Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hogsmeade-Universal Florida

The second side of the Harry Potter World (actually the first part that was built) is the village of Hogsmeade.
To get from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade we had to ride the rails...The Hogwarts Express!
We went to King's Cross Station and hopped aboard.
And here we are in Hogsmeade, with it's little shops and crooked chimneys.
And there is Hogwarts in the distance.  There is a ride in that castle.  I was able to "walk through" the castle, and then at the very end (before the ride) they showed me to the exit.  I thought that was real nice for those of us who don't like the ride part.
Another shot of Honeydukes candy shop.
Inside Honeydukes is pretty magical!  Look at all of the goodies!

We ate breakfast Sunday morning at the Three Broomsticks Restaurant.

None of us were brave enough to try the "English Breakfast".  We were hungry, so we ordered the more familiar foods that made up the "American breakfast". We sat outside, it was such a lovely day!
On the bridge into Hogsmeade.  The sky was a beautiful blue!
And that was Hogsmeade.  We traveled back and forth between the two Harry Potter parks quite a bit.
Next up I'll share some misc. things around the park.
Until another day, have a happy day!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Visiting Diagon Alley--Universal Florida

Walking into Diagon Alley is like walking into a different world, and I suppose that was the goal of its creators.  Hats off to JK Rowling and her imaginative mind!
To get to Diagon Alley one must go to "London".  You will know you are in London when you see the Knight Bus and the red, phone box.

If you step inside the red phone booth and dial a certain number, you will get the Ministry of Magic!  It's very cool!

Diagon Alley is inside "behind" that red building.
Oh look!  There's an opening in this brick wall.
And here we are in Diagon Alley!
When my daughter walked through the broken, brick wall she got tears in her eyes.  (And I say without shame, I think we all shed a tear on our last night, as we left Diagon Alley, for the last time.)
Now, you have to imagine the Harry Potter soundtrack is playing constantly, which is actually quite lovely. 
Autumn got "picked", out of a handful of kids, for the wand ceremony at Ollivander's Wand Shop.  She knew the spells Ollivander asked her to do and when her wand "chose her" a light shown down from above and dramatic music played.  It was quite cool, like she was in her own little Harry Potter movie!

Inside Ollivander's Wand Shop

A place that serves Butterbeer, which is quite possibly the best beverage on earth.  It's non-alcoholic, and tastes like cream soda with a dash of butterscotch.
Below, is the dragon that is escaping Gringots (Don't worry, he's a good dragon, just misunderstood). He breathes fire every 15 minutes and it's SO COOL!

We took Autumn into Madam Malkin's to buy her "school robes" since she will be attending Hogwarts.

This is where one goes to purchase Quidditch supplies.

And here is Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes Store

Inside Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes (couldn't go up the cool staircase, it's just for show).

Fred (or George) Weasley (below) lifts his hat all day long.  His arms must get tired. 

Wiseacres is an amazing store with a celestial theme on the ceiling.  Scibbulus, the turquoise store next door, is an amazing stationery shop full of journals, stationery, quill pens, postcards, ink well, wax stamp sets and all kinds of wonderful goodies!

The inside of Wiseacres.

The only photo I took in Scribbulus was of this really cool stationery box.

Many of the store fronts and windows were just for show, but they looked so REAL!

The pet shop, The Magical Menagerie

On our first night, they had a special Harry Potter welcoming event for those of us who bought the Harry Potter Celebration Package.  Diagon Alley was amazing at night!  They served food on little carts, things like chips-n-dip, fruit, a stew of some sort and a dessert cart.  I especially enjoyed the dessert cart with its apple crisp and vanilla tarts. There was also complimentary Butterbeer!  I had a frozen butter beer.  Many people were dressed in their robes and costumes.  It was magical!

The dragon is blowing fire again.

On our last night in the park we ate at the Leaky Cauldron.  We all had the fish-n-chips. The food was good and the ambiance was wonderful!



A family photo.
One last look before we say goodbye.
Whew!  That was a big batch of photos, and there were so many more I wish I could've included, but it's all quite overwhelming.  Soon, I will blog about Diagon Alley's sister park, Hogsmeade and the Hogwarts Express that runs back and forth between them.
Until another time, have a magical day!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Where We Stayed--Cabana Bay Resort Universal Studios Florida

I hadn't any time for blogging in January because WE TOOK A TRIP!  For Christmas this year, we gave our daughter a trip to the Harry Potter Celebration 2016 inside Universal Orlando.  She's a HP fan and she LOVED being a part of the celebration!
That means the next few blogs will be about our trip.
By the way, I am, in no way, getting paid to write about our stay at the Cabana Bay, I just love to share vintage stuff and I think this qualifies haha.
We stayed at the Cabana Bay Resort, on site at Universal.  But, the hotel was at least 4 or 5 miles from the actual amusement parks, so they use these really neat-o busses, that look like they are from the 60's, to take people back and forth.
The photo above was taken on our first night there, and it was a rainy, wet evening.  You can't really see it clearly but at the bottom the sign says "Color TV and Cold Air".
Above:  Many great souvenirs in the gift shop. 
Below:  Our "living room"
Casual seating near the lounge.
 The diner was very cool!  They played vintage commercials on the big screens and 50's-60's music.
There were also 2 cars sitting outside the diner.
A bowling alley upstairs!  But we didn't have time to play a game.
I took quite a few nighttime shots outside.  There are different sections, or wings, to the hotel, each with a different name:  Thunderbird, Continental, Americana, Starlight, and Castaway, which is where we stayed.
This place is HUGE! I scanned the little map they gave us at the front desk.
And one last thing that I thought was really a nice touch, these retro looking shampoo, conditioner, and soaps!  I kind of wish I had used one of the sets the maid left for us and then taken the bottles, but I forgot.
But, I did visit the gift shop and bought a keychain and small box of candies (I just want the box for souvenirs haha!)
The easiest way to show anyone how groovy this huge hotel is to show the movie I found on Youtube.  I didn't make this movie, but I give THANKS to those who did!  It's about 4 minutes long, but you see everything.  We were not able to see everything this hotel had to offer ourselves, because we were so busy running from park to park.
Well, that's all for today. But stay tuned because there is more to come.  I'll try to get some blogs written up ASAP while the trip is still fresh in my memory.  The next blogs will be about Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.  Until then, have a happy, vintage day!