In case you aren't familiar with how Universal Studios is set up, here's a little breakdown. They have two separate parks that are right next to each other. You can either get a pass to visit one of the parks or you can get a park-to-park pass that allows you to go between the two parks as you please. You absolutely need this kind of ticket to board the Hogwarts Express because the train travels between the two parks. I suggest spending two days at Universal, especially if it's your first time there. With the wait times and all the stuff to see and experience, you kind of need to spend two days there, unless you only care about one particularly thing. We had a 3 day pass because there was a deal where you get a 2-day pass and get a third day free!
When The Wizarding World of Harry Potter first opened, it was in the newer of Universal's parks - Islands of Adventure. Here is where they built Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. The new part of the Wizarding World is in the older park simply called Universal Studios. Here is where Diagon Alley and Gringotts was built. The Hogwarts Express is also a new addition and as I said, it takes you between Diagon Alley (who's entrance is in London) and Hogsmeade Station.
When we got there, we started in Islands of Adventure because I felt it was only proper to experience Diagon Alley for the first time by taking the train to "London" and entering through the wall behind The Leaky Cauldron. So we boarded the Hogwarts Express, and it was awesome. I almost cried tears of joy and excitement when I saw it come into the station. The train was very well done. I am pretty sure it's an exact replica of the one in the movie. The inside is awesome, too and all the special effects are great!
When you reach London (the train ride is only a couple of minutes long), you are let out into King's Cross Station. There's even the billboard that Dumbledore appears in front of in Half Blood Prince!
When you come out of the station, you are in London and you can see Grimmauld Place and the Knight Bus, which you can climb into the back of and peek inside. Kreacher periodically peeks out of the window above 12 Grimmauld Place, too!
|Dress & Ring: Hot Topic//Shoes: H&M//Bag: ASOS//Belt: Thrifted|
With the magic also comes a sense of feeling overwhelmed. I didn't know what to do first! I wanted to see it all, but I kept getting distracted by all the stuff to look at! There are lots of shops, but only a few that are actually real. Others are just part of the setting and you can't actually go into them. The biggest one is Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, which is right at the beginning when you first walk in through the brick wall. The Leaky Cauldron is also right when you walk in, too, and you can eat in there if you want!
After a walk around of the place, my mom and I decided to get in line for the Escape From Gringotts ride, which was luckily only a 30 minute wait. While you wait in line, you go through the lobby of the bank, which is stunning. The goblins look really real! Also, once you get further in, sometimes you will see the shadows of Harry, Ron, and Hermione as Bellatrix and hear them talking. The ride itself was awesome. It was in 3D and it did not last long enough, but rides are always short! You can also just go in to just walk through Gringotts and look around if you don't want to or can't ride the ride.
After the ride, we continued walking around. I discovered Knockturn Alley, which was surprisingly actually really creepy. I'm sure they do this on purpose, but going from the bright Florida sun to the extremely dark Knockturn Alley (which is kind of indoors, though it still feels like it's outdoors) makes it seem EXTRA dark because your eyes don't adjust right away. My parents had gone to the bathroom, so I went through alone and it was pretty creepy. I wasn't sure if there were people who worked there that were going to do something creepy or scary as I walked around because you can tell that someone is there in the shadows, but you can't tell who or what they're doing. No one did, though. Borgin & Burkes is here, and is the only store you can go into. It's full of Death Eater merchandise and creepy things. The vanishing cabinet is there, as well as the trunk that Moody was kept hostage in. It even shakes and makes noise, too. I didn't notice it until my friend told me about it and I went back another day.
The dragon on top of Gringotts Bank is very realistic looking, and it even growls and breathes fire every so often. I thought that maybe it shot the fire out at a set interval, but it turns out it just does it randomly. I was able to catch it, though!
Of course, I had to have pumpkin juice. I prefer it over Butterbeer, though I haven't met many people who feel the same. I did meet someone who works at the park who liked pumpkin juice more, though! We got the juice in Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, but didn't try the ice cream this day.
The ride on the Hogwarts Express is different depending on which way you are going, so of course I had to experience both of them. Eventually, after we were done exploring Diagon Alley we took the train back to Hogsmeade to see what the train had in store for us that way. In my opinion, it was way better going from London to Hogsmeade.
I guess I sort of subconsciously saved this dress for when I went to the Wizarding World. I have had it for a while and never wore it. It's pretty thin, so I didn't really get a chance to wear it since it's been so cold. The funny thing is that Chris actually got this dress for me for Valentine's Day because he didn't know I had gotten it myself! I felt so bad, because I know he was probably really excited to have gotten it for me. It's a great dress, and I got a lot of compliments and comments on it throughout the day. Even the Knight Bus conductor made note of it! I also wore my Harry Potter ring as well. :)
Because it was the first time I was there, I definitely went photo crazy. Sometimes it's really frustrating to take photos in theme parks because so many people are moving around you and you don't want to be in their way for that long, so you gotta be fast and you also have to watch for people being in the way of your shot. The first day we went was a Tuesday, and it was definitely not as busy as the other days we went which were Friday and Saturday. Those days were MOBBED. I will have some more posts on my other days here, but they probably won't be as meaty as this one. Sorry for the long post, but I hope it was worth it...especially if you're a Harry Potter fan like me! :)width="534"