Extreme Harry Potter geekiness ahead. You have been warned.
About 5 or 6 years ago I visited Hogwarts/Hogsmeade at Universal's Islands of Adventure and it was truly magical. When Savanna's 9th birthday approached she mentioned wanting to check out Diagon Alley so it was a no-brainer for me. We would have ideally loved to have done the two park pass but it was $155/person while a regular one park pass was about $100. So we stuck around Diagon Alley most of the day.
Outside of Diagon Alley is London with King's Cross Station, the Knight Bus, the telephone booth that takes you to the Ministry of Magic (make sure to dial MAGIC and listen) and Grimmauld Place. The musical score from the movies takes you right into the scene.
The talking head and the bus attendant conduct a jocular back and forth for passer-by's amusement.
Kreature peeks out of the curtains from Number 12 if you wait long enough.
Between a record store and Grimmauld place lies the entrance to Diagon Alley where the sound of bricks grind against each other to reveal the magic that lies behind the wall. As I walked through and gazed down the road I teared up. Literally.
Immediately to your left is The Leaky Cauldron, where the inside looks exactly like the film. I wanted to run behind the stone pillars to spy Mr. Weasley giving Harry the down-low about Sirius.
Peering in the Potage's window, self-stirring cauldrons could be found.
The signage, weathered buildings, and window displays left me furiously trying to take it all in. My husband and in-laws were bemused at my intense excitement and frequent photo snapping. We went through Diagon Alley three times that day and I know I still did not see everything.
The wand shop (Ollivander's and Gregorovich's were both there) carried towers upon towers of wands. The wand choosing ceremony was touching (tears again).
You could buy several characters' wands that were either plain or interactive. Prices were not on the boxes that I could see and in my excitement I mentioned letting the girls pick out interactive wands. Adam grabbed McGonagall's for me too since I drooled over it a bit. But when we got to check out and I saw how much they were I pleaded for him to put mine back. But he insisted and I was thankful. They were $50 each. So be prepared.
The wands have an infrared beam that shines out the tip and can be detected on cameras throughout both Diagon Alley and Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. There are brass markers that show a spell and how to perform it in order to make magic happen. If you don't perform it just right it won't work. Trust me, sometimes it would take 2, 5, 8 tries to get it right while other more experienced wizards got it in just one. See the four purple lights in the photo above? That is one of the cameras that you would point your wand towards.
Knockturn Alley was featured as well and was very dark with some blacklight action.
These shrunken heads sing a chorus if you do the right wand work.
The frozen version of Butterbeer was my favorite. I crave another one.
Next time I would like to get some ice cream at Florean Fortescue's, they have quite an interesting selection of flavors. But we did quite enough splurging with the wands.And pretzels. And churros. And Butterbeers. And Pumpkin Juice (Very good! Tastes like apple juice and pumpkin pie mixed).
The dragon blows real fire every 10 minutes or so. The Gringott's ride blew my mind. I cried on that too. Seeing Harry, Ron, Hermione and the gang in new material was emotional overload for me. I undoubtedly looked like a nut being a mid-30's lady bawling like a baby on a roller-coaster ride. At least it was dark. And I could hide behind my 3-D glasses.
Wax. Just keeping it wax related.
Weasley's Wizard Wheezes caused a lot of ooohs and ahhhhhs. It was multi-leveled though you could only walk on the first floor. Through the skylight in the ceiling you would watch their fireworks explode. I wish I would have taken more time to really see what they sold.
It was a beautiful day full of great memories. It pumped me up for the new book/play script release and renewed my fervor. Not that it waned but I do want to re-read the series.... yet again. Dreams of my future visit to the Warner Bros Studio Lot in London swim in my imagination. Only about 5 more years or so. Have you visited either of the parks? Are you a Potter fan? Have you tried Butterbeer? I think I need to brew some soon.