Thursday, November 4, 2010

Florida trip part 4: Universal Studios & Wizarding World of Harry Potter

While we were planning our trip we were trying to decide which park in Orlando we wanted to visit. We really wanted to visit the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal but we had heard crazy stories about how crowded it was. Waiting in line for 3 hours just to get into the Harry Potter area did not sound appealing. We had pretty much decided that we'd have to wait until our next trip to go there, even though the kids really wanted to go as soon as possible. But right before we left we researched it again and found out that after the summer had ended the crowds had gotten much smaller, so we decided to chance it.

We went on a Monday trying to avoid the weekend crowds. I think we still got part of the weekend traffic because it was more packed than we had hoped, but we did get to do everything that we had wanted.

We started out at the Harry Potter section even though we had heard it's most crowded in the morning. The reports were correct, it was super crowded so we did the rest of the park and then went back to the Harry Potter area a number of times. For this blog post I'm going to combine the Wizarding World of Harry Potter photos, and then do the rest of the park.

At Harry Potter we started out at the most popular of the 3 rides there, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

The line takes you through parts of the book, like the greenhouse pictured above.

And then it takes you through the castle.

There are some talking paintings here that look SO much like real paintings, I don't know how they did it.

The ride was super fun. It takes you through the castle, past giant spiders, past a fire breathing dragon, and it makes you feel like you're really flying through the air.
Derek's parents both went on this ride too. We used a different area for wheelchair access and they got to ride with the kids and then Derek and I got to ride with the kids. Lucky Ethan and Julia got to do the ride twice in a row both times we went on it.

The village area was really cool complete with crooked smokestacks and snow dusted roofs.

Hagrid's hut

The next ride was the Flight of the Hippogriff
It was a milder roller coaster.
the Hippogriff

Flight of the Hippogriff ride

This was a fun ride, and the line was really short. The ride was over really quickly though.
This was the only ride that didn't have a special area for us to wait when doing a "parent swap."
Every other major ride had a special waiting area for people with babies or children too small to go on the ride, and the kids always got to do those rides twice-- once with each parent.

Ethan loved the butterbeer . The rest of us liked it too.
We tried to make it when we got home from a recipe that says it's exactly like the butterbeer at the park,
the first smell and sip seemed really close, but it definitely wasn't as good.

In front of the Hogwarts Express (no, there wasn't a ride that used the train even though it seems like a given that there would be)

Inside Honeydukes

Honeydukes again

The front window at Honeydukes-- you can see the chocolate frogs

We would have bought a chocolate frog here but the line was crazy, it went around the entire shop so we decided not to buy anything there.

More of the village.

One minute before this picture was taken Ethan and Julia were fighting, and then they were "best buds" again

These inside shots were in Zonko's Joke shop.
This is where Julia got her owl.
The kids also each got a wand from a "street vendor"
because the line at Ollivanders was huge.

There were such authentic touches everywhere we went, it was so fun!

The rest of Universal was fun too, even though the Harry Potter section was really the highlight.
Chase did so great in the park and didn't slow us down a bit.
Some diaper changes, sunscreen applications, and naps were done in line for a ride.
Buzz and Susan had brought an extra wheelchair in case he ended up needing it
sometime during the day (he ended up pushing Julia around in it half the day at her request).
In one particularly long line (Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey)
I sat in the chair and nursed Chase with the nursing cover over me.
It was the best way we could think of to not waste time, lol.

Derek and I also did the Dragon Challenge roller coaster a few times before we left. There was no line at all so we went on it a few times in a row. It was a more extreme roller coaster and we totally loved it. Ethan was barely tall enough to go on this one but he didn't want to do it, it probably would have been a little too rough for him.

Chase took all of his naps in a carrier and did great!

X-Men Storm Force Accelatron ride, similar to the teacups at Disney

Ready for the Super Hero parade, we had a great view!

The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train ride

In line for the Cat in the Hat ride

On our way out of the park through Suess Landing

We had a great time and plan on going again, hopefully when it's a little less crowded.


Donna Weaver said...

SOOOOOO jealous of the HP park. *sigh*

Malinovka said...

How fun!!! I'm so glad Chase was so good your whole day. How funny about the second wheel chair--I guess it came in handy!

Happy Wanderers said...

Wow!!! That Harry Potter park looks AMAZING!!!!! How fun!!!!!!

Kristen said...

I totally want to go! It looks so fun.