Getting to see Hogwarts, now that's what I call the trip of a lifetime. Ever since I was a young kid I dreamed of the moment I would step inside the walls of this amazing world and live there, forever. Now, yes, I'm 22 and it's been more than 10 years but the feeling is still there. No story has touched me as much as Harry Potter, and when mum announced that we were going to Orlando I knew what that meant.
Out of a billion photos I took, I wanted to share a few little detailed shots here and there to really give you a feel of how well curated this place is. I don't want to spoil the good bits though, just in case you haven't been there and you want to have a whole surprise factor when you eventually visit it. I mean, it's DAMN REAL. You can be 5 or 50 years old and you literally FEEL it coming to life the moment you step in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You forget your problems, your phone (until it's time to take selfies with some butterbeer), the tourists around you and you even forget your age. It's just phenomenal.
I'm not gonna lie, I actually CRIED for a good portion of the morning, because I was just so overwhelmed with joy. My inner-kid had some kind of awakening and suddenly I wasn't Kristina the stressed university student but Krissi the little wanna-be-witch.
The school is a masterpiece, it's an amazing replica of the original one we all imagined and saw in the movies. It is smaller, obviously but breathtaking nonetheless. You can walk around inside, but picture-taking can be a little limited due to darkness or the queue moving towards the ride. It's worth noting that if you're wearing a load of SPF like I did, the flash is going to make you look ghostly. But hey, that could kind of fit in with the theme, maybe you could join one of the House Ghosts?
My favourite part was seeing the Defence Against The Dark Arts classroom and the paintings speak throughout the journey to the ride, it looked just like in the movies. It also made the wait more interesting. Can I also mention the fact that it had air con in there? Ah, I loved cooling down, especially when it gets really humid and hot in the afternoon.
You have four awesome rides to try.
The Flight of The Hippogriff was my morning ride, right after breakfast. There's a nice view of the castle and Hagrid's house.
Then the slightly more challenging ones for the stomach, which were Escape From Gringotts and The Forbidden Journey have more of a storyline going on as well. The latter is in the Hogwarts castle whilst the Gringotts one is obviously in the bank, which is on the other side of the park, accessible thanks to the Hogwarts Express. From dragons to trolls you really have it all. I felt part of the movie and both the rides were so fun that I went on them several times a day, for a week straight, without getting bored. EVER.
The final one is the gem that made me scream, the Dragon Challenge. After going on it a few times, I'm not too sure I would do well in the Triwizard Tournament to be honest. The thing I did enjoyed was again, the detail in everything, even the staff calling you "Triwizard Champion" on the way through the big tent.
Hogsmeade (and Diagon Alley as well) are done to perfection. I want to touch mainly on Hogsmeade because since I live in UK, I had a taste of the original Diagon Alley after visiting the Warner Bros studios.
From the Three Broomsticks (that has a killer breakfast), to the shops, I just wanted to buy everything, touch everything and experience everything. The roofs were covered in snow because as you probably know, according to JK Rowling, this little village is above the snow line so it's covered in it pretty much all year round. HP music plays the whole time you're there and the amount of merchandise you'll want to buy is above and beyond. I spent way more than my budget allowed and I don't regret any of it.
You can get your own wand from Ollivander's and children are handpicked to do the "test" you see in the Philosopher's Stone until the right wand chooses them. It's done so well and if I was a kid I would be proper mind blown. On certain times of the day you also get a choir , signing some of the classics like Double Trouble. You also have performances of the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons students.
I honestly can't put into words how amazing it was to visit this place and I certainly plan to come back as soon as I graduate. If you're planning a holiday, this place here should be in your list. I will expand more on the Universal Orlando experience in my next Travel Diaries post but in the mid time enjoy some of the photos and leave questions if you have any!