A Wizard For The Weekend
I simply cannot stay away from Hogwarts, but can you blame this nerd on wanting to never leave this magical place? This time around, I got to bring some of my best friends with me to experience the magic of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was a weekend filled with magic, laughs, Halloween scares, and above all... lots of fun!
Our first day was an easy and relaxed one, we took an early flight into Orlando and decided to relax poolside at the hotel. I highly recommend staying at a hotel that's on the International Drive, if you are only going to the Universal Parks. That way, you are a short walk from them and will not have to rent a car or call too many Ubers to make your way around. We stayed at the Monumental Movieland Hotel, which gave us an incredible price and was perfectly located for all of our plans!
Once we were refreshed, we made our way to Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney) to begin our adventures! The last time I was here was three years ago, and back then they were remodeling everything. Now, it looks beautiful and truly gives its new name justice. Disney Springs was fully decked-out in Halloween decorations and even the stores had season-exclusive souvenirs! There is something for everyone in this place, from family-friendly restaurants to bars for the party animals - you name it! We opted for dinner in the Rainforest Cafe, which is a forest-themed cafe with very realistic animal robots. The aesthetic was stellar, and definitely worth walking around once you are done eating.
The first park we went to was Islands of Adventure, to which we got super early that way we had enough time to do everything we wanted and more. We made our way to the Harry Potter area first since this was on the top of our list of things we wanted to do. No matter how many times I come here, it always feels like the first. The magic never ceases to amaze me, it truly feels like I am living inside the Harry Potter books and movies. My friends and I rode all the attractions and went inside every single store, no stone was left unturned! One thing we noticed was a construction sign... they are expanding the Harry Potter area! My sources say they are creating the Forbidden Forest and that it will be open in 2019... guess I'll have to plan a trip then!
Once our magic hearts were completely filled, we continued exploring the park. Next up was Jurassic Park, which I thought would be under renovations like the one in the LA, but it wasn't. So we got to satisfy our dino-dreams. One new attraction that I was very excited to experience was the King Kong ride, and it did not disappoint!
As the day got hotter, the more we craved the water rides. So naturally, we got as soaked as we could get... and we remained wet for the rest of the day. Since I knew how wet you get in these rides, I decided on wearing something that would dry easily - it helped, so make sure to not wear jeans to the water rides! We ended our visit at one of my favorite areas - the Marvel Superhero Island! My inner geek was jumping from excitement to ride everything and to go inside every single store.
On our second day, we went to Universal Studios and did the same thing as the day before - begin at the Harry Potter area. Instead of Hogsmead, Universal Studios has another area called Diagon Alley, which in my opinion is even better than the original park! Make sure to wait around for the dragon to spit fire, that is one thing you do NOT want to miss. If you want the full experience, I recommend buying an interactive wand so you can perform spells at designated areas - they truly make you feel like a witch/wizard.
Universal Studios closes early during the fall to get it ready for the iconic Halloween Horror Nights, to which we originally did not plan on going but then decided to attend. We wanted to relax before the scares began, so we walked around the Universal City Walk and made our way to Fat Tuesday for some AMAZING drinks. If you want to get a slight buzz for a very reasonable price... Fat Tuesday's your place to go!
Halloween Horror Nights... boy was I nervous for this. But, so far it had been a trip of facing our fears and this would definitely be the cherry on top. Do not get me wrong, I love horror movies and LIVE for Halloween but I do not like to be scared by haunted houses or anything of that sort. It would have been a lost opportunity if we had not bought passes for this famous event though. The park transforms itself into a horror movie set within minutes, and everything is spooky-vibes. They have actors walking around scaring people and there are different themes in every area. The big draw are the haunted houses though, and this year Stranger Things and Halloween 4 were the big hits. We waited in line for Stranger Things for about an hour and a half and it the end it was so worth it! Because the wait time was so long for everything else, we continued to get on different attractions in hopes that the times would decrease... they did for some houses but not all. In the end, we were able to to the Trick R Treat house and called it a night. I definitely recommend getting an Express Pass for Horror Nights, otherwise you will not be able to do much.
On our final day, we were able to do our favorite attractions from each park. We took our time, enjoyed each other's company and rode everything until our bodies begged for a break. What I recommend is to always look for deals for park-to-park tickets, it is the best way for you to be able to do everything you want. And, if you happen to go during the fall season... do not miss out on Halloween Horror Nights! Thank you to my friends for coming on this trip with me; I love you all so much and I cannot wait for our next adventure!