The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The end of July we met Josh's family in Florida for a beach vacation, but before heading down to West Palm Beach we stopped at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. I don't think excited is a strong enough word to describe the mood.

First stop was Number 12 Grimmauld Place. I might already be geeking out at this point.

Next up, Diagon Alley. I can't even begin to describe how cool it is to see the dragon breathe real fire. It happens every half hour or so and is crazy amazing.

Ed bought everyone wands at Ollivanders, allowing us to have the full experience. About half of the family chose to get interactive wands, meaning we could cast spells at various locations around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. In case anyone is wondering which wands we got, I got McGonagall's, Josh got a death eater wand, Evie chose Hermione's, Lottie went with Narcissa Malfoy's, and Trent picked Snape's. I really wanted to get Molly Weasley's or Neville's, but they didn't have interactive wands and, really, what is the point of getting one if you can't perform magic?

Also for the record, butterbeer is yummy. Frozen butterbeer is even more delicious.

I was totally impressed with how well the two locations were curated. I felt completely immersed in the world because they paid attention to every last detail. Even waiting in line for the rides was amazing.

The girls were allowed to buy one item of their choice. Evie went with a Hogwarts crest hat and Lottie bought a pygmy puff christened Pinkie de Winkie. Josh tried to get away with two crazy expensive purchases, being a full set of Slytherin robes and Lucius Malfoy's cane/wand, but was unsuccessful. The mirror in Madam Malkin's dressrobes shop told him he looked nice, which did cheer him up a bit.

Having been to the real King's Cross Station, I can say they did a good job mimicking it. But the authentic feel of the station was nothing compared to the magic of going through Platform 9 3/4 and seeing the Hogwarts Express. The train runs between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade and is totally worth the effort.

After a day of magic, we went back to the hotel to put the kids to bed, then the six adult-kids went back to the park while Ed and Debbie relaxed. We stayed until park closing and had a blast going on the rides again and having an intense debate over our rankings of the books from favorite to least. I think the perfect way to sum up the experience is to end with a picture of Chris, so exhausted from the magical fun that he fell asleep with his wand still in his hand. Long live The Boy Who Lived!

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