened last summer in Orlando, FL and I had been dying to go ever since. The wait to get into the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios was a bit longer than I expected (I won’t even tell you how long I stood in line….), but it was worth it when I walked in and was greeted by the Hogwarts Express.
Next up was Hogsmeade Village, complete with snowy rooftops and plenty of places to grab a Butterbeer. The butterbeer, by the way, is DELICIOUS!! (and completely alcohol-free, in case the name made you wonder, so the whole family can enjoy it) I think it was some kind of combo of cream soda, marshmallow, and something else deliciously sweet. I got to go into iconic shops like Zonko’s (jokes galore), Honeydukes (filled with chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Beans, and more), and Ollivander’s (I can’t believe I have a wand from Ollivanders!!!). They even had a Mr. Ollivander in the shop waiting to help a young witch or wizard select their very first wand. You can either let the wand choose you, or you can get one that belongs to a character from the book. I chose Hermione’s, because that has to be a pretty strong wand to handle magic like hers, right?
The main attraction, a ride called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, is in Hogwarts castle. So to get to it, you actually get to walk through Hogwarts! I got to see the talking portraits (including the Fat Lady, of course), the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the entrance to Dumbledore’s office, and more. Unfortunately since you had to lock up your belongings before this ride, I don’t have pictures of this part, but believe me when I say that the castle feels very authentic. It made me a feel little afraid that if I held up the line Professor Snape would jump out and deduct 5 points from Ravenclaw. The ride itself has you riding a broomstick with Harry, Ron, and Hermione through the Hogwarts grounds, encountering some trouble (and some familiar faces and creatures) along the way. After visiting this and the other two rides (one small rollercoaster where you ride a Hippogriff and another more scary rollercoaster called Dragon Challenge), we were off for a relaxing dinner in the Three Broomsticks, whose menu included lots of typical British foods like Shepherd’s Pie and Fish & Chips (along with other classics like roasted chicken and ribs, which is what we dined on).
I wish I had space to include all my pictures, but I also don’t want to spoil it for you in case you ever decide to visit. It’s really magical to walk in and see Hogwarts and all of the familiar scenery right in front of you. It was a Potter fan’s dream vacation. If you want a taste of Hogwarts from your own home, we have all the movies here at the library, so check one out today!