This weekend before last, I went to one of the most wonderful places on Earth: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
And I had probably the BEST time of my entire life, although most of the rides throughout the Harry Potter sections and the rest of the park made both my boyfriend and I extremely nauseous. I was such a ball of emotion that it really didn't matter to me. I nearly cried 9 or more times just because I was so freaking excited.
Harry Potter, while one of my favorite series's of all time, has much more meaning to me than just a book and movie. I have shared the series' laughs, tears, excitement, joy, love, heartbreak, kindness, tenderness, and all other emotions one can feel during a Harry Potter book/movie with some of the most important and influential people in my life. One of those people being my Grandma Jonna. She has been a wonderful influence in my life. She is probably one of the strongest and most influential women in my life and I thank the universe every day I have someone like her to look up to. Although she is a "step-grandma" there is no doubt that in my heart she was meant to be my grandma throughout life.
Just as important: now that I have been able to share this wonderful experience with the love of my life makes this experience so much better. I was in Harry Potter World, on the Hogwarts Express, drinking Dragon's Scale beer (which I'll describe below), all while holding hands with my loving and wonderful boyfriend. Although he is not a big Harry Potter fan, when we first started dating (probably around 3 months in before our birthdays) he pulled me aside at bowling and told me he had been thinking about what he wanted to do. Almost made me cry then when he told me he wanted us to go to Universal Studios for Harry Potter. Now, we've been and I've shared such a wonderful experience with him. :''') Almost makes me want to cry now!
So scratch the scrolly thing cause it didn't want to work. Just go to the link: please go here.
So on to what's gooooood: The Reviews.
Best Western Gateway at Orlando Studios --Nothing overwhelming, nothing underwhelming. It was just a typical hotel. We had two double beds, so other than cuddling, we slept in separate beds because there was just not enough room. That was our choice when we booked the hotel though, nothing wrong with their service. They have an area where someone from Condo place sits trying to sell you things. That was extremely annoying.
The cleaning crew was relentless. Even though we had our "Peace and Quite" sign on the door (because we were napping) the cleaning crew attempted multiple times to get into the room. They woke us up because the slider was closed and hit hard when they tried to open the door. After they couldn't get in, they called us, which woke me up fully (and I'm not typically nice when I'm woken up before my body wants me to be.) But when they did clean, they did well.
The Hotel Bar and Grill: Sharky and Jack's: We stayed far away. The food was far to expensive along with the beer to offer any good dining experience in our (my boyfriend and I's) mind.
Overall, it was a good experience. The pool was completely shaded most of the day, so a poor side of the hotel for the pool. They did have two jacuzzi tubs and a sun bathing deck, which was nice.
Universal Studios Orlando
Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon AlleyUmh... Nothing at all bad to say, at all. The entire experience was fantastic. Even down to the really creepy witch that was walking around Knockturn Alley (she did a really good job.) The entire experience was fantastic. Just so fantastic.
They had wonderful shows, singers, and most of the important stores in the book were open for business. The butterbeer, oh the butterbeer. My boyfriend had 4 cups of it all and all before we left. Personally, I do not like it all that much, but that's because I do not butterscotch. But wonderful presentation and fairly priced.
Dragon's Scale: But they did have beer! And it was their own micro-brew, which is pretty damn awesome. The beer itself tasted like Newcastle, but it was very, very good. It had a hoppy flavor but it was not overly hoppy to the point where you really didn't want to drink it due to the heat. Two 20 ounce beers cost us $16, which really is not a terrible price, especially seeing as we were in the middle of a Theme Park. Very good beer that gave me a little buzz because I drank it on an empty stomach. xD
The Leaky Cauldron: Spoiler Alert, I almost cried when we walked in. With the Wizarding World of Harry Potter vacation package we bought (here), we received a voucher for a breakfast in The Leaky Cauldron. All and all, it was a $40 dollar value well freaking spent. The food was fantastic. Out of 5 choices for breakfasts, not many were "vegetarian" friendly, and with the style of restaurant it is (walk up, choose, be seated, and they bring you the food which is already cooked and ready to be served) there was no availability for substitutions. After we ordered, the took our voucher tickets, directed us to be seated, and we were, very quickly. Our reservation was at 9:00 am and we got there 15 minutes early. We were seated before our reservation time was even close. But they weren't very strict about that at this location.
Our hostess took us to our table with the "9" Candle Stick pictured below. How adorable, right? I had the Pancake Breakfast, because I was feelin' some fluffy goodness, and my boyfriend ordered the Traditional Breakfast. The amount of food that came out on my boyfriend's plate made me jealous that I didn't eat meat. He said his breakfast was fantastic, and my pancakes were pretty good, too. The star of the show, however, were the breakfast potatoes. I probably could have just eaten my weight in those and been perfectly fine. So delicious.
Escape From Gringotts: Another flawless execution, although it did make me sick to my tummy (but the 3D rides just are not for me.) I nearly cried while I was on the ride from excitement. The filmed "extra" scenes were great. Some really powerful characters from the series came out and filmed scenes that were not directly related to the movie, but were directly related... if that makes sense. With the early park admission we got with our Vacation Package, I was able to get on this ride without a wait time (actually, we were able to get on most rides without long wait times, which was fantastic.) Overall, great ride, and a great experience. If I was a child, I would have been in tears with the amount of excitement I had.
The Stores and Ollivander's Wand Shop: There is definitely not enough room in these shops to accommodate a large amount of people. But from pushing and shoving our way through, we were able to get through and look at all of the wonderful "shops" (aka: gift shops) that were open. The best part about it was, the wands (non-interactive) were not too expensive at all! My boyfriend and I stuck with the non-interactive versions of the wands because well.. they were actual collectable, heavy, durable, and not cheap plastic like the interactive wands. We would never be able to use them outside of the park, so we went collectable. But the interactive parts in the park were very cool. We watched quite the few children and quite the few adults use their wands to make water spit out of places, feathers rise, balls rise, etc. It was very well done by the.
The Rest of the Park: Eh.... Mediocre. Some of the rides were a bit dated and most of them were 3D, which made us sick to our stomachs. But overall it was decent. I was just really there for the Harry Potter Portion.
I'll have to do these in two different reviews. :) Well, ya know, I don't have to. But I'm a blogger and I'm going to.