In my 30 years of existence, I’ve never been to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. With the construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the last decade, I decided I needed to remedy this.
It happened to be my cousin Tiffany’s birthday the day we’d be at Harry Potter world and I hadn’t seen her or hung out with her in a couple years. I sent her an e-mail asking when her finals ended and if she had any plans for her birthday. She incredulously asked why, and I said Pat and I were going to Harry Potter World and asked if she was interested. She was. Despite her usual stoicism I could tell she was excited, and with that we finalized plans for our Harry Potter world weekend trip.
The next morning we arrived at Universal via Uber and began to take in the sights. We met up with our friend Chase in Diagon Alley at roughly 9:30 AM, well after we had acquired our wands. Diagon Alley was so well done, everything in the park was so immersive and it was hard not to just sit around and hang out there all day taking in the sights. The children buying robes and wands, others drinking butterbeer; it really was like we had left the muggle world.
We had acquired wands at Ollivander’s that were interactive and spent a lot of time casting spells. I was impressed that you had to actually do the wand motions to get the interactive spots to work. Definitely worth the extra $8 that we spent. Unfortunately they did not have an 13.75″ Apple wand with Phoenix core, as chosen for me at Pottermore. Instead I settled for Luna Lovegood’s wand, Tiffany chose Fleur Delacoeur’s, and Pat was able to purchase the wand that chose him on Pottermore (Willow).
We walked around and went on most of the rides. Chase managed to goad me onto the Dragon Challenge and it was so much fun! Pat was getting over his anxiety about coasters, and except for the Dragon Challenge he went on all the rides and had a phenomenal time. Even Tiffany who was not a big fan of coasters, managed to go on a majority of the rides.
We did venture out of the wizarding world to check out the Spiderman ride and the Stormforce Accelerator where Chase and I spun that teacup with all our might.
I think one of the coolest things about the wizarding world was the staff. They were all in character and when asked questions about batteries and the like they would inform guests that those were muggle inventions and that they were not present in the wizarding world, all the while still managing to answer your question. I remember in Borges and Burke’s there was a cast member that was creeping a small kid out and asking about his light-up shoes and if he had cast a spell on them. It was great, the dad was cracking up.
We had dinner at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. A first for many of us. It was delicious. I of course told the server that it was Tiffany’s birthday and they pulled her up and in front of the restaurant they sang a ridiculous birthday song to her. Pat, Chase, and I were howling with laughter. We could’ve stayed in the park longer but we were all exhausted, and just ate and went back to the hotel. It was a fantastic day, albeit long. It didn’t seem that long until I hit the bed.
The next day we bided our time at Disney Springs (formally Downtown Disney) until we had to leave for our plan. It was pretty hot, but we found the Indiana Jones bar (Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar) where we had a few drinks before we headed out. A stop to the lego store allowed me to purchase a new keychain, as the NinjaGo keychain minifig I had was worse for wear after 5 years of protecting my keys.
We arrived at the airport and said our farewells. It was a great weekend trip. Definitely worth the money, and I am considering other locations where a fly-away weekend trip would be affordable and fun. I hope to see Tiffany more too! I don’t get to spend enough time with some of my cousins.