Orlando, Florida Trip, Part 2
And we're back, and on to day two of my Orlando, Florida journey! Today we're headed to Universal Studios, or more specifically, the two Harry Potter parks in the Universal complex. I'm not ashamed to admit that one of my main personality traits is that I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, so needless to say I was pretty pumped about this day!
As we were staying at the Grand Floridian, and therefore on Disney property, we took an Uber over to Universal. It was actually our first time using Uber, or any kind of taxi app, and I couldn't recommend it enough if you're travelling about Orlando. It was so easy and hassle free. This isn't an advert for Uber I promise!
As soon as we arrived we hot footed it
straight to Hogsmeade which was like walking straight into the movies. You could tell that the people who made it really loved the books/films because there were so many small details and easter eggs to find. I have to say though, Hogsmeade was a lot smaller than I imagined, and there certainly wasn't the shopping activities I was hoping for (small note: head to Diagon Alley for all your shopping needs).
We quickly got in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I have to say, if you're a big fan of Harry Potter, the ride is worth it just for the line alone! You walk and weave through different areas of Hogwarts, starting at the grand gates at the entrance, through the herbology classrooms, and into Dumbledore's office. I was living my best life! Unfortunately the ride itself was perhaps the most terrifying experience I have ever had...I wish I were joking! Now I'm not great with rollercoasters. I can maybe push myself to go onto a fast ride as long as there aren't any sharp drops or twists. While this ride isn't a rollercoaster, you're constantly twisting and turning, and we even went upside down at one point...a massive no-no for me! I have to admit, it is a fun ride if you enjoy more intense rollercoasters, and the technology on this ride was unlike anything I had ever seen before. However it was a bit much for my delicate sensibilities...my jaw was shaking when I got off because of the adrenaline going through my body! Therefore I can't say I would necessarily recommend it, but if you enjoy a thrill, give it a go.
Me and mum calmed ourselves down by wandering around the busy streets of
Hogsmeade, feeling like proper Hogwarts students! My question of the day is which Hogwarts house are you in? I'm a Slytherin! We then popped in for lunch at the Three Broomsticks. It was a bit ironic going out for British food considering we had flown nine hours from the UK, but we were in the mood for some proper fish and chips! I have to say, the food got the seal of approval from us; it tasted delicious! We also had the added bonus of cracking up laughing when an American girl commented that I sounded like Hermione. I still can't decide if it was a compliment or an insult!
We quickly found ourselves finished with Hogsmeade, and so we took the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley. This was a fantastic experience. It's a real moving train that takes visitors from one park to the other, all the while there are screens in the windows portraying the journey from Scotland to London; it was so cool! What was even better was the Kings Cross Station we entered out of. I have to say, as a frequent London traveller, they did a fantastic job! Although the real Kings Cross is probably a lot dirtier...
We turned the corner through the brick wall into Diagon Alley, and this is were my real nerdy side came out. Diagon Alley was everything I hoped it would be; it had every Harry Potter-related shop you could think of. I could have spent all day perusing every shelf of every shop. I would say that if you can only visit one of the two parks, I would definitely recommend Diagon Alley over Hogsmeade. There is a ride in this park too - Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. We didn't go on it as I was still feeling a bit queasy from the last ride, but I wish I did as apparently it's a lot tamer! One of my favourite moments was heading down Knockturn Alley and looking in Borgin and Burkes, and my other favourite was watching the dragon on top of Gringotts shooting fire out of its mouth!
Once we were finished in Diagon Alley we took the Hogwarts Express back to
Hogsmeade as the ride shows different things on the screen depending on which way you are going. This one was even better than the first, as it had a very scary dementor experience. I won't say any more here in case I spoil it for you!
At this point it was only mid afternoon, and while our feet were aching, we knew this was a holiday of a lifetime, so we decided to push ourselves, and booked an Uber over to Orlando Premium Outlets. We really only went because I'm a huge Bath and Body Works fan, and tragically we don't have any shops in the UK! Let's just say I certainly stocked up on this trip...
After a quick stop off at the mall we took an Uber back to the hotel and had a well-deserved rest in the hotel room. A top tip for any wannabe Disney vacationers out there is to schedule time to just relax in the hotel room. When me and my mum travel we like to push ourselves and fit as much in to the day as we can, but even we needed these times in the evening where we could just sit in the room and relax.
Once we had de-sweated (sorry for the visual image) we decided to properly explore our hotel. As I said in my previous post, the hotel is so beautiful, and there were quite a few shops to explore, as well as a man-made beach! I ended up buying a bath bomb in Basin, which is a bath and body shop, and had a bath in our hotel room. It was quite a surreal experience having a relaxing bath and listening to a podcast in the middle of Disney World, but I'm so glad I did it. I gave myself a proper pamper session, meaning I felt completely refreshed and ready for the rest of the trip.
We then went down to the quick service restaurant in the hotel - Gasparilla Island Grill - and got our dinner to take away. After such a long day we were not feeling up to being around people! We ate dinner on our balcony, people watching while the sun set around us. We could hear the band playing in the hotel lobby, and we could gently hear the sounds of Magic Kingdom. It was so relaxing, and an amazing end to another amazing day.