My Life, Travel

Orlando Florida – Island of Adventures

The following day after we visited Universal Studios and Diagon Alley we went to Island of Adventures. Compared to Universal Studios, this park is a much smaller. 

 

All of the rides and attractions were all compressed into a small space. This did have some benefits, everything was close by and easy to find. As we were looking around the park, it started to rain. Great. 

Orlando is known to be hot and sunny, not for rain. We went there to get away from rain. Running for shelter, we looked at the map of the park. Close by were smaller rides such ‘Cat in a Hat’. 

Looking at the different rides around it, we saw that the majority of rides around this one and the park seemed to family and kid orientated.

Once the rain eased up a little, we continued to walk around the park. Not being able to deny my inner child, I did go onto some of the rides and enjoyed them. 

After being, on a few more rides, we walked across the park and found a few rollercoasters. Watching, I felt sick as I saw the people’s faces as they dangled suspended in the air for a few seconds. Just at the thought of being on those rollercoasters, I felt my stomach twist.

I imagined myself throw up while I was upside-down in the air. A number of these bigger rollercoasters were superhero and marvel themed, two of which were Spiderman and Hulk rides.

Managing to find other rides which we could go on, we took another look at the map. There was a lot of water rides here. Sighing, we looked up, the rain which had just started falling again, seemed to be falling directly over us. 

Though rain was falling slowly, it was still relatively hot and humid, so we joined a queue to line up to go on a water ride. Getting closer to the front of the queue, we saw groups of two or three people climb into log like carriages and move along a water conveyor belt. 

When it was our turn, I was lifted into the middle seat, while dad bravely took the seat in front of me and mom sheltered in the seat behind me. Moving along the conveyor belt, we tilted backwards as we went up a track to a great height, then down again at a great speed. 

Unlike other rollercoasters, there is a big bit of water at the bottom. SPLASH! Water floods into our carriage and soaks our feet. 

Feeling drops of rain on my back, I realised the rain was picking up. We were getting wet from both angles now. As we continued around the track we kept getting sprayed with water from other carriages that was going the opposite way. Back soaked, feet soaked, we took a final plunge into a pool of water. SPLASH!!

After being offered another chance on the water ride, which we refused and stood under a dryer for ten minutes each, we continued to walk around the park. 

Before going to Island of Adventures, my friend had told me there was a parade of all the marvel superheroes, which would perform then the public can take photographs with them. 

Just like Scooby and Shaggy in Universal Studios, mom acted like a kid, running up to each superhero and asking for a photograph with them. Shaking my head, laughing, I took photographs of her with them, which did act as her profile picture on Facebook for a short time.

Reaching the outer skirts of Island of Adventures, I couldn’t help but admit to myself that I felt that there was a better atmosphere at Universal Studios. 

Personally, I found there was more activity in the park, much more entertaining and enjoyable. However, the best was yet to come. It was to go and visit Hogsmeade Village…

After a busy day at Island of Adventures, we went to visit Hogsmeade Village. While we were walking there, the heavens opened and it started to pour down with rain, AGAIN. Running for refuge, we looked at a map of Island of Adventures and saw we were only a few steps away from Hogsmeade Village. 

Huddled with a big group of people, we watched as the rain fell and begin to flood the grounds. As the rain got even worse, a bigger crowd formed in our shelter and there was murmurs indicating that we may have to abandon our visit to Hogsmeade Village and return home.Slowly the rain eased off and we managed to edge out of our shelter and towards the village. 

Seeing Hogsmeade Station in the distance, we know we were close. Getting nearer, I saw the accuracy between this model and the one made for studio use. I couldn’t believe the accuracy there was between the model of the train, the Hogwarts Express (which was billowing smoke). Beside the station was a beautiful archway with Hogsmeade Village carved into a plague at the top of the archway.

Entering through the archway, the train seemed to be coming out of the distance from the right and stretching across the right side of the theme park. Not being able to climb within the carriages, we could only stand and admire the garniture of the train. 

Beside the amazing model of the Hogwarts Express, there was a conductor dressed in a conductor outfit. As well as posing for many photographs with fans as they stood in front of the Hogwarts Express, he tested us on Harry Potter trivia which I knew nearly enough all of the answers too. 

After mom had finished posing for the camera, my mom had an inspiration to start a video chat on her IPad with my auntie Karen. Being a big fan of Harry Potter herself, my auntie was very jealous that we’d gone to Diagon Ally and Hogsmeade Village and had been texting us, asking for updates on our trips. 

My decided to use the video chat option on the IPad and take her on a tour of Hogsmeade Village. This did include taking the IPad and the video chat with my auntie Karen over to the conductor to say hello. It was quite amusing.

Turning to look for my dad, I saw him admiring the park, particularly the architecture of the building and sets in the village. It was clear that the extent of detail in each building and set fascinated him. 

Seeing my mom was still preoccupied video calling my aunt and speaking with the Hogwarts Conductor, I took a stroll around the theme park and soaked up the atmosphere. Walking around the theme park, I saw a crowd forming, getting ready to watch a show which was going to start shortly. Hogsmeade Village was about to put on their interpretation of ’The Tale of The Three Brothers’ a short story featured in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1. 

While mom and dad entertained themselves elsewhere, I sat and watched the show. As the show progressed I could see that a lot of thought had gone into the show and its creators examined the story very closely and tried to include all the details without overlooking them to much. They also managed to add humor into the show which made it more affective, grabbing the audience’s attention.

Next it was time to visit the shops in Hogsmeade Village, all featured in the Harry Potter film series. There was The Three Broomsticks, Honeydukes, Zonko’s Joke Shop, Dervish & Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear, Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop, Hogsmeade Post Office and The Hog’s Head.  Before entering each one, I made sure I took photographs of them all to showcase that all the buildings and sets were built to its fullest extent, not leaving out a single detail. 

The Three Broomsticks and The Hog’s Head sold butterbeers as original food and drinks for fans to take advantage of and enjoy at their leisure. After joining bigger queues then that of Diagon Ally, we sat and admired the architecture and designs of the two pubs as we enjoyed normal and frozen butter and the orginal butter beer which are delicacies of the Harry Potter world.

Venturing into each shop, we marveled at the design as well marveling at the amount of confectionary and souvenirs and items on the shelves. Honeydukes sweet shop for example was amazing. There were a thousand types of confectionary on display but also available for fans to buy and enjoy. 

If mom and dad hadn’t pulled me out, I would of brought the entire shop. Gladrags Wizardwear offers different outfits which the people of the wizarding world could buy, for any occasion e.g. for parties and accessories to go with it. Zonko’s Joke Shop and Dervish & Banges, two of Fred and George’s favourite shops. 

Both shops were full off practical jokes and joke books with interactions, to foul the family. Dervish & Banges was full of mini explosions and experiments which any practical joker would rejoice at. Next door was Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop, there were many quills on display which we looked at, they were easy to make references to them in the films, so close to the original. 

There were different quills of different shapes and sizes that we could try, with different colored ink, both of which we could buy on leaving the shop. 

Lastly was the post office, in fact this was my favourite shop of them all. It was so realistic, there was straw across the tiles of the floor and little cubbies with a model made to look like an owl in each of them. The owls could each be referenced back to the ones in the films, the designers had looked very closely at each aspect of all the owls in the films when making them for this set. On the post office’s front desk were piles of letters with the Hogwarts crest printed on the back of it. 

Tracing my finger along the crest, I couldn’t believe how detailed it was and turned it back around, I saw the careful inscription on each of them, detailing Harry’s address on each of them. ‘Harry Potter, The Cupboard Under The Stairs, 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.’ Then there were the letters which Harry received on the others years, which he attended Hogwarts and didn’t live in the cupboard under the stairs. I decided to buy a few of these of these beautifully inscribed letters to add to my collection.

On the corner of the village and looking quite out of place was Olivander’s wand shop. Curious, we joined a queue to enter the shop. A crowd surrounded an Olivander look-a-like, there looked to be a chance to participate in the scene from Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, where Harry visits Olivanda’s wand shop to acquire his wand before he starts Hogwarts. As part of the Olivander’s experience, we could try different wands and reenact scenes. 

Then we watched fans shyly step forward and try different wands, waving them around and watching different things around the shop react. It was quite entertaining to watch fans move the wands in a flurry and seeing things react.

Eyes on me, I stepped forward to take my turn at choosing a wand. Waving different wands around, I saw my mom start to record me on her iPad. Again, and again I tried different wands but I didn’t seem to find the right one. I was very conscious of being recorded and I found it really funny, thinking how I would look when I watched it back. 

The more and more wands I tried, the more I started to wonder whether it was the wand which chose us, rather than the other way around. It fascinated me how they got different things to respond on queue and how suddenly happened, it kept making jump every time something moved, but it was funny. 

Continuing to try the wands, I finally struck gold when I found one, causing a music soundtrack to start. I reconised it to be the same soundtrack used in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone when Harry found the phoenix wand. This again made me think about whether we chose the wand or whether it choose us.

There was then the chance to purchase the wand that we were successful with and use around the Diagon Ally theme park, waving the wand and casting imaginary spells. Hogsmeade Village was built a similar way to Diagon Ally in which a number of the shops reacted to our wand movements and the spells cast.

In Island of Adventure’s Hogsmeade Village, there was three rides which visitors could enjoy. There was ‘Forbidden Journey’, ‘Ride of The Hippogriff and ‘Dragon Challenge’.  All three of the rides had a lot of access restrictions, particularly for wheelchair users who couldn’t transfer easy or had poor posture control. 

The ride Forbidden Journey involved people to sit in individual seats in a line of three in which a big strap came over their head, locked around them, with another strap across their lap. 

As I am unable to stay upright for a long period of time, while on moving ride without support, I didn’t feel I could go on this ride without a lot of difficulties.

Then there was the ride of the hippogriff, a child friendly coaster. Similar to the ride Forbidden Journey, the seating was indiduvial which would unfortunately cause me to slip and slide while it went in different directions along the tracks. 

Lastly, there was Dragon Challenge which was a NON-child-friendly rollercoaster, though there a handle bar to hold on to and more straps to keep us in our seats, the roller-coaster would be going even faster around the tracks which would cause even more difficulties and further discomfort for me which I didn’t want on our holiday.

Reaching the south end of the village was a giant replica of Hogwarts Castle with the winged gates. So realistic. The statue of it was incredible. 

I had to take a few steps back to admire it properly. My dad and I stood side by side and just took it all in. As a professional in architecture, my dad marveled at its creation.

Such detail, thought and craftsmanship had gone into it, I felt transported to the actual castle and could imagine myself entering the castle to take my place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After finishing looking around Hogsmeade Village, we decided there was time to venture back into Diagon Alley. On our way out of the village, we took as many photographs as we could of the castle and the shops in the village. Upon leaving the village, we found an easy and enjoyable way to travel to Diagon Ally. 

Universal Studios and Island of Adventures had built a model to resemble the Hogwarts Express, the train which Hogwarts students travelled to school each year.

By boarding this train, people are able to travel between the two parks at leisure. Going to the main ticket desk, we asked for assistance to get on the train, but unfortunately, we didn’t have the adjoining park tickets needed to board the train. I was a little upset at this as we weren’t able to ride on the Hogwarts Express or go back to Diagon Alley, but enjoyed the visit to Hogsmeade Village never the less.

It was a busy day at Island of Adventures and a great visit to Hogsmeade Village.

 

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