Tag Archives | wizarding world of harry potter

Super Sunday is Planned, but What About Saturday?

The week of the Super Bowl can often leave small children feeling a bit forgotten. Too young for football parties, and most definitely not ready for the all-day hype, youngsters around Orlando have plenty of alternatives. The problem is, not many parents want to miss the Big Game. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Do something just for the kids on Saturday (or a few days leading up to Sunday) in exchange for your football day.

Orlando Science Center

If you have preschoolers, Dora the Explorer exhibit opened last Saturday at the Orlando Science Center and continues through May 25. This exhibit is on level 2 of the OSC and offers young children a chance to explore with their favorite television characters – Dora and Diego. While parents may have a party on their mind, your child can help Dora with a fiesta. Your child will learn problem-solving skills, develop math and language abilities, and gain a greater appreciation and awareness of Latin American culture. In order to be ready for the fiesta, your child will get to drive Tico’s car, build the walls of Rainbow Bridge, play drums and pretend to cook.

Orlando Science Center

“Dora & Diego — Let’s Explore” is included with regular admission. Attraction tickets to the Orlando Science Center are $19 ($13 for ages 3-11). They include access to all of the museum’s exhibits, giant-screen and 3-D educational films, one Hollywood feature-length film, and other programming. For more information, call 407-514-2000 or go to OSC.org.

A Celebration of Harry Potter

If your children are a little older, plan to attend A Celebration of Harry Potter, which takes place this weekend, Jan. 30 through Feb. 1. There will be all kinds of muggles at Universal Orlando Resort. The Wizarding event includes dueling demonstrations, behind-the-scenes discussions, question/answer sessions and autograph sessions with special guests. Characters that will be in attendace include Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), James and Oliver Phelps (the Weasley twins) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood).

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Remember that Florida residents can get discounts on theme park tickets, as well as hotels on the property and nearby if they only ask and have the appropriate identification. Unfortunately the Exclusive Event Package is already sold out.

Still Need to Burn Some Energy?

Many other special events are going on this weekend. On Saturday at Mead Gardens, the Lady Track Shack 5k will be held at 7:30 a.m. This is a great event for the females in your family. A great benefit too with proceeds going to Florida Hospital.

If you enjoy fundraising events, just up the road from Mead Gardens & the OSC in Maitland is the Maitland Women’s Club. Here you can enjoy an Antiques & Collectible Show on Saturday from 8am to 3pm. Parking and admission is free.

While 171 million people are watching the Super Bowl on TV on Sunday, hopefully your children will be content to sit and watch with you after exhausting themselves with these other fun things to do in Orlando. Even if your team doesn’t win, you’ll still look like a winner to your family. Do something fun this weekend – other than enjoying the big game.

Escape from Gringotts to Universal Studios in Orlando!

Diagon Alley Gringotts Bank Goblins

If you are planning a vacation to Orlando to visit the theme parks this summer, how do you choose which one to visit? Most families determine the park of choice by the age of their children and what attractions they are suited for. If your children are Harry Potter fans, like mine, a mid- to late summer vacation to Universal Studios is something you will want to consider, if not a definite must.

New Attraction Details Revealed

As we reported a few months ago, many features of this new expansion are slowly but surely being exposed to the public. The Hogwarts Train has created a lot of excitement, and now, the announcement with more details about the “Escape from Gringotts” ride can only raise the anticipation level upward. Any new ride is exciting, but this one sounds like it might top our list of all-time gotta-do rides.

Escape from Gringotts will be the featured attraction within the Orlando theme park’s expansion. For those of you that have not read the books or seen the movies, Gringotts Bank is an important setting for the story of Harry Potter. It is guarded by a fire-breathing dragon no less, and ran by goblins! The treasures kept here are powerful and facinating. The ride will be mind blowing with 4K high-definition ride animation, 3-D technology and live special effects.

Here is a sneak peak which Universal has released:

Vacation Packages Available

Most people will want to wait until Diagon Alley is officially open before they book a trip, however, if you only have the summer to do your traveling with school-aged children, then you might be surprised. It could be open as early as mid-June. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: You can already book a vacation package at Universal Orlando which includes both of these parks if traveling as early as June 29th. Currently, the best deal seems to be the four-night package which includes the following:

  • Vacation package delivered (not by owl), but with a welcome letter, park tickets & plush owl
  • 3-day Park-to-Park tickets
  • One breakfast for each family member at the Three Broomsticks
  • One breakfast for each family member at the new Leaky Cauldron (in Diagon Alley)
  • Early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (one hour before the theme park opens)
  • On-site transportation
  • Lodging at one of four on-site hotels. The new Cabana Bay Beach Resort (read our post about this resort here.) is the least expensive and has family suites that are, well, sweet.

If you book this vacation through Universal Studios be sure to ask about specifics that your family is interested in. The vacation packages are a great way to go…as long as they offer everything you want covered in your vacation. If they do not cover certain items, be sure to ask about them when speaking to a booking agent.

If you have the opportunity to wait until Fall for your family vacation, September is usually a great time to visit the Orlando area. The crowds at this new theme park attraction will have settled by then and more great deals are sure to come around late in the Summer. Do you think your kids can wait that long?

Climb aboard the Hogwarts Express, visit the goblins at Gringotts and have a Butterbeer at Universal Studios this summer. It will be an Orlando vacation to remember. Just watch out for that fire-breathing dragon, like the new attraction – it’s sure to be hot, hot, hot!

Universal Orlando: All Aboard This Summer

Hogswarts Train Concept drawing

If you love Universal Studios, plan your vacation for this summer and get on board! The expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will open sometime this summer, although the actual date has not been set. With the recent news release of the Hogwarts Express train attraction, enthusiasm for this Orlando theme park has once again been stirred like a Leaky Cauldron.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If this Orlando attraction is essential to your vacation, why not make your plans for later in the summer? By then, you’ll have more details about the new experience, and it is surely to be open by August or September (no guarantee though – keep checking our site for announcements). You can get better deals on tickets, lodging and airline flights by planning this far in advance. Book a vacation package directly with Universal, and you’ll enjoy one hour early park admission before the general public.

If you’ve read the books, or watched any of the Harry Potter movies, you’ll know how important the train ride between London and Hogsmeade is to the young boys and girls going to and from school for the year. This train ride will be so similar, you just might think you are in the movie! Everything about the train is authentic – from the paint and the materials used to build it – down to the sound of the whistle. Climb aboard the train at King’s Cross Station Platform 9¾ and enjoy a scenic journey through the British countryside with surprises along the way. Each direction the train travels offers a unique experience.

For those of you that have never been to Universal Orlando, it helps to know that this Orlando theme park is divided into two separate parks. The original Wizarding World of Harry Potter park, already open, is located at Islands of Adventure and is named Hogsmeade. The new attraction is called Diagon Alley, and it is located at Universal Studios, and will be open some time this summer. The new train will connect the parks and allow guests with a two-park admission ticket (or annual pass) to travel between both Harry Potter lands.

The Hogwarts Express is sure to be an exciting 7-minute ride for any Muggle to experience. With 8 people per cabin and 200 people per train, you can expect some long lines when this new attraction opens. Even a wave of a magical wand will not change this, so if you are able to wait until later this year, you might avoid a few dementors. If you can wait…that is the challenge.

Milestone at Universal Orlando

Last week marked a milestone at Universal Orlando in which many a toast were made. They celebrated the sale of 5 million butterbeers! The nonalcoholic beverage featuring hints of butterscotch and shortbread made its debut when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened within the Orlando attraction in June of 2010.

Toasting the sale of 5 million butterbeers.

Photo from Universal Orlando

Even if you are not a fan of beer, sweet drinks, or even Harry Potter, this is a must-try element to experience when visiting this Orlando theme park. Universal Orlando made the announcement on Wednesday, then gave away 1,000 foam-topped beverages to Island of Adventure guests. That’s a lot of butterbeer mustaches!

Orlando Tourist Tip: Bring a little extra cash and try this beverage experience. If you aren’t certain you’ll care for the taste, buy one and have everyone in your group sample it before purchasing a mug for everyone. If you want to find it somewhere else, you may need to use your magic wand. Cheers!

Record Attendance Continues at Universal

Well, despite the terrible economic conditions in the U.S. and Florida, one Central Florida company is raking it in.  Ever since the opening last June of the popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando has been seeing record attendance numbers.  Just the first quarter of this year (January thru March) Universal Orlando saw an increase of 1.1 million visitors (combined total of Universal Studios and Universal’s Island of Adventures).  And, those visitors are buying plenty of souvenirs as well – merchandise sales skyrocketed to 156%!  Food and beverage sales are up 104% and ticket sales up 85%.  Universal’s total revenue nearly doubled for the quarter….to $309 million.

This is great news for the Central Florida tourist industry, but I do wonder if there is also an increase in International tourism, or if it’s mostly U.S. tourists…most people I know are reeling from the bad economy, and not spending unnecessarily.  But, I also know the Harry Potter fans are a die-hard group, so they may have been saving for this.  What do you think?