Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Travel: Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hogwarts & Hogsmeade

Back in February we visited Diagon Alley at Universal Studios for Savanna's birthday. Adam and I had so much fun with the girls that we decided to start saving for a surprise trip to Hogwarts & Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure which is Universal Studios' second park. Now for $105 you can visit one park, either or. For about $155 you can visit both in one day and take the Hogwarts Express between the two parks. One day we hope to do that but for now, swinging one park for a family of four is insanity as it is. Fun insanity, but insanity none the less. The Hogwarts & Hogsmeade section of the park is much smaller with less to do than Diagon Alley. Well, there are three rides, one in the castle, and two rollercoasters, but smaller as far as stores and shops and things to see. 

Zonko's really was part of Honeyduke's. There were no jokes or cool things inside like there is at Weasleys' Wizard Weezes at Diagon Alley. But the storefronts were still really well done. So naturally I took hundreds of photos. 

The snow topped roofs almost made my mind believe it was less than 90 degrees out. 

The girls know we let them get one reasonable souvenir when we do a theme park. Savanna had her heart set on a treat from Honeyduke's. It was either an acid pop or a chocolate frog. 

Scarlette picked out a candy quill that writes in blue if you dip the end of the stick in water.

Savanna ended up choosing the chocolate frog (she got Salazaar Slytherin as her card) and I picked cotton candy. Sometimes I just crave cotton candy. Maybe it's the wax.

We ate lunch at The Three Broomsticks. Adam ordered the smoked chicken, I chose the Cornish pasties, Savanna picked the fish and chips while Scarlette went the mac 'n cheese route. I also splurged on a pumpkin fizz, which tastes like Pumpkin Juice but with added ginger ale or Sprite or something. Very refreshing.

But beware, the pasties were like the size of a silver dollar and only three of them. I pretty much finished off everyone else's food like a dern buzzard.

The Three Broomsticks filled our bellies in the end and we all enjoyed the flavor of the foods. I particularly enjoyed the decor.

Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,
Teach us something please, 
Whether we be old and bald,
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling,
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air, 
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.

Universal knocked it out of the park with Hogwarts. The castle inspires awe and the ride within thrills and delights and brought hiccuping tears to my eyes. Yeah, I'm a nerd freak. I boo hoo'd all through the castle: from the moving and talking art to the floating candles and entrance to Dumbledore's office. Tears of ecstasy. 

I cried while I watched this too. 

Not sure if you can see the bawling little Mandrake in there behind the glare of the window. He didn't make me cry. He made me laugh. Then cry. Just kidding. His squeals were pretty funny.

The Owl Post.

And our wands worked in this park too! Unfortunately a lot of the spell hot spots were non-functioning (you can see the white and red sign in the window propped on the cake- it basically says the area is jinxed and the spell won't work). I didn't have the heart to tell Scarlette so she tried anyway.

All in all, the day brimmed over with magic and wonder. And we will be looking forward to our next Wizarding World experience.


  1. Ohhhhhmigosh! Yes, I would have cried too at the wonder of it all. I teared up just reading that you had teared up! Does your family ignore you at such nerdy moments? Mine rolls their eyes and laughs with an understanding "Oh my..." LOL

    This place looks so amazing! I think hubby and I need to take a major vacation and hit ALL three parks! (Three, right?) I think I'd die. And go broke.


    1. Adam is good natured about it because he knows how much the stories mean to me and in fact, he is a huge fan of the movies and watches the marathons every time they come on. The girls are always concerned/fascinated when I cry over movies and theme parks and things like that.

      It really is amazing. The people who visualize and construct these places are so very talented. I hope you do come one day and I will totally buy tickets and go with you and we can happy boo hoo together.

  2. Oh it is just as magical as I remember it being!! My heart aches looking at these pictures because I want to go back soo bad. I am soo glad you and your family had such a blast though. What a bummer about the spells not working though! I am excited to see there is new merchandise added to some of the stores such as the cotton candy and candy pens as that wasn't there when I went a few years ago.. unless I some how missed it? I believe it is new so we will stick with that! Hopefully some day soon I will have a chance to save up and go to all of the parks!


    1. Thank you! It was a beautiful day! I noticed that they keep adding new stuff too. I enjoy that though. In the bakery case there were pumpkin cakes, pumpkin pasties and cauldron cakes. I wanted to try them all. We hope to save up again and hit them both in the same day too eventually. But not for a good long while. Then a pumpkin cake will be mine. Have you had a chance to go to Diagon Alley?

  3. Ahh, the Mandrake, and the owl post and the Butterbeer and everything! Someday for me, someday...too lovely.

    1. The Mandrake really tickled my funny bone for some reason. I hope you can make it there too one day. It really is worth it. Magically magnificent. And if you do go, the frozen Butterbeer is the best. Mmm MMm mMMMMMmm!

  4. Oh my gosh, this looks like so much fun! Your pictures are beautiful, Julie. Once again I am wracked - WRACKED, I tell you - with jealousy. I've never been, but no one's blaming you for crying. I'm a crier when I get emotionally overloaded in any direction, and I think being in Harry Potter's world would get me bawling!

    1. Thank you, lovely! LOL! Don't be jealous! Get yer biscuits down here and come visit!! I will go with you. It will be a hardship to go again, but... >sigh<.... I will do it just for you. I am a crier when emotionally invested too. A great movie, book, experience or when I am angry, frustrated, stressed or moved by something. The tears. They flow sometimes.

      Side note: Stranger Things Chapter 5 is on deck.

    2. You jest, but just wait until I show up on your doorstep with enough clothes for the next month and a keg of Butterbeer under one arm, just you wait!

      Another side note: When you finish it, you'll have to let me know what you thought about it. My husband and I just finished watching it with my parents - it was really super cool watching it with them; they were WAY into it.

  5. Your pictures are beautiful! It amazes me what designers can do to make a theme park look amazing and so realistic.

    1. Thanks, friend! Me too. I am in complete awe at how they can make these stories come alive. So talented!