We had one full day at Universal, and that limitation required careful planning in regard to arrival time, meal time, and what part of the park to visit when. The crowd was unreal. Suffocating, in fact. Chuck remarked that navigating Iceland was less stressful than making our way through Universal, and I agreed. It took a bit of time for me to adjust expectations and ready my brain to endure the full day. Be it my innate introversion, a propensity for anxiety, or fatigue from travel, or a powerful combination of all three, I needed a moment to warm up to the amusement park.
Once I crossed over, I was better. No, I was better than better. I was buoyant. I couldn’t look away. Every detail of the buildings, signs, and overhead music deserved my acute attention. We began the day at Hogsmeade.
Captured in winter, Hogsmeade is the little wizarding village older students can visit on the weekends (with parents’ permission). It’s home to Honeydukes and Ollivander’s, The Three Broomsticks, and the Hog’s Head.
We’re introduced to Hogsmeade for the first time in the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
It was at the Owl Post, attached to Ollivander’s, where Owen and I purchased our wands – he chose Neville Longbottom’s, I selected Professor McGonagall’s. (Also in the store was the Monster Book of Monsters.)
On the far end of Hogsmeade is Hogwarts Castle and its ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The motion-based ride takes you on a simulated broomstick ride with Harry around the castle, by the Whomping Willow, and through a Quidditch game (and a mess of Dementors). By the end of the day I’d ridden it three times. I would’ve ridden it more had I the opportunity. Like a child, I gripped my “broomstick” and beamed with delight. I absolutely flippin’ loved it.
Instead of boarding the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley, we decided to walk back through Universal towards a food court area to eat lunch. Knowing we’d return to Hogsmeade for the light show at night, we’d enjoy the train ride then.
Next: Diagon Alley