I’ve had this post on my to-do list for a long time now, and normally I think that a year is probably about 10 months too long to wait to write about something. But in light of Alan Rickman’s recent death and how much the Harry Potter series has meant to my daughter, I thought I’d share it anyway.
When Emily was in second grade, we bought her the first Harry Potter book for Christmas. She devoured it, and eagerly ripped through the entire 7-book series, reading about a book a month. After each book was completed we’d let her watch the corresponding movie, which basically turned her into a total expert on all things Harry Potter by the time she finished the final movie.
Harry Potter infiltrated every part of her life. She’d make lists of spells and hang them on her bulletin board in her room. She’d write stories for school that were inspired by the books. She’d always loved owls, but after seeing the first movie she renamed her beloved stuffed owl Hedwig and always had to have her by her side while reading the books or watching the movies. There were Harry Potter teacher gifts. We had never-ending conversations about the series, major discussions on character motives, and imagined different outcomes for various situations the characters encountered. And of course we ate Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. 😀
It was a no-brainer that we were gonna have to take her to Universal Studios to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 🙂
We really wanted the trip to be as special for Emily as possible, and Julia was still too young to ride pretty much everything. My parents kindly agreed to watch Julia for a day so that Emily, Jay and I could fully enjoy the park together. The next time we were at their house for a visit we woke Emily early in the morning, piled in the car (with Hedwig, of course), and headed to Orlando!
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is spread across two of Universal’s parks, with London, Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley, and King’s Cross Station all on the Universal Studios side, and Hogwarts and Hogsmeade on the Islands of Adventure side. Jay and I thought that it would be more fun to start where Harry Potter himself began his adventure – in London – and then proceed from there, roughly mimicking Harry’s journey.
First we stopped to chat with the shrunken head on the Night Bus, which was located in London…
…and then went through the magical bricked entrance to Diagon Alley!
We hit the super awesome ride at Gringott’s straight away, then headed off to Ollivander’s to let a wand choose Emily. 😉
If you purchase a specific type of wand, you can actually “cast spells” around Diagon Alley and watch things magically happen, like making feathers float. It’s pretty awesome, and in my opinion worth a little extra so that you can discover tons of hidden secrets!
It seems the power eventually went to her head. 😀
After exploring everything we could, we stepped through platform 9 3/4 and hopped the Hogwarts Express to the other side of Harry’s world.
We immediately went to one of the places she’d wanted to see the most – Hagrid’s house. It’s not an attraction you can enter, but it was pretty amazing to be able to check out the exterior. Hagrid’s was situated near one of the rides, and while we were in line for the ride Emily was able to see one of her favorite creatures, Buckbeak. ❤
Then it was off to Hogwarts! A word of advice – don’t have too much or too little food in your belly before getting on the ride at Hogwart’s. It’s crazy fun, but crazy intense!
We ate lunch at the Three Broomsticks (which Emily still talks about a year later) with some non-gill-inducing Gilly water – then hit the rides some more before heading back to Diagon Alley.
We couldn’t help having some fun with the window displays at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole day!
Emily had hoped and prayed that she’d be able to find a stuffed Buckbeak while we were there, but unfortunately they were completely sold out. She was a little bummed, until she turned around and noticed that they had Crookshanks. That was easy. 🙂
Before we knew it, the day was over and it was time to head back to my parents’ house and to Julia. We can’t begin to express how proud we are of Emily. She’s so kind to everyone around her, so willing to help, and works so hard in school. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to reward her with something that meant so much to her. We love knowing that she’ll remember this trip for a long time, and that she had that time with us all to herself. ❤