Diagon Alley, walking toward Gringotts Bank
Oh and by the way - the dragon that guards the bank spews fire every once in a while!
We had early admission to the park - only Diagon Alley was open between 8:00 am and 9:00 am, but that was perfect for us because that's where we wanted to go first thing each day! We'd arrive at the park, go through the metal detectors (I had to go through a slower line because I carried a small backpack - it was similar to going through the TSA lines at the airport except for the fact that the staff at Universal was much friendlier) and then get to the front gates, where they usually ended up letting people in a few minutes before 8:00 am. We'd make our way through the park to Diagon Alley and went right to the Escape from Gringotts ride - I'd shove my backpack into a locker there (they use your fingerprint to secure the locker) and we'd pretty much walk right onto the ride.
Jeff is heading into the ride here while I snapped a quick picture of the guard.
Head scowling goblin...
After Gringotts, we had to get some butterbeer. This was Allie's first time tasting it, and she loved it as much as we all did:
::Forrest Gump voice:: We had hot butterbeer, cold butterbeer, frozen butterbeer, butterbeer ice cream, fudge butterbeer...and it was all delicious!
SO! MANY! WANDS!
One neat thing that they've added since Jeff and I were there is interactive wands. You can go to Ollivander's Wand Shop and go through the ceremony to have a wand chosen for you if you're lucky enough to be picked out of the group, but most people just choose their own wand; it can either be a replica of one from the movie, or an interactive wand, which has a RFID tip that makes it possible for you to, say, have a frog squirt water out of its mouth:
Anyone care for a drink of water?
We all picked wands and had a lot of fun with them; I chose Luna Lovegood's wand:
This was in front of the blacksmith's shop.
I made the bellows move when I cast the correct spell!
Of course we had to eat some meals at the Leaky Cauldron and at the Three Broomsticks - we were full on into enjoying the entire Harry Potter experience. The food was pretty good, too, although the black pudding that came with the traditional English breakfast was definitely a once-and-done thing to try:
This was a lot of food! We got two plates and split them, but no one finished the pudding.
More pictures from Diagon Alley:
In front of the Knight Bus - Jeff was laughing because the talking head was actually talking to him and being pretty funny.
We took several breaks on the stairs - it was nice to get out of the crowds and just observe the scene below.
Yes, I took a picture of a toilet - it was just so perfect for the setting! And check out the witch and wizard signs hanging outside...I swear, the details were incredible.
This was the busiest time we rode it - looks chaotic but we were all moving in an orderly line and it actually went fairly quick.
The line wound around carts of luggage, including Hedwig, Harry's owl. Her head turned and her eyes blinked...I swear, every time I pointed my phone at her to take a picture, she instantly turned her head!
BUT WAIT! I haven't shown you the coolest part! You know how in the books when the passengers have to run straight at a brick wall to get onto Platform 9 3/4? You get to do that while in line! Check out the video I took of Jeff, Sam, and Allie going through the wall - click here for the link. Pretty cool, eh? We had a lot of fun with this.
Hogwarts Express, ready to take us to Hogwarts!
The train ride was perfect, of course. We were escorted to private compartments that held eight passengers - usually we were seated with other people, but once we got to have a compartment all to ourselves:
Looks like a real train compartment...with goofy passengers.
Shadows of Harry, Ron, and Hermione walking outside our compartment - you could hear them talking. There were scenes happening in the window of the compartment as well, where you could see the countryside go by, as well as other fun things, like Hagrid flying by on his motorcycle. The ride only lasts about five minutes, but it was completely immersive and magical.
If you've made it this far, you must like Harry Potter. Thanks for reading - we really loved this part of the park and I wanted to capture some of the fun things we got to experience. Have a great weekend!
It's not a traditional family picture, but it's one of my favorites.