IMG_8208Long before the dreary days of winter and my life on the couch with fractured ribs, say last December 7, my husband and I flew to Orlando to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. It was on the last day of this trip that I tripped (!) down a step and fractured the ribs that have waylaid my winter, but the few days before that were a Hogwarts special.

I’m not into Harry Potter. Haven’t read the books and have watched the movies only symbiotically, since I’m in the same room as my husband who grins all the way through them. Every time. I say “every time” because I’ve lost count.

So when I asked my husband what he wanted to do for his 74th birthday last March, he said he wanted to go to Harry Potter. That trip was waylaid because he developed sciatica the day before we were to leave. Luckily, I’d gotten trip insurance, so we didn’t lose a lot.

IMG_8136After his successful surgery in the fall, I suggested we try again, because we had a voucher from Universal Studios we had to use within a year. When I called the trip planner, she asked, “How many children are in your party?” I was tempted to say one, but thought better of it. So we went on a three-night two-park stay at Hard Rock Hotel on the grounds.

IMG_8141Now I like Elvis Rock but found I’m not crazy about Hard Rock, but the sheets and soap were delicious and the walk to the park was a lazy ten-minute walk through lush green foliage along a lagoon. Or we could take a shuttle boat. But I didn’t dare try an 8-9 layer cake featured in one of restaurants, but I had to take a picture of it on their dessert display.

Enjoy our trip with us!

First walk with us to the park–








Or take the shuttle boat:








Then see some sights:

IMG_8171We went at the best time–before school was out and the week they started the Christmas Parade. We had the park almost to ourselves and even though we paid in our package for early entry to rides, we didn’t need that.

We did two rides–one in Hogwarts Castle and one in Diagon Alley. Both had the precautions if you are elderly or whatever, but we did them anyway. At Hogwarts Castle, we played quidditch with Harry flying on his broom chasing dragons and in Diagon Alley we (I think) escaped the Gringotts in the bank building.

Both rides had long queues through the buildings that were dark and closed in. If anyone has claustrophobia and lines are long, this would not be a comfortable place to hang out. Otherwise, hang on, jerk up and down and side ways, with a dip now and then to keep your breakfast rattling, and you’ll do fine.

IMG_1104Just for the record, I was there too. The weather was cool in the morning and evening, enough to wear a sweatshirt or light jacket, but then got nicely warm during the day.

We did the parks in the morning (Hogsmeade is in The Islands of Adventure; Diagon Alley is the red train ride over to Universal Studios), our pool at the hotel in the afternoon, and then back to the parks at night to eat. We ate at fast food places, although there were plenty of other options.

After a full day, walk or take the boat shuttle back to the holiday-decorated lobby and those luscious sheets and soap. Pass up buying your Elvis outfit. And pass up the cake.