Harry Potter World!!! oh…and Florida and Disney World.

So this blog has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while and just haven’t gotten around to finishing it, so I apologise for the lack of detail, so I can get onto reviews and the details of the big move to Toronto!!
On the road! We start the 10 hour 650-mile drive from New Orleans to Orlando in our hire car. A standard mid-size Kia something, something…. I don’t know…it was blue!

A few things about adjusting to driving in America:

  • You drive on the right-hand side of the road, yes it is true. So if you happened
  • It’s miles per hour and everyone seems to got about 10 miles over, including Google Maps. So what we thought would be a 10-hour drive from New Orleans to Orlando ended up being 12 hours.

During this drive it’s easy to forget that you’re in another country, but it’s pretty clear you’re in Florida when you’re driving past copious amounts of anti-abortion billboards and “Make America Great Again” bumper stickers……yeah…. these people exist proudly.

But we arrived in Orlando and into the Disney World Resort area (see photo below) and It’s proving to be a much bigger area than Disneyland California.  We pull up to the Wyndham Grand Resort which is located in Bonnet Creek, which is a part of the Disney World Resort and our room is pretty fancy.

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The Next Day we spend about an hour deliberating which part of Disney World to go to, you see there are four parks (and two water parks); “Magic Kingdom” which is pretty much the same as Disneyland California with fewer rides, “Animal Kingdom” is a Zoo with rides, “Hollywood Studios” is kind of a watered down Movie World thing and “Epcot” which I don’t know how to explain since we didn’t go there and there wasn’t really anything we wanted to see there…

So Disney World is huge, like really huge. You can’t walk from one world to another, but there are many ways to get around from monorail, ferry and bus. This may sound convenient but you can only catch one form of transport to the particular park you want to go to. For example, it took us 45 minutes (A buss, ferry then another bus) to get from our hotel (Which is in Disney World Resort) to Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom was good. Not life-changing, but good, I stick by that adjective They have some pretty great enclosures like a normal zoo except with the character of Disney, so the detail is crazy-good. To give you an idea below is a photo of the centerpiece of Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life. It’s artificial, but huge something that needs to be seen in real life to really be appreciated. Animal Kingdom is a bit small, must like the other non-Magic Kingdom parks, you can do it in half a day.fullsizeoutput_9f30

So we then made our way to the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day. So basically it’s the same as Disneyland in LA except the actual space is huge. Cinderella’s castle is breathtaking compared to Sleeping Beauty’s and the space is far open. On top of this though, it is far busier than Disneyland and every ride has at least a 1-hour wait. All the rides are basically the same except it’s notably missing the Indiana Jones Ride. So we did all the same rides we did in LA and then it started to rain. You would think rain would make people want to leave…it didn’t the lines were still too long so we went back to the hotel.

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The next day we made our way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is basically a small, less-exciting version of Universal Studios. Nothing really great here, except the Backlot Tour which is a pretty sweet ride through the history of movies. A movie geek like me loved it! We didn’t spend too long here, so we head back to Magic Kingdom to go on the other rides we hadn’t yet tried.

Oh you may ask why didn’t we use a FastPass for the rides this time? That’s because at Disney World it’s done digitally through their app, which means that anyone can reserve their FastPass weeks before you get to the park and then in turn means we weren’t able to get any for the rides we wanted to go on.  Overall, I’m happy we went to Disney World, but I wouldn’t really want to go back. LA is where it is at!

The Next day though we went to Universal Studios and Universal’s Adventure Island. The sole reason we went here was because it is the only way to go to Harry Potter World.

 

We started off with Universal Studios because it has Kings Cross Station and Diagon Alley.  When you head into Diagon Alley it really is overwhelming. The detail is amazing, it’s actually like stepping into the movie.

So naturally we head straight to Ollivander’s to buy our Wands. I got Professor Dumbledore’s and Laura got Luna Lovegood’s. These wands are far more than a souvenir though, you can actually go around the park and perform spells which interact with the world! For example, I stood on a metal plate and was able to make a statue spit water out.

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THE BEST RIDE EVER is Escape from Gringotts. Oh man, if you are ever go this is a must! The best way to describe this ride is that it’s a rollercoaster combined with a 4D movie ride. You basically go through the break-in from the last film and ride in a mine-cart while being chased by Voldermort. One of the best things about the ride is that they’ve gotten all the original actors to film scenes tailored for the ride, it really is the most immersive experience I’ve ever had. We went on it as many times as we could.

Next we make our way to Universal’s Adventure Island where Hogsmeade and Hogwarts are located. But we didn’t walk, we did it properly and caught the Hogwarts Express. The Hogwarts Express is another amazing immersive experience where you get on the train and sit in the booths. Where the windows are though are screens where you see the train travel across the English countryside and you see your arrival into Hogsmeade (and yes it does the reverse into Kings Cross Station when you go the opposite way). Again, Hogsmeade and Hogwarts are like stepping into the films, except with A LOT of tourists. There are cool themed rides here with themed food and candy shops, but the main reason to come is to check out Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey which is basically a flying journey through Hogwart. Again the detail is brilliant and it’s worth going on this ride purely to line-up for it. You travel through Hogwarts while “on line” and go from classroom, to bathroom to hallway, all of which are all familiar for anyone who has watched the movies. The rest of Universal Studios was fun too, but nothing really matches all the Harry Potter parts. But nothing really in need of detail.

Well that’s the Theme Park part of Florida. In my next blog I’ll cover driving (In a convertible Mustang) to Miami, Florida Keys and visiting the Cayman Islands!

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