May 11, 2017

Sister Sister Trip: Part 2 of 5, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley

See Part 1 here
All pics for this post are at the end!

Oh, my heart! I loved Harry Potter World more than I thought I would.  I can't wait to go back!

I bought us 2-day tickets, but they were running a special where when  you bought a 2-day ticket, you got 2 days free, so all in all we spent 3 days in the park:  half of Sunday, all day Monday, and most of the day Wednesday.  The Wizarding World is split between the two Universal Parks, Universal Studios and Island of Adventure.  You have to buy a park-to-park ticket to see both, which we did. Universal contains Diagon Alley and Islands of Adventure houses Hogsmead and Hogwarts.

On Sunday evening, we went to Diagon Alley for the first time.  We meandered through Universal on our way to Harry Potter and we finally spotted London and the Knight Bus.  I'll never forget how exciting is was to walk through the brick walls leading to Diagon Alley.  It felt like we were really there!  As soon as we passed through the walls, we saw little wizards and witches performing "spells" with their wands, we saw the Weasley's joke shop, Ollivander's Wand Shop and first and foremost, a Butterbeer stand!  We wasted no time in getting our first Butterbeer. I actually got a Strongbow when  I discovered that you could walk around with adult beverages!  Abbie got a frozen Butterbeer and sadly, she didn't like it too much!  I, on the other had, did.  At first I was unsure, but the froth on top was just too good.  I ended up having 3 more before the trip was over!

We rode Escape from Grigott's, which was awesome.  It was our first 3-D ride and it didn't disappoint!  The views from the queue were awesome as well - the goblins looked so real and the decor was en pointe.  As throughout the park, there were some newspapers with moving photos just like in the movies.  SO NEAT to see in real life.  On our 2nd (3rd?) ride on this ride, we made friends with the people in front of us!

We ate dinner at the Leaky Cauldron. We both had fish & chips which were surprisingly good.

I bought a wand from Ollivander's Wand Shop.  The wand experience was really cool.  The Wizard playing Ollivander was so convincing!  Somehow, I didn't see that the store was 90% full of character  replica wands and instead chose a "unique" wand belonging only to me (and 100,000 other people!).  Had I known that there were replicas, I may have bought Hermione's, but I'm pretty happy with my wand.  I went with the interactive style which allowed me to perform "spells" throughout the wizarding world.  It was $50 and while I wondered was it really worth it, I obviously decided that it was.  I do not regret my decision for a second because I loved trying all of the spells!  Some of my favorites were making an umbrella rain, lighting up a store full of lights, levitating a feather ("wingardium leviosa!"), and making a little skeleton chimney sweep climb in Knockturn Alley.

Which reminds me, Knockturn Alley!  It was so cool, creepy and realistic.  If you don't know, this is an area in Diagon Alley where you'll find more "dark magic" items.  It was dark, freaky and perfect.  I ended up buying my brother and Bill their souvenirs at Borgin and Burkes in this alley.

On our last day, my wand stopped performing and I realized the tip was all dented and scratched because I had dropped it.  I learned from one of the wizards who work there that I could take it in for a "wand repair."  I brought it in and sure enough, they brought me a brand new wand.  Pretty awesome, considering how expensive they are! 

Some of our favorite moments from the trip were spent just sitting on stairs next to the bank and people watching.  Occasionally the dragon would go off, roaring and sending fire out above the crowd.  It was exciting every time!

Other Diagon Alley favorites: ice cream, the candy store connected to Weasley's (candy ribbons, chocolate frogs, Pepper Imps, fudge, etc!), the little "pet" store where they had stuffed versions of nearly every animal in the books/movies, shopping in the various stores (I tried on a robe in one!), and our favorite part was being there at night.  Everything really came alive!

We spent our whole time Sunday in Diagon Alley, half of Monday, and the second half of Wednesday.  To get to the other park, you board the Hogwarts Express and the ride is a show in itself!  You see the "view" through the window but Harry, Ron and Hermione are also in the hallway.  We took the Hogwarts Express 3 or 4 times during our trip! Platform 9 and 3/4 was SO neat in this park.  It looks like you really disappear through the wall!  Abbie read up on how they achieve that effect, but I decided to just keep pretending it was magic.

Up next:  Hogsmeade and Hogwarts!

The Knight Bus!

Our first view!

We made it!!!

Blurry, but the inside of Ollivander's

Even the restaurants were cool!

On the Hogwarts Express!

Being silly


Little show before the ride at Gringott's

My wand!  We are sitting on our favorite steps here


The realistic goblins inside of Gringotts

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