Barney and I are huge Harry Potter fans. We rewatch the films time and time again and are currently rereading the books. This was a place we’ve wanted to go for some time, so again we got the first shuttle from our hotel and made our way to Universal Studios.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is split into two lands; London/Diagon Alley in Universal Studios and Hogsmead/Hogwarts in Islands of Adventure. The fantastic thing is that you can get the Hogwarts express between both parks.
We started at Universal Studios, and it was crazy how lifelike they made London look. We visited Grimmauld Place, and the Knight Bus and then behind a brick wall was Diagon Alley which looked beautiful. We were actually a bit taken away by how good this looked.
At this point, it was around 34 degrees, so we were desperate for a drink and what better place to go than the Leaky Cauldron. It felt as though I’d just jumped into the movie being in here; everything looked so real. I enjoyed delicious butterbeer.
We took the rest of the morning exploring all the shops (including having ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour), Knockturn Alley and of course the Dragon on top of Gringotts bank. The ride – Escape from Gringotts – was incredible, an indoor rollercoaster with motion-based 3D projections. We loved every minute, and the queue alone is worth going in for.
Next, we took the Hogwarts Express over to the Hogsmeade, and this was so exciting. They made the train station look so real, and we also had to go through the pillar to platform 9 and 3/4, which was amazing! The train station the other side was so picturesque, I did feel I was on the train going to my first day at Hogwarts!
Stepping into Hogsmeade for the first time was unreal, everything was covered in snow, and you immediately felt welcome. We made our way to the newly opened ride – Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. We managed to go on this twice because amazingly, the wait times weren’t too long. In this roller coaster, you journey beyond the grounds of the Hogwarts Castle either on Hagrid’s motorbike or the side cart where you will encounter some of your favourite characters and creatures. It was such an excellent ride, we couldn’t stop smiling afterwards and is one we have not stopped talking about since we’ve got back.
We made our way through Hogsmead, stopping off at the Three Broomsticks for a drink and then ventured to Hogwarts Castle. Inside the castle is the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. We had no idea what to expect, but again the queue was terrific; so much to see. We pretty much walked onto the ride and were amazed by it! This is a motion-based dark ride which takes you through scenes and environments in and around Hogwarts castle, and this was probably our most ridden ride – we loved it!
We spent the rest of the afternoon taking pictures and soaking up the atmosphere. It’s a must for any Harry Potter fan – I can’t wait to go back.
Have you been?