Nerding Out at Harry Potter World

Long before I was a traveler, I was a nerd. My favorite movie ever is Lord of the Rings, I played Pokémon until I was a senior in high school (no, but seriously) and I’m a lifelong Harry Potter fan.

I’ve not only read all the Harry Potter books in English (obviously), I’ve read quite a few in Spanish and French. And on my 11th birthday I was a smidge disappointed that I didn’t receive an owl.

So you’ll understand why I had to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios while in Florida over the holidays, even if it meant a five-hour round-trip drive.

And considering I’d been promising my baby sister, Bee, a trip to Disney for oh say, the last decade, I decided to kill two birds with one sorcerer’s stone. (Sorry, I had to.)

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Even the outside of Harry Potter World was impressive- doesn’t this façade seriously look like London? The London stock brick was spot-on.Harry Potter World

And then I spotted our first wizardly sighting of the day- The Night Bus.Harry Potter World

Next we moseyed over to King’s Cross. While “living” in London last year I transferred at King’s Cross almost daily, so walking inside made me feel a bit nostalgic for London, a city I miss every single day.

Harry Potter World

Harry Potter World

While on Platform 9 3/4 we spotted a not-realistic-at-all Hedwig, and then we boarded the Gryffindor-red Hogwarts Express.

Harry Potter World

Sadly, the Hogwarts Express ride was a bit cheesy. First off, I totally expected a sweet-filled trolley to roll by. But no chocolate frogs for this girl-  only lame sound effects and and the shadow of Death Eaters in the window.

But soon we were we were in Hogsmeade. From the second I saw Hogsmeade I was enchanted by everything from the crooked chimneys to the snowy roofs. Save the Floridian humidity, it was just like the real thing.

Harry Potter World
Harry Potter WorldHarry Potter World

Our first beverage in Hogsmeade? Butter beer, of course.Harry Potter World

Butter beer was sadly… not very good. First of all, no alcohol (to be expected of course), and secondly it tasted like cloyingly sweet butterscotch.

Harry Potter World

My knock-off @girleatworld pic. In full disclosure that’s my sister’s hand- as if my nails ever look that good.

Harry Potter World

Next we beelined for Hogwarts, which houses the best ride in the park, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. During the ride we tried not to vomit as we encountered everything from Dumbledore’s office to giant spiders in the Forbidden Forest.Harry Potter World

Harry Potter World The sorting hat talks while you wait in line. So great.

Before leaving Hogsmeade we stopped at the Three Broomsticks for a pretty mediocre lunch, and then headed for Diagon Alley.

Diagon Alley was equally as impressive as Hogsmeade: a labyrinth of dark, narrow alleys, capped with giant, fire-breathing dragon.

Harry Potter World

Harry Potter WorldHarry Potter World

Ollivanders Wand Shop, where wands cost $40 plus dollars. I was surprised to see a lot of people buying them- quoi?

The absolute surprise of the day was Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. First of all, the old-fashioned, baby pink interior was adorable, and secondly the ice cream was gourmet. And y’all know I don’t use that word that lightly.Harry Potter World
I adored my salted caramel blondie cone, and my sister lapped up her sticky toffee pudding in a cup. Unfortunately I didn’t get to taste the other inventive and seemingly delicious flavors: Earl Grey and lavender, clotted cream, chocolate chili and strawberry and peanut butter.

Can Florean Fortescue’s please be a national franchise? I’d be so down.

After we demolished our ice cream cones my sister dragged me out of Harry Potter World to see some parts of Universal Studios. Having seen almost everything, I begrudgingly obliged her.

Despite a few minor let-downs, I loved Harry Potter World. And while I totally should’ve gotten an owl back in the day, seeing the faux Harry Potter World was still pretty wonderful.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Have you ever visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Would you?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

40 thoughts on “Nerding Out at Harry Potter World”

  1. I love Harry Potter to!!!! And there’s no reason why you can’t be a traveller AND a nerd :) I went to the Harry Potter world in Osaka which was oddly weird (Myrtle was speaking Japanese through the walls of the bathroom!)

    I too did not like the butter beer. It sounds so much better than it tastes :)

  2. I’m so jealous! I was there in October 2013, so I didn’t get to ride the Hogwarts Express or visit Diagon Alley, but it was still an awesome visit. I was on my own, so I used the single-riders line to visit the castle, and I went through twice in 20 minutes! And that ice cream sounds delicious! I guess I’ll just have to make a return visit… :)
    xx

  3. Wow, that’s so weird to have such a perfect replica of a London street (and even King’s Cross station!) there – I did a double take of your pictures! I’m also impressed you’ve read Harry Potter in French and Spanish. I’ve tried reading Lord of the Rings (also my favourite!) in French, but it was pretty heavy going! The weirdest thing is how even the names are translated. I’m guessing HP is the same!

  4. OMG! I am so jealous. I think I am quite a nerd too, as I am reading all the Harry Potter books at this moment and this is my dream haha. If I ever get the chance to go, I will!

  5. I would visit in a heartbeat!

    You hit a tender spot when you wrote, “on my 11th birthday I was a smidge disappointed that I didn’t receive an owl” – you’re not alone, I too was disappointed.

  6. Aaaaaaah this is so cool! I didn’t read the Harry Potter books (or watch the movies) until just a few years ago, so my inner kid isn’t crying out, but it looks like a lot of fun and I really love the attention to detail that you can see in the photos (and your descriptions, like the London bricks). Early Grey and lavender ice cream? Sign me up.

  7. I LOVED this post! We did a vacation there in fall 2012 – before the big expansion was done. I was in Harry Potter heaven! Although I did get serious motion sickness on the Forbidden Journey. Never. Again. I thought the frozen butter beer was AMAZING! Much better than the regular non-frozen butter beer. My son had to buy a wand and back then they were around $30 but I think now they are interactive which sounds pretty cool. I am completely freaking out about the Earl Grey Lavender ice cream you mentioned!!! I seriously want to go there just for the ice cream. Mmmmm! I can’t even!

  8. Definitely nothing wrong with being a nerd :D

    I visit Orlando quite a lot, usually visiting the Mouse so hadn’t done Universal for a while – squeezed in a few days on my trip last October – we had a great time!

    And yes, Kings Cross and also the attention to detail on the ‘Embankment’ was fantastic – they did a really good job creating a London vibe in that little area.

    • Arggh, I’m sorry, seems I forgot to tick the email box for replies and forgot to check back till now >.<

      Embankment is the name given to an area/road that runs directly along the north bank of the River Thames in the most central part of London.

      The water side close to the entrance of Kings Cross Station in Universal is something of a replica of that area in London. So the black lamp posts with Lion's Head, the stone work etc, that's all based off of a real area in London that overlooks the Thames :)

  9. I’m not a big Harry Potter fan but your post made me want to go there! It looks like just another (albeit very touristic) English town!

  10. Wow that looks so cool! I’m normally not a big fan of theme parks, but this is actually one I think I’d like! I loved seeing your photos and how well they matched up with both my imagination from the books and the movies too!

    • I honestly was so impressed with the park, especially Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. But I would’ve LOVED to go inside Hogwarts- can you imagine how great a Gryffindor dorm would be as a hostel?

  11. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, I’ve been dying to visit Harry Potter world! I’ve heard from multiple people that the butterbeer isn’t good, but that probably won’t stop me from trying it when I get there. I can see from your pictures that the attractions look very similar to the movie – so cool!

    • Definitely worth trying anyway just for the experience :). And yes, there were so many little nods to the books/movies which I loved- I even spotted the car Harry drove into the Whomping Willow, and Hagrid’s motorcycle with sidecar.

  12. I visited before they added the new section – definitely looks like I should go back! And I agree, Butterbeer = kinda gross.

  13. I, too, am a total secret nerd (or maybe not that secret, haha) loving all the things you mentioned above! I’d still play Pokemon on my DS if I had the time!

    I NEED to get myself to Harry Potter World! It looks amazingggg. Sad that the Butter Beer didn’t taste good. And no alcohol? Pfft, what’s up with that? Even Disney sells alcohol at their parks! ;)

  14. Oh my gosh, these pictures are killing me! I grew up in Orlando, and moved away about a year before Harry Potter World opened and have never been to it since then! I’m such a HP nerd too, so I know I would be in heaven there.

  15. I found out last month a HP world will open in Hollywood CA! I don’t live there but I have several good friends in the area so it will be convenient to visit + geek out at the park!

  16. Hi fellow nerd. At least I hope you still are. Even as I march towards my 60th birthday, I still get shpilkes (yiddish) when a new Marvel, Star Trek or (of course) Harry Potter or in this case “Fantastic Beasts”) movie comes out. It keeps me young. Your site is very picturesque and informative.
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