Family, Vacation

Orlando 2016 – Part 2

Hope your week has been going well.  We went to a lake house over the weekend with my family.  Nice relaxing weekend, a bit humid, but good fun.  I forgot to post this fun video in the post about Disney Springs:

So days 2-4 were spent at Universal Studios.  I was so very excited to go to Harry Potter World, we got to go in an hour early because we were staying at one of their on-site hotels.  So worth it, we got to ride all the rides multiple times before the park opened and got to walk around without worrying about if we were going to run into people’s ankles with our stroller.  First we rode the Dragon Challenge, which is two different roller coasters.  I love how they decorated the path up to the coaster with elements from the movie.  Unfortunately you can’t take any photos, this is one of the rides where they make you put your stuff in lockers, they even have a metal detector at the top.  Both coasters are great, but the Chinese Fireball is more roller coaster and less loops than the horntail one.


Entrance to Hogsmede

So this photo was taken right when we got in around 8:30am, the crowds you see is actually minimal it gets way more crowded later, so either you go to Harry Potter area first or last anything in between and you’ll have long wait times.  Also, my sister is a beast, she got into Orlando airport at 5am!



Only Islands of Adventure is open an hour early, so we did a couple of rides and took some pictures and hopped on the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley, which is on the Universal Studios side.

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You can only ride the Hogwarts Express if you have a park hopper ticket, we got the tickets when they were having a buy 2 days get the 3rd free.  If you have the extra funds I highly recommend getting the park hopper ticket.  The train ride is an amazing experience.  You sit in compartments just like the movie, the windows are actually screens that play scenes as if you were riding the train out into London.


Here are some of the scenes on the way to King’s Cross Station.

When you arrive you walk through the station and it even has the billboard for the “Magic” perfume ad seen in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.


The Knight Bus is right outside the station.

The entrance to Diagon Alley is an actual brick wall, when my parents and youngest sister went before us they completely missed the entrance! Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!


When you walk “through” the wall the first thing you see is the dragon on top of Gringotts bank.  Which is the first ride we rode.  I will now take a moment to say, Universal’s child swap is amazing if there are short waits.  The whole party has to go through the line and at the end you tell the ride attendants you are doing child swap.  The ride attendant will tell the person waiting with the kids where to go, usually it is an A/C’d room with a television and line of site to the ride.  Once the first rider(s) go they come to the room and person sitting out goes and rides the ride without having to go wait in line again. If you have 3 adults, like us, the third person actually can go again.  So for us it went like this: Mr. A and my sis ride the ride first, they come back, then me and my sis go ride the ride.  Pretty awesome for the adults…not so awesome for our tikes, but it gave them the chance to sit down and relax for a bit.


Escape from Gringotts is the only ride on Universal Side, the rest of the area is shops/eateries, where we picked up some souvenirs and had brunch.

When you walk out of Diagon Alley, Grimauld Place is next door and Kreacher occasionally peeps out. Outside of Harry Potter area is a pretty extensive Simpsons area, a San Francisco area, Transformers and a kid area.


We rode Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl and picked up some donuts and saw Doc Brown on our way over to the kid area where Ian rode his first roller coaster ever.

Ian’s first roller coaster was Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster.  The wait was a little long and we got in and as soon as the coaster went Ian’s face lit up.  He was laughing and screaming (in a good way) the entire time.  As soon as it was over and we were pulling back in I told him “that’s it, all done” he then looked at me as if I had slapped him across the face and yelled “WHY?!”.  I told him that’s how it is, but he could wait in line and ride it again, which he of course said yes to.


We rode a lot more rides, watched the parade and took some photos with Transformers.

That was all day 1, our feet were sore and the kids crashed after we ate dinner.

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