Thursday, March 31, 2016

Our EPIC Harry Potter Adventures {2016}

And when I say EPIC, I do mean EPIC!  Even if you don't love the Harry Potter books, I can't imagine you wouldn't be impressed with Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  It is just so impressive and well done down to every little detail.  Evan and I were in Harry Potter heaven.  Universal Orlando has both sections of the Harry Potter world at their two parks.  In Universal Studios, there is London's Diagon Alley, and you can board the Hogwarts Express at London's King's Cross Station to journey to the village of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle.  Trust me, it is amazing.  I will let our pictures tell the tale of our epic and magical adventures.

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We arrived in London, and the first place we spotted was No. 12 Grimmauld Place where we knocked to try to gain entrance to the Order of the Phoenix headquarters.  Apparently, mean old Creature wouldn't let us in. 

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Then, we were greeted by the friendly Knight Bus driver and his sidekick, the talking Jamaican head.  And yes, the head really talked to us in his infamous accent. 

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Evan and Brody tried to gain admittance to the Ministry of Magic, but I guess they didn't know the secret password.  Daddy and Mattox enjoyed strolling down the streets of London. 

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Then, we found the secret entrance in the wall into Diagon Alley.  And that big dragon on top of Gringott's Bank really did breathe fire!

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The wall opening to let us in and some magical shops to be explored. 

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But first, we needed a good English breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron...complete with some Butter Beer.  Yum.  I went hardcore and got the English breakfast.  

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The boys and I enjoyed sampling our butter beer and showing off our frothy mustaches. 

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Had to get a picture in front of the big cauldron. 

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The all important stop at Ollivander's to find our perfect wand.  Evan decided if you are going to get a wand, you might as well get the best one so he chose Professor Albus Dumbledore's famous Elder wand.  The wands are pretty special because they work spells all around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.  Evan tries his first spell in the dark and spooky Knockturn Alley where he makes some bones dance. 
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Exploring Knockturn Alley.  Eddie tried so hard to get a picture of the dragon breathing fire, but we were just never in a good place for the shot.
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Of course, one of our favorite rides was Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringott's.  The long line was made more pleasant by walking through Gringott's Bank.  Those goblin bankers looked so real as they looked around and moved.  I loved the big chandeliers.  Has anyone else noticed how they cleaned up the bank from the first movie to the last one?  In the first movie, Gringott's was all dusty and cobweb covered, but in the later movies when Harry returned to the bank to find the Horcrux, it was all clean and shiny.  Haha!   Guess the goblins hired a maid service.  

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Evan and Brody standing before the Head Goblin. 

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After a long and tiring day, the boys and I enjoyed a cool treat from Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour.  Chocolate Chili, anyone?   I don't know why I got no pictures of anyone else eating ice cream, but Mattox sure looked cute helping me with my ice cream cone. 

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These spells were really cool.  The first one Evan performed turned the lights on in the lighting shop.  The second one made it rain and thunder around that umbrella.  There are apparently sensors on the wands that react to some sensors in various spots.  The wands come with maps telling you where to do the spells. 

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We tried to go back to No. 12 Grimmauld Place that night, but old Creature just looked menacingly at us from his window.   He looks out the window when you knock on the door loudly. 

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The next day, we headed to Hogsmeade for more adventures.  I just love the look of Hogsmeade village.  Can I live there?  

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So excited at our first peek at Hogwarts castle.  We decided to try to hit this ride early before breakfast because we knew the lines would get very long.  We enjoyed our walk through the castle on the way to the most amazing ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  

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The first thing we spied when we entered the castle was the Mirror of Erised which showed Harry his heart's desire of seeing his family for the first time.   It was showing images, but the flash on my camera didn't allow the holographic images to appear.  Then, we spied the Potions classroom.  So glad we didn't run into Professor Snape.  We then headed for the entrance to Headmaster Dumbledore's tower with the Phoenix at the entance. 

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In the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, Harry, Ron and Hermione made an appearance.  We also tried to gain admittance to Griffindor, but the lady in the painting wouldn't let us in because we were muggles.  We loved all of the paintings on the walls that moved and talked, and I loved seeing the sorting hat come to life.   Eddie, Evan and I really loved The Forbidden Journey which took us on a fast paced broomstick flying adventure through Hogwart's which was under attack.  I got a little dizzy after some crazy flying around the Quidditch field.  Apparently, I was so out of it after that that I missed almost being struck by the Whomping Willow.  Evan said it came very close to us, and I didn't even remember it.  Ha!

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Since Brody couldn't ride The Forbidden Journey with us, he and I enjoyed riding the Flight of the Hippogriff coaster.  

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Then, we headed to eat breakfast at The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade.  I enjoyed a more American breakfast of pancakes that day. 

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Evan did some more spell casting after breakfast.  He made a flower open at the flower shop and made a snowman move on a cake at the bake shop.  The little medallions on the ground told them how to do the spell. 
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Then, we all enjoyed Honeyduke's candy shop, and I loved seeing Hermione's pretty purple dress from the ball in Goblet of Fire.   Evan cast a spell at the toy shop that made a rocket shoot up. 

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Then, we all enjoyed watching him cast a spell to make a giant chocolate frog box open and the frog croaked to life. 
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We had to buys us some chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott's every flavor beans.  I was thinking I would be "disappointed" if there were no yucky flavored ones, but I think I could have lived my whole life without tasting vomit.  Haha!  I nearly gagged when I put that yellow and red speckled one in my mouth.  That one got spit out immediately.  The earwax and booger ones weren't too bad.  Ha! I can't bring myself to try the rotten egg ones.  Yikes!
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He made this pot tip over to reveal some evil looking creatures inside. 

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Almost ready to ride the Hogwarts Express. 
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We arrived at Platform 9 3/4 in London, and Evan attempted to go through the wall.  Haha!

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Yay for the Hogwarts Express!

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I wish I had better pictures of us inside the train car compartment on the train, but I was too busy enjoying the ride.  Daddy took these shots on his phone.  While riding the train to and from Hogsmeade, you can see the countryside outside the window and get to wave hello or goodbye to Hagrid and other friends along the journey.  Then, outside the compartment window, you hear and spy Harry and his friends walking down the aisle as Ron eats a chocolate spider that someone let get loose. 

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We were back in the London station here so we had to get a picture with the Platform 9 3/4 signs.  We spied Harry's luggage and sweet Hedwig on the platform.  While in Diagon Alley to ride Escape from Gringotts one more time with a fast pass that Eddie and Evan got for being stuck on another ride, Evan got to perform the Wingardium Leviosa spell to make a feather float.  

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I swallowed my fear to brave the Dragon Challenge and ride a blue Hungarian Hornback.  Yikes!
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And now, Brody tells everyone he meets about the Patronus he made.  He loved his puppy dog, and Evan loved his Otter.  Eddie was not as impressed with the goat he made, and I wasn't too happy with my cat.  I am a rabbit person so I think I would actually make a bunny patronus which was an option.  The girl at Shutterbutton's photography studio "chose" our patronus.  We just bought the boys' for a keepsake and got our special keepsake DVD of our moving picture video. 


  1. Glad you all had fun...oh the chocolate frogs...yum!
    I received the entire book collection as a Christmas present before Lance was born, and then I finally got around to reading them when I started staying home with my new baby. I'll always remember that time fondly! :)

  2. It really was epic. I've seen bits and pieces of the park in different capacities since it opened but this is the first blog post I've read with this many details. It makes me want to go all the more.

    I didn't know about the wands and the spells in the park. That is just so cool! I think all four of us would have to get wands.

    Spencer hasn't started reading any of the books yet and I refuse to let him see the movies before he reads the books. So now I have to start figuring out the timing of everything. Maybe we'll have to take the boys individually on their own special trips. Which means Michael and I get to go twice!

    Oh, and how totally delicious was the butterbeer? It looks so good!

    1. Warning... The wands are a minimum of $50 a piece so plan to spend a cool $200 for four. :-) The Butterbeer was very sweet and butterscotchy. It was okay, but one cup was enough for us to get the experience. Haha!

  3. OH MY GOODNESS!!! This is AMAZING!!! I so want to go!!! This is my new dream vacation. I will have to start reading the books to Sam so he is prepared but how AMAZING and COOL is this?!?!?!?


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