I reviewed our hotel, so now it's time to get to the fun part. This is the sole reason I choose Florida for my husband's birthday. He has read the Harry Potter books and at the time of our trip I had just finished the first one on the plane ride there. I'm ashamed as a book blogger that I have never read such a popular series, but trust me that changed recently. I'm participating in #HarreadPotter on Instagram throughout 2018, where a lot of Potter virgins are reading the books for the first time together. I just finished book four and I'm on a roll!
Anyways...back to the trip. We stayed at an "onsite resort", (you can find that review here) solely so we could take advantage of the early admission into the park. It was worth it! I actually had not looked up anything else about the park besides the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so it was awesome to see all the other themes as we made our way to the only reason we were there. The experience of even entering Diagon Alley is exhilarating. It is not as open concept as the rest of the themes, which just adds an extra flutter into the mystery. You have to walk through and around an alleyway. It builds the suspense and it's beautiful on the other side.
I had joined a group on Facebook called "The Mom Approved Disney World Trip Planning Group WDW, DL, Universal, DCL" and it was a life-saver. It is a closed group, but all it took to be accepted was to submit when I was planning to make my trip and where. I'm not a mom and was only planning to ever use this group once to see if they knew anything about one section of one park and they were AMAZING. Below is a comment I made sure to print out and helped me tremendously:
Flight of the Hippogriff (mini mini rollercoaster)
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
The Hogwarts Express train over to other side (when you are ALL done with this side unless you are hopping back and forth)
Eat at Three Broomsticks
Dervish and Bangles
Ollivander’s Wand Shop (at both)
Out door shows-Frog choir and triwizard spirit rally
Escape from Gringotts
Eat at The Leaky Cauldron
Lots and lots of shops! This is when, you are done with the rides and can wander. Quick drinks at Eternelle's Elixir or Fountain of Fair Fortune
Ice cream at Florean Fortescue"
The consensus of what to ride first was an overwhelming, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. We were told to ride that as many times as possible before the rest of the public was allowed in. The ride operators even told us we were smart to get in this line first because it can become a multi hour wait and I don't have patience, especially when I didn't even appreciate it fully back then.
Another fun recommendations was the Interactive Wand Exhibits. My husband answered some questions inside of Ollivander’s, held a few wands, and one of the employees made it a fun experience to even have the wand "choose" him. We only needed to purchase one and took turns at each of the little hidden magic areas, waving our wands around, knowing how stupid we must have looked, but loving it. We enjoyed watching everyone from kids to an elderly couple that came for the first time that was way over 60 trying to figure out where to point the stupid thing :) There is no age limit for fun at this park and really there is no need for embarrassment. Many people kids and adults came dressed in their house robes and I was wanting to wear one by the end of the day. I had completely immersed myself and jumped onto the HP bandwagon by the end of the day, needing to read the rest of the series ASAP.
Ride Reviews by my husband
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - Five Stars
- So much detail was put into the long, winding journey through Hogwarts with little CG scenes of the cast interacting with you that by the time you get to the start of the ride you are already amped up and ready to hop on your broomstick. Once on the ride things just get even better as your feet dangle below you as you fly through out the campus avoiding giant spiders and Dementors!
The Hogwarts Express - Four Stars
- Fun little ride back and forth between the two parks, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, but no real thrill since it's not really a roller coaster and if I'm going to be planted somewhere I want that adrenaline rush. That being said though, there was an equal amount of detail poured into this one like all the rides and the little cut scenes you get to watch while the tram moves are pretty cool.
Escape from Gringotts - Five Stars
- This is simple for the ride and the detailed craftsmanship of Gringots when you stroll in. Unfortunately the cinematic scenes at the beginning as you make your way to the actual coaster were down that morning so we all had to funnel through a side door to bypass it. Super entertaining ride that'll have your fingers tingling with anticipation long after the ride is over.
Ride Reviews by me
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey - Three Stars
- Nope. I'd never ride this ride again. I'm glad I rode it once, but I'm terrified of 4D and then add breathing spiders coming at me as I'm dangling in the air. I love that this ride switched between movie screens, 3D, virtual reality, and whatever else its called. It was very cool, but my eyes were squeezed tight during the picture and were that way during 95% of the ride. The best part of this ride was the line. There were moving pictures, holograms, a sorting hat, and flat out just exploring and winding around an entire castle. I might not be patient, but this is the first line I would ever say I'd have fun waiting in a line.
The Hogwarts Express - Four Stars
- A badass way to travel through a park! Making a short commute into an experience is just amazing. You are immersed in this as the lights flicker, the walk ways have shadows and voices passing and the windows have a screen playing out. Very creative and fun to watch.
Escape from Gringotts - Five Stars
- Amazing! The only ride I'd ride more than once. The pre-ride experience had glitched, but you didn't need it because the ride was so cool. You became a character with some of the favorites and it was exhilarating. The first roller coaster I've ever been on that was so much more than just that. You were part of a story and not at all as scary as the spiders. The only thing I flinched at was a dragon, but I appreciated it blowing fire my way to dry me off after getting misted by the ogre :)
To sum the trip up, I would go again in a heartbeat. We both loved it and that's from a range of myself with zero interest who had never read Harry Potter to my husband who lived and loved the series. I would also say you are never too old, which was my main concern. I'd recommend an early entrance pass and I would say with that you can experience all the above and still have time to ride the Despicable Me ride (when you remember HP World isn't the only section in this park) in just one day. I'll add a side note that we did go on a Thursday in November, so that might be a key reason we were able to make it through all the rides multiple times and conquer this park in a day. Thank you for reading and Happy Wizarding!! Let me know what your favorite rides are, if you have any more recommendations, and if you have ever been to any other Wizarding World park besides Florida and how that compared.