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family vacations

orlando part 2: HARRY POTTER WORLD!!


But first, let me just share with you what’s been going on campus…

I don’t know if you guys in non-central NY areas know, but we’ve been hit with a huge snowstorm.

Or what I consider a huge snowstorm. This may be the norm for some of the locals around here.

If it is, then I’m in big trouble. Because I personally feel that this is nearing the point of ridiculosity.

I know – it looks pretty right? And it feels like the holidays now!

That’s what I was thinking the first 2 days. But now I’m just sick of the white stuff. Because it’s been snowing for OVER 72 HOURS.

It will not stop snowing. You’d think I’d be used to it because I live in New Jersey – it snows a lot there too. But it keeps coming down. And down. And down.

And this isn’t like in middle/high school where you get snow days when it snows this much. Here, I actually have to walk through the blizzard to get to class when all I feel like is crawling into my bed and hibernating until winter break.

My professor said this won’t stop until March.


God help me.

Well, now that you guys know what’s going on campus….


Shall we move south to the balmy, 80°F weather of Orlando?

More specifically, Universal Studios?

And even more specifically, Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure – the newer of the 2 Studio parks. With more rides, and thrills, and OVERALL FUNSTUFFS.


I’d like to tell you that we headed straight to Harry Potter world and spent the entire day there. Wouldn’t that be dandy?

But we didn’t. Because that’s exactly what every single person in the park was thinking. Literally. Really, I think the only reason people go to Universal Studios these days is for HP world.

And with only a limited number of people allowed in the Harry Potter at one time, we had to get “tickets” that told us to come back in an hour so, after some of the people had left. The Universal Studio-ers do this throughout the entire day, maintaining the flow of people going in and out of HP world so the place doesn’t get too congested.

So we had to settle for exploring the other parts of the park.

picture from jurassic park - so close, yet so far..

Not to say the other parts aren’t fun – in fact, my mom and I both really liked the Dr. Seuss area.

christmas decorations. yes, they did feel a little out of place in florida.


And seriously, who doesn’t love The Cat in the Hat?

Or Green Eggs & Ham?

I was an avid Dr. Seuss reader when I was a kid, so this brought back a lot of childhood memories.

There were also an area with themes like Jurassic Park, Marvel Comics, The Lost Continent, and Toon Lagoon. Which we all thoroughly enjoyed. We also got soaked riding a bunch of the rides here. I guess when there’s balmy, beautiful weather year-round, people don’t mind getting drenched every 20 minutes or so.

But I gotta say, Universal Studios has the decor-theme thing down pat. Everywhere we went, the attention to detail was amazing, and you were really transported to a different world every time you went to a different area.

After traipsing through the park, we finally headed to Harry Potter World.


Like everywhere else in the park, there was so much attention and detail put into every part of Hogsmeade.

the hogwarts express... was stationary.

.... muggles.

hogwarts :D

You might not be able to tell, but the Hogwarts building itself was pretty small in scale – you couldn’t actually go into it. But standing in line for some of the rides, we got to weave in and out of Hogwarts, and everything looked exactly like it did in the movies. Moving paintings, Dumbledore’s office, the greenhouse… there were even holograms of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore – and they actually looked legit! Seriously, there was no feeling of “wow, this is so cheesy… it looks so fake,” because everything looked so REAL (even if they obviously weren’t… you’ll know what I mean if you go there).

So yeah, if you guys ever go to HP world, ride “The Forbidden Journey.” It’s totally worth it.

There are 4 rides in the Harry Potter area, so we split our time up between those and just exploring Hogsmeade.

Of course, we had to get a butterbeer.

You’d think it’d be served warm (like it is in the books), but considering how this is Florida, it makes sense to serve it in a slushie-like form. It tastes just like how you think it would – sweet and caramelly, with a foamy top that the workers dollop on. I can only imagine how much sugar is in this, but hey, it was worth the experience.

There was also pumpkin juice for sale, in case you needed more wizardy refreshments.

Once we got our butterbeer, Calynn and I stood in line to get to Honeyduke’s (yeah, you have to stand in line to get into a store – jeezes).

It’s a place of magical sweets that often leave Muggles shocked and flabbergasted…

Just kidding. I mean, they’ve got all the candy mentioned in the books – Chocolate Frogs, Peppermint Toads, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavored Beans, Fudge-Covered Flies, but they’re also Mugglified (as in, they’re all normal candy, just shaped like animals or whatever). They’ve also got normal candies like chocolate-covered raisins, sour strips, and such. But there’s nothing really too outlandish or gross, so I have no idea why these people look so weirded out. Makes for a funny picture though :D

There’s another section that leads to a more bakery-ish kind of place, with refrigerated goods on display:

Some of the stuff for sale included Hagrid’s rock cakes, treacle fudge, pumpkin pasties, caramel apples…

And cauldron cakes, one of which my sister bought. It was a chocolate brownie base filled with chocolate mousse and topped with a little bit of chocolate fudge. It was very… chocolatey. But surprisingly good – it didn’t taste fake or anything.

Making our way around Hogsmeade, there were also other stores from the books/movies, like Zonko’s Jokeshop and Ollivander’s (which had a RIDICULOUSLY long line – we didn’t even bother standing in it). These were stores you could actually go in and buy stuff in, but a lot of the other ones were just storefronts for decoration – they windows were all decorated, but the doors were all closed and wouldn’t open. Oh well, it certainly lent to the air of magic.

There are also regular performances by the students of the Beauxbaton and Durmstrang schools:

introduction by a hogwarts student - looks like we're in for something GRAND

LOL. Look at their faces. Oh, the joys of working at Universal Studios.

The Durmstrang boys did a martial arts thing, with lots of cartwheeling, flipping, fighting, and “hoo-AHH”-ing.

It was pretty intense – can’t you tell by their faces?

The Beauxbatons girls on the other hand…

Did more dancing, with pirouettes and ribbon-twirling.

These weren’t some half-baked dancers – these guys and girls were actually talented, so it made for some good, ol’ magical entertainment.

So that pretty much sums up the highlights of my family’s Universal Studios trip. I didn’t include EVERYthing because a) I’m kind of lazy and b) you gotta go see this for yourself! I don’t wanna ruin the magic of Harry Potter world for you guys. Seriously, if you ever do have a chance to go Orlando, definitely go to Islands of Adventure – it’s well worth your time (both the magical and non-magical stuff).

I’ve got another Food for Thought post to put up soon, but with the last week of classes and finals just around the corner, we’ll see how that goes. I’m definitely going to try to get it up before winter break. But until then, I hope you guys do some laughing out loud seeing a few more of my dad’s antics.

the same pose, but there's a little difference in the belly area...


P.S. It is now snowing harder than ever… and it’s not forecasted to stop until the weekend. Oh. Em. Gee.



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