universal studios

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley

 

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A week ago, today, I visited the brand new, Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, Orlando! I’m so fortunate to have the friends I have for making this incredible dream of a day come true. When we woke up Tuesday morning, we greeted the day with news that the super-awesome-all access-pass-card was obtained and available for our use to enter and play in the park! Ron, Nicki and I met up with Brad at Islands of Adventure to obtain this “golden key” a hopped on the Hogwarts Express at Hogsmeade Station. Having explored Hogsmeade multiple times in the past, we were eager to get to Diagon Alley.

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Fancy status: The three of us were granted our own car on the train for our trip to London upon Brad’s polite request after not waiting even a moment in line. Phones and cameras weren’t allowed on the train, but we managed to snap a quick couple before the ride really got going. After a delightful trip into the city, we arrived at Kings Cross Station.

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The station felt real. And I hadn’t even seen the best part of Kings Cross yet… And then we turned a corner. We were in Diagon Alley. I promised myself I wouldn’t but I couldn’t control myself and tears welled up (a couple may or may not have escaped.)

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There are shops everywhere! And all of the details surround you! You are in a completely different world. You’re in the Wizarding World. You’re in Diagon Alley.

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I simply couldn’t contain myself. After some exploring, we ventured into Knockturn Alley. Never have I ever wanted to be Slytherin more than there and then. It was absolutely incredible! I even did some dark mark shopping at Borgin and Burkes.

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DIagon Alley had lots of really amazing shops including Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, Magical Menagerie (pet shop) and a Quiddich Shop. One particularly beautiful store was Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment.

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Being super-duper VIP did have one downfall. Because we don’t wait in lines, I didn’t get to experience the queue for Escape from Gringotts the ride. From what I understand it is completely breathtaking, taking you through the grand bank lobby and into an elevator. I look forward to experiencing that on a future visit. The ride was pretty fun! It could’ve ended a bit more exciting but overall I really enjoyed it.

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Connecting and disguising Diagon Alley from the rest of Universal Studios is [Harry Potter’s] London. The shrunken head on the knightbus hit on me which was awesome and I got to see Kreacher in the window of 12 Grimmauld Place.

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While on the Universal Studios side we also rode the new-ish Transformers ride. It was my first time on that one and we grabbed lunch at Moe’s Tavern in Springfield. We headed back to Kings Cross Station for our trip back to Hogsmeade and this is where I realized just how amazing Kings Cross Station was here. We got to blatantly skip a super crazy packed line and I shouted “silly muggles!” at the on-lookers (rather, hard-starers and stink-face-makers).

Back in Hogsmeade, I did some more shopping and we rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. (We skipped Flight of the Hippogriff this time around.)

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I had such an incredible time! I can’t thank Ron and Brad enough for making this trip not only possible but also so special with the VIP treatment. I already can’t wait to go back and when I do, I’m going to eat my way through the Wizarding World.

During the day, I took a lot of random videos. I put a few of them together and as long as you don’t mind shoddy camerawork and up-the-nose shots, enjoy a peek at my very first time visiting Diagon Alley.

Thanks for reading! Love, GK

In honor of my very first trip to Diagon Alley, I wanted to share some throwback shots of my first trip to Hogsmeade. I would’ve had to break out one of my other hard drives to share all my favorite pictures from that day and I simply didn’t feel like it. Instead I threw in some pics from another one of the times I visited the Wizarding World – Hogsmeade/Hogwarts in the past.

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Orlando Shenanigans

A week later, I’m finally getting the time to post about my recent trip to Orlando. One of my friends was visiting home from Chicago, where she currently lives, and we decided to make the short drive north to Orlando where one of my other friends lives with his fella.

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With a rad playlist ready to go, she and I hit the road Monday afternoon. Upon arrival, Nicki, Ron and I jumped headfirst into some liquor and shared the night catching up and then painting for a while. There was also a small, impromptu photo session with Ron’s huge clock.

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When Nicki and I first checked into La Hotel De Ron & Brad, Ron had gifts waiting for us in the guest bedroom. For me: Ron framed prints of a series of paintings he had done that are inspired by Harry Potter and the four house uniforms. So adorable! I can’t wait to hang them!

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Now, speaking of Harry Potter, Ron and Brad were able to arrange for us to explore the new section of The Wizarding World at Universal, Diagon Alley, on Tuesday. That post is set for tomorrow so check back to take a peek at my first time visiting Diagon Alley! -yes, I cried.

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Tuesday night, we all enjoyed some good wine followed by a fun evening at Universal’s City Walk. We had dinner at Jimmy Buffet’s Margarittaville (which was actually quite disappointing) and then drank and sang karaoke with a live band at Rising Star. A fantastic couple of days with a couple of fantastic people.

Thanks for reading!

Love, GK

 

PS – Last night, my sister and I saw Guardians of the Galaxy. I thought it was amazing! I really loved it. (I went into it knowing next to nothing about the comics though.) I didn’t even think Zoe Saldana was as horrible as she usually is compared to Amy-Stupid-Pond’s desperate reach at acting. I didn’t even believe her when she was just standing there. On a sexy note: when did Andy Dwyer get so ripped and dreamy? And, of course, I’d be remiss not to mention Mr. Sexy-face Pie Man as Super Douche.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Kacie’s 24th Birthday!

Yesterday, Kacie, Casey and I drove up to Orlando and spent the day with Ron at Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure. We were celebrating Kacie’s 24th birthday and what better way to celebrate than at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!! Kacie, Casey and I are all HUGE Harry Potter Nerds! (Ron is starting to read them.) So Ron and his boyfriend Brad, who both work at the parks, arranged for us to have VIP access to everything! (Brad is the Manager of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride within the park.

When we got up there, there was a line around the park just to get into the Harry Potter World. It was crazy. Of course we didn’t have to wait for anything. We met Brad where HP meets Jurassic Park and were escorted onto Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Brad also gave us a card to present at any and all other rides and attractions fast pass access. It was awesome.


As you walked up to Hogwarts (where the Forbidden Journey is) you walk through the Greenhouse and then you enter the Castle and walk through Professor Dumbledore’s Office and through the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Along the way you pass talking portraits, the sorting hat, golden status and all sorts of amazingly Harry Potter stuff! IT”S AWESOME!

Woo Hoo, Gryffidor!!! Most House Points!!!

We also saw Hagrid’s Hut and rode on Flight of the Hippogryff (formerly, Flight of the Unicorn.). As the begins to take you up, you pass right by Buckbeak the Hippogryff. (Naturally we thought this too was awesome.) From the apex of the ride you can see out and over Hogsmeade, I nearly cried. It all looked so perfect. Then I looked down and saw and the people crammed in together walking around the “town” and remembered that it was kind of crazy down there at this point in the day.

After that, we rode The Dragon Challenge (formerly The Dueling Dragons) where we chose to ride the Chinese Fireball as opposed to the Hungarian Horntail. (Cause we’re Triwizard Champions Mutha-F*cka!) I was almost disappointed that we didn’t stand throughout the ques, the atmosphere, everywhere, is just amazing. We pretty much just walked past everyone and took pictures of all the coolest stuff, but it definitely wouldn’t suck to have to wait in line there… if waiting in line in itself didn’t suck so much, ya know?


We did walk about Hogsmeade despite the crowd (how could we not, hello?) Plus, after enjoying the rest of the parks we planned on returning to the Harry Potter world later. There was so much to see!

Ollivander’s, The Three Broomsticks, Honeydukes, Zonkos, The Owlry… the list goes on. It was so F’ing fantastic!!!

Kacie and I even met the conductor of the Hogwarts Express!!! As I approached, he ask in what way I was related to the Weasley family!

But the best part of all, was that we went o Hogwarts! Hogwarts, people!!! It was the ultimate, the best, my nerdiest dream come true. This truly is the happiest place on Earth!

We pretty much rode everything you would want to ride at Island of Adventure, then we headed over to Universal Studios. We rode what we wanted to there but mostly hung out and relaxed. We decided to hop on over to The Hard Rock Hotel and go for a swim in the pool. Casey Ron and I participated in a couple of Hula hoop contests, but we mostly just rode the water slide.

Once we were feeling refreshed and cooled off, we changed and headed back to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We rode each ride a couple more times, well, we rode The Forbidden Journey way more than a couple. ♥

We mostly walked around Hogsmeade and took pictures with the things we didn’t get to earlier. We also did some small souvenir shopping. We also got ourselves a tasty Butterbeer!!!

We ended our night at The Hard Rock cafe where we got a tour of the John Lennon room. (Casey and I had been up there back in November of 2007.) It was amazing!!! We sat on John Lennon’s couch, touch his white “Imagine”/”Double Fantasy” piano. Kacie was so happy to be up there, shes a huge Beatles/John Lennon fan also so I knew she would love it!

My feet are killing me. I have blisters on my blisters. But it was an amazing day! Ron and Brad definitely hooked us up. Kacie had a blast. Mission Hogwarts: Success!