Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Harry Potter World- Diagon Alley

When I finished reading the Harry Potter series to Harris this spring, I knew that we had to make the trip down to Harry Potter World as soon as we could.  It's been on my "list" for a while but I wanted both children to have read the series, and I didn't want to go until Diagon Alley was finished (it was completed July 2014).  I'm not one who loves theme parks, and I didn't really know what to expect but HP World exceeded all my expectations in every way! HP World is divided up, Diagon Alley and Hogmeade, between the two Universal parks.  We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel that is a part of the Universal network so that we could have early entrance to HP World.  The park that is open for early entrance changes every few weeks but during our stay it was Diagon Alley, which was perfect for us! Also, this time of year was the perfect time to visit, the crowds weren't crazy and the weather was just right.

We were up at 6:00 that morning and ready as the gates opened!  Grace and I had both done some reading about things not to miss which was super helpful as it's not exactly always obvious what might need a second look.  The phone booth outside of Diagon Alley is one of those things!  If you dial MAGIC you will get a message from the Ministry of Magic.  Each time we tried we got a different message!

Also, outside Diagon Alley was the Knight Bus with a very funny Stan Shunpike standing by to talk some magic with you (along with a very magical shrunken head).  Don't forget to walk around to the back of the bus and check out the inside!

Once you walk through the brick entrance to Diagon Alley you are fully immersed in a very realistic rendition of Harry's world.  I might have teared up at this point because I was so happy.

We spent a lot of time taking in all the amazing details and special touches.  They seem to have thought of everything.

We rode Escape from Gringotts right away so that we wouldn't have to wait in line and it was so fun. The inside of Gringotts is an exact replica of what you see in the movie, with goblins, moving pictures and some incredible chandeliers!

On top of Gringotts is a dragon that breaths fire every 12 minutes or so! It's really quite a spectacle!

Very soon after we got to Diagon Alley we visited Ollivander's Wand shop as no wizard or witch can do much magic without one.  Because it was so early, we didn't have to wait in line long at all and quickly found ourselves face to face with Ollivander himself.  Harris and Grace were picked out of the group to participate in the wand choosing and this turned out to be one of the most special parts of the whole trip (there were other children in our group so not everyone gets this opportunity).  He spent lots of time having the children try magic with wands, Harris' wilted the flowers, and finally decided on wands for each of them.  Naturally, Bryce and I couldn't resist buying the wands even though we had only planned on buying one interactive wand!

Throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are interactive experiences where after performing a specific motion of the wand, magic happens!  The wands come with a map showing the user where all of the locations throughout the park are.  It is very, very fun!

After we got our wands we headed to Gringotts bank and exchanged our Muggle money for wizarding money.  This money can be used throughout the parks.  Also, you can ask the goblin questions and he will answer you!

Shortly thereafter, we stopped in the Leaky Cauldron for some breakfast!  Bryce and I had a traditional English Breakfast with coffee while the children got pumpkin juice and pancakes.  I love that in HP world the food is good and that you don't have to fight for a place to sit since they seat you and bring your food to you.

After breakfast, we wandered around Diagon Alley and explored the shops and experiences.

We watched a show, "The Three Brothers," which was beautifully done (I might have teared up... again).

We also explored Knockturn Alley where all the dark wizards go.  Around this time, it started to pour down rain and we had to don a different sort of robe!

When it was time for lunch we went back to the Leaky Cauldron and had our first butterbeer!  Folks, during our time in HP world we tried all four types of butterbeer; warm, frozen, regular and ice cream.  Each of us loved the warm the most, it was so good!

Next up!  Hogwarts Express....


  1. Your pictures are amazing! I can not wait to visit.

  2. I know ! ! The details were fantastic! I felt like a kid again as I entered and gazed about with wonder! Your photo tour was exceptional! and I was re-living the experience. We didn't try all the types of butterbeer, but definitely had to don ponchos too.

  3. Wow! They have added soooo much! I want to go back! looks like you had a great time.


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