Hope this finds you all doing well! Long ago, I promised the kids if we could get through the selling of our former place/move to the new we would reward ourselves with a little trip. We haven't been on one in recent memory. The only place we agreed on was Universal Studios-Orlando to see the new "Wizarding World of Harry Potter." It is going to be a marathon trip--leave one day, go to the park a day and return home the next day. It's the best I can do, but I think we can swing it!
The "Wizarding World" is actually one section of Universal's original park and one section of Universal's Island of Adventure. Pretty clever as you are stuck paying for two-park passes which are a dizzying $155 a person a day without any frills (express, early entry, etc.) You have to have this pass to take the Hogwarts Express train between the two sections which are "Diagon Alley" and "Hogsmeade." Here is an interactive tour.
What started this was a travel channel show about the making of Diagon Alley which is the new section and the Florida park is the only one with it. Another reason to get rid of satellite TV! LOL! Now we want to go to Europe and all sorts of places!
I usually don't go for "dark" or "gross" movies/books, but since these were written for children, they were tamed down. It's more about the story and the wild imagination of JK Rowling. I like the books better. I started working as the public relations manager of the local library, then went on to be a sub-teacher for 11 years in all grades, so I was surrounded by kids packing those books around. Even kids which normally wouldn't read unless forced.
I always tried to be relevant when I taught so I read whatever was popular for any age. I wound up loving the first book and remember the big deal when we waited outside our little local theater to watch the first movie the day of its release.
So off we go this Summer...I got a package from a little known airline called Allegiant. They only fly on Tues, Thurs, Sat and Sun--one trip a day. The tickets appeared to be selling out and the price goes up as they sell off whatever amount they set aside for each price bracket. Really looks like a great deal until you realize that is the base price. Not only are there the usual fees/taxes, but if you want to take more than a purse, it's 30.00 for a carry on and $40 to check a suitcase. They charge "comfort fees" when you pick your seat, meaning no matter where you sit, there is an additional charge of $15-$25 each way. If you want to get on the plane first, it's $6 each way. It just goes on and on...I wouldn't be surprised if there is a charge to use the lavatory!
We are staying at the Hilton at the park entrance because the park hotels are astronomical unless you are staying several days. But, it's a "partner" hotel, so there are supposed to be a few perks. We have been studying the ins and outs online and watching youtube experiences. We have quite a shopping and food testing list. There are only a handful of rides, so we should have lots of time. We will likely catch other sections of the park as well.
|Hogswart Express- an authentic steam train|
Audra and I are kicking around doing a "haul video" when we return, also sharing our tips and tricks. One thing all agreed upon by all we have learned so far is that it's amazing even for those not familiar with the books/movies. They spared no expense on the details of the experience. You even walk through the wall at Platform 9 3/4 to get on the train. They have little "Easter Eggs" throughout the park of little known "secrets," places to perform "spells" with your interactive wands and waiting for the rides is as enjoyable as riding. It will likely be a million degrees out, so we are told to do Diagon in the afternoon as it is shaded/air-conditioned. I guess we will be swilling the cold non-alcoholic "Butterbeer!"
If you have been there and have suggestions/tips/tricks please let us know in the comments below!
Until next time!