We just got back from Universal Orlando where the new Harry Potter exhibit opened last week - all I can say is if you are a HP fan (and frankly even if you're not...you will become one while you're there!) - you will be blown away (as we found out - figuratively and literally)!! Make a point of getting there - it is that cool and that unbelievable!!! The exhibit is so incredibly true to the books and the movies that you feel like you are stepping back in time and space to the hinterlands of England, to a world inhabited by magical witches and wizards in flowing cloaks and pointy hats, singing frogs, flying dragons and bowing hipppogriffs, owls that bring mail, and all other kinds of things you can't explain but can only appreciate. Take it all in as I try and bring you along on a magical mystery ride through Hogwarts and Hogsmeade....
As you enter the park at the City Walk, your first sight of the Hogwarts castle is breathtaking - it is perched atop towering rocks across a still lake visible through a strategically placed clearing (the only thing weird are the palm trees in the foreground - all HP fans know the castle is situated in cold northern climes!)
Your entry into the castle is in the dungeons where you experience the dark, dank, drafty stone corridors that are home to the potions classroom where Snape tormented Harry for so many years.
There are no pictures of the ride itself because, let's be real, you are moving so fast and half the time you are upside down or spinning around being scared out of your mind by huge spiders that spit liquid at your face, dragons that breath hot fire at you (OK not real fire but it's amazingly lifelike in that it's hot smoke!), towering black dementors that exude cold air and try to suck your soul out your mouth, a giant basilisk that stares at you from huge red eyes, and a whumping willow that aims for your head - all while swooping steeply up, over, around, down and through the castle, playing quidditch while followed by a rogue bludger, and following Harry down through the Chamber of Secrets that is collapsing.....getting it yet?? You are flying along with Harry, Ron and Hermione on a broomstick ride through their seven years at Hogwarts!!!! One ride is just not enough to take it all in - especially since for half the ride, your eyes are closed (especially if you are a wee bit nervous about heights...not mentioning anyone by name!) WOW!!!!
I don't know about you, but I'm thirsty just reliving it - think how we must have felt having lived the real thing!! Off to Hogsmeade we went in search of the Hogs Head tavern - we needed real beer not just pumpkin juice or butterbeer!! Passing Ollivander's wand shop, Dervish and Banges and the Owl Post,
Finally needing a little easier ride, we headed back through Hogsmeade
But the day was not done - we had to work our way back to the park entrance so we figured we might as well take advantage of the rides along the way. It being hotter than Hades in the park, we chose to partake of many of the water rides. First the Jurassic Park river ride where we battled stegasaurus, raptors and the iconic T-Rex chased us over the falls for a dramatic (and very wet) plunge down into the river. Next it was on to Popeye and Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges ride - they warn you about getting wet, but not enough!!
Back to the park bright and early the next morning we made a beeline for HP and the Forbidden Journey - what an unbelievably cool ride (even better when your eyes are open - although the spitting spiders still freak you out!!) There is so much going on in the castle and the ride that you see new stuff each time (yes we went back the third morning for yet another go - it's really that cool!!!!) More Hogs Head ale, butterbeer, etc - you get the picture!!!
Anyways - no need to bore you with the rest of our rides, snacks, etc but suffice it to say that Universal and Island of Adventure are two seriously cool parks. We have FL resident annual passes so I see many return trips to Hogwarts and Hogsmeade in our future - whenever we need a HP or thrill fix!! At our new home in Aventura, we're 3 1/2 hours to Orlando and 3 1/2 hours to Key West - decisions, decisions, decisions...... Time for me to sign off as I have an overwhelming urge to re-read all the HP books - Sorcerer's Stone here I come!!!
Happy Birthday, Dee Dee!!!
1 day ago