Carrie has four daughters and runs Write On! Workshops--a summer writing camp for children.

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Add Harry Potter World to Your Must Do List

Harry Potter World 4

You know that “someday” list you keep rolling around in your head? I have something to add to it: Go to Harry Potter World. Just go. I know Orlando isn’t exactly a quick trip if you live in the west–but trust me, you want it on your list.

Not a fan, you say?  You must mean, you’re not a fan yet. Your visit to Harry Potter World will make you one and then you’ll have to read all seven books. (Or listen to Jim Dale read them to you aloud while you travel home to Utah.)

Walking into Harry Potter World is just like walking inside the books (or the movies.) I had doubts. I wondered if it would make a story I loved so well seem cheesy. But it is done so well, with almost a reverence for this super cool series, that none of us wanted to leave. As my teenager said, “It was a great day to be a nerd.”

Here are 10 tips to make the most of your visit (because I am sure you are going to need these someday):

1. There are two theme parks in Universal Studios in Orlando. We only bought a tickets for Universal Island of Adventure. This park includes  Harry Potter World, Marvel Superhero Island, Suess Land, Jurassic Park and Toon Lagoon.

2. Arrive at park opening. If you arrive when it opens, you have time to see everything in the park.

3. If you can afford an Express Pass, buy it. Universal doesn’t do Fast Passes like Disney World. Instead, you can upgrade your ticket to an Express Pass that allows you to skip lines in every ride except for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It saves a ton of time (and your feet.)

3. Go straight to Harry Potter World. If you have a six year old with you, you will be distracted by Suess Land and want to stay there for awhile. Resist the temptation. You can go back.

4. Watch for the conductor in front of the Hogwarts Express for optimal photo opportunity. He comes and goes and there is rarely a line.

Harry Potter World

5. Buy Butter Beer. We preferred it “slushy” instead of straight. It is sort of like an ice cream shake this way. If you buy it in a souvenir mug for $12.99, you can get $1.00 softdrink re-fills or $3.99 Butter Beer refills.

6. Eat at the Three Broomsticks. Universal has a Meal Pass that allows you to eat at certain restaurants all day for $19.99-$24.99. This does not include restaurants in Harry Potter World. Because we are crazy fans, we wanted every Harry Potter experience. The Three Broomsticks has a meal platter that serves 4 for $50.00. I know. Sounds like a lot. But when you get into the vacation meal mode, your perspective becomes skewed and this becomes a great deal.

7. Pumpkin Juice is really good. Harry Potter World 3

8. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Ride is worth any line.  While you wait, you get a tour of Hogwarts castle. You meet Dumbledore inside his library. The Hall of Portraits come to life. Harry, Ron and Hermione talk to you from their classroom. Serious, super fun. And then the ride itself takes the best of Soaring Over California (and every other good ride you’ve ever been on) and combines it into one magical ride. If you come back between 7:00 and 9:00, by the way, the line disappears and you can walk on the ride.

9. See Olivander’s Wand Show. There will be line outside Olivander’s Wand Shop. This is not to buy a wand, but to watch Olivander demonstrate how the “wand chooses the wizard.” It performs all day and is worth it.

10. Bring your rain ponchos. Even if it doesn’t look like rain, it probably will.

Orlando is a long ways from home for us, but when you think about it, this is the only spot on the planet where you can go to Harry Potter World. Fans in London must be really jealous. How did we get so lucky anyway?

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