Ahh! This will be the best post. If you’re any sort of Harry Potter fan, I hope you appreciate all my excitement. If you’re not, well, then I hope you at least like pictures!
So when you first walk into Hogsmeade it is absolutely breathtaking. Literally. You just stop and stare. The best way to describe what I was thinking is probably “holy crap”. It’s amazing how they pretty much recreated everything I’ve been reading about and have seen in the movies over the last 10(?) years. Complete amazeballs.
I honestly don’t even know where to start. Except that I was really, really excited.
Bill and I started going in shops one by one to make sure I saw everything. In Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes they had so many tricks and gadgets. Hilarious. I loved them all. Attached to that was a candy shop that had ALL the candy from the HP books. The every flavored jelly beans, chocolate frogs, cauldren cakes, etc. Let’s just say we came back here later and I got my share of chocolate.
We made our way into the Three Broomsticks (restaurant). Random Fact: Universal Studios opened HP before the Three Broomsticks was featured in the movies (HP #6). They worked closely with the author/producers/etc to get this design and then the movie set was based off of the Three Broomsticks in Universal. The more you know..!
Continuing into Hogsmeade they had a lot of stuff featured in the windows for you to look at. Hermione’s dress from the Yule Ball was in the window along with screaming (although, not really screaming) Mandrakes. Under an awning they had owls sitting on top that every so often turned their heads. Very, very cool addition. Of course we looked around all the shops, passed by Ollivanders Wand Shop (more on that later), and made our way to Hogwarts.
Now, let me tell you that I had NO IDEA there was a ride involved. Sounds kind of silly, right? It’s not quite a rollercoaster, but a little bit more than the Spiderman ride I wrote about earlier. The whole line for the ride is an experience. I have no idea why people would mind standing in line. I totally didn’t. You walk through the castle on your way to the ride the entire time. There are so many interactive pieces you cannot get bored.
You first cross through the greenhouse where you encounter more Mandrakes. It’s honestly incredible how old they made the greenhouse look without it actually being old. The “rust” on the supports was just painted like that (I know, captain obvious) but you honestly couldn’t tell. Even the plants hanging from the ceiling were old and withered. You can tell so much thought went into even the smallest detail on every part of this and as a huge HP fan something like that is very much appreciated. Amiright?
You enter Hogwarts and see everything. Literally, everything. You pass the the house points and hanging pictures (which were actually animated). At some point in the line you come into Dumbledore’s office, pass the Pensieve, and watch him give a speech to Harry from his balcony. You’re welcomed into the Defense Against the Dark Arts class where Ron, Harry, and Hermione decide to go watch a Quidditch game. In the meantime, Ron practices with his wand and makes it snow. Yes, snow fell from the ceiling. From the way I reacted you would think I have never seen snow before.
The thing that stood out the most to me was, hands down, the sorting it. It looked exactly like the one from the movie. It moved. It talked. I was impressed.
When you get to the ride you’ll notice that the cart you ride in doesn’t actually stop moving. Yes, you read that right. It doesn’t stop moving. You weren’t allowed to bring bags or purses on the ride, but small things like keys/cellphones/etc were okay. You sit in the seat like a chair but before you sit down, part of the back pulls out and holds your stuff. 6 Flags – take note of that too.
The ride was controlled by a huge remote arm (look at all the fun things I learned from walking around with an employee). During the ride you escaped a dragon, went to a Quidditch match, and witnessed Harry kill the dementors. It was so interactive and covered a wide variety of main plots throughout the history of HP. Don’t worry, at the end Dumbledore reminds you to grab your stuff if you put anything in the back of the seat!
After the ride, it was time to get my first Butterbeer. You can get them frozen or cold, in a normal cup or a souvenir cup. Obviously I got mine in a souvenir cup and I decided to get mind cold. Frozen was more thick and you had to drink it with a straw where cold was like an icee. It’s really hard to describe the taste, but it was so good. The foam on top is the BEST. Random Fact: JK Rowling was 100% hands on in the making of Butterbeer. They would present her with different options and she would give advice on where to go from there. In the final tasting, there were 5 choices for her to decide between and as soon as she drank the current recipe, she know immediately they had done it. There is, however, no alcohol in this recipe to give more people (family/small kids) a chance to taste it. I bet it would be good, though! Random Fact: The cold butterbeer was so carbonated that if you tried to drink it with a straw it would have overflowed.
Every so often during the day a choir group comes out and sings with frogs. Fun to watch while enjoying our drinks!
I started to do some shopping and we decided that we wanted to go into Ollivanders. Around the entire park they have wands for purchase, but when you go into Ollivanders it’s more about the experience. A group of 30 goes in and one is selected to have their wand choose them. Guess who that person was? Yeap, this girl right here. I cannot tell you how wide eyed I probably was walking into the store. Holy crap. It looked like you stepped right into the movie. Wands lined the walls all around you. I got to go up to the desk and test out two wands. I was given spells to do but unfortunately those wands definitely weren’t for me. Afterall, with them I killed flowers and made it storm. I did, however, find the perfect one! It was sort of, okay a LOT, cheesy that when the wand was put in my hand wind blew my hair back (like in the movie, duh!) and a light was shining down on me. Of course I bought it. There are certain ones you can order online and buy throughout the park. The wands you can get from Ollivanders can only be found in the park. Like I said, of course I bought it.
Although we left the the HP section after walking around some more, Bill filled me in with some more facts! There is no where in the HP part to purchase a soda. They wanted to make it as real as possible so that includes leaving out pop! It’s funny because knowing that, you notice the Coke stands right before the entrance and right after you exit.
If you’re any sort of Harry Potter fan I highly recommend getting to this park. Universal truely did an amazing job. I cannot wait to go back!