The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando–A Muggle’s Dream
If you’re a Harry Potter fan like me, you’ve been waiting about a decade too long for your Hogwarts acceptance letter. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and force my way into the wizarding world…The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, that is!
Universal Studios finally decided to put in a hotel option for
peasants people who are vacationing on a budget–Cabana Bay. I seriously don’t understand why this is considered a “value hotel” at all. The ’60s inspired hotel was pretty sweet. Everything was spotless, the staff was incredibly helpful, the pool was huge, the dining options were overwhelming, and we didn’t even get to try out any of the activities on site. And it was so cheap! Unless you’re trying to be ultra luxurious, I highly recommend staying at Cabana Bay. We didn’t have a single complaint!
There were a few reasons we decided to stay on location instead of just grabbing a Holiday Inn nearby. 1.) The nearby hotels really weren’t more affordable. Cabana Bay is usually around $115 a night! 2.) We would’ve had to find transportation to the park and back every day. Plus, with the free shuttle, if we needed a break or forgot something at the hotel it was no big deal to run back to our room. 3.) We got extra time at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Which was the whole purpose of our trip. So that meant more time with less crowds and shorter lines.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
I’m not sure how I can give an unbiased review for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. IT WAS PERFECTION. As Nathan and I approached Hogsmeade I could hear the tinkling celesta and I got instant goosebumps. We walked up to the gate and it was as if we were transported out of sunny Florida into a wintry Hogsmeade. The creators of the park need raises. I know they’re probably mega rich, but give them more! Every tiny detail was spot on to the Harry Potter legacy. And make sure you’re holding on to someone when you walk through the main street and turn the corner to see Hogwarts looming over the town. It was impressive to say the least. We ate at The Three Broomsticks and don’t forget to try a Butterbeer!
Diagon Alley was just as incredible. The Gringotts dragon breathes fire every few minutes so try to plan your photo op around him. And don’t miss out on Knockturn Alley! It’s kind of hidden in the back left of Diagon Alley. We ate at the Leaky Cauldron and had some Fire Whiskeys. Once you exit Diagon Alley, you’ll see the Knight Bus where Stan sometimes shows up to interact with park guests.
Something that wasn’t super clear on Universal’s website was the concept of Harry Potter world being two separate parts in Universal’s two separate parks. Like Disney, Universal has multiple theme parks and you have to buy tickets for each park. If you only buy a ticket for one park, then you can’t go to the other ones. Also, if you don’t buy a park hopper ticket, you can’t go back and forth between parks. This is crucial to the whole Harry Potter experience because Hogsmeade is in the Islands of Adventure park and you can take the Hogwarts Express over to Universal Studios Florida which is where Diagon Alley is located. Make sure you purchase a park hopper ticket or you can’t ride the Hogwarts Express!
The Rest of the Park
There is more to Universal Studios than Harry Potter world, believe it or not. And a lot of it is almost as awesome. Nathan loves Spiderman so we spent a bit of time in Marvel World (unfortunately The Incredible Hulk ride was down for maintenance when we went). Our favorite ride was probably the Rip Ride Rockit. We also really appreciated CityWalk at night. The Cowfish was a delicious and not overly priced place to have a nice dinner. We also watched the Pens game at the NBC Grill (LGP!).
We stayed three nights at Cabana Bay and we got a two day park hopper pass. After our flight, money for food, drinks (lots of drinks), and of course Sirius Black’s wand, we spent about $900. It was worth every penny. I don’t think we left having any monetary regrets or wishing we did anything extra.
And don’t forget your Harry Potter attire! You can purchase my Hairy Pawter tee here or Nathan’s Straight Outta Hogwarts tee here! Let me know about your experience in the comments below! Happy Travels!