Here it is, my post on Hogwarts/Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando! I can’t even begin to describe everything to you. From the small details like crooked chimneys and Moaning Myrtle in the bathrooms to my sheer awe at/in the castle, it was just unbelievable. And I’ll tell you a secret–I cried a little the first day we walked in there and then later that night in the castle seeing everything. I didn’t expect to be so emotional but it was a very big deal to me.
Long story short, high school wasn’t always super fun for a nerd like me. Harry Potter got me through a lot of shitty things in my teendom and like most fans, we feel like we all grew up together. I had a great group of online friends in my teens and we did a lot of fan fiction and role playing-my dad could never get me off the computer. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t know or understand, but Harry Potter, to me (and hundreds of other kids) was a really important figure and a very good friend. To see the castle in person and drink butterbeer and hold a wand in Ollivander’s was simply incredible. There was nothing better on my birthday than being picked for Ollivander’s wand choosing. I’m still on a high from that!
Sorry for the photo quality–they’re all from my cell phone, but you get the general idea. There was no possible way to get every detail–there are really just that many. Everything was perfect, even moreso than I imagined on my own.
The car scared the wits outta me when I walked by and it started honking and screeching with the lights flashing.
As you walk into the Triwizard Tournament camp.
The first thing on your right after entering. I would’ve taken that suitcase had I not wanted to ride the dragons 23943 times.
My favorite part in the tent. It genuinely looked like the cup was spouting off magical fumes. A very nice touch before walking into the dungeons to get to the rollercoasters.
See that tiny blur on the left side? That’s a dragon chasing a tiny Harry on a broomstick around the castle. I wanted my own to take home real bad.
More Hogsmeade. The snow almost made you forget it was late March. In Florida.
On the path up to the Dueling Dragons ride, there were small details like music playing and of course, support signs for all the Triwizard Champions. It was so cool seeing the handmade banners while you made your way up a woodsy path.
(I’ll admit this banner made me a little sad for Cedric. Poor guy.)
Zonko’s! Some super fun stuff in there just like from the books. It made me want to be friends with the Weasley twins even more.
This photo does no justice to the bright colors and gooey decadence of the treats behind the window. Holy crow at the candied apples.
Harry’s dress robes from Goblet of Fire!
I squealed when I saw Hermione’s dress. Does anyone know if it’s the actual movie dress or just a copy? I wasn’t sure, but either way, it’s even prettier in person than it was on her in Goblet of Fire.
Quidditch! We’re totally gonna buy a Quaffle and set up hoops in our backyard this summer for parties.
If you stay at a hotel on the resort, you get in an hour early. We did this on Thursday and it was still packed, but! This is Hogsmeade at 8 am, an hour before the park opens to the public. It looks dead but only because everyone went straight to the castle for Forbidden Journey.
There was a writing quill in the window that actually moved.
Buckbeak! He bowed to each car as you passed him going up on the little ramp on the Hippogriff ride (which I would not recommend to anyone with extremely long legs.)
I started getting knots in my stomach right around here at the entrance. It was so amazing to see this guy and know you were about to enter Hogwarts Castle. I half expected the boar to talk to me like they do in the video games.
Herbology! This was one of the cooler areas to stand while waiting–it led you directly into the castle.
I wasn’t able to get everything because it’s so dark inside you need a real camera with big flash to catch a lot of it (like the small items in Dumbledore’s office cases or Hermione, Harry and Ron talking to you in the common room while Ron makes it snow on you).
You guys, this is where I started crying. JLo probably thought I was nuts, but to see that we were headed into Dumbledore’s office almost set me off like a lunatic.
The Fat Lady’s portrait that led into the Gryffindor common room. When she sang, you really did want to cover your ears.
Sorting Hat of course. He actually talked to everyone in line!
I wanted one of these so bad-the Marauder’s Map! This one was open in the window and if you looked closely, you could see footprints with names roaming around on the map! Definitely my favorite part–you saw Dumbledore in his office and Harry Potter walking around too. So, so cool. I wanted my own to frame but it’s such a huge map that I need to measure out my wall space before I get one!
Owl Post window!
The first view from walking in from Jurassic Park. I nearly fell off the bridge taking the same angled photo because I was in sheer awe.
Hogsmeade our first day. Trust me when I say this crowd is nothing. I’m talking hundreds of people crammed into this section of the park, which is smaller than you think (/hope).
This guy (Monster Book of Monsters, Hagrid’s class, aw!) in Dervish and Banges actually did get me good–he shifts around a little bit but then really jumps at you every so often. Right as I leaned down to take this, it kinda lunged at me and I almost dropped my phone. It was fun to watch it scare the heck outta kiddies.
The photo everyone needs when you first walk into Hogsmeade. It made me so happy.
Puking Pastilles display in the Zonko’s window. (The purple part kept spiraling into the bucket giving it a gruesome cartoon effect.)
Ollivander’s! We waited only about 30 minutes to get in, actually, which is nothing compared to the usual lines. They only let in about 25-30 people at a time, but we were literally the first two people in our group to walk in. They stood me by the staircase where Ollivander stood at the top while we all came inside.
I still have no idea if it was because he saw my birthday button (though I know he did later) or if I just happened to be standing closest to him, but when he looked at me for longer than a full five seconds, I knew he was going to pick me. My heart stopped and I couldn’t get the stupid grin off my face if I tried.
You should’ve heard the disappointed sighs of the kids when I was chosen-I almost felt bad for them (almost!) but then remembered that it was my birthday. Ollivander gave me 3 wands–the first one knocked all the drawers around behind a ladder-definitely no. The second caused it to thunder and lightning and Ollivander quickly took that away. Then he grabbed another–Ash with a dragon heart string core. He handed it to me and the wind swirled, the red and gold lights flooded over me, and everyone cheered.
And then I had a nerdgasm. I bought that exact wand on the spot–I almost wanted Sirius Black’s wand (which is totally badass), but JLo made me realize–this wand did pick me! No one else will have a wand like it since most people want to buy Harry’s or the Elder Wand, but this one is all mine. It’s dark brown with leaves on the wand and a tiny, spun handle with amber tip. (I need to get a better photo for you!) Speaking of photos, here’s the only one JLo could sneak out with since photos aren’t technically allowed (like he wasn’t gonna take a photo).
JLo bought us matching Potter Quidditch jerseys for my birthday. We’re disgustingly cute but we got picked for things (including Fear Factor Live which he won!) and got high-fived all day, even at the other park. It was pretty rad.
Hogwarts Castle, you really are such a magical place. I don’t want to give away too much of the actual Forbidden Journey ride because it’s something every fan should really see for themselves without spoilers. There are so, so many details and things you see on the ride-there are things from every movie and some of it is actually pretty scary (I actually thought the Whomping Willow was gonna clock me), but it’s amazing. They even made the seats with what resembles a broomstick handle so you can fly with Harry and Ron. Seriously unbelievable.
Let’s face it: JLo’s lucky I came back home with him instead of finding a hiding spot to live inside the castle. It was a perfect birthday/vacation/honeymoon and we can’t wait to go back once they renovate and add on to Wizarding World. Every Harry Potter fan, no matter what age, really should go and get their own dose of magic.
Next week we’re back to book reviews, author interviews, comics and whatever else strikes my fancy! Happy weekend friends! There are big things in store!