Travel Diary 6: Most Magical Place on Earth

January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Being back at school is certainly anti-climactic after returning from Orlando, Florida where I had the time of my life. I would willingly endure the 30-hr (there and back) road trip to spend another day in paradise! Anyways, a brief introduction: three days after Christmas, my family set out for a 6-day vacation in Orlando. Two of those days were spent on the road having greasy fast-food fests before New Year’s resolutions kicked in. On Day 1 of the actual trip, we outlet-hopped and checked out many wonderful sales. On Day 2, my sister, cousin, and I made the pilgrimage to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Day 3 (NYE) was spent at Epcot and Day 4 was dedicated to relaxing at the hotel.

So, without further ado– my favorite place on Earth:

{ upon arrival at the Islands of Adventure in Universal Studios }

Check back tomorrow for a HP World tips and tricks post, but just know that we got to the entrance of the Harry Potter section at 8:10 AM (the park opens at 8 AM) and the park was already at full capacity. From there, people had to line up for stand-by tickets to get back in at 11:30 AM. If you got there any later, the return tickets were for much later. The latest we saw was for 8 PM– yikes!

{ the sign says it all }

{ the first glimpse of the breathtaking Hogwarts Castle }

{ Gorgeous Hogsmeade Village with fake snow }

{ The entrance into HP World from the Jurassic Park side }

{ Mirror of Erised is one of the many props from the books and movies that you see on the tour through the castle }

{ while waiting in the 60-120 minute line, you get to check out the greenhouses! }

The main attraction is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is part-tour and part-ride. While waiting in line, you get to tour parts of the castle like the greenhouses, the dungeons, Dumbledore’s office, see the portraits, etc. Then, you are sort of catapulted into the ride section. Best five minutes of my LIFE, y’all. That ride is mindblowing and worth every single second of the wait time.

{ the talking and moving portraits and paintings }

I went into this park expecting a lot because I am a most avid and diehard Potter fanatic. And I can say honestly that I was completely mindblown and awestruck by HP World. Of course, there are nitpicky little things that I was a bit ticked off by, but for the most part, this place was absolutely amazing. My favorite aspect about the park was all the minute details that really add up to so, so much. These portraits actually looked like real paintings– the texture, the frames, the colors, the gradients and not like characters in a moving screen. They do actually travel into each other’s frames, but different ones each time so it’s not some synchronized technology thing. So cool!

{ the Sorting Hat! }

{ with my long-awaited Butterbeer }

If there are only two things that you have time to do at HP World (God forbid that happens), go on the Forbidden Journey tour/ride and try Butterbeer. I don’t know how I’ve lived without this frothy goodness in my life, oh my goodness. It’s beyond amazing. There are two kinds- frozen and regular. Both will make you speechless. My sister describes the stuff like “cream soda, but more butterscotch-y, but a lot better.” Amen to that.

{ the frozen variety }

My sister and I were divided on our Butterbeer preference. I liked the normal kind, but I think that was due in large part because I had this strange urge to remain completely faithful to the series. Weird, I know. But I was in love with both varieties, absoluteeely. The frozen kind is a slush and I felt that there was more cream. It tastes like a butterscotch-y milkshake, oh so yum.

{ fish & chips for lunch at The Three Broomsticks }

Okay personally, the fish & chips bowled me over and I thought it was downright delicious with its thick-ish batter but super crispy exterior and flaky interior. The chips weren’t out-of-this-world, but the fish was really something. But mind you, I haven’t heard any other great reviews about the fish & chips here. My big sister who had her fair share of fish & chips while in London for a semester did say that these were really high up there though! So… maybe they have their on and off days? The three bites of the chocolate trifle was pretty darn tasty, but I couldn’t manage any more than that because I think I’m now allergic to strawberries…

{ with one of my favorite characters, Sirius Black }

{ Hogwarts Express and its hilarious conductor }

I’m not sure if this guy is there everyday, but if he is… Make sure you get a picture with him! He is hilarious and will say or do something different with each person. Looks-wise, doesn’t he sort of remind you of Vernon Dursley?

{ really amazing view of Hogsmeade from the Toon Land/main entrance }

{ very sweet Frog Choir performance put on by Hogwarts students }

{ charming performances by Beauxbaton and Durmstrang students }

We were lucky enough to see both the Frog Choir and the Triwizard performances. Everyone remains in character, British accents and all. Those Durmstrang boys were the best part… Just look at third guy from the right– his expression is PRICELESS.

{ inside of Ollivander’s }

Getting into Ollivander’s is a bit tricky as the line is forever long. But personally, I thought the line was completely worth it. Basically, you go into the front part of the store in groups of thirty. Mr. Ollivander randomly picks one person for the wand experience. On the third try, the person finds their perfect wand (the other attempts are very amusing). Right afterwards, everyone is herded into the Dervish & Banges/Ollivander’s store section where you can buy your own wands or other souvenirs. Mr. Ollivander is so convincing. And I don’t throw that term around loosely.

{ real-life snapping, growling Monster Book of Monsters in Dervish & Banges }

{ by the Owlery– these plush toys look SO real… their heads turn and everything! }

{ inside of Honeyduke’s/Zonko’s– very quaint, very realistic }

{ Hagrid’s hut }

Hagrid’s hut is in this complex which includes the hut, the enormous pumpkins, and Buckbeak the Hippogriff. It is surrounded by the Flight of the Hippogriff, which is the family-friendly ride. You can hear Fang barking as you wait in line!

{with Buckbeak while waiting in line at Flight of the Hippogriff }

Someone in line behind me commented, “that’s a big chicken!” What a dingbat. Such blasphemy.

{ a Maruader’s Map on display at Filch’s Emporium }

The stores are all crazy-crowded, even with major crowd control. But like I said, I personally felt that all the lines were worth it. But goodness, this Marauder’s Map just stole my heart. The footprints really move! It was really, really, really cool, especially since the Marauders era is my favorite HP generation. Alas, it was $50 and just a piece of paper. Someday, when I make the big bucks, I’ll return for ya!

{ a view of Hogwarts Castle nearing dusk }

I think the moment I exited the gates was perhaps the saddest moment of my life. I was enamored with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is saying a lot because seriously, my expectations were way up high. Anyways, I will be back tomorrow with a long list of tips and tricks that I’ve gained through my own experience and with the experiences of my friends and teachers as well– I’ve come to realize that I did miss out on a couple of little things that I would’ve delighted in, so I must plan a return trip back ASAP!

C

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