|Note: This guide if for both theme parks.|
Paper Bindings has been over taken by The Four Houses. Today we pleased to feature part one of a special two part guide to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.
Now maybe you are too young to apparate there on your own or maybe you're allergic to floo powder, but I firmly believe that every good little witch and wizard out there will find their way home to Hogwarts at least once in their lives.
So don't despair!
As for you muggles who have cordially received your invitations to check out our famed Diagon Alley and lovely Hogsmeade, or hope to do so in the future, allow me to share with you a few of the basics.
Fresh out of knuts, sickles, and galleons?
Don't worry, you can stop at Gringotts Money Exchange at trade in some of those pesky paper things you carry around or use your plastic money to get some. (Sorry, only larger bills can be exchanged. No $1.00s) While you are there, be sure to talk to the very knowledgeable goblin. You never know what he will say.
Not interested in our magical money? No problem. All employees have been trained handing muggle currency as well as their own.
One cannot miss location is Ollivander's Wand Shop. For your convenience, you may check out either of the two glorious locations. Do be sure to sneak through the side entrance where trusty wizards wait to direct you into the heart of Ollivanders.
One simply cannot miss the chance to meet the legendary wandmaker himself. You never know which promising young witch or wizard who might find their wands that day.
For all you practical jokers, Weasleys' Wizarding Wheeszes is the shop for you. Be sure to check out all the tricks and gadgets the wizarding world has come to love to hate. And be sure to look up, you never know what you might spot high above your heads.
Looking for a beloved companion to accompany you on your trip to Hogwarts? Magical Menagerie is the place to visit. Your typical cat, dogs, and owls can be picked in a range of colors. But the shop also boast a few unusual species. And I've even heard it mentioned that you might be able to buy a dragon or two there.
Ready to start your first year at Hogwarts? Well, then you need to check out Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions, Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, Quality Quidditch Supplies, Dervish and Bangles, and Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods for all your back to school shopping needs. If you need to send a letter by owl, the you need to stop outside Dervish and Bangles for The Owl Post for a special stamp that will send your letter on it's way.
I'll scarcely even mention that place in the dark Knockturn Alley.
Borgin and Burkes is no place for proper folk. But if the dark arts are more your thing, well you'll be quite at home with the rest of the shady folk.
So you're in it for the thrills then?
Well then, allow this witch to give you the run down of all the magical rides.
Perhaps the greatest highlight of all is getting your chance to ride The Hogwarts Express from London to Hogsmeade, and back again.
Be sure to travel both ways on the train.
These tracks are oddly popular with the locals, one never knows what one might see out of their window on any given trip. Plus train travel so is much more fascinating than those other muggle forms of transportation.
And, really, I declare all muggles must experience the joy of walking through to Platform 9&3/4 at least once in their lives. The whole experience is almost straight out of a book.
But before you catch the train to Hogsmeade, be sure to take a tour of Gringotts and possibly open an account there. This witch can solemnly swear that Gringotts is place to be at Diagon Alley and one cannot miss the special tour they offer.
If you're really well behaved, perhaps they'll let you meet the dragon too.
Once you've made it to Hogsmeade, be sure to take the little ones and those young at heart to visit Hagrid. Someone told me he's got a hypogriff or two that are craving some time in the sky.
Of course if you've entered your name into The Triwizard's Cup, you might be a bit too busy to meet Hagrid. Someone here has the inside scoop and dragons are this week's challenge.
While both dragons offer a spectacular chase, the red one is a little more fiesty and is in it for the speed.
Once you've had your thrills and squeals, it's time for your tour of Hogwarts. As you walk to the heart of the castle, the queue will take you through some of the school's more popular class rooms. Do be sure to keep those eyes open and take in the sights or you might miss some secrets in plain sight.
This more than any other might be the experience that brings the magic alive in your heart.
When it is time for a break you have two dining options depending on where you find yourself.
This witch has heard good things about The Leaky Cauldron but it often smells of fish, which I cannot eat, so I've never eaten there.
Instead, when I'm in the mood for more than just Butterbeer, I'll visit The Three Broomsticks. I've found The Three Broomsticks has food more geared towards those picky eaters in the family.
But if you only require a snack, then do try some Butterbeer. This is the fundamental glue that holds the wizarding world together. It even comes in ice cream form. (Other flavors are available if you lack the guts to try it.)
Don't believe me? Try it yourself and feel free to agree. Complaints can be emailed to IDon'tCare@I'mNotListeningToYou.Whatever
Still not full? Well then, it's snack time!
So head on over to Honeydukes for you next tasty treat. The chocolate frogs are a solid chocolate bar. Because you are buying one for the candy and not the special holographic card inside, right?
I'll admit I'm too much of a chicken to try Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans. I mean what if I get a chicken?
Even the muggle style candy apples and fudge pieces they sell are delicious.
Watch out for my owl with the directions to the top secret lair.
Now that you're more familiar with the grounds on which you'll explore, tomorrow I'll share with you all those hidden pathways and secret messages Filch doesn't want you to know about.