Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Post 2

I'm so pathetic at blogging. I guess this is one way to savor the experience we had with our first family vacation!

These pictures are all of WW of Harry Potter, but in no rhyme or reason order. It's the way they appeared when I uploaded them and because it takes so much effort to rearrange them, I'm just going to leave it as is.

Gage and Emma at the entrance of The Forbidden Journey. This was our first of three times to ride, so we were very excited with anticipation!

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: The Forbidden Journey

As you wait in line to ride The Forbidden Journey, part of your time is spent weaving through the greenhouse. Thankfully we were there first thing in the morning, so it wasn't too miserably hot.

Scott, Gage and Emma entering the castle.

The hall of portraits was pretty amazing. The portraits that were interactive didn't show up on my camera, unfortunately. It is better when there is a longer line for this ride, so you have time to take in the sights. If there is no line, you are kind of rushed through and end up missing alot of the conversation between the portraits.

It started snowing while we were in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Harry, Ron and Hermoine were in the balcony talking, but because it was a holographic image, my camera wouldn't photograph them. It was very life-like. Unfortunately, the Forbidden Journey is the only place you see Harry, Ron and Hermoine in the park. This ride is what makes it a true Harry Potter experience.

Just before exiting the line and getting on the ride, you will find the Sorting Hat, which actually talks.

Once you leave the line, you get onto the ride in the Great Hall, where you find floating candles.

We rode The Forbidden Journey three separate times, so I was snapping pictures each time, to make sure I didn't miss anything. Here are Gage and Emma back in line, in the greenhouse. There are mandrakes in the fenced area.

This is where they keep track of house points. Gryffindor is in the lead!!!!

A statue of Goddrick Gryffindor.

Time to stop and take a picture with the Hippogriff!

The wall of portraits once again.

Dumbledore's Office.

Dumbledore's desk.

Gage and Emma with the Sorting Hat. I wonder which houses they would be sorted in to?

Hagrid's Hut which you can see when getting onto the Flight of the Hippogriff ride. It's a tame rollercoaster, and also the first one we rode.

Hagrid's Hut.

Buckbeak on his nest. This was taken from the actual roller coaster and is about the only place you can see this.

Dogweed and Deathcap shop window. Screaming mandrakes were heard. Thankfully we lived to tell about it!

Ollivander's Wand Shop is another big attraction at WWHP. This was high on our "to see" list, and was the first place we went on our first day at WWHP. They allow about 25 people into the wand shop at a time. The shopkeeper will choose one lucky soul and go through a production of the wand picking the wizard. We went to Ollivander's twice, because Gage really wanted a wand to pick him. Unfortunately neither Gage, nor Emma, were chosen. However, Gage's wand really did choose him. After the show is over, everyone is exited into a gift shop where you can pick out a wand to purchase. Because Gage was so bummed about not being chosen by the shopkeeper, he had a hard time trying to decide which wand to get. He opened several boxes and was just bummed. Finally, he opened up a wand box which had a core of Hawthorne, and a huge smile came over his face. I believed that this was a sign, and he was thrilled with his new wand.

A view of all the wand boxes in the shop.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy.


That is all for this post. I think I am also going to upload all of the pictures to FB. Much faster and easier to do.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Post 1

Apparently there is a limit to the number of pictures you can add to a single post, and I have reached it. I have tons more pics, but will have to do multiple posts about Harry Potter.

As I mentioned before, we had a special Harry Potter package. One of the benefits to having this package deal is that you get to enter the park an hour earlier than the general public. This is HUGE!!! This, in my opinion, is worth paying extra to stay on site, versus other accommodations. However, that is just my opinion. But I think Scott would also agree.

Since the park opened at 9am, we were allowed to enter at 8am, which meant we were up by 6:30am and out the door by 7a so we could be first in line. We were among the first people in line both mornings we went. A small sacrifice to pay to get to do the things we wanted.

One thing I didn't understand, the first morning we went, is that they opened the gates about 15 minutes before the park opened, only to hold everyone up not too far inside the park, behind another barrier. I'm not sure why they do that? In my opinion, it just creates a bigger mass of people and more opportunity for people to get hurt. It kind of reminded me of Black Friday shopping, except that people were a little less crazy and I didn't see anyone get knocked over or trampled.

Once we got through the 2nd barrier, we walked VERY FAST, to the Harry Potter theme park. It was so thrilling to me when we got to the entrance. I was actually overcome with emotion. We waited so long and worked so hard to save the money to do this and WE WERE ACTUALLY THERE! I had tears welling up in my eyes and I had to take lots of deep breaths so no one would think I was hurt, or worse yet, crazy! I was thankful that I was about 10 strides behind Scott and the kids so I could regain composure! ;-)

The Hogwarts Castle! This is where you get your true "Harry Potter experience". We didn't actually get into the castle on day 1. We had read in our book "Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids", that there were 3 attractions that were a MUST DO first thing in the morning, otherwise the lines were so long that you wasted alot of time just waiting. Our plan of action was to go to Ollivander's Wand Shop the first morning and Hogwarts the 2nd morning. Hind sight is always 20/20, but we actually could have managed both attractions both days. Part of our problem was that we weren't oriented to the park and didn't realize where everything was at first.

Because I have so much trouble getting the pictures on here, then getting them in chronological order, I'm just leaving them where they fell at random.

We loved "Hogsmeade" which is where all of the shops and stores are located. They had everything designed with such great detail, it was amazing! Here at "Scrivenshafts" they had Quills writing on parchment paper in the windows. You couldn't actually enter this shop, it was just window displays.

Scrivenshafts - Finest Parchments, Inks and Quills.

GladRags Wizardwear contained the dress that Hermione wore in one of the movies. Or at least that is what I am told by Gage and Emma. ;-)

This Dogweed Deathcap shop had screaming Mandrakes in their window display! They were terrible on the ears! In the movies their shrieks bring death to anyone who hears them.

This is the entrance to The Three Broomsticks, which is an English Tavern. We had reservations to eat breakfast here on our first morning!

Even the public restrooms were designed in great detail! You could even hear Moaning Myrtle inside. She is only in the Girls restroom in the books and movies, but the Men were not left out here.

I think Honeydukes was one of our favorite shops. It was very vibrant with color inside, which was one reason I fancied this store.

Not to mention that they had many DELICIOUS looking desserts like these Caudron Cakes. Unfortunately everything was quite spendy, so we didn't sample much. We did leave with a couple of Chocolate Frogs, some Bertie Botts Ever Flavour Beans and Pepper Imps. ;-)

Right next door is Zonkos Joke Shop. Emma liked all the Pygmy Puffs on display.

Wizard Chess, anyone?????

Our first morning, after visiting Ollivander's Wand Shop, and riding Flight of the Hippogriff, which is a fairly tame roller coaster, we decided to try Dragon Challenge. You can't really see much of this roller coaster from the outside, except for right here in this spot. We didn't actually see this until AFTER we rode the ride. We had read in our book that the best spot to ride is in the front row, so you can actually see what is going on. Because we didn't know what we were getting in to, we got in line for the first seat. The red coaster is the Chinese Fireball and the blue one is the Hungarian Horntail. Gage wanted to ride the Hungarian Horntail, so that is what we did. Although now I look back in our book and it says "coaster loonies hype the front row of the Chinese Fireball and last row of Hungarian Horntail, the Unofficial crew unanimously prefers the Hungarian Horntail. We were in the front row of the Hungarian Horntail, so maybe that's why Gage was screaming, "GET ME OFF OF HERE! GET ME OFF OF HERE!" and Scott was thinking, "I AM GOING TO DIE! I AM GOING TO DIE!" LOL! I could hear Emma screaming at the top of her lungs and I just kept praying that I wouldn't get sick. I have always LOVED the big thrill rides. Now, not so much. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the "thrill" of the ride, but my body doesn't agree with my brain much of the time. I did actually make it through this ride without much trouble, other than I was shocked at how stupid I was that I didn't realize what a "thrill" this ride was! Needless to say, when I asked Gage if he would like to try the Chinese Fireball side, he replied with a quick "NO!" This ride has actually been at Universal for a long time, it was just rethemed as Harry Potter. How convenient that was for the park designing engineers!!

There were a couple Butterbeer stands within the park. You could choose regular or frozen. Frozen wins best drink, hands down, by the Stephens family! However, at about $21.00 for 2 frozen drinks in souvenir mugs, we didn't sample too many of them!

Hog's Head

This picture is pretty self explanatory! ;-)

The Hogwarts Express!

The Hogwarts Express Conductor. I loved all of the uniforms the staff wore throughout the park. You definitely felt like you were in the movie!

We waited in this area for 2 different shows that were scheduled. All 4 houses were represented. Griffyndor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.

We watched the Triwizard Spirit Rally which was a show of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students as they lead the excitement for the Triward Tournament.

A Durmstrang student up close and personal!

The show was quite enjoyable to watch.

The Beauxbatons put on a ribbon twirling show which was also fun to watch.

Who knew that being a ribbon twirler could lead to a job at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!!!

This show certainly would have gotten us excited to watch the Triwizard Tournament!

After the Triwizard Spirit Rally, we stayed to watch the Hogwarts Frog Choir. This was a great presentation of songs by a small choir of Hogwarts students, accompanied by their large croaking frogs. It was quite warm out on this day, and those costumes looked HOT! I felt sorry for the Ravenclaw student (in the blue robe) as he was very hot and his face was dripping with sweat!

It was fun to listen to the choir. And now, when we watch the Harry Potter movies, we recognize the songs and remember seeing the choir singing it. ;-)

The choir director was very excited about their performance. Is this a future job for Emma???

The Hogwarts Choir.

After the performance, the kids got to pose with them for pictures!

Stay tuned for more pictures from our adventures at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!!