City 9 ¾ – Hogsmeade, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

One word to describe the city: OHEMGEEEEEEEEEEE
Cost per person: It so doesn’t even matter
Kilometers driven: You can’t drive to Hogwarts, silly muggle
Hours spent: Not even close to enough
Attractions/Sights: All your dreams coming true…
Rating: 13 out of 12
Ideal visitor: Harry Potter fans (aka every sane person in the world)

If you don’t love Harry Potter, if you aren’t a fangirl/fanboy…

you should probably just head on over to the Miami post, because honestly, you’re not going to care too much about what we have to say. And also:

We took a shuttle from our hotel to Universal Studios and we were practically shaking with excitement as we entered the grounds. Like for reals guys, look how excited we were:

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First we went to London where we saw Grimmauld Place (because Dumbledore is dead and the secret has spread so we can totally see the house now).

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We saw the Knight Bus and we accidentally stumbled upon Diagon Alley. AND IT WAS MAGICAL! It was like we had wandered into a real, magical alley full of shops and people dressed in wizard robes (really expensive wizard robes).

Honestly, we could go on and on about how amazing this place is (and we have to those people lucky enough to have us in their real life), but it’s one of those things you just need to experience. Diagon Alley has all the shops you can remember, and the Gringotts ride is unreal. I believe Elyse screamed in legitimate fear at one point (Guys he came right at my face and I didn’t have a wand and I didn’t even think to yell expelliarmus I just knew everything was over and my time had come and screamed that I wasn’t ready for this and it was terrifying #hufflepuff #ptlforharry)

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After thoroughly exploring London and Diagon Alley, we hopped aboard the Hogwarts Express to get to Hogsmeade. We rode in the same train car as a few other die hard fans and we were all geeking out together.

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Hogsmeade was another dream come true, but nothing compared to seeing Hogwarts for the first time:

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Walking through its halls, seeing the moving portraits, seeing Dumbledore’s office…we really came to understand Harry at a whole new level:

The only damper on our day was that we fangirled so hard we failed to find out when the parks closed. They closed way earlier than we thought and we missed out on doing some rides twice. Full confession: all of us were unreasonably disappointed, considering we’re three convincingly well-adjusted, full-grown adults. But, wisdom from the Hogwarts professors got us through this dark time in our lives:

That light was refillable coke and popcorn #thanksalbus

Overall, it was a fantastic day. Now, some pro tips for you future travellers to the magical wonderland that is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

  1. Check park hours. Seriously. We were SO DISAPPOINTED in ourselves.
  2. Go mid-week in early November. We didn’t wait more than 10 minutes in any line in the entire park.
  3. Invest in the refillable Coke mug early in the day. It cost us about $13 for one mug, but then we had free refills all day of any Coca-Cola product. We certainly got our money’s worth (but you know how we love us some Coke!)
  4. Butterbeer is REALLY sweet. We got one for the three of us to share and we couldn’t even finish it.
  5. This is a pretty expensive day (we didn’t include it in our 12in12 cities because of expense and because we didn’t technically explore a city), but you can minimize costs. Stay in a hotel with a free shuttle to Universal Studios (no parking costs), eat only one meal in the park, and make the most of the discounted refill prices (i.e. coke as previously mentioned, and a similar deal on popcorn) to get lots of snackage.

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