Before I start this post, I thought it would be wise to give my love of Harry Potter some context. My first experience was actually with the films. When the Philosophers Stone was released in 2001, I was eight years old and probably one of the last people to go along and see the film, I really wasn’t that bothered. But coming out of the cinema with my Dad, I was absolutely hooked and immediately wanted to read all the books. I think there were only about four out at that point, but borrowing them from a friend I flew through with them, drinking up every word from J.K who quickly became one of my favourite authors and dreaming of getting my Hogwarts letter.
From then on, anything to do with Harry Potter and I was there. My Dad was particularly devoted to my love of this and would wait in line for the book releases at midnight and accompany me to the first screenings of the films. Naturally I’ve been to the Studio Tour and have amassed much merchandise from film cells to Hermione’s wand to a chocolate frog. Next and highest up on the list was always going to visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida!
Finally, in September this year my family and I were able to head to America and I could not wait to venture into the world of Harry Potter. The Harry Potter parks were actually split into two parts on two of the parks. You had Hogwarts and Hogsmeade at Island of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studio. The great thing was that the Hogwarts Express actually ran between the two so you could sort of pretend you were a Hogwarts student.
I’m not sure I will ever be able to do either places justice with words or pictures but if you are a big Harry Potter fan you need to go. I mean need. I actually felt really emotional when I first saw Hogwarts as all the childhood joy that this franchise brought me just came flooded back. I genuinely really did long go to Hogwarts when I was younger and knew this was the closest I was ever going to get!
The great length of detail that the people who created these places was absolutely incredible and I can not applaud them enough because it all feels so realistic. I genuinely think I could have spent hours alone just wondering around Hogsmeade, let alone the rest of the Universal parks! Unlike the studio tour where you can only stand outside the shops, here you can go in! The books really came to life as I wandered through the likes of Honeydukes and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, holding products straight from the books in my hands like Pumpkin Juice, Puking Pastilles and Cauldron cakes. There is so much to look at that I’m sure I missed plenty of details.
There is so much to physically do through the parks, you can have a wand ‘pick’ you in Olivanders, guzzle Butterbeer, try on Hogwarts robes or even go for a bite in the three broomsticks or perhaps the Hogs Head. There were also several themed rides to enjoy, my favourite (of all four parks actually) has to be Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey which is a motion based ride which takes place inside Hogwarts. You certainly don’t mind waiting in line for this ride as you get to wander Hogwarts, taking in the talking portraits, classrooms and many interactive parts that place before you even get onto the ride. You and three others then take a seat on an ‘enchanted bench’ which lifts you off the ground for a journey with Harry. You encounter dragons, Hagrid, dark marks, Voldermort and even Quidditch. I won’t spoil it any more but will say it’s a truly amazing experience with fantastic technology which we loved so much that we did twice. I genuinely sat through it with a huge smile on my face.
I’m going to leave it there and let you enjoy the photos as I could go on gushing forever! Have you visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? What was your favourite part? I’d love to know! And keep an eye out on Wednesday as I’ll be showing you what I brought!