Patrick AFB is not far from Orlando and we decided that a trip to Universal Studios was in order. We had seen the advertising for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and that was our primary motivation and goal for our visit. When we talked to our daughter, Elisabeth, she thought it sounded like a great idea and asked to come along. So why not? We told her we would pick her up at the airport in Orlando.
We bought our tickets at the Information, Travel, and Tickets (ITT) office on base and borrowed a couple of guide books at the base library. After we picked up Elisabeth and returned to our hotel, we made our plan for visiting the park.
We took the shuttle from the hotel to the park each morning, certainly more convenient and cheaper than driving and parking. Our first stop was Diagon Alley to buy a Wizard’s wand. Ollivander’s has all kinds of wands, including those used by each of the Harry Potter wizards. Elisabeth bought herself an interactive wand. Within Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade there are spots where you can use these interactive wands to cast spells. Fortunately for these new, unskilled wizards there were experienced wizards nearby that could offer assistance.
All of the guide books commented on how well the buildings in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade match the descriptions in the Harry Potter books, and they were more than accurate. We felt like we were in those magical places. This feeling was enhanced by watching visitors of all ages dressed in Hogwarts wizard robes.
In addition to the rides and casting spells with Elisabeth’s Wand, we sampled authentic Butter Beer and a couple of shows.
I think the best show was the light show at Hogwarts Castle.
If it wasn’t for Elisabeth I might have been content with just visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. She wanted to do all of the rides and that worked for us. Universal Studios did an excellent job in designing their rides. With the combination of roller coaster type vehicles with 3-D projection, the result is a wild ride that puts you right into the movie. In addition to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (hold on to your stomach for this one), the Hogwarts Express, and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, we rode Fast & Furious, the Rip Ride Rockit, Jurassic Park River Adventure, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, Revenge of the Mummy, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, and more. I couldn’t get many pictures because we weren’t allowed to take cameras on the rides.
Some shows are special during the holidays, like the “Grinchmas” performance.
After three days in the park we drove back to the Manatee Cove RV Park. From there we played in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, paddled our kayaks with the dolphins at Haulover Canal in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and watched some great sunsets over the Banana River.
Sunday found us driving Elisabeth back to the airport in Orlando. We’re already looking forward to seeing her and the rest of the Washington State family in June.