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Three years ago, we first ventured down to Orlando with our kids. They had unanimously decided that Universal Studios was their destination of choice.  Why you ask?  We are the biggest Harry Potter fans ever!  So, Islands of Adventure was where we were headed! It has now turned into a Christmas tradition to go and explore and play in the Florida sunshine!

Universal Orlando Resort consists of two theme parks, three onsite hotels, and an entertainment complex called CityWalk. The two theme parks are  Universal Studios and Island of Adventure.  We were invited to spend the day at this massive attraction from open to close!  We couldn’t wait to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so we went to Islands of Adventure first.  The moment we walked into the park, we were blown away by the attention to detail. We first walked through Seuss Landing, which was incredible.  At Christmas time,visitors are treated to some special guests–citizens of Whoville.  These Whos are ready to celebrate Grinchmas, a special show in the park, featuring the Grinch himself, who is also available to meet patrons throughout the day. Being in that section of the park,  I felt like we had stepped onto the set of The Grinch.  Everything was so whimsical and colorful.  Rides were all over for little ones to experience the fun.

We made our way to the much anticipated Hogsmeade to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  This was the best.  Walking through the gate, I felt like I had become a part of Harry Potter’s world.  Everyone spoke with British accents.  Details of buildings were unbelievable.  Crooked leaning chimneys and store fronts filled with goods straight from the movies lined the cobblestone streets.  We had been transported to a magical land.

At the top of a hill stood Hogwart’s.  It was just as you imagined it would be.  One of my favorite rides was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which takes you through the entire castle and ends with a thrilling ride where you soar through the air following Harry Potter.  This ride was so much fun! I loved the details of the castle.  Floating candles, talking portraits, mandrakes, potions, and items seen in the movie filled the corridors.  I wanted to spend more time exploring the halls!

We could have spent our entire time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter because we had such a great time there!  One  highlight of our visit was going to Ollivander’s Wand Shop.  Inside, we were able to meet the wand maker as he explained how a wizard and his wand unite.  My son was selected to find a perfect match while we were there.  Just as Harry Potter had done in the Sorcerer’s Stone, my son tried a couple of wands that were not good fits and when they were in his hand, boxes flew off the shelves in front of us.  When the correct wand was found, a light illuminated above him and his hair started flying.  It was so cool!

Universal Orlando Resorts is actually in the process of expanding the Harry Potter attractions bringing Hogwarts Express and Diagon Alley to the Universal Studios park.  We can not wait for this expansion to be complete so we can come back and see how wonderful it will be!

Beyond Harry Potter, we enjoyed some amazing rides in the Jurassic Park, Toon Town, and Marvel sections of the park.  Everything we went on was a blast!  The Hulk and Spiderman rides were among our favorites.

The parks were spectacular and we feel like we made a great choice opting to visit these famous theme parks.  We enjoyed it so much, we look forward to going back again in the very near future.  Everyone in our family enjoyed our time, as there was something for everyone. Having made our visit in December, we took advantage of very short wait times and spectacular decorations.   It was an incredible way to kick off the holidays!

For more information about planning your trip to Universal, which I highly recommend, visit their site here.  You will find out more about the parks and how to save money by purchasing tickets online.  Stay tuned next week to hear about our experiences at Universal Studios and seeing the Blue Man Group!

*we were invited to Universal Orlando Resorts to facilitate a review, all opinions are my own.