Ahhh Florida. Famed for its glorious sunshine, warm weather, orange crops and themed attractions. A perfect place to enjoy a week-long family vacation, which I was able to do last November with my sister and our teenage daughters.
The idea of a Florida vacation was prompted by my family’s obsession with Harry Potter. We had all recently read the series with great fervor, and were delirious with excitement to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a feature attraction at Universal Orlando. This two-day experience was the focal point of our vacation, so we booked a rental villa in Davenport, close to the theme parks, attractions, restaurants, supermarkets and gift shops, and planned our itinerary around it.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is nothing short of magical, even if you haven’t read the books or watched the movies. But, if you have – and everyone should – there is such an appreciation and sense of wonder and familiarity to be immersed in a fantasy world that you have already imagined. Two distinct areas are featured: Hogsmeade, which is the charming wizarding village depicted in the books, and Diagon Alley, an expansion of Hogsmeade that replicates the wizarding alley and shopping area. The Hogwarts Express train allows you to travel between the two areas.
Hogsmeade is located at the foot of Hogwarts castle (School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) and features gift shops and restaurants from the novels including Ollivanders Wand Shop, Honeydukes, Zonko’s Joke Shop, and The Three Broomsticks. Within the castle is the flagship attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, an amazing motion-based dark ride simulation that drops and swoops and turns and spins, and incorporates multi-dimensional technology and thrilling effects.
Diagon Alley features live attractions, restaurants and shops including the Knight Bus, a second Ollivanders store, The Leaky Cauldron and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. The flagship attraction in this section is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, a 3D dark ride simulation of the wizarding bank in the books/films. Word of advice, you have to try the butterbeer!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was an enchanting journey that I was thrilled to share with my family. We will treasure many memories for years to come. Have you had the fortune to experience this amazing, magical attraction? What was your favourite memory?