I solemnly swear that I am up to no good…
Its no secret around here that theme parks are my favorite places to spend my time, and that excitement is always even more so enhanced when I get to live out the fandom fantasies inspired by all of my favorite IPs (that’s Intellectual Property for those of you not ~in the know~) and stories that I grew up imagining being a part of.
Universal Orlando has created one of the most well-themed, immersive, magical (yes I went there) places in Central Florida with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Wizarding World is currently spread out into two separate themed lands, one in each of Universal’s current theme parks; Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida. The lands are connected by the Hogwarts Express, and if you think I didn’t absolutely bawl my eyes out the first time I boarded the train from the Kings Cross station, you don’t know me at all. It looks exactly the same as it does in the films, the only thing it’s missing is the Trolley Witch, so you’ll have to buy your pumpkin pasties, cauldron cakes, and chocolate frogs from Honeydukes once you arrive in Hogsmeade. I still make the trip out to Universal Orlando every year on September 1st to ride the train for the official first day of school at Hogwarts. I graduated a while ago, but this Ravenclaw prefect still makes sure I’m available to help any lost first years find their way to the Astronomy Tower common room.
A visit to Hogsmeade is never complete without a stop at the Three Broomsticks bar for a Butterbeer. Butterbeer is available in three different variations; Frozen and Cold are on tap all year round, with a Hot version offered seasonally in the traditional “colder” months (even though in Central Florida we don’t experience much of a temperature change.)
My hierarchy of Butterbeers is Cold at a very firm #1, closely followed by Hot, with Frozen coming in dead last. I am extremely passionate about my Butterbeer opinions, when I read the books I always imagined it having come kind of carbonation, which is how the Cold is served. You also don’t get a straw with the Cold, making the Butterbeer foam mustache an inevitable side effect. Cold is definitely, in my not-so-humble opinion, the superior way to drink your Butterbeer.
The Hot Butterbeer comes in a slightly smaller serving size than the Cold and the Frozen, but its delightfully warm and sweet on the rare cool days we get here, and when the temperatures dip below 70°, its an even better choice than a Hot-Air Charm to warm your hands.
The Frozen is my absolute least favorite. It’s a blended ice slush, so it tastes watered down to me, and since its served with a straw, you don’t get to taste as much of the sweet foam that tops it. But hey, the Imperius Curse is still an Unforgivable Curse, so order what you want, to each their own.
Okay, now time for the newest addition to the Wizarding World, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure! Yes, that’s a lot of name, but trust me, its also a lot of attraction.
This is, by far, the best attraction I have ever experienced. Hagrid’s is a roller coaster, with several launches, a drop track, and show scenes with practical sets and animatronics, and you guys, it BLEW MY MIND. I went into this experience with sky high expectations because I had heard nothing but rave reviews, and I was honestly expecting to be let down. I didn’t think it was possible, but Hagrid’s exceeded and went above and beyond every hope I had for it. I was giggling, screaming, and grinning from ear to extendable ear from the first launch, til well past I unloaded off of my motorbike back into the Wizarding World. The attraction has consistently had a very lengthy wait (with a significant amount of downtimes), but it was worth every minute of the 100 minutes I waited, and I would definitely recommend not skipping this ride on your next visit.
No matter how high the temperatures soar in the heat of the summer, the snow in Hogsmeade never melts. It’s almost like MAGIC.
After catching the Hogwarts Express from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley, it was time for more treats, and my second Butterbeer of the day (no shame from me, and no judgement from you). This Butterbeer produced a much better mustache as well, so hashtag worth it.
While Cold Butterbeer is definitely my favorite Wizarding World treat overall, the ice cream from Florean Fortescue’s is a very close second. There are a few flavors here that are outside the box of your usual ice cream parlor menu, like Clotted Cream, Chocolate Chili, and my absolute favorite, Earl Grey and Lavender. You can also get Butterbeer flavored soft serve here as well, but I’ll say it again, the Cold Butterbeer is still the best way to consume this flavor, and if you skip out on the Earl Grey and Lavender, you’re only doing yourself a disservice.
I already can’t wait for my next trip to the Universal Orlando Resort, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you’ve been putting off your next visit, and haven’t passed your Apparition test yet and still need a ticket, click here for all of your Universal Orlando admission options, but make sure you get a Park-to-Park ticket to be able to travel to both of the Wizarding Worlds on the Hogwarts Express!
I’ll be over here dwelling on dreams, but not forgetting to live at the same time, and I’ll see you at King’s Cross on September 1st for the first day of school!
Til next time, because this prefect is still on summer holiday,
Thanks for staying with me until the very end,