Welcome back! I recently did a post you can find on this site about our visit to Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Today I am going to focus on the Hogsmeade part that you can find at their Islands of Adventure theme park. First when you arrive in Hogsmeade you see the cute village laid out with its snow covered roofs. The impressive and majestic Hogwarts appears perched on a cliff in the distance. As I've said before, its like stepping onto the pages of a book. Though granted the snow feels off in the Florida heat, but anything is possible in a non-muggle world!
Photo below courtesy of Unsplash
You can find lots of the fun drinks at stations through out this park. Even Hog's Head has its own bar in the back of really the only restaurant of:
A quick service place where no reservations are required. You just walk in and order from their menu. The offerings were not immense but not bad either. We had the ribs and chicken platter to share. Overall it wasn't the best food the park has to offer, but it was fine for a quick lunch. Really why you go here is for the experience and the atmosphere.
Since its been over a year I have to admit my memory on this part is that there wasn't a ton of shopping on this side. There was a second Ollivanders in case you go here first instead of Diagon Alley. Overall, I believe Diagon Alley had better stores but there were two that stood out.
If you have a love of all things sugar, or love the books, then you must stop by this sweet shop. Filled with lots of candy and sweet options, there are some unique finds here. You can find Bernie Botts every flavor beans, sugar quill lollipos, or chocolate frogs (what we purchased). However, don't worry there are plenty of muggle inspired items in the store if you don't want to risk getting anything that will run away or is vomit flavored. (Note I accidentally ate a vomit flavored Bernie Botts bean before; it was enough to turn me off from them).
Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods
First you have to give prop's for the clever name of this store. It is the store connected to the Hogwarts castle and the biggest one in Hogsmeade. Here you will find lots of your Harry Potter merchandise. From clothing for each of the four houses, to scarves, backpacks, and lots of cool souvenirs at various price points. This is where I bought my small version of Hogwarts which now sits on my desk. Below is a picture of said keepsake.
Rides and Entertainment
This park has more to offer in this area compared to Diagon Alley. There is a stage area that has various entertainment throughout the day. We never caught much but did catch part of a dance that included the ladies from Beauxbatons Academy and the men from Durmstrang Institute.
Flight of Hippogriff
This is sort of the kiddie roller coaster of the park, but is worth doing. Its not a long coaster but has some great views of Hogwarts castle, plus a great Hippogriff animatronic and some cool Harry Potter nerd stuff. Picture of Hagrid's Hut below that I took while waiting in line.
This was still relatively a new ride when we went and the line for it was massive most of the time we were there. The one day it said the wait was like 2 hours so we decided to just go for it. To save time we opted for the single rider lane. Normally we only do that if we have ridden a ride together once but didn't care in this case. Its a coaster ride with each cart set up to hold 2 people like Hagrid's motorbike. The one gets the big bike and the other gets the side car. Its a fun ride with lots of great scenery and unexpected elements. You go forwards, backwards, and even the track drops at some point. When we were there though the ride did seem to break down a lot, but never for long periods. We actually got stuck while on the ride at one point and had to sit for several minutes. Don't worry t here are no tall loops that stick you upside down! The advantage to that is if you are stuck when it malfunctions, you get to jump to the front of the line when you get back to ride it again the way your supposed to ride it. Ask my husband, as he got to ride it 3 times in a row between his break down and mine.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
This is the big one and my favorite out of all of them in both parks. This is the ride you will find inside Hogwarts Castle. First lets start with the queue, as it is probably the most interesting line I have ever waited in for a ride. The outside is nice but the fun begins when you enter the castle. Each room has things to offer. There are paintings that move and talk; most of them discussing the big quidditch game that day. Overall the rooms tie into the story of the ride and why you are there. Basically, your a guest that day for the big quidditch match up. There is a room where Harry, Ron, and Hermione make and appearance and sprinkle you with some powder so you can fly. At one point of course you get to enter Dumbeldore's office.
The ride itself you are strapped into a chair. The chair is like a finger on a hand and the hand moves through the ride telling the story along the way. You'll go from straight up to on your back of face down pointing in various directions. The story is of the quidditch match with things goinging wrong along the way. Its a combination of screens, elaborately designed sets, and animatronics that make it a fun and interesting ride. The whomping willow tree is my favorite. At the end of the day you help Harry and the gang save the day.
Warning though that this ride shuts down a lot as people tend to get sick on it. It can be sort of jerky and as I said moves in various directions. I am prone to motion sickness, but mostly on boats. This ride didn't bother me, however, I did take some medicine that day ahead of time as a precaution. If you are prone to motion sickness you may want to watch a video online of the ride and do some research. If you decide to risk it, take a pill and do it before you eat.
Pic below of Hogwarts from outside.
Finally you can take the Hogwarts Express back to the other park. The line for this side isn't as interesting but the experience on the train is not the same as when you come over from Diagon Alley. This time its the end of the school year and you are heading home for the summer. Nothing exciting like dementors happens like it does coming over. Its a nice ride though; a good break to rest your legs and get out of the heat.
There you have it. Tell me your Harry Potter world stories and finds! Would love to hear them!