After lunch we walked through Universal to reach the discreet entrance to Diagon Alley, which was next to Kings Cross and directly across from the Knight Bus.
A few turns through a brick wall and the alley opened up to reveal The Leaky Cauldron, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, and, in the distance, Gringott’s Bank.
If there was one disappointment (aside from the crowd) it’s that The Daily Prophet and Flourish & Blotts were facades and not actual places we could explore. They had window displays and signage, but there was no going inside Flourish & Blotts for parchment and ink. There was no newsroom to explore.
House-Elves were well represented. #freethehouseelves
It was delicious but a touch too sweet, so Chuck, Jackson, and I shared a frozen Butterbeer, while Jeremy purchased a full drink with his own money and drank it happily.
God bless this man, who is not a Harry Potter fan nor an amusement park fan. Yet, he was a good sport and held my wand for me when I went to the restroom.
We opted out of the Escape from Gringott’s ride because the line was unreasonably long, plus it’s 3D. (No thank you, headache!) Later in the day we heard the ride had issues and had to shut down at one point, so we were doubly thankful we didn’t stand in line for nothing. Walking around Diagon Alley (and the hidden Knockturn Alley) was plenty fun.
Owen is a hugger!
As the afternoon turned into evening, we made our way to Kings Cross to catch the Hogwarts Express back to Hogsmeade.
Eight to a train car, the short ride featured simulated scenery through the window and chatter in the hallways (“Anything off the trolley, dears?“). A few chocolate frogs got loose and jumped around the frosted glass. None of my pictures (or attempts at pictures) are good enough to post. You’ll have to use your imagination.
Back at Hogsmeade, we hopped on the castle ride a couple more times and watched a brief light show against the castle walls. The day was ending, and despite our fatigue and the great relief we knew we’d feel crawling into bed, I didn’t want to leave. How could I? I’d been waiting 17 years to visit Hogwarts. One day simply wasn’t enough.
The trip is nearly a blur, save a few moments that made it into the lockbox of my brain. The park is so well done. The details are spot on – from hearing Moaning Myrtle in the bathrooms to the Cornish Pixies causing mischief over Zonko’s Joke Shop – it seems like no corner was left untouched. Which is good to know on account of the park fees and travel expenses we endured. This experience was not cheap.
Was it worth it? For me – yes. Again, I’ve wanted to go to Hogwarts for nearly two decades. Of course it was worth it! Will I go again? Doubtful, and that’s okay. There are plenty of other things to see and do in the world.