Friday, February 13, 2015

Universal Studio Orlando: the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade

On my flight to Florida, the plane flew into the sunrise. I watched the colors of the sky change from a deep burnt orange, to the color of gold. I met Jess at the Orlando airport before checking into our hotel at Universal Studios. The hotel is fairly new, with cute 50s decor. We brought our bathing suits but no way we were going to need it today. The temperature was a high of 64, with lows in the 40s. I had just come from LA and Hawaii, this was not what I was expecting. Come on Florida, I didn't sign up for this!

Wasting no time, we dropped off our suitcases and headed straight for Islands of Adventure, home to one of the two Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter. Islands of Adventure was the smaller of the two theme parks, so we decided to tackle that today.

Hogsmeade was everything a Harry Potter fan could ask for, and more. We were greeted by the Hogsmeade Station at the entrance with lines snaking around the corner. The Hogwart's Express transports visitors between the two theme parks, so we didn't ride on it until we needed to get to the other side. I don't think I could adequately describe the authenticity of Hogsmeade. From the music in the air, to the snow covered roofs and the cobbled streets, the attention to details was impeccable! It felt like we were in the movie, heck, I felt like JK Rowling's books came to life! All the people who worked there were in character ALL the time, referring to regular tourists as "Muggles" using our "Muggle Plastic" credit cards. For those not in the know, Jess is possibly the world's no. 1 Harry Potter fan, and I couldn't have picked a better travel partner. Every time we saw something, Ike the Triwizard Cup or the Pensieve, I would gasp in faint recognition, but Jess could tell me exactly what we were looking at, which book and which part of the book it was from, and possibly quote a line or two (or a whole paragraph). Every time she second guessed herself, she would turn to me quizzically. I returned her look with an equally confused and incredulous stare that read, "Me?! Are you seriously asking ME???" Think Hermione versus Ron. I felt bad I didn't have more enthusiasm to offer ( and I was already darned excited!) like I was letting her down with my incompetence. I knew I should have studied before this trip!

Jess and I gave most of the other rides in a park an obligatory try, but eventually returned to Hogsmeade for more Butterbeer, to walk through the stores for the nth time, and just to soak up the whole atmosphere. It was great to see children and adults alike, dressed from head to toe in Hogwart's robes, carrying their wands and practicing spells in earnest. This is for real!

We walked into Ollivander's Wand Shop for the thousandth time, unable to decide on which wand to pick, even though technically the wand chooses the wizard. If you were there you would understand our dilemma. You could pick a replica of favorite character's wand, you could also pick a wand from a selection of different types of wand wood. The wood type you pick is determined by your birthdate according to the Celtic calendar. And then there were regular wands and interactive wands. With the interactive wands, you are given a map that shows you where you can practice your spells. There are areas in the town where you can make things happen with a wave of your interactive wand. Now tell me, how on earth do you decide? This is no trifle affair, guys! We decided to sleep on it tonight and pick one out tomorrow. After all, tomorrow we will be heading to Diagon Alley.


  1. Oh so jealous! Sounds amazing. I'm still hoping to get to the one in London...

    1. I hope you get to go! It was amazing!!