Warning to all my readers: this post is going to be long due to all the excitement that occurred in one day. Bare with me as my inner nerd expresses herself. At 8am we had arrived at the parking lot to Universal Studios Orlando. The City Walk to Islands of Adventure grew my anticipation to see what the day would bring. It was my first time ever coming to Universal. Gil and Alondra felt the same. Once we got to the entrance of the park we got our tickets, grabbed a map, and made our way towards Hogsmead. In order to get there we had to pass the world of Dr. Seuss first. Childhood memories flooded my mind as I saw every ride had a title based on the classic books such as “The Cat in The Hat”, “The Lorax”, and “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.”
After Dr. Seuss Landing we toured the city of Atlantis where faces had been carved in stones and a giant arm with a trident stuck out. From Atlantis I could see the tip of one of the tiers of Hogwarts castle. I ran towards it and the brown stones of Atlantis converted to grey bricks with snow. I could not believe I was finally in Hogsmead! Everything was just how I imagined it would be from the books; the castle, Ollivanders, Butter beer, the Hogwarts Express, and the incredible rides. The magic of Harry Potter had begun.
The first roller coasters we tried were the Dragon Coasters. Both the Hungarian Horn Tail and the Chinese Fireball were ridden. It was worth getting dizzy on the Hungarian Horn Tail. The Tri-Wizard tournament trophy and the Goblet of Fire are seen as we waited in line. At Ollivanders a lucky little girl was chosen to test out a wand. Alondra and I got our wands (Dumbledore and Hermione) and our next journey became “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” inside Hogwarts Castle. On the line many sets from the movies are replicated including the Mandrakes, Dumbledore’s office, the moving paintings, the newspapers, sorting hat, and the defense against the dark arts classroom. I felt like a Hogwarts student ready to take on classes. We tried getting the Fat Lady to open her portrait into the Gryffindor common room, but no luck.
The ride itself was my favorite. Harry, Hermione, and Ron lead the way through the forbidden forest as a Quidditch game commenced. We flew through dementors, dragons, and giant spiders. The simulator was realistic and the ride made me feel like I was really flying on a broomstick. How I wish I had been able to perform a Patronus spell towards the dementors. Once the ride was over, we were lead to Mr. Flitch’s Emporium where Harry Potter gear is sold. Hagrid’s Hut was next and Buckbeak rested not too far away. Flight of the Hippogriff is a good ride to experience. The last stop was Honey Dukes where I purchased a box of Berti Botts Every Flavor Beans.
By magic we were transported to the past and ended up in Jurassic Park. We rode through raptors and a huge T-Rex in a water safari. Its a good place to refresh yourself in the Florida heat by the ride where a tsunami of water covers you from head to toe. Alondra and Gil became paleontologists to study dinosaur eggs and fossils. They both also won their own dinosaurs in a basketball shots game (Gil named his Steve). We ate lunch and rested before continuing on to Comic Strip Land.
If you miss Heath Cliff, Hagar the Horrible, Popeye, Mutts, Garfield, and Betty Boop then this is the place to relive all that. Comic characters everywhere. Popeye and Bruno have their own water rides. Alondra and I decided to move on ahead to Marvel world where we survived Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall. The Incredible Hulk was sadly closed. The Hulk looked like the perfect roller coaster for an adrenaline junkie like me and he was out of order (porque?).
My first day in Universal was incredible and I cannot wait for day two. The rides, attractions, and being in the world of Harry Potter is something I will never forget. The best part is that I got to experience it with my family. Mischief Managed!
Photos by: Rosa Elena Oliveras