First, the fun bit… The FTC disclosure. I received complimentary park tickets to Universal Studios so I could share my experiences with you.
While the first two days of my Universal expedition were full of excitement, the latter two were calm. We tried our best to get everything out of the way earlier so that there was time for me to see some of the other things the Universal Orlando park had to offer, which for the most part mirrors what I was able to experience back home. I was surprised to learn that they were lacking some things that I considered staples of the Universal experience, such as Back to the Future and Waterworld. Considering they’re the ones with Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, however, it seemed more than a fair trade. During our time there, we went on a couple of rides again, including the Gringotts one. For most of the day, however, we wandered around the areas and took photos. There’s so much to see that I’m certain I missed many small nods to the books; it wasn’t until partway through the second day that I noticed the Wizarding Wireless Network sign hanging off of one of the buildings, for example. The time spent slowing down and looking around was well worth it. It allowed me to take in some of the sights that I had missed. Any fan of Harry Potter will find it hard to take everything in all at once if only because there’s far too much to see and not nearly enough time to do it in. We had some butterbeer ice cream as we enjoyed the scenery, and I highly recommend spending at least a few minutes relaxing with some sort of treat to absorb the scenery. While there is a lot to experience in the Universal parks, the Harry Potter sections offer immersion unlike anything else I’ve experienced.
The final day of the Harry Potter celebration was also the more varied for our group. We spent a majority of the day going between sections of the park, and I was able to experience rides like Revenge of the Mummy and Krustyland. The other areas of the park were also very fun, although some were similar to what I had been on at home. All the same, I enjoyed my time, even getting a picture in front of the fake Hollywood sign that was up. This was the most relaxed of the days, as we’d managed to do all of the things we wanted to and so we spent most of our time going between the expo that had been set up and the main stage, where we got to see a wand dueling demonstration. Unlike what it may seem, there is a certain art to wand dueling that I was impressed by; it seemed to combine the rhythmic elements of dance with the style and order of sword fighting demonstrations I’d seen. The result was a fluid but adaptable style that looked good on screen but also allowed for flexibility between actors and those who would use the style for other projects such as fan works. The demonstration was led by the man who developed the style for the movies and Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood, and was quite a bit of fun. I joined in the practice with my own Ash wood wand and thoroughly enjoyed it. When that was done, we had lunch at the Three Broomsticks, which had one of the best apple cider drinks I’ve ever had. For those who wish to visit, our group got the feast, which was more than enough food to feed our group of four. It came with ribs, chicken, corn on the cob, veggies, and potatoes, and was quite a lot of food but was filling and delicious. I highly recommend it for parties of four or more, as it’s a relatively good deal for quite a bit of food.
All in all, the celebrations started hectic and mellowed out as the weekend progressed. They were a lot of fun, and I highly recommend all Harry Potter fans try to make it out to Florida to experience the parks for themselves. Those who are unable to make it to the East Coast, there may be another option soon. Universal Hollywood is opening their own Wizarding World area, and it’s expected to be done some time next year. While the date may get pushed back, I sincerely hope that it opens on time. It’s an extremely fun part of the Universal Orlando experience and something that I hope all fans get to do at least once.