A few weeks ago I headed off on a solo trip down to Orlando to attend Halloween Horror Nights 24, as part of the #FacingFearsTogether trip but on my Two Traveling Moms. After our night of horror, which I actually ended up enjoying, we headed to both Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure for a day of adventure. I had been itching to see the new Diagon Alley land in Universal Orlando, and it surely didn’t disappoint. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. All I can say, is that if you are a Harry Potter fan, Universal Studios has definitely stepped it up a notch, and you need to start planning your visit now!
Our day started out with a good cry. Well, really it was just me crying. Why? Well, my fear is roller coasters. Remember that world’s tallest water slide I rode a few months ago? No big deal. Cable wakeboarding, jetpacking, ziplining? No problem. I am usually up for any adventure. But not roller coasters! It is a fear I have had since being a young girl. I can handle small short ones, but not big ones. So, as I stood before the Rip Ride Rockit Coaster, I was literally scared to death and had tears rolling down my face. I did it though. I faced my fears and rode it, crying all the way. Will I ever get on it again? Nope, but at least I tried it once.
The rest of the day went much smoother and had smiles all around as our group was led from ride to ride. If you like adventure and thrill rides, then Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure are the perfect destination for you. We turned into Minions with Gru and his girls at Minion Mayhem, helped save the world with Optimus Prime at the Transformers ride, I rode the Mummy for the very first time and survived, and then it was time to visit the area I had been waiting for the whole trip!
You start your journey into the land of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando by walking through London. You can see King’s Cross Station, the Knight Bus complete with talking shrunken head, and even 12 Grimmauld Place where Kreacher the rather grumpy house elf pears out of the window every few minutes.
Entering into Diagon Alley itself is literally like entering a magical world. You no longer feel as though you are in a theme park. Instead, you are living and breathing the world that JK Rowling brought to life in her books. Be sure to stop in to let your wand choose you at Ollivander’s Wand Shop, grab a bite to eat the leaky cauldron, watch out for lurking mermaids, and browse the other various trinket shops along the way.
Beware of the fire breathing dragon who guards the entrance to Gringotts and stop in at the Money Exchange to talk to the goblin “Sir” before you embark on the rather immersive journey that is the new Escape from Gringotts ride.
I was so surprised at how different this ride was from the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride over at Islands of Adventure. It is so much more involved and really takes you right into the middle of the action. If movement is a big issue for you, I found this ride to be more tame in that department, but it was just a fantastic experience that really took you right into the books and movies.
Before you leave, don’t forget to take a stroll down Knockturn Alley. Beware of the dark and twisty things that lurk there. It may be dark, but it is definitely worth a visit for the experience alone.
After our fun at Diagon Alley, we boarded the Hogwarts Express. Yes, you heard me. In case you live under a rock and didn’t know, you can actually get on the Hogwart’s Express and ride it to Islands of Adventure with a valid park to park ticket. During the roughly 10 minute ride, you will experience all of the same sites and thrills that the characters from the movies did. I won’t give away any surprises, but it is a must have experience.
Lunch at Mythos over in Islands of Adventure was spectacular. Every bite of food was cooked perfectly, and there was not a person around me whose food did not look spectacular. I snapped a shot of my beef medallion and Sheri’s salmon to share with you.
When lunch was finished, we took a tour of Seuss Landing and rode on the High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride. It is the perfect way to view the park while resting your stomach after a meal.
Next up on our day of fun was The Hulk coaster. After testing my limits at the Rip Ride Rockit, I sat this one out, but I did snap a fun photo, before the group headed over to Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall.
Saving the world once again, we took a wild ride with Spider Man, and then headed off to get drenched at the Jurassic Park River Adventure boat ride. This was a ton of fun, and if you wear a poncho, you barely get wet at all. Our day ended with a visit to Islands of Adventure’s Harry Potter land, Hogsmeade and a ride on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end a day at Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure.
Have you been to Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando yet?
My theme park tickets and accommodations were covered as part of the Facing Fears Together trip, all opinions are my own.