The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogwarts, Butterbeer, Hogsmeade and more Part 2/2

The Harry Potter ride 'Forbidden Journey' is located inside the castle

Part Two of our wonderful day spent in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Last week I covered the ‘Escape from Gringotts’ ride and the Goblin bank, the wand choosing ceremony at Ollivanders and the wonderful shops at Diagon Alley which you can read here. This week I will cover the Hogwarts Express Train ride, Hogsmeade, the Forbidden Journey ride, Souvenirs and Butterbeer.

Hogwarts Express Train and ride

Once we had our fun in Diagon Alley, we made our way to Kings Cross Station. You must have a Park Hopper ticket to get on the Hogwarts Express train. It is very worthwhile as the train is like another Harry Potter ride. The entrance from Diagon Alley is ‘better’ then the one at Hogsmeade, as there are a few interactive elements, but its important to catch the train in both directions as you experience different things in each direction.

Entering the Hogwarts Express train via Diagon Alley, there is a section where you (like the movies) walk into a brick wall. This is very cool – and we totally missed it on our first visit. If you are distracted, you will easily miss it and its not somewhere where you can suddenly ‘go back’ to recapture (Cast Members like to keep the line moving along forwards!)

The train ride is exactly what the décor is like in the movies. For example, the material for the seats is exactly the same as in the movies. There are also the voices of Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dementors, appearances of Hagrid and more. It is a really nice ride that anyone of any age can do and it really does transport you to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle.

You board the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 3/4


Hogsmeade and Butterbeer

There are more shops at Hogsmeade here that you can visit, and pubs like the Three Broomsticks (where we got some Butterbeer ice-cream). The Butterbeer we were told before our visit and by other visitors to the park on site – was that it was sickly sweet – but that the ice-cream was delicious. In fact, someone we met in the queue for Ollivanders was left drinking the sickly sweet brew as his kids couldn’t drink it. We ended up getting the Butterbeer ice-cream at the Three Broomsticks – it was very yummy and a nice treat for a hot Florida day. It seemed to be like Butterscotch swirled in with vanilla ice-cream soft serve.


The Three Broomsticks - where we got Butterbeer Icecream

Butterbeer Icecream
Butterbeeer Fudge - supposedly more sweet then normal fudge!

There were a lot of shops here to be seen at Hogsmeade – including Honeydukes, where all sorts of sweets could be found – from Chocolate Frogs to Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans (with flavours ranging from marshmallow to ear wax!). At Honeydukes I noticed you could also get Butterbeer fudge. I was told by a cast member that the fudge is richer in taste then normal fudge. She said she would only ever eat ‘shavings’ of it at any one time.

Make sure you use the bathrooms in Hogsmeade. Moaning Myrtle haunts the bathrooms and she is “always pleased to see you”.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride

Inside the Hogwarts castle is the Forbidden Journey Ride. This is my second favourite Orlando Ride of all time. Please note a ‘25 minute wait time’ actually means 25 minutes to the front door of the castle (with a lot more waiting time inside – however once in the castle you are constantly entertained). A lot of the waiting times for Universal seemed to be until the start of the pre-ride entertainment – not the actual ride.

Again, you could not keep bags with you or any loose objects and these had to be stored in a locker. As A.J refused to do this ride, we did the ‘child swap’ arrangement – where there is a separate room for waiting parents (this room was very well organised, where the kids can watch a Harry Potter movie whilst the adults ride!)

The scenery inside the castle is amazing with huge knights, statues of Dumbledore, an appearance by Harry, Ron and Hermione, animated picture frames and more. The only thing missing was the moveable stairways!

Once you get to the front of the line you get strapped into this seat. You cannot see the person next to you very well unless you stick your head out (and you are told not to do that - you need to keep your head back at all times as some times during the ride you are literally moved on to your back laying down!) so this ride is not good if your young children need to see you on the ride for comfort. You are then moved from scene to scene, lots of 3D-like motion simulator moments and then lots of the more traditional dark ride elements with animatronics. I felt this ride had ‘everything’ a ride should. The ride reminded me a lot of ‘Soarin’ at Disney World as you ‘flew’ with Harry on broomsticks at Quiddich and through forest scenes. It was quite a wild ride at times (very steep descents etc), use of fire etc in the dark part of the ride – we rode this ride twice we loved it so much! The second time with my eyes open throughout! Ha ha.

The shop outside of this ride was the best Harry Potter shop ever. So much great merchandise to be found. Including a Marauders map – that actually worked with moving parts! I bought the chocolate frog pin – that when you opened it – smelt like chocolate! A lot of the merchandise was quite expensive though – ($60 USD for a Hogwarts scarf, $17 for a keyring etc) so I only took photographs!

Time turner keyrings

A sorting hat!

Hope you enjoyed reading about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I totally recommend it!

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