Ok, I admit I intentionally made my route so I’d be in Orlando over the weekend. Destination five of eight can be summed up in two words: Harry Potter. Disclaimer: Orlando has plenty to do outside of theme parks. But I’m a Harry Potter freak.
Seriously, I’ve been to all midnight book releases and movie releases. I read books 1-4 eight times each and books 5-7 six times each. If we’re past you questioning the legitimacy of my fandom, we can begin.
First I checked into the hotel that I immediately noticed had huge, beautiful chandeliers (Hotwire does it again), and went to the concierge to see if I could get a discount on my ticket. Guess who was there? Our fabulous Expedia Local Expert team! Huge shout-out to Adam and Robby for awesome service and being the real MVPs. They helped me get the cheapest tickets possible, gave me some tips since they had been in the park before (hence the name “Local Expert”) and also were great sports about posing in my selfie.
Where to begin on Harry Potter World? I can neither confirm nor deny that I teared up a bit — this place has been on my list for a long time. I did it all. The rides, the many versions of butterbeer (there’s frozen, regular, ice-cream, and even a warm seasonal). Overall, I was just blown away by the detail in everything from the cobblestone streets to the eerily realistic Gringotts goblins.
First of all, it’s split between two parks, so you have to buy two tickets or a 2-park ticket to see both Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. Once you get over that annoyance it’s actually neat to travel on the Hogwarts Express between the two. (Ensure you go on it both ways because it’s a different experience each time). There are rides at both parks and different shops to go through.
You can buy a wand and there are areas all over both lands to make ‘magic’ happen with your wand. You might see ice cream is a theme in my posts, but Florean Fortescue’s soft-serve in Diagon Alley is a wonderful treat especially on a hot day. I got Granny-Smith and it did not disappoint! You can dine at the Leaky Cauldron.
Orlando was magical. Looking forward to my next visit to explore areas outside of the Wizarding World.