wizarding world of harry potter

Hogsmeade In Real Life | Universal Studios Photography Harry Potter by Rachel Abrahams

Islands of Adventure Harry Potter - Hogsmeade Entrance - Spell Limits Sign by Aspiring Images by Rachel

I recently decided to re-read the Harry Potter series from start to finish. I was watching one of the movies and realized I was now remembering the stories based on the movie plot lines and forgetting a lot of the amazingly intricate details and characters from the books. I mean, there were entire plot lines and characters removed from the movies (Hello, Peeves the Poltergeist - you were sorely missed).  I'll admit, I read the first 4 books several times but the last 3, I read only once each so my memories were also a bit fuzzy due to lack of repetition.

I've been totally nerding out over the books and it has been getting me super amped over the expansion opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, scheduled to open this summer. Yes, that means it's only MONTHS away before we get to see Diagon Alley, including Gringotts Bank, in super-sized real life. I know it's going to be slammed with visitors, so I will just have to be patient and wait a bit, like I did when the first part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened with Hogsmeade Village and Hogwarts. At the beginning, they would actually start turning people away from just that section of the park (!) it was so full of visitors. That's redonkulous.

The movies were still pretty amazing. It was my first chance to see what I'd imagined now visualized but getting to actually walk around what I'd only imagine or saw in the movies? Absolutely fantastic.

My patience paid off and when I visited it was a perfectly pleasant amount of visitors. Don't let the photos fool you, even though the roofs are snow topped, it was pushing 100 degrees the day we visited (Yay, Florida! Blech). I even found a new ride that is my most favorite ride - ever - and that says a lot since I am such a Disneyphile. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (which takes place inside Hogwarts castle on the property) is an insane mix of visuals, movement, and storyline. It's very original and I was absolutely blown away. My advice? Don't drink adult beverages beforehand. Well, at least not too many.

You know the one thing I didn't try even though I'd been dying to do so ever since reading about it in the books? Butterbeer. The line was about 30 people deep and I was just not having it. I'm also spoiled with the mentality of thinking "Next time, I'll hit it up". Most people who visit don't have that luxury and have to now-or-never these things. I've seen some interesting knock-off recipes for butterbeer on Pinterest. Tempting, but I'd rather wait for the real deal. FYI - It's alcohol free. Yeah, I can hear the adults groaning now. There's nothing wrong with spicing it up yourself, right? Hmmm, what liquor goes with Butterbeer? I bet Google has the answer. I can't be the only person who has wondered this.

Islands of Adventure Harry Potter - Hogsmeade Entrance - Hogsmeade by Aspiring Images by Rachel
Islands of Adventure Harry Potter - Hogsmeade Entrance - Hogsmeade by Aspiring Images by Rachel

Who are my fellow Harry Potter obsessives? Raise your hand if you've only watched the movies and never read the books (ain't no shame)? Have you tried the real Butterbeer and did it live up to your imagination? Anyone else drink possibly one too many before riding a topsy-turvy-spinny ride and live to tell the tale?