Earlier this month we celebrated my son’s 10th birthday by going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We had originally promised to take him for his 9th birthday, but buying a house got in the way. For a whole year I heard nothing but “You promised to take me to Harry Potter World for my birthday, Mom!”
Since we live in Orlando it made sense for us to get annual passes. Did you know Universal has a flex pay option that lets you pay monthly for your annual pass? I only found out about this just recently and was super excited. I might not have been able to purchase 4 annual passes otherwise.
We had the bright idea to pick up our passes from Universal early. You know, to avoid the line on the day we finally go. We excitedly piled into the car. John stuck the key into the ignition and tu-… wait. The key didn’t turn. But it’s supposed to turn. WTF? This had actually happened to us once before; We wrestled with it for about 15 minutes and eventually got the key to turn. It’s inconvenient of course, but surely we could get the key to turn eventually right? Wrong. An hour went by, two hours went by, John took apart the center console thinking there was something up with our parking switch. Nope that wasn’t it either. Awesome. Three days before our tightly budgeted Harry Potter trip we can’t start the freakin’ car.
The hubby started making phone calls. This happened at around 5pm on a Saturday. No one was open to help us. We were stuck at home for the rest of the weekend. It sucked.
When Monday morning finally came around the boys (it’s what I lovingly call them. They’re not really boys though. They are strong manly men. :insert Tim the Toolman Taylor grunt here:) decided we could save money if they pushed the car to the mechanic (we were super lucky to find one a few blocks from us). Unfortunately the car didn’t get repaired in time so I had to rent a car to take everyone to Harry Potter World.
Part of my son’s birthday present was that he was allowed to bring one friend. The morning of, we rented the car, picked up his friend (we’ll call him Tay) and headed to Universal Studio’s Island of Adventure. We didn’t get there till about noon and had plans to meet up with Crystal and her family.
At this point I could hardly contain the excitement. I was like a little kid in a candy store. Butter beer, butter beer, butter beer was all I could think about. So… grabbing some butter beer was the first thing we did. It tasted like a cream soda with butterscotch topping! Although I wasn’t aware at the time, I later found out what I was drinking was NOT frozen butter beer. I had frozen butter beer on a return visit and it was definitely better!
While Crystal, John and I stood around enjoying our butter beers I noticed the wait time on the Dragon Challenge go from 45 minutes down to 15. I encourged Jeff to jump on the opportunity and take AJ and Tay with him. AJ had never been a roller coaster, but after being on the skycoaster I couldn’t imagine it being a problem for him.
He later walked back from the ride with a huge smile on his face and told me they had ridden the blue dragon. From what was explained to me the red dragon is faster with more drops while the blue one is slower with more loops. “The blue one will make you dizzier.” I was told. So John and I rode the red one instead. The wait to get on the ride itself was pretty short, it was the walk to get there that took us 15 minutes.
After the Dragon Challenge I couldn’t wait to go on the next ride. Unfortunately the only thing on AJ’s mind was going into the shops. He wanted to buy everything! I tried to explain that we should wait till before we left to buy things so we weren’t stuck carrying it all day long, but he didn’t want to hear it. It took a while but we eventually convinced him to go on the Forbidden Journey simulation ride.
The wait to get on the Forbidden Journey kind of sucked until we finally got into the castle. The inside looked much like you’d expect the Hogwarts castle to look like complete with talking paintings and tons of magical artifacts. Walking through the castle itself makes you completely forget your waiting to go on a ride. They really did a great job with this!
The ride itself was pretty interesting though at times rather confusing. I really thought I was upside at some point, but John keeps assuring me I wasn’t. The seats are pretty snug and walled off which almost an anxiety induced claustrophobic fit. Despite that (lol) it was one of the best simulation rides I’ve ever been on!
Once the ride was done we were lead out through Filche’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods. AJ and Tay were walking out ahead of us. Just as Tay had walked past the garbage can he put his hand up to his mouth and totally vomited through his fingers all over the outside of the Hogwarts castle! He turned around and with a sad look on his face apologized. Time slowed down. I stared at him for a moment to take it all in. He was covered in vomit from head to toe. There were a million things going through my head.
Oh my god are you ok? Tay you’re covered in puke! I guess we’ll have to go home. Oh no! What about the rental car?!?! You’re covered in puke :gag: (I had to take a step back at this point and sent AJ away. He was gagging as well and the last thing I needed was two vomit covered kids.) Oh my god what are we going to do?!?!
Luckily one of the Universal employees noticed the pool of vomit and totally jumped in to save the day. “Want us to help clean him up?” He said. Like I’m going to say no. “Yes, please!” I told him. John left with Tay and the Universal guy. They were gone for what must have been an hour. Eventually Tay came back with a new shirt, new shorts, and a pair of flip flops! (and a Universal bag filled with his old clothes.) Whoa! From what John explained they had a whole closet filled with clothing for that specific reason. “I guess this happens often?” John asked. “Every. Single. Day.” the guy told him.
Needless to say we didn’t go on anymore rides that day. We finished off the night with some dinner at the (fairly priced) Three Broomsticks and some shopping at Zonko’s, Honeyduke’s and Dervish and Bangs.
Although the Wizarding World of Harry Potter isn’t nearly as big as I was expecting, there’s definitely enough to entertain even the biggest of fans. Just remember if your claustrophobic or suffer from simulation sickness you may want to reconsider the Forbidden Journey!