As a break from all things Disney, we decided to go to Universal Studios and check out the different Harry Potter lands, cause I mean… Harry Potter! I’ve been to the one in Hollywood several times, so I really wanted to compare the two.
We started our day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmead was. Hogsmead was in the back of the park, so it was quite a walk to get to, but when we did, it was magical! I loved crossing that little bridge/pathway and seeing Hogwarts. So dope. I definitely like the layout of Hogsmead in Orlando better than Hollywood.
Our first stop at Hogsmead was of course BUTTERBEER! Especially on a hot and humid day, the cool and refreshing butter beer made the heat bearable.
Ollivander’s is a must! We fell in line to go inside and while lining up, I stood in the back because I knew they were going to pick someone from the crowd to partake in the wand choosing “show” and sure enough they chose Sarah and Kelsey! Watching the excitement on their faces was pretty cool! Afterwards, I ended up leaving with Queenie Goldstein’s wand.
We rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is a 3D/4D motion simulation ride where you soar through Hogwarts. Both Hollywood and Orlando rides are similar. The ride is definitely fun and a must, but I will admit that I did feel a little sick after. 3D/4D motion simulation rides either make me sick or they don’t, so each time I ride it I take the gamble, but I’ve learned that this ride will always make me sick.
After we decided to take the Hogwarts Express and take the train to the King’s Cross in London in Universal Studios Florida. The train was pretty neat. They put us into our own carriage that sat about 7-8 people. The carriage had a LCD screen for the window so they showed like the countryside and like the train station, etc. So neat!
Stepping out onto “King’s Crossing” brought me back to when I saw it in London and instantly made me miss London! We walked around Universal Studios before making our way back to Diagon Alley.
I personally liked Diagon Alley over Hogsmead. Yes, seeing Hogwarts is just amazing, but all the different shops and the vibe of Diagon Alley was more up my alley. Plus, they had Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor and their Earl Grey and Lavender ice cream is just delicious.
Towards the end of the night the line for Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts was about a 25 minute wait so we basically ran in! It was another motion simulation ride, but thank goodness it wasn’t 3D. It was really fun! I enjoyed this ride more than the Forbidden Journey.
Overall Thoughts: You don’t need two separate days to do both parks. I felt like we covered majority of both theme parks in the one day that we were there. Granted, we did have 2 day park hoppers, but the girls didn’t go both days, but the guys did.
Islands of Adventure did have some pretty fun rides outside of Hogsmead, like the Hulk roller coaster and Jurrassic; while Universal Studios had more of the classics (Mummy, Transformers) and this rollercoaster called Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. I hated that this rollercoaster basically had a weighted lap restraint as your only form of restraints and you go upside down. WHAT? I felt completely unsafe haha but at the same time it was stupid thrilling.
If you’re big Harry Potter fans, I say go to Universal and check out both parks. They’re both visually appealing parks and the rides are fun (especially now that they added that new Hagrid ride at Hogsmead.