The America Part 2 Series
I apologise now as this post is going to be extremely Harry Potter heavy.
We’d visited Orlando before as wee younglings when our parents brought us but we had ZERO memories of it so, naturally, we were looking forward to making new ones that we’d remember.
We arrived on 4th July so headed to Downtown Orlando on our first night to check out the Independence Day celebrations. It was quite cute as people had gathered around the lake with their deckchairs, picnic blankets and snacks to watch the fireworks.
We found a classic All American hot dog stand so followed suit by stretching out on the grass with our root beers and hot dogs in hand.
And MAN can the Americans put on a firework display! It was 20 minutes of awesomeness.
Speaking of amazing fireworks, we went to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for the day during the week we were there because IT’S DISNEY. YOU JUST HAVE TO. #WhenInOrlando
We may have visited the Anaheim version in California last January but, for me, Disneyland never gets old. It never gets tiresome and I would enjoy it whether I was 6, 14, 21, 40 or 58 years old.
The rides, the music, the atmosphere, the parades – it’s ALL good fun and great for re-living your youth.
The fireworks at the end of the day are truly spectacular as well – images and videos are projected onto Cinderella’s castle with a narrative whilst music from the films is played.
For me, though, nothing could beat Universal this time. And that’s because I’m the biggest fan of a little somethin’ somethin’ called Harry Potter.
Harry Potter holds a special place in my heart, not just because of how good the story is or the fact the JK Rowling is a genius. It holds a special place in my heart because my Grams and I got into it together.
She was the one who watched all the films with me and read all the books after I’d finished them. She loved it as much as I did and it was the one thing that we bonded over that no one else in the family ever really ‘got’.
Since her passing, it’s become even more sentimental to me. We even played some of the film score at her funeral.
That’s why I knew I had to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter one day – for the both of us.
Firstly we visited Diagon Alley in the Universal Studios park. The amount of detail that has gone into that set is insane. It’s literally like stepping into one of the films and everything is just so cleverly done.
SPOILER ALERT: I liked that the entrance is hidden away exactly like you see in the Philosophers Stone where the bricks of the wall break away to reveal it.
I’m not going to lie, I might have shed a little tear when I first stepped foot into Diagon Alley – not just because it’s amazingly magical, but because I felt this overwhelming sensation that, in that moment, my Grams was there with me.
I went on the Gringotts ride and we popped in all the shops. We had some food in the Leaky Cauldron and even tried some butterbeer. #LivingItUp
It was truly incredible and something that all the Harry Potter fans on this earth should experience.
We then went to Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure on a separate day which also didn’t disappoint.
SPOILER ALERT: You step in the village and the first thing you see is the Hogwarts Express on your right, where you can have your photo taken with the conductor, then as you proceed through you have all the shops, the Three Broomsticks, the Dragon Challenge rollercoaster, the Flight of the Hippogriff rollercoaster and then finally you end up at the Hogwarts Castle.
The Hogwarts Castle looks exactly like it does in the film, with the BEST RIDE EVER inside. You join Harry, Ron and Hermione on an adventure through Hogwarts. Parts of it are done as a simulator, and parts of it are real, but together it feels like you’re flying as you follow Harry around on his broomstick.
That ride was my favourite thing about the whole Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the week in Orlando in general.
We had the best time! And I know our Grams was there, living it all through us.
After burning the candle at both ends in Orlando, spending hours on our feet at the theme parks, we then proceeded to the final stop of the America Part 2 trip. Chicago COME AT ME, BRO!
(Have you been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? What did you think? Thanks so much for reading! Katie-xo)