Magical Days & Nights at Universal Studios
I love all things magical, AND I love to read. My fascination for the wonderfully magical all started when I was introduced to Mary Poppins books around age nine. Then I came to know the wise magic of Merlin through stories about King Arthur’s Court. A few decades later, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have brought the wonder of magic to a new generation of readers. And, yes, I read all the books.
As a lark, to take a break from reality, my husband recently took me to Universal Studios in Orlando to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal cleverly spread the fun between two theme parks, necessitating the purchase of a two-park pass. Unless you are a glutton for punishment, be sure to splurge on the Express pass so you can cut about 2/3 off the wait time to get on the rides.
I absolutely LOVED Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. The creative folks have done an amazing job of putting you right into the movie. I really felt like I was flying through the air along with Harry, through the Quidditch court, evading the Death Eaters. This was in Hogsmeade at Hogwarts Castle, located in Islands of Adventure. Diagon Alley is appropriately in London, at Universal Studios. Both are authentically styled and staged, true to the books and movies. We lunched on typical British fare at Three Broomsticks, sipped (surprisingly delicious) Butter Beer, watched entertainers straight from the pages of the books and enjoyed just strolling around the shops and alleys. The Hogwarts Express, complete with digital enhancements at both your window and compartment doors, transports you between the two Wizarding locations.
Wand shops are everywhere, with Ollivanders (of course) being the most popular. There you can watch the shopkeeper direct wizards and witches to the special wand just right for them. There are all sorts of wands, including those from all the well-known Potter characters. Mostly wood, they are interesting, beautiful and some a bit macabre. It’s hard to make a choice. Some are interactive and come with a map of special locations where their owners use special spells to perform tricks. It was cute to see all the kids waving their wands and uttering Potterisms to turn on water features, move objects in window displays, or turn on lights.
Of course, I bought a wand!
Keep the kids reading . . . Lumos!