Last week I went on a 7 day trip to Orlando, Florida. I was there working with Mom It Forward for the Family Forward: Orlando Adventure conference for work. It was an amazing week with a bunch of awesome bloggers. Even though we were busy with family conference sessions we still had time to enjoy Universal Studios and all that it had to offer. Being a Harry Potter freak I was unbelievably excited to get into Diagon Alley for the first time.
The first night of the conference the Family Forward attendees were invited to an Exclusive VIP Event in Diagon Alley after hours. This was my first view of anything Harry Potter at Universal so I was really excited. We boarded the train from Hogsmeade and took a ride over to Diagon Alley. The train ride was amazing. I walked through the train station where we were all sent to the front of the line to board. I stood there as the train came in and was awed at the perfection. It isn’t just a ride, it is also an experience. There are screens that show you the journey going from Hogsmeade to London.
Next stop – Diagon Alley! Walking into Diagon Alley there is so much to take in all at once but we were in a hurry to get to the back so that we could get on the ride, Harry Potter and The Escape From Gringotts. Our group was the only people allowed in but everyone wanted to ride first.
The walk through Gringotts was amazing. Everything looked so real!
The goblins move and talk to you as you pass. It really felt like you were inside the Gringotts Bank from the movies. The one problem is that you can’t get really good pictures inside with your phone. The lights are so bright that they wash everything out. I left my camera in the locker since you can’t take anything on the ride.
To be honest I was scared to ride the ride. I am NOT a roller coaster girl for one reason, I HATE the drops. Everyone kept telling me that there was a little drop on this ride and that it is no big deal. The ride only has a lap bar so it is not big and even the little ones (42 inches) can go on it. It is billed as a thrill ride, and I had to do it, so I did. I loved it. There is a nice
huge and scary little drop right at the beginning but I was able to get over that. The people working the ride told me to sit up front and the drop would be shorter so I did. It was such a fun ride. I decided not to ride it a second time but I will ride it again when I go back to Universal.
After the ride we grabbed some treats and the ultimate drink, Frozen Butterbeer. If you haven’t had Butterbeer you are missing out. It has a cream soda-ish flavor but not too strong. I usually don’t like cream soda but I LOVED the frozen Butterbeer. One of the reasons I liked it so much may have been because you get an awesome mustache when you drink it straight from the cup.
I think I had 3 Butterbeers that night. I may not have finished them all because they are filling, but I did get some epic mustache photos with these girls!
fter the treats and drinks we did some shopping and picture-taking. With so few people in Diagon Alley we were able to do everything that we wanted without being crowded. I was able to walk through the Leaky Cauldron without anyone else being in there with me. It was silent and awesome. I could just imagine actually being there (in my Harry Potter imaginary world that is).
After that VIP night I did go back one morning early using my early admittance (since we were staying on Universal property) to take more pictures and do a little more shopping (so that explains why some of my pictures are at night and some are during the day).
Each time that I went to Diagon Alley I spent quite a bit of time in Knockturn Alley. Not that I am a dark wizard or anything I just liked it in there. They had the air conditioning cranked so that it felt cold and the store, Borgin and Burkes, had some of the best stuff! I got a couple of shirts, a He Who Must Not Be Named mug, and a scarf from there.
You can go into all of your favorite stores from the world of Harry Potter. I got some great shopping done while I was there. Here is a small sample of the hundreds of photos of the shops that I took while I was there.
I got a few pictures of the dragon breathing fire that were amazing the morning that I went down early.
It was an amazing experience to say the least. I can’t wait until I can take my kids down so that they can experience the excitement. If you get a chance you need to go!
*I was not financially compensated in any way for this review. I received tickets to Universal for attending a conference that was partially sponsored by them. All opinions, as always, are my own.