Thursday, January 13, 2011

So how was our Florida trip?

We had a great time in Florida.  We flew down on Wednesday and we were back home by Sunday afternoon.

Which was perfect for watching playoff football!  (which we did...all afternoon.  I probably should have done laundry, but I just didn't feel like it.  Instead the laundry got done yesterday when I had to work from home due to all the snow, we got about 2 feet, Oscar LOVES it.)

We spent most of our trip just hanging out and visiting with my parents and other relatives that live down there (plus my grandmother who "lives" there for a month or so every winter every year).  On Friday we went to Universal Studios and went to the Harry Potter theme park.  Saturday we went to a Mario Andretti (is that the right name?) Go-Kart place where the guys raced some 40mph go-karts.

So onto my review of the Harry Potter theme park.  My first piece of advice?  If you can stand the wait....please WAIT before you go.  It was PACKED.  There were lines just to get into a store to buy stuff.  Seriously.  It was very crowded and I think in a few years, once the excitement has worn off, that maybe it will be more enjoyable.  My second piece of advice is to go with other Harry Potter fans.  It's hard for people that are not into Harry Potter to understand why you might just want to stand there and soak it all in.

We enjoyed the butterbeer (very sweet, make sure you split one) and the shops and store fronts were just like being in the movie.  There were a lot of details that I'm sure I missed, so I am looking forward to going back again.  Which I will be doing in about 6-10 years when my baby is old enough to enjoy the park and hopefully wants to go because she likes Harry Potter as much as I do.  Walking in the castle was amazing...though it was a VERY long wait outside and then once we were inside, the line moved way too quickly.  I felt that there must have been a bottleneck somewhere that forced us along way too quickly inside the castle.  I wanted to wait an hour inside the castle...not outside.  All the cool stuff (Dumbledore's office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts room, the sorting hat, the portrait hall, etc) was inside. 
The ride itself was okay, but was way too jerky and quick moving to really enjoy everything you were seeing, again, I felt like it was rushed.  It might have been that we waited so long to get in that it just seemed quick, but I think other people agreed with me.

There are a few stores to visit in the Harry Potter theme park, but each one had a line to get in with the exception of one.  If you want to skip the lines, there is a souvenir store near the entrance of the park that has a lot of the stuff that you might want to get in the other stores in this one store.  And it isn't crowded.  And there is no line to get in.   So if you want, you can skip the lines and go to this store.  But I do recommend going into the stores, as they were all unique and special as well.  The reason the stores had such huge lines was because the stores themselves are small, just like "the real life stores" in the movies.  You can also visit the Universal Studios website to get an idea of what each store offers.  They have an online store for purchasing items as well.
The stores were Zonko's, Honeydukes, Dervish and Banges, Ollivanders, Owl Post and Filch's Emporium.  All the stores have different items as well, so you will want to visit each one.  A few of the stores are connected, so make sure you explore every corner before you decide to check out.  :)

The line for Ollivander's wasn't as long as the Castle line (The Forbidden Journey) but it was worth it to see a wand choose a wizard, the actor portraying Ollivander was VERY good.  If I go back and I don't have a child with me, I will probably skip this "show" but if I have a child with me, we are waiting in line, where I will push them to the front and tell them to put on their biggest cutest smile to be chosen.  And yes, I will definitely purchase that wand for them. :)  (or my Dad will, since he was excited to get a wand this time, but I told him let's wait until we can bring a child with us.)

We didn't get to eat at The Three Broomsticks, but I did get to peek in, and it looked really cool.  (next time! Definitely!)  I did get some postcards and stationary and I had them stamped with the Hogsmeade postal stamp.  Very cool. :)

Of course there is a lot more, but I can't remember it all now.  If you have questions, feel free to ask!

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