Sunday, February 15, 2015

Universal Studios Orlando: Knockturn Alley and the Mardi Gras parade

Our last day in Universal Studios!! We did some last minute shopping at the Weasley's' Wizarding Wheezes, getting candy like the Nosebleed Nougats or the Every-Flavor Beans. Jess and I each got ourselves a shirt - mine says "Butterbeer". I really couldn't justify the price of the Time Turner necklace so I settled for the Time Turner key chain instead. In the words of Priscilla, I spent my money buying nonsense but I loved it! I also got myself a Gryffindor backpack and a luggage tag. Uh, can you say dork?! But I totally needed all these things!!!

To deviate from the Wizarding Worlds for awhile, of course there are plenty of other areas in the theme parks. In case you need a recommendation for rides, my top favorites are Rip Ride Rock-it (a roller-coaster that lets you pick your own music to ride to); the Hulk (where the exhilaration begins right from the start); the Dragon roller coasters in Hogsmeade are awesome if you get first row seats; the Quidditch game was the best of all simulator rides, even though my heart skipped a beat when I first rode on it. Daniel Radcliffe looked just like Justin when he had those round glasses.

The Simpson's ride was hilarious (even though Jess and I were the only ones laughing...Guys? Do you not have any Simpson's humor??) but we skipped all the water rides just because it was much too cold to be standing in lines soaked. We also watched Fear Factor Live, Sinbad's Voyage and Shrek's 4D movie. And you will definitely need to ride the Hogwart's Express in both directions. Walking through the lines in the Wizarding Worlds is definitely another experience. Even though you'll need to deposit your bags in lockers, keep your phones with you so you can snap pictures as you walk through Hogwart's or Gringott's. I have been totally impressed by the attention to the tiniest bits of details that makes the Harry Potter experience complete.

Tonight was also the Mardi Gras parade. We planted our butts and weary feet on the sidewalk as we waited for the parade to begin. I've never been to New Orleans or attended any Mardi Gras parades, so I didn't know what to expect. I loved it!! The beautifully lit floats went by, one after another, carrying people who threw beaded necklaces at the crowds. The boy next to me hurtled in front of me every time beads flew in my direction. There are plenty of beads to go around, son! He stopped intercepting my loot when he realized I wasn't competing with him, especially after I kept giving him my beads. I think he was a little embarrassed. He even tried giving me a broken necklace once, as sort of a peace offering.

After the parade we hurried back to Diagon Alley because we realized that we had missed Knockturn Alley completely, had I not examined our maps closer that evening. Diagon Alley definitely has a more sinister feel than Hogsmeade, and Knockturn Alley even more so. Practicing spells in the dark also gave it a more magical feel. Although satisfied with our Wizarding Worlds experience, we reluctantly left Universal Studios to prepare ourselves to return to Muggle world. Ah the sobering effect of reality. If only I could live where broomsticks fly and dragons breathe fire.

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