We didn't plan it because we didn't think we would have the time, but when Isaac did not end up advancing to the final round, we had an extra day.
A day to spend anywhere in Orlando.
It had to be Hogwarts.
Both of my big kids love Harry Potter, but my daughter LOVES Harry Potter. Her obsession has tempered over the last few months, but will probably never go away entirely. She was being a great sport about not being able to go, but was beside herself when it was suddenly back on the docket.
Her face, looking up at the castle for the first time, says it all:
There was one day last year when I discovered her sitting out in our meadow. She had a bag packed and was wearing her Hogwarts robes. Her sister informed me that she was waiting for her owl.
For a minute, I was concerned.
I went to her and asked, quite seriously, "Eliza, do I need to be worried about you? You do know that Harry Potter is fictional, right?" She smiled knowingly at me. Of course she knew, she just wished.
Wish Granted, my darling dear.
We were near the front of the gates when Universal opened and we ran straight for Hogwarts. We really didn't wait in line because the line is a tour of the castle and it was constantly moving. Here we are in the greenhouse.
(I have to say, it was cool. Very cool. But Disney would have done it so much better. Oh, well.)
Hogsmeade was marvelous.
Honeydukes was darling. The shops were all cute, but tiny, tiny. They could have tripled the size of the shops and they still would have been small. Universal could be making a lot more money on souvenirs, but we all just wanted to get out of there!
It was a mega hot day. Sweat dripped down my back and having my baby heat pack on the front of me didn't help much either.
This did improve the situation:
Butterbeer at the Hog's Head.
It was worth the price of admission just to have this treat.
My mom had found some recipes online and did her best to duplicate it, but it was no where near the real deal. This was delicious.
And it came with a cute little mustache.
Passed the test!
We went to Hogwarts first thing in the morning and hung around Hogsmeade until it began to get crowded. We toured some of the rest of the park then hiked back to Hogsmeade for Lunch at the Three Broomsticks.
It was a very cool building. This is looking straight up from our table. It wasn't open to visitors, but it did make me want to explore! Enticing.
"I can't believe I'm actually having lunch at the Three Broomsticks!"
We went to the castle again about an hour before closing and cruised right to the front. No waiting for us in Harry Potter land. Lucky, I s'pose. I thought the ride was fun, but the architecture and the picking out beloved items from the story (the pensive, the Fat Lady, Hagrid's Cabin, etc.) were more of a highlight for me.
The best, of course, was being with my kids--especially the daughter who had waited years to visit this magical place. What a fun time.
This was on our way to the Dragon's something-or-other. It is a scary roller-coaster where your feet hang down. I almost died. No, really. When I got to the top of the clickity, clickity part and looked down at the ant people standing on the solid concrete miles below, I nearly died.
Not a great picture, but there we were.