So last week for my birthday my family surprises me with tickets to Universal Studios’ Island of Adventure so that I can go, at long last, and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Considering it is literally an hour and a half away from me it’s pathetic that it’s taken me this long. So yay! Exciting. And Don Pablos Restaurant is over there too. Double yay! Thought I would share the experience for anyone who cared to listen…or in this case read.
I thought that it was located in Universal Studios, my brother insisted it was located in Islands of Adventure. (These two very separate parks are only separate by a strip of promotional shopping wonderland and of course, one park fee for each.) So the bro was right. I’m too old to throw a tantrum about that but there was a time…
So off to Islands of Adventure we go, all 8 of us. We stayed in the Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate. If you have children and don’t mind paying a little extra – this was a great place to stay. I don’t golf but the grounds were beautiful! We stayed in one of their Villa’s which overlooked the course. The hotel, which is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Villa has a couple of pools and a cute lazy river. At one of the pools it has a water slide that the kids (11, 13 and 14) really loved. Oh, yeah the hubster said it was really fun too. I personally find the thought of climbing into a constricted environment with water flowing around me where I can’t see a thing and then falling in a downward spiraling directing un-delightful.
So Saturday we get up at the butt crack of dawn and head down to the park. Parking was $17 and change or you could pay an extra $5 and get better parking. We went the cheap route and I didn’t find that it was too bad a hike personally.
Then we walk through ~I have no idea how long~ a “street” of shops ncluding a Starbuks (which we did indeed stop at) to the ticket booths. You get your tickets ($96 each folks whether you’re a Florida resident or not – bah humbug!). Then you go left toward Island of Adventure or right toward Universal Studio. Go through the entrance and bam! You’re surrounded by more shops. Sigh.
And whatever with that. The park is set up by area. Each area has a theme and then whatever attractions go with it and of coure, more shops. And food. We went right into Dr. Suess land. I like Dr. Suess and all but this was definitely geared to younger kids. We went on one ride there and then cruised over to the Last Continent area. This area doesn’t have any rides. I did have one guided tour attraction called Poseidon’s Fury which was barely entertaining but the special effects were pretty cool, at least at the end of the tour. The architecture of the area was super cool though.
Then we got to Harry Potter land. *smiling* I love Harry Potter. I love the books. I love the movies. I love the actors. I love the swag. I don’t collect it, but I love it anyway. Everything Harry Potter makes me smile. Truthfully, if I had a windfall and was standing in Hogsmeade at Harry Potter land, I would be wearing 3 different tees, a full Hogwarts school uniform, six wands, a ton of journals, books, a biting book monster toy and ten pounds of candy.
This place was happy making. I show you in pictures rather than words.
All right, time to calm down. Yes, we had butter beer. It was exactly as I expected it would be, maybe better. If you like vanilla or cream soda and butterscotch – you will be in heaven. Of course, they don’t tell you how i is made but my hubby has decided that it is indeed cream soda and then they put a bit of heavy whipping cream hat has butterscotch whipped into that and top off your drink. I don’t care if he’s right or not. Well, I do because I will probably try out that theory. Anywho…
There are three rides in this land: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Flight of the Hippogriff and the dragon Challenge. As I mentioned earlier, I’m not fond of water rides. They look fun, they look exciting and then when I try them I turn into a bluthering idiot with no recollection afterward of why that looked like fun in the first place. The same goes for heights. Which means roller coasters. Sigh. This part REALLY sucks because two of the three Harry Potter attractions were what? Roller Coasters. Don’t worry, it gets worse.
The Dragon Challenge is really two coasters entwined (or something like that) and you can go on one or the other. I don’t know what occurs on the ride (and no I didn’t bother to ask the others in my party who did go…more than once) but it is called a challenge so I leave that to your imagination.
The Flight of the Hippogriff is more of a kid friendly coaster. I might have been okay but if I wasn’t, I didn’t feel like dealing with the time it would take for me to settle down after so I didn’t go on. I stayed below and watched everyone have fun. I took pictures!
Then there is the Forbidden Journey. Before you get to this ride you get to walk through Hogwarts and it is soooo cool! Because it is so dark in there, the pics didn’t turn out awesome but maybe you can get an idea.
The Forbidden Journey is a ride where you are four people in a row and you get strapped in and sent off to basically watch a 3D movie. That being said, when I was told that, I thought ok cool, no problem. The extra data you should know is that the “movie” is you flying around on a broom – all over the friggin place. AND! your “chair” moves left, right, up, down, shakes etc. There are warning signs all over the place about don’t ride with heart conditions or this or that. Well, I’m quite certain is can’t be all that.
I ended up with my eyes closed for most of it. The ride goes back and forth between being in sky flying around or playing quidditch and being in the caves with scary stuff. Well, the caves I could handle. The sky, not so much. Sigh. I have to wonder who came up with these rides. Last I checked, harry Potter was for all ages but a TON of kids read them. Wouldn’t they want to be able to enjoy the attractions? My bro was on a later ride than us and they got delayed because someone had puked on the ride. The employee guy who handled that (poor thing!) said it was the fifth time that day and it wasn’t even noon yet.
That said, we ate lunch not long after that. We ended up at the Three Broomsticks, pictured below.
The food was about what you get a park like this (meh) but the inside was pretty fun.
A you can tell, the Harry Potter land was the highlight of my visit. After that we went through urassic Park and Toon Town pretty quick though I did LOVE the water rapids ride in Toon Town. Then we were at Marvel which I love too, just not as much. When we first arrived there were 5 motorcycles sectioned off and we got to see Captain America, Spiderman, Storm, and two others that I just wen blank on take off and ride down the street. That was fun. A plug for the Spiderman ride which I enjoyed:
And that was about all of that. If you have questions, feel free to ask!
We ended up back in the Harry Potter land so some of the fam could take the rides one more time and we hit the gift shop where my daughter got a journal and I was pleasantly surprised to find the Monster Book. and that it how I leave you.