Smile #28 – Nice to Meet You, Universal Studios AKA HARRY POTTER WORLD!!

Nice to Meet You, Universal Studios AKA HARRY POTTER WORLD!!

Experiencing the magic at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been on my bucket list since it was announced in 2007.  We couldn’t resist the urge anymore and booked our tickets.

A muggle’s adventure to Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, and Diagon Alley.

Hogwart rooftop peaked through in the distance.  We quicken our pace to enter the gates of Hogsmeade.  I was immediately charmed by the snowcapped village and cobblestone street.  The ground was occupied with patrons dressed in wizard robes.  Children and adults stood in front of shop windows waving their wands.  With the right swift, a box popped open or water spurted out.  Meanwhile I was lured in by the Butterbeer trolley.  🙂

We were excited to jump in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  The interior was nicely decorated with stage props such as the Mirror of Erised, the sorting hat and moving portraits.  We passed replicas of the Headmaster’s office and Gryffindor common room.  We were greeted by holograms of Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.  Universal made the queue into an unforgettable experience.  🙂

The ride took us through scenes and places around Hogwarts.  We flew in the Forbidden Forest, encountered Aragog, faced Dementors, attempted to fight off Malfoy at the Quidditch field and finished with following Harry back to the castle.  It was magical!  🙂

Flight of the Hippogriff was a short kiddie ride.  While we wait, we got to see Hagrid’s hut and Buckbeak’s nest.

I was tricked.  I was not prepared for what the Dragon Egg challenge brought.  It was a high speed roller coaster that goes on twists and loops.  I tried to keep my eyes open while I screamed for my life!  This thrill ride left me dizzy and breathless.  I had to sit down and gather myself afterward.  Climb aboard if you dare!  🙂

The newest addition, the Hogwart Express, is nothing short of amazing.  Scenes from the books and films played on the train window.  It was the best ride!  🙂  We rode it from Hogsmeade to King’s Station and back and again!

Universal spared no expense when building Diagon Alley.  It is elaborately detailed.  Hundreds of wands stacked in every shelf at Ollivanders wand shop.  I tried on a Gryffindor’s robe at Madam Malkin.  Burst of color invited us in to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.  Heard a bird chirping from the vanishing cabinet at Borgin and Burkes. Met the goblin at the Money Exchange. Had more butterbeer and a gily water with a elixir to induce euphoria
At the far end of Diagon Alley stands Gringotts. The bank lobby is glamorously decorated with chandelier and goblins. Exactly like the scene when Hermoine walked into Gringott to seek the vault. Goblins sat on each side working diligently.

From the lobby, we were shown a hologram of one of the Weasleys welcoming us.  We proceed down to the bank’s offices.  As mentioned by its name, Escape from Gringotts, the ride took us on an epic journey with Harry, Ron and Hermione as well as a fire-breathing dragon to escape Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix.  The 3D effects made the ride a unique experience and it is definitely one of my favorites.

The best part has to be the unexpected surprise when the performers came to dance.  We were standing close to the front of the stage.  I was busy with taking pictures when the main lead pointed to Chef Bubble.  Next thing you know, he is dancing on stage!  Haha!  🙂  I am sure that made his day.

I have officially cross the first item off my ever growing bucket list.  🙂

Thank you for allowing us to become a part of Harry Potter!  🙂   This place is magical for sure.

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