Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

by Meghann on June 19, 2010

I read my first Harry Potter book when I was a junior in high school. The first movie was just about to be released and my Mom started reading the first book aloud during a random road trip to one place or another. Usually I would ignore my mom when she read aloud in the car – she did it alot – but there was something about this book that I couldn’t ignore. I was hooked a couple chapters in and so began my obsession with Harry Potter.

Over the years I’ve attended almost every midnight opening of every Harry Potter film and waited in endless lines waiting to purchase the latest Harry Potter book release, so it would only make sense I would want to attend the grand opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the same weekend it opened at Universal Island’s of Adventure. 😉

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In fact, the whole reason why Derek and I renewed our annual passes was simply for the fact that Harry Potter was opening this summer. After over a year of watching the park develop behind scaffolding and barriers, today was the day all my nerdy dreams could finally come true! Today was the day for Harry Potter!!

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The alarm was set for early this morning – 5:30am early. We knew there would be crowds and wanted to reserve our spot in line for the park before it got too crazy.

Derek, Josh, Adena, and I arrived just before 7:00 am and were surprised to see the park was already opening. We took our place in line and began the wait to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which at 7:00 am was already at capacity.

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My younger brother and his girlfriend had arrived at the park an hour before of us and were a ways ahead of us in line. They were only letting as many people in the park as were leaving, so we knew we had a wait of us.

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Don’t worry – we came prepared with food and entertainment.

I had packed breakfast on the way out the door.

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I knew a breakfast wrap would be easy to eat while in line and I wouldn’t have to worry about any squishing in my bag.

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My wrap contained almond butter, fresh strawberries, and blueberries.

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The fresh berries were a nice touch to the wrap. It was a light and refreshing treat in the already blazing sun.

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Fresh watermelon was enjoyed with the wrap.

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Slowly, but surely we made our way to the front and just around 9:00am I could see the entrance!

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3…2…1… GO!

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Here We Come!!

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We got lucky. I heard rumors that some people had waited up to 10 hours to enter the park on Friday and 5 hours today. Crazy! That my friends is why we had no problem waking up so early this morning. 🙂

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The park was beautiful! Every little detail was as I pictured in it in my head as I read each and every book. From the Owl Post to Three Broomsticks – I really felt like I was in the world of Harry Potter!

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As soon as we entered the park we headed to the newest ride – The Forbidden Journey – located inside Hogwarts Castle.

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The Forbidden Journey is a simulated flight ride that features memorable characters and scenes from the book, such as quidditich, the whomping willow, Aragog, the basalik, dementors, etc. The ride is very similar to spiderman with the way the ride moves and syncs with the screens. It was lots of fun and thanks to the singles like we were able to skip the 120 minute line and instead only waited less than 5. 😉

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I loved the attention to detail with this ride. Everything from the moving photos in the queue, the costumes all the ride operators wear, and even the appearance by the sorting hat right before you board brings the whole experience to life. 🙂

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One of the things I couldn’t wait to try in the new park was Butterbeer!

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one. I think the longest line we waited in all day was for the butterbeer. 😉

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I’m not sure what I was expecting with the butterbeer? I think I was expecting something very buttery and warming. This butterbeer was served cold and resembled cream soda with a non-dairy butterscotch topping. I’m sure it tasted good if you like cream soda or root beer, but I’m not a fan. I had a few sips for fun and shared the rest. 🙂

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While waiting for the butterbeer, something else caught my eye as well.

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Pumpkin Juice.

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I mean, why not?

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I was expecting the drink to taste like apple juice because apple concentrate was the main ingredient, but that was not the case. It really does taste like pumpkin! Almost like pumpkin cider? It was ok, but a little strong – almost too pumpkiny. I think it would be a good addition to smoothies or incorporated into a baked good somehow, but on it’s own it was a bit much. Still, it was fun to pass around and try.

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Honestly, one of the reasons to visit Harry Potter is because of the fun shops. The details that went into the shops make them just as much a part of experience as the rides! 🙂

There was a line for everything today and most of the lines for the shops were pretty crazy. There was a 3 hour wait for Ollivander’s Wand Shop! And the one for the Owl Post was too long to even track the ending of. Crazy!

Luckily, the line for Zonkos and Honey Dukes weren’t too too bad.

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Candy, Candy as far as the eye can see!

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But not just any candy, these were all perfect replicas of the candies featured in the movies and books!

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I walked out with a chocolate frog.

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Blah… this chocolate was not good at all. It tasted like plastic. Such a shame, I had high hopes for it too.

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And then my camera died. 🙁

Many thanks to Adena for letting me borrow hers the rest of the day. 🙂

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RIde #2 of the day 🙂

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Flight of the Hippograph is a cute little kid’s roller coaster that circles around Hagrid’s Cottage. It’s short, sweet, and had a very short line – not bad if you ask me.

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After 5 hours of exploring the park we were all ready to say good bye and head to lunch. The crowds were getting even more intense and the sun was starting to shine higher and higher in the sky. We were done.

Sure, we didn’t get to see exactly all we came for, but that’s why we have the annual pass – so we can come back when ever we want. Hopefully, the crowds will die down in the next couple of months, but for now I give The Wizarding World of Harry Potter two very big thumbs up! This park is awesome and worth all the hype! I can’t wait to return again and again and again!

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There are no words for how hungry and tired the four of us were as we headed out of Islands of Adventures. We bee lined it to CityWalk and hit up Margaritaville for lunch.

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I ordered the grilled portabella mushroom sandwich with blue cheese, red peppers, and lettuce on a whole wheat bun with a side of broccoli instead of french fries.

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I was too lazy to mess with the camera setting so I took a quick photo with the flash and dove right in. I think the whole table cleaned our plates – food had never tasted so good. 🙂

We headed to Universal Studios for the reminder of the afternoon.

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I had so much fun hanging out with my brothers and their girlfriends. I have the best family in the whole wide world. 🙂

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We stopped at Starbucks for pick-me-ups at one point and I ordered a Venti Iced Green Tea.

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You know what goes best with a hot day outside?

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Fro Yo!

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A-MA-ZING

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Dinner was extra special this evening. It’s very rare that all 4 of my siblings get together and the fact we were all able to get together this evening with all of our significant others was even more of an extra special treat. 🙂

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The couples

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We had dinner at Cedar’s of Orlando – a lebanese restaurant I’ve been meaning to try in the Dr. Phillip’s area for a while.

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Any place with live belly dancing is a-ok in my book. 😉

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The table started with pickled beets and olives

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And fresh from the oven pitas, that were warm, doughy and quite honestly the best pitas I’ve ever tasted. I had 3 through the course of the evening! 🙂

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Instead of a big meal I chose two appetizers to create my entree.

The first was the ‘Cedar’s Salad’ a chopped vegetable salad that was well seasoned and coated with olive oil and vinegar.

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Secondly, I selected the hummus with shawarma – a roasted beef that paired beautifully with the hummus.

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I also had a few nibbles off of other people’s dishes too. Everything was delicious. 🙂

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What a day! I’ve been going non-stop since 5:30am and I am more than ready for bed.

Good Night!

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Harry potter sneak peek

June 19, 2010

Hey guys! Just wanted to check in and say the wizarding world of Harry potter is awesome!! I’ll be back tonight with a full review but here is a sneak peek. 🙂 You can follow my adventure on Twitter at Twitter.com/graduatemeghann

Read some more →