Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween--from Diagon Alley

Wow, barely got this in under the wire!  Sorry my computer has been being difficult.  Anyway, as promised, a Halloween trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal in Orlando, Florida!

We stayed there until after dark to enjoy the Halloween Horror nights (thus the nighttime Universal picture above), but, during the day, we experienced the Wizarding world.
We started in Hogsmeade in Scotland,

at Hogwarts itself, where one of the two main Harry Potter themed rides is located. 
The line while you wait to go on the ride takes you through the castle itself, which is really fun; even though you are waiting, you don't really get bored since you are trying to see all the little details from the movies/books that are everywhere. While waiting in line for the ride, we walked through the green houses,

 passing the mandrake root (important in the second book/movie).

Once we entered the castle, we walked past the griffon guarding the door to Headmaster Dumbledore's office.

Unfortunately, my pictures in the office and then in the defense against the dark arts classroom followed by the Gryffindor dorms did not come out (it was too dark). 
After the ride, we wandered back through Hogsmead, passing the stores:

and I came across Madam Puddfoots' Tearoom! 

I just wish it was real, and not just a storefront (like many of the stores are).  You could see in the window some of the tea sets, and, if you look really closely, a table set for tea with a hutch full of teacups in the background. 


I would have loved to have tea here.  I think it shows up in the books as a potential date spot ;).  We continued past the three broomsticks (building in the right side of the building)

Our last stop in Hogsmeade was the most famous store of all, and a favorite of all the Hogwarts students...Honeydukes candy shop!

(the green store front is the outside, although the store does cross over into Zonkes with the red storefront)

At this point we had reached the end of the street  and it was time to board the train to London.

We were shown to our compartment, where, for the roughly 10 minute journey, we watched scenes on the window.

At the end of our journey, we reached King's Cross Station,

in Muggle London.

As we walked along the London street, we did pass by two well known Wizarding sights:

(the Knight Bus, transportation for wizards and witches in a pinch, just raise your wand)

(and number 12 Grummond Place, the former home of Sirius Black and the secret meeting place of the Order of the Phoenix)

We passed through the brick wall behind the Leaky Cauldron

and into Diagon Alley.

This was the most exciting part of the day for me--I visited Hogsmeade in 2011, but Diagon Alley just opened up last year.  We went straight up the street to Gringotts Bank,

and the location of the second major Harry Potter themed ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. 
There is a dragon perched on the bank because it used to guard the lower levels of the bank--until Harry, Ron, and Hermoine freed it and rode it to escape the bank with an artifact that they needed to fight Voldemort.
After the ride, we wandered down a side path off Diagon Alley,

and found ourselves outside of Knockturn Alley--where dark wizards do their shopping.

We decided that we had to check it out, and wondered down the dark path.

We even stopped in one of the stores, Borgin and Burke,

which had all sorts of dark artifacts for sale.

We were feeling ready for a snack at this point, and wandered back to Diagon Alley, to check out Florean Forfescue's Ice Cream Parlour,

which had all sorts of interesting and different flavors.

They had Earl Grey and Lavender and Clotted Cream flavored, and, as I tea lover, I had to give them both a try.  The Earl Grey ice cream was delicious!

After a brief snack we, wandered through the rest of town,

There were again a lot of store front only spots, but each was filled with little touches from the books and the world created by J.K. Rowling, that it was great to see them come to life:

(A house-elf placing agency)

(Flourish and Blotts, the bookstore where Harry bought his books for school each year)

There were also a few real stores, including Olivander's Wand Shop,
(where you can see the wand choose the wizard--as in the picture below)

the Magical Menagerie,

For all your magical pet needs,
Madam Malkin's Robes, for every Hogwart's student's needs,

Weasley's Wizard Weezes,

with all sorts of jokes for sale,

(I had to take a picture of the nose biting tea cup!)
and the Quidditch supply store,

where Harry and Ron often checked out the latest broom models so they could play their favorite sport.

After all that shopping, it was time for a late lunch/early dinner at the Leaky Cauldron.

(and here is the Leaky Cauldron itself)
I ordered a Butterbeer (of course), which I was excited to see was frozen, and a beef and lamb Guinness stew...delicious!  

We were done with our visit to Diagon Alley at this point, and had to get to a holding area to wait for the start of Universal's Halloween Horror nights.

This part of the day was filled with scary houses and scare zones straight out of horror films (and not Harry Potter) so this is the end of our visit to the Wizarding World! 
Happy Halloween!