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Universal Studios Orlando & The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Betsy Bailey is the co-founder and executive editor of SheKnows, Pregnancy & Baby, GeoParent and, among others. She has also served as the editor-in-chief of four national print magazines. She lives with her husband and their...

Universal Orlando travel guide

If you are a Harry Potter fan (or the parent of one) you are probably aware of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park that debuted this summer at Universal Studios Orlando. SheKnows co-founder and executive editor Betsy Bailey and her 13-year-old daughter, Hannah, jetted off to Orlando for a peek. Now we're sharing this experience with you!

Universal Orlando: Hannah's notebook

Universal Orlando travel guide

Hard Rock Hotel

Driving into the Hard Rock Hotel is like walking into a set for a music video. The setting of the hotel is cool, and everything is so in-theme. We checked in quickly and looked around a little on the way to our room. The elevator music isn't boring. The coffee shop is nice for a quick breakfast, and The Kitchen has great food. We ordered room service and that was delicious. I didn't like the fact that you had to pay for Wi Fi per computer.

The Kitchen

The Kitchen had a fun atmosphere. I ordered a delicious meatloaf and had red velvet cake. If you ever have the chance to eat here, I recommend the meatloaf and the spinach artichoke dip for your appetizer. I enjoyed everything I ate (and sampled!).

Emack & Bolio's @ Hard Rock Hotel

Emack & Bolio's was a little breakfast/lunch/ice cream parlor. Mom and I had breakfast here on the second and last day. The tea is really good and I loved the Starbucks vanilla steamer. I also liked the bagel I had as well as the delicious parfait.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The first thing I thought was, "Wow, it looks just like I imagined it!" They have portrayed the world of Harry Potter so well it feels like you can pick up a wand and begin casting some spells. There are so many things to see and touch here —

Zonko's, the wand shop, Honeydukes. They have even captured Diagon Alley. I especially loved the castle, where waiting in line is surprisingly not boring.

Universal Orlando travel guideOllivander's Wand Shop

Ollivander's Wand Shop is like the movie: Large and filled with boxes upon boxes of wands. They have an actor there who picks a random member of the audience and tries out wands for them. It's very fun to watch, though it would have been really cool to have been chosen.

The Forbidden Journey

Harry Potter: The Forbidden Journey is an amazing roller coaster that isn't a roller coaster. No track, and you're inside a huge castle, adventuring and being chased by a dragon, almost having your soul sucked out by a dementor. It's an amazing ride and everyone should have the chance to go on it.

Flight of the Hippogriff

A little roller coaster that I enjoyed. Great for younger kids.

Dueling Dragons

Cool, and the first ride I've been on that doesn't have a floor. It's really fun and Mom and I liked it.

The Three Broomsticks

The Three Broomsticks is modeled like the real restaurant from the movie. The food is great, and the butterbeer they sell is simply delicious. It's hard to describe the flavor of butterbeer, but it seems to be different for everyone. I had some awesome fish and chips, which may be the best I've had yet.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is a very jungle-y, very dinosaur-y part of Islands of Adventure. We all especially enjoyed jumping on the ground and hearing dinosaurs roar. Depending on the panel you stepped on, there would be a different roar.

Universal Orlando travel guide

Jurassic Park water slide

The Jurassic Park water slide was really cool. All of the dinosaurs looked realistic, and you got soaked. I was so scared when we went into the Raptor Containment Zone, and the drop at the end is huge!

The Incredible Hulk

The Hulk is a super-fast, super-fun roller coaster that I could go on all day. It's a great thrill ride for people who like fast roller coasters and loop-de-loops.

Doctor Doom's Fear Fall

Doctor Doom's Fear Fall is a drop ride, and it's so scary. I loved the ride, but it was quite a fright.

Hard Rock Cafe

The HR Cafe is great but the service was very slow. I liked the steak and mashed potatoes meal I ordered a lot, and if I came here again I would get it.

Blue Man show

The Blue Man show was an unexpected ball of hilarity and music. Right off the bat I was laughing, and I don't think I stopped during the whole show. They picked audience members to do things, and I laughed so hard during the whole thing.

Universal Orlando travel guide

Universal Studios theme park

Universal Studios is really cool. They have each section modeled like a town or city. New York, San Francisco, etc. It would have been fun to explore a little more but we had to get to where we were going and couldn't really linger.

The Simpsons

The Simpsons is a funny and exciting ride I enjoyed a lot. Similar to Harry Potter and Spiderman, but it isn't on a track.

Men in Black

Men in Black was a lot of fun but not my favorite ride. I liked shooting the aliens, but it was hard.


Jaws is one of the best rides here. You hop onto a boat driven by a very good actor/actress and set off on a little tour of Amity island. You are attacked by a huge great white shark. In the end, your driver blasts the shark to a melted, icky mess and are told not to spread any rumors about the shark.

The Mummy

The Mummy is a little roller coaster similar to Space Mountain at Disney. It's fast and scary — mummies popping up everywhere, and fire — lots of fire.

Universal Orlando travel guide

Disaster — Starring You

DSY is a fun show where two actors pick a few audience members to be the cast for a new disaster movie they're making. They make the actors do things that seem silly but end up as part of the trailer at the end. They then direct everyone to a subway car and cause mayhem. You are supposed to scream for the cameras, and at the end they show a hilarious trailer of everything put together.

Hollywood Rip Ride RockIt

This roller coaster is a terrifying but insanely fun. You go up so that your back is flat like you're laying down, and the drop is so scary. I loved it!


The Mythos has really yummy food and the inside looks really cool. I got a dish called Pastabilities. It was tasty. I also got a vanilla milkshake .. or two. :P


We went shopping for souvenirs in the biggest souvenir shop I've ever been in.

Wantilan Luau

The luau was so much fun! Lea and I got onstage twice. The dancing was terrific and the food was delicious.


>> Page 1: An invitation to Harry Potter's World

>> Page 2: Review of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

>> Page 3: Where to stay? Review of Universal Studios resort hotels

>> Page 4: Where to eat? Review of some Universal Studios restaurants

>> Page 5: Must-do, must-see

Want more Harry Potter news & updates?

Check out our Harry Potter Fans site! >>

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