Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Little Piece of Heaven Right Here on Earth

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is having a spectacular day with friends and family!

Typically, my brother usually cooks Thanksgiving dinner, but my mom surprised us this year by not only cooking, she also made butterbeer for us! AWESOME!! It was really cute—she even tried out a couple recipes and added a few other ingredients to taste. So, thanks Mom!

One of the biggest things I’m thankful for this year is my family getting to go to Orlando, Florida. My mom and I went for the NCTE conference (I also got to see my friend, Alex, too!) and my brother and sister tagged along to go to the parks. Since we were arriving on Thursday, my sister and I figured that our perfect day would consist of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and then going to see the midnight release of HP7, P1—especially since we were going to see it an hour before everyone back home in St. Louis (it’s the little things in life).

Upon arrival at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure and once my sister and I figured out the general direction we needed to head to get to Hogsmeade, we plowed ahead of our party to get there. Once we saw the entry way into Hogsmeade, we were giddy fools, I started to get misty eyed—I found my little piece of heaven. It is incredible—the first thing that caught my eye was the Hogwarts Express--she is a thing a beauty. But as my eyes panned the skyline of Hogsmeade, I just couldn’t believe I was standing there. The buildings of a quaint village square covered in snow, was so fitting, especially with the backdrop of the beautiful Hogwarts. To see Zonko’s and Honeydukes was amazing—especially with how authentic their merchandise was—you can buy a sneakoscope, extendable ear, or chocolate frogs and cauldron cakes!

My brother was impressed with the locker system (well, all of us were)—you have to stow your items before getting on the rides, but it’s free for the first 45 minutes or so and your fingerprint is your “combination.”

It’s no joke that the queues leading up to the rides are experiences themselves. The queue to Dragon Challenge has items from the Triwizard Tournament, the queue for Flight of the Hippogriff has items related to Hagrid and the grounds of Hogwarts, and The Forbidden Journey has the motherload—you get to walk through the halls/rooms of HOGWARTS! One needs to go through the queues a few times just to catch everything there is to see. The rides were wicked sweet--worth going on more than once! I started tearing up on Forbidden Journey just because it was such a wonderful experience.

And now the moment our tastebuds had all been waiting for—BUTTERBEER from The Three Broomsticks! How good is butterbeer you might ask? It’s worth the price of admission just to get into the park! The frozen kind is sweet and the regular has a little kick to it. You get a good serving too—not a little dinky cups worth. And the foam is mmm…mmm…good!

I’ve never felt so joyous when stepping into a park like I did with WWoHP and I highly recommend that if you ever get the chance, you HAVE to go!

HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR.
Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2010 Universal Studios. © 2010 Universal Orlando.

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