We went on what felt like the hottest day of the year. A prime-time July day! It’s funny because Hogsmeade has snow covered roofs on all the buildings. You feel like you’re getting ready for Christmas at Hogwarts while melting in the Florida sun.
Before we even got to Tampa, Garrett and I knew we’d be taking a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (aka Harry Potter World) at Universal Studios. Orlando is a super easy drive from Tampa and while I’m not really a fan of Orlando theme parks (too crowded, overpriced), Harry Potter World is a major exception to that rule.
This would be my second and Garrett’s first visit, but when I went, only one section was open. And… I’ve read all the books now. I had only read a couple of the books when I first went. I was way, way late to the Harry Potter game, but I’m a huge fan now. I was reluctant to read the books when they came out because I didn’t get what the big deal was and had no desire to compete with friends to stay up all night reading the book first after attending a midnight premier. (Makes me wonder what HP’s release would be like had ebooks and iPhones been around!)
I actually read the series starting the summer before my senior year of college and throughout the fall semester. Isn’t it the case that Harry Potter is there for people when they need it the most?? I had just quit rowing for good, my closest friends at college had all graduated, and I would be living by myself in a single dorm. I knew my senior year wouldn’t be the same without the camaraderie of my teammates or my friends like Victoria (aka Little V!). I wouldn’t change my last year at Georgetown, but it was pretty lonely. Harry Potter was my escape.
Now both sections of the park are open. Hogsmeade is in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios. You have to buy a park-hopper pass to get to see both since they’re in separate parks (brilliant Universal, but also annoying! ha). But… it’s pretty cool because you take the Hogwarts Express between the parks and get the full Harry Potter experience. All that’s missing are chocolate frogs to eat while on the train, although you can actually buy those so… yep, they’ve thought of everything.
The Butterbeer alone is worth the trip. Only partially kidding. It really is delicious. You can get the hot drink, but when it’s 100 degrees… the iced version tastes extra delicious. It’s very, very sweet though! Garrett and I split one and I still felt a little sugar rush then crash. If you’re wondering what it tastes like, it’s kind of a mix between butterscotch, root beer, and cream soda.
We spent a lot of time wandering around and poking around the shops. I can’t reiterate enough how perfectly well-done the whole park is. No detail is too small.
The rides are cool, but not in a traditional theme park way. The rides themselves are entertaining of course, but it’s the LINE for the ride that is really the most fun. Which is a good thing because the lines are long. (Two hours for the Hogwarts ride!) You feel like you’re walking through the buildings though and getting inside access.
If you’re into Harry Potter, going to the park is a MUST. Even if you skip the rest of Universal/Islands of Adventure, it’s so worth visiting. I have a huge stack of books I need to get through, but I’m for sure planning on rereading the series. Going to Harry Potter World reminded me just how much I love the stories and adventures of Harry Potter!
Who else is a Harry Potter fan?! Have you been to HP World yet?