Confession. We are big Harry Potter fans--mostly thanks to our kids and grandkids. When we were in London a while ago, we visited the Warner Brothers studio where the movies were filmed and wandered through the Great Hall, the Gryffindor dorm, saw the purple bus, and the large model of Hogwarts used for many of the outdoor shots. So when we knew we would be passing by Orlando we decided to make a small detour and see Universal's take on Harry Potter.
The morning started out really cold for Florida. The temps were in the 40s F but were expected to climb into the upper 60s. I guess that's why we saw some teen girls with short shorts whose goosebumps made their skin look like someone had used a spell on them.
Tickets were a bit pricey for the park. For two seniors it cost us $189 and that only got us into the park that had the Harry Potter experience. I guess it was still cheaper than a one day visit to Disney World and who could put a price on a one time bucket list item?
We arrived early at the park. Our hotel, a Hampton Inn, had free shuttle service to the park which was only about a mile and a half away. Tickets purchased, we stood in line and smiled at the way the Floridians were bundled up. It was easy to pick them out. They certainly were not wearing shorts.
The gates opened and we, along with a throng of others, headed straight for the Harry Potter area. Bob had read that it was best to visit it first before the lines got long. After a brisk walk we arrived at an archway that led to the train station and the Hogwarts Express had just arrived.
Beyond the train, the road took us down the middle of Hogsmeade. I must admit it was a little more thrilling than the street at Warner Brothers. Probably because these were actual structures and were out in the open. It seemed very appropriate that the roofs were covered in snow even if it was fake.
At the end of the street we stopped in awe as Hogwarts loomed before us. The wait line was only 15 minutes but I almost wished it had been longer as we wound our way through the displays inside. Pictures talked to us but thankfully none of the pathway moved like the stairs did in the "real" Hogwarts.
The ride was great! It is mostly simulation but it does move through the school as well. You feel like you are flying with Harry. We visited the wand shop where a wand actually chose one of the young girls in our group. Her parents were given the opportunity to buy it for her. There was a small roller coaster that we rode but passed on the loopy large one and instead wandered through the shops that offered all sorts of Potter paraphernalia.
When we were done with Potter, we wandered through the rest of the park and rode a few more things in Seuss land and the Marvel section. There weren't a whole lot more rides for seniors and there were some that required you have a child with you to ride. Add to that the water rides (which we wouldn't have tried even if the weather were warmer) and we were pretty much done with the park by 3. We found some distraction in the Discovery center in Jurassic Park. It was fun to watch a dinosaur egg hatch.
Returning to the Potter area, we bought two butter beers (kind of a cross between ginger ale and cream soda) and sat down to people watch. There were a lot more people milling around and wait lines were now up to 45 minutes. Still, this was not high season for the park. I can't imagine what it would be like mid-summer.
We wandered slowly through the park again and out to the City Walk which is really outside the park. This area is full of shops and restaurants and entertainment complexes that have live entertainment at night. Our shuttle back to the hotel was not due until almost seven so we ate our dinner at Bubba Gump's very slowly and then caught the last few rays of the sun. After all we were headed north in the morning and who knew how far we would get when the sunny sky would turn cloudy?