I’ve always loved books. As a child, I would spend hours in the library reading. I don’t get to read as often as I wish I could anymore, but literature has made a strong impact on my life. One of my son’s names, Christian, was inspired by my fascination with tales by Hans Christian Andersen. Another, who goes by the nickname Max, is a nod to my favorite childhood book, Where the Wild Things Are. I hope that I can inspire all four of my children to escape and dream in books the way I used to.
As a teacher, before I had kids, I read the Harry Potter novels to my students. I saved the collection, looking forward to the day when I could read them to my own children. That took much longer than I expected it to! I tried a few times to start with the first book, but they got bored. I was crushed.
Finally, last school year, Christian asked me to start reading him Harry Potter. He’s a gifted and talented student, so I was surprised he wanted me to read them to him, but I said nothing. I was secretly thrilled that he had asked.
It didn’t take long for him to get hooked. Less than a year later, we are almost done with Book 5. I am loving every minute of it. As we finish each book, we watch the film. This way, my other kids know the story. They have all fallen in love with Harry Potter.
When we made a brief, hastily planned visit to Orlando this spring, I knew where I wanted to go: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I found a great package deal at Cabana Bay, one of the Universal Studios resorts, that included a three day pass to the Universal Parks. This was going to be awesome!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter did not disappoint. It was, truly, amazing. The attention to detail was astonishing. I’m not a huge fan of the movies, so I was happy to see that the “world” was very true to the books.
As guests at a Universal Resort, we got to visit the wizarding world one hour before the park opened. Christian and I took advantage of this opportunity one day. The area was still packed, but not as badly as it was later in the day. This attraction is very, very, very popular, with good reason. Even my husband, who is not familiar with the books, enjoyed it. We spent the bulk of our visit in the wizarding world, and here are some highlights.
Ollivander’s (The wand shop) was incredible. So many wands, stacked to the ceiling. You could even get fitted for one, just like they do in the book. There are two wand options: regular and magical. We purchased the magical one that comes with a map to all the locations where the wand works.
Of course, you need a robe! My son chose Gryffindor, of course. Armed with his extremely heavy and well made robe and his new wand, we set out to practice his magic charms in Diagon Ally.
It took a bit of practice, but eventually he was able to move the wand correctly to make the spells work. Astonishing feats like making eyeballs move and bringing chocolate frogs to life were his reward for saying the incantation correctly.
You’ll need a two park pass to be able to hop on the Hogwart’s Express at King’s Cross. I highly recommend it. Be sure to travel the train in both directions, as the experience is different each ride. One ride is spookier than the other one, with dementors making an appearance!
Check out this short video for a peek at the Hogwart’s Express ride!
The dining options were surprisingly good. Definitely stop into Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron for butterbeer, as well as other decidedly British food choices. Even if you’re not dining, pop into these restaurants to gape at the incredible artistry on display. Again, the attention to detail is astonishing and really makes you feel like you’ve been transported into the book.
The rides are so. Much. Fun. We rode them all multiple times.
I honestly can’t say enough good things about these attractions. They did not disappoint, and I cannot wait to go back again. Memories were created that I, and my kids, will cherish forever.
So why am I going on about Harry Potter right now? Well, his birthday is coming up! In celebration of that, I’m participating in Raegun Rambling’s Happy Harry Potter celebration. We’re giving away a BIG prize pack of Harry Potter themed goodies, as well as sharing lots of fun HP themed projects. I’ve got two fun HP crafts coming up, so stay tuned!
Prize Pack #1
See more about each prize and sponsor at this giveaway post and be sure to enter the other equally awesome prize pack while you’re there! Winner must have a US address or be willing to pay for international shipping.