Monday, March 30, 2015

Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure

I'm so excited to write about my first Harry Potter experience! 

The top 3 takeaways are:
1) Be prepared before you go. 
2) Single rider all day everyday
3) Download the USF app on your phone, and you will be extremely grateful (there's free fast wifi in the entire theme park)

Before I move on, I really want to recommend this site to all of you.
While I was doing my research on WWoHP, I found Orlando Informer.
And thanks to this crazy awesome website, we didn't have to wait for more than 20 minutes for any ride. I'm dead serious. Especially when the HP rides are known to have queues for 2-4 hour.
I mainly did research for WWoHP because that's like my priority. 

This was really useful for me, the infamous forbidden journey ride and we didn't have to queue for even a minute! 

I will write more about how we went on the rides later on. 

 I'm hoping that you can feel my excitement throughout this post. Haha. Standing at Diagon Alley.


 We bought our tickets online before we went to the States. So all we had to do was to queue and walk through the turnstiles by scanning our printed tickets. It didn't take long. Way more efficient than USS. Do check out those packages that include hotels/shuttles etc when you make your plannings.


And because I already did research beforehand on where Harry Potter world is located...
What we did was run. Just ran. Because the entire crowd is heading in the same direction... 
Everyone wants to get to Harry Potter World before anyone else. lol.
And it was a good 1-2km distance if I remember correctly. 
Got to Orlando Informer's site for the map. haha

 Passing by all these kids world and kept running. LOL. 

The Lost Continent.

I thought this would be the coolest thing I seen until I arrived at....

 Hogsmeade.
Most people seen this from Universal Studios Japan etc but still it was super magical for me. With the background music playing and all. 
We went to the castle for one of the most popular ride: Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey.


Here we are at the Hogwarts castle. We took the picture after the ride obviously. haha

Firstly, we went to the lockers and lock our bags. Of course I told them all about how the lockers work, using your fingerprints and remembering your locker number. So, this is how important it is to be prepared. Save time! I was jumping around all excited and the next thing we did was to walk to the staff and request to get into Single Rider Line. The plan was, get into Single Rider Line and skip the castle tour first, then come out, get back into another line which is Castle Tour only, and with your camera because you are not taking rides anymore. Best part is you can walk at your own pace because no one is pushing you from behind. You need to ask for it, or else you will queue with the rest and get stuck for an hour or so. 

So, we got into the Single Rider Line, and there was no one! There was no line! Literally. Before we knew it, we were right in front of the rides already. I swear I almost teared when I sat onto the seat without having to queue AT ALL. If you and your friends are fine not sitting together (honestly, who cares, you all come out at the same time anyway), then go for Single Rider Line. You will save hours at the end of the day to explore more. 

No pictures because no loose items are allowed. The ride was fun! But I wouldn't think it will be worth it if you ask me to queue for more than an hour... I know people queued for 4 hours on peak days. Of course if you are here you should try it no matter what. 



 The castle kinda deserve more than one picture. 


 Castle Tour. 
It was so so so dark. I needed to use my flash. But I didn't capture everything. I kinda wanted to live in the moment and thought that my flash didn't do the place justice. 
btw, the pictures move, just like in movies.

 Dumbledore's office.


 Passage. 

Way to Hogwarts!

We also took the Dragon Challenge Ride. It was amazingggg. Definitely not for the weak heart if you took the scarier 'dragon'. Red one (Chinese Fireball) if I remember correctly. It's also higher ranked than the blue dragon (Hungarian Horntail) in the Roller Coaster poll.
So there are two dragons which are two completely different rides. When you queue in there, you can decide which one you want. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_Challenge
check out the picture here: http://www.wizardingworldharrypotter.com/wp-content/uploads/DC24.jpg




Trying not to take pictures without the crowd, but not easy...
I wish I have a wide angle lens the whole time I was there. 
What is not to love about this place?!


Nice pic because I'm blurred out maybe??

at Ollivander's Wand Shop.
If I have kids in future, I'm gonna bring them here (that is if they like HP).
They picked a kid/kids and ask them to stand forward as if they are like in the real shop in the movies. He chooses the wands and they will get a chance to flick them, and see some magic in the shop itself. Pretty cool. 


I like how much effort they put into the details.


Butterbeer is a must at Harry Potter World!
It costs like 5USD (non frozen one). And all I had was 100USD in one piece. And the guy told me that I can have it for free! 
Me: Really?
The guy: Yeah, of course.
Me: You mean I don't have to pay? Like this is for free?
The guy: Yep, enjoy your drink! :) :) :)

So I took a picture of it in all directions.
Just thought it will be cool.



It's actually not that crowded to be honest. I have seen more crowds in the pictures.
But one thing I complained about is the sun. :(
The shadow, the glare is kinda ruining the pics.




This is the entrance into Hogsmeade.


At Honeydukes sweet shop.
Everything is so overpriced T_T



Chocolate frogs!


Frog Choir.





Three Broomsticks Restaurant.


To leave Hogsmeade and go over to Diagon Alley, you need to take the Hogwarts Train.
Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are separated in both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. So, you will need the park-to-park tickets to be able to go to both. Such good marketing strategy. 
Boarding the Hogwarts Train!
I didn't expect it to have anything, thought it was just a mode of transport.
For some reason, I missed this part out so it was a great surprise!
I know some people think it's lame and all on those reviews after that but nah, I'm do think that it's cool and interesting.


So you get onto the train and they will lead you into a cabin. Then the doors will be closed.
As we looked out of the window, we realized that there were projections, or more like videos, which felt very realistic. As if we were indeed leaving Hogwarts.


I took some snapchats but didn't take any videos. Only some pictures as below.

Sorry for the blur. It was too dark and I can't use my flash..



but you kinda get the idea. It's cool.

It looks real right?

Leaving the cabin.

And arrived at King's Cross station!




So yay! I'm on the other side already. Universal Studios Florida, where the new Diagon Alley was built. Wait for my next post! :)