If you’ve been reading the last few posts on the blog, you’ve seen mentions of my visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, which provided the backdrops for the photos I shared of my Book Dress and Fortescue Frock. And if you’ve been following my blog since 2015, you might remember how excited I was to share photos from my visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Harry Potter experience. Well, I’m just as excited to share more photos from my more recent trip to Universal Orlando! Not all of these are strictly clothing related, so I thought they merited their own vacation-recap post.
If you’re not familiar with Harry Potter then I think this post will mostly seem like gibberish, but there are probably still some amusing photos you might enjoy!
First, I have to say that I greatly enjoyed my visit! First, Diagon Alley is shady and cooler than the rest of the park. Second, I loved all the detail that went into the design of the atmosphere, the edibles, the staff costumes, the merchandise, the rides… There were so many things to appreciate in terms of details–you can dial the Ministry Of Magic number in the telephone booth, disappear onto platform 9 ¾, see Kreacher periodically looking out of Grimmauld Place, hear Moaning Myrtle in one of the bathrooms, see amusing wizard ads and signage, watch Celestina Warbeck perform the entirety of A Cauldron Full Of Hot Strong Love, talk to a banking goblin who responds to your questions, send a piece of mail via owl post with a Hogsmeade stamp, see Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students show off their staff drills and ribbon twirling skills… the list goes on and on.
On our very first day in the park we were walking towards Harry-Potter-land (which is at the back of the park) and saw the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo parked along the road. I’ve enjoyed Scooby Doo since I was a kid so I found it great fun to take photos with the van!
While wandering back through the park sipping pumpkin juice later in the day the van was gone… but there was Scooby Doo, walking down the road! Picture time again! I was amused.
I greatly enjoyed pumpkin juice! I love how the words sound in my head (say it with an emphasis on the consonants) and am always the most intrigued by that edible in the books. Pumpkin juice was delightfully sweet and cold. I don’t know that I would want to drink it all the time, but it was a treat I would definitely have again. On the other hand, butterbeer (which I also tried) was super sweet. I actually didn’t mind the taste as much as I thought I would, not being a fan of cream soda type tastes, but I wasn’t interested in more than a few sips of it. Oh, and pumpkin pasties! We tried one of those, too. That was actually disappointing. Kind of dry and very spiced without being interesting. I’d try making them myself someday, but I wouldn’t want to eat the ones at the park again. There are also special ‘wizard’ beers sold at different shops that I enjoyed tasting. They weren’t particularly special in terms of taste, but it was still fun to try them all!
One thing I thought could have been more interactive and full was Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. There wasn’t a whole lot of merchandise in that store, though it is described as being full and busy. That being said, it was one of the locations with GIANT pygmy puffs, which amused me greatly.
Here’s just one example of another shop window that I was amused by. There are so many shop windows for stores you can’t actually enter. Just imagine if you could enter them all! What fun!
This is in the Magical Menagerie. Mr. Q visited the park without me while I was in Denmark in 2017 (I was sad, especially because he doesn’t particularly care about Harry Potter or know any details, but I was in Denmark so I couldn’t really complain!). He brought me back an owl from the middle shelf, which I call my House Owl, because it was a belated housewarming present and it’s like a house elf…! (You know, I don’t think you could buy a stuffed house elf anywhere. Surprising, because it seems like the sort of thing you might find in Knockturn Alley, perhaps…) All of these owls are characters in the books. I think the top one is Draco Malfoy’s Eagle Owl, the brown one is the Weasley’s old owl Errol, the grey one (my House Owl) is Ron’s owl Pigwideon, and the bottom one is of course Harry’s snowy owl Hedwig. Some if not all of the Hedwig’s are backpacks, which is super amusing and cute but seems like it would get grimy awfully fast!
In addition to the shelving full of owls, pygmy puffs, etc. the Magical Menagerie was a fun place to look around because the gallery around the top was full of moving animals of various different sorts. Here’s the shop from the outside. Cheers!
Just to one side of this shop is Gringotts. I like roller coasters, so I found this ride to be great fun. Oh and that dragon on top of the bank? He breathes real fire about every 10 minutes. It was hot when you were standing under it! And oh dear, but it was amusing when people didn’t realize it would be happening and were sitting on the steps of the bank…
Just near there is Hagrid’s motorbike, which you can actually sit on and fiddle with. Could you actually ride it sideways? Probably not, but I was amused.
Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are actually in two different parks. To get between them we could walk or take the Hogwarts Express. Of course we did both!
Wandering through the parks allowed us to happen upon things like Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine, as well as a Greek themed restaurant that made for a lovely spot to get lunch one day. We also passed through Dr. Seuss-land. I meant to get pictures with the Truffula trees, but didn’t when we were passing through and then forgot. (I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees!) Maybe next time. I did get photos of other amusing things though. They gave the topiaries faces and hair!
We also took the Hogwarts Express both directions. When you take the Hogwarts Express from London (Diagon Alley) they’ve engineered the queue so that people appear to actually disappear into the wall at Platform 9 ¾! It’s really neat! And we were there on a weekday when there wasn’t a line, so we could go back and forth and amuse ourselves! After getting on to the platform there are many more things to look at. Here’s Hedwig, who blinks and turns her head.
And here’s the Hogwarts Express after arriving in Hogsmeade. I’m hard to spot, but I’m near the engine in this photo.
Arriving in Hogsmeade. Brrr! (Not really, it was still 90 degrees!)
A required photo of the castle! I really enjoyed the castle ride (again, I like roller coasters)! …except for the spiders! I closed my eyes for that part, because I do not like spiders.
The snowman (who never melts, of course!) has his own owl! And robe, hat and scarf! I was very amused!
Hogsmeade is where Owl Post is located. There’s a whole shop for it, with owls in the nooks that hoot and move.
You have to go outside to get your Hogsmeade stamp. Here I am writing a postcard to a friend with a snowy owl looking on. I might have also written a postcard to myself…! Even out here there are owls in the rafters that hoot, turn their heads, and move their wings.
Back in London, there is a Knight Bus near the telephone booth where you can phone the Ministry of Magic. Here I am, sticking out my wand hand (sans wand, so clearly I wasn’t the one who summoned the Knight Bus, but oh well!).
And one more shop photo, from Madame Malkin’s. This mirror would say snarky things as people walked by. It reminds me of the Mirror of Erised, which I enjoy the idea of. What do you see in the Mirror of Erised?
Thanks for enjoying my vacation with me!