Saturday, March 28, 2015

Diagon Alley - Days 2 & 3

What more can I say about Diagon Alley? It definitely takes a couple of days to really let it soak in and appreciate all the details. I didn't even notice Hagrid's/Sirius's motorbike until the second day. I didn't get a chance to try the Butterbeer ice cream until the third day. There was a line outside the ice cream parlor this day, so we had to wait 5-10 minutes to get in and then wait in line to order!





butterbeer ice cream



The place was PACKED our second and third days, which were Friday and Saturday. I knew Saturday would be because of Mardi Gras. It was pretty chilly and rainy on Friday, and chilly on Sunday too. I'm pretty sure I wore jeans on Saturday, especially since I knew we'd be there until nighttime for the Mardi Grad parade.






One new thing I experienced during these days in Diagon Alley was the Gringotts Money Exchange. Basically, you go in and you can exchange money for wizard money. This money can be used throughout Diagon Alley, as well as other parts of Universal. I wasn't really planning on spending anymore since it was the last day and I had bought everything I wanted already, so I didn't exchange my money. The least amount you can exchange is $10, and I wasn't spending $10 just to have some wizard money as a souvenir. The cool thing about going in here is that there's a fake goblin sitting at a desk, and you can talk to him and ask him questions and he will answer and talk back to you. I don't know how they do it. There must be someone behind the desk programming it all or something, but it's pretty cool.



I got to explore Borgin & Burkes a little more, as well as pretty much everything else. After seeing it all the first day, I tried to take my time more these last two days to take it all in more rather than rushing around all overwhelmed and excited.





Of course, I got to ride the train again and see more of King's Cross and the Knight Bus too!





I highly recommend coming here if you're a Harry Potter nerd like me, and also if you just love movies in general. Universal does an awesome job of creating an experience for everyone who visits!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

March Wishlist

I'm taking a break from the Florida travel posts to discuss some of the pretty things that are on my wishlist this month! Spring is taking it's time to arrive here, which is a bummer. I posted a picture of Chris and I on Instagram on our anniversary from 5 years ago. I was in a t-shirt and we were hiking, so clearly it should be warm by now. I don't know what is going on, but winter has gotta GO.'s what I'm currently lusting after:

You all saw the beautiful pink dress that Azazie sent me a few posts ago. they have tulle skirts and I am BEYOND excited about this. I always wanted tulle skirts in all kinds of different colors, but they are always hard to find. Now that Azazie has them, they are literally available in ALL the colors. Hooray!!! :D They are so pretty, too. I also love that they have three different lengths! I am loving the Sylvie style in Silver and Grape, in particular.

I am all about patterns, and this wishlist has a bunch of them. Who can resist a pretty floral dress like the ModCloth one with spring approaching? And it has bell sleeves. Perfection. Another pattern I love is stripes, particularly pink and white for the warm seasons. There's something so spring and summery about it, and I love the whole candy striper motif. Lindy Bop has an awesome one in their Audrey silhouette. They also have this beautiful polka dot print dress. I love when prints are only on part of the dress such as just the bodice or just the skirt. It gives it a different kind of sophisticated look.

Finally, I'm still on the hunt for rompers that are both fitted, long enough in the torso, and not too short in the back. The orange one from ASOS and the pink one from Boohoo are currently on my want list. I love how the ASOS one is flowy and would work for both summer and fall and I love the little cutout in the Boohoo one! Rompers are probably one of my favorite types of clothing items. I wish they weren't so hard to find for my body!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dose of Disney

After all the excitement of our first day at Universal/The Wizarding World, we took a couple of days to slow down and do some more relaxing things like lay by the pool and go shopping. One of these days we spent the afternoon visiting Downtown Disney. It's nice, especially when you're not visiting any of the Disney parks, to go here and get a little dose of Disney.


The main reason I love going to Downtown Disney is the giant Disney store called World of Disney. They have a lot of Disney merchandise, but it's not just typical gift shop stuff. It's all licensed and there are so many different rooms for things like jewelry, housewares, clothing for men, women, and children, toys and stuffed animals, and more. The problem I've noticed is that they don't actually get too many new things over the years. They always have new stuff for the year like 2015 magnets and snowglobes and mugs and whatnot. And they have new things for what's popular such as Frozen, but the other stuff is pretty much the same every year. They did have some new Disney Princess mugs that were cool looking, though.




We always have to stop in the Ghirardelli store because they pass out free samples of their chocolate. It's usually their caramel filled squares, but it's still delicious. It also smells AMAZING in there because they have a cafe where they make all kinds of crazy chocolate drinks and treats.


We ate at Planet Hollywood, which is usually where we eat when we go to Downtown Disney. Sometimes we eat at Rainforest Cafe or T-REX, though. They are going to be opening a lot of new restaurants and I think new shops too within the next year or two in a new section they're calling Disney Springs. I can't wait to experience some new things there!




There are actually a lot of things that we've never actually done at Downtown Disney. We just have no interest in it. There is a bowling alley and Cirque du Soleil, as well as House of Blues. Of course, there's also the balloon that it took me about four tries to actually get to go up in! I got to go in it last year. This year when we went, the balloon wasn't going up due to the wind. I swear it's every time I go that it's not up. Other days we drive down the highway and we can see it in the air!



I always like to visit The Candy Cauldron. They have specialty apples that are always awesomely decorated. But the reason I go is for the giant Mickey-shaped cookies. Unfortunately, this year they were out of the peanut butter one I wanted!




I got this Lindy Bop dress for Christmas and I couldn't wait for warmer weather to wear it. I knew I had to take it to Florida with me. It's so summery and just pretty much begs for warm weather. Classic red gingham is always fun to wear, and this dress is really comfortable and light! Lindy Bop just has great things. :)


Dress: Lindy Bop//Shoes: Payless//Sunglasses: Lucky Brand//Lipstick: Flirt!
My next post from Florida will probably be more Harry Potter/Universal stuff, so be prepared for more magic and awesomeness! :D

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Diagon Alley - Day 1

Ok, you guys. Let me just say that it got to the point where I was finding it hard to get to sleep the night before we went to Universal Studios because I was THAT excited about going to the new part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. That's right. My excitement was at kid levels, and I'm not ashamed! Thank you, JK Rowling, for creating a series of books that not only reaches kids, but people of all ages and allows them to feel like a kid again.




In case you aren't familiar with how Universal Studios is set up, here's a little breakdown. They have two separate parks that are right next to each other. You can either get a pass to visit one of the parks or you can get a park-to-park pass that allows you to go between the two parks as you please. You absolutely need this kind of ticket to board the Hogwarts Express because the train travels between the two parks. I suggest spending two days at Universal, especially if it's your first time there. With the wait times and all the stuff to see and experience, you kind of need to spend two days there, unless you only care about one particularly thing. We had a 3 day pass because there was a deal where you get a 2-day pass and get a third day free!



When The Wizarding World of Harry Potter first opened, it was in the newer of Universal's parks - Islands of Adventure. Here is where they built Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. The new part of the Wizarding World is in the older park simply called Universal Studios. Here is where Diagon Alley and Gringotts was built. The Hogwarts Express is also a new addition and as I said, it takes you between Diagon Alley (who's entrance is in London) and Hogsmeade Station.




When we got there, we started in Islands of Adventure because I felt it was only proper to experience Diagon Alley for the first time by taking the train to "London" and entering through the wall behind The Leaky Cauldron. So we boarded the Hogwarts Express, and it was awesome. I almost cried tears of joy and excitement when I saw it come into the station. The train was very well done. I am pretty sure it's an exact replica of the one in the movie. The inside is awesome, too and all the special effects are great!








When you reach London (the train ride is only a couple of minutes long), you are let out into King's Cross Station. There's even the billboard that Dumbledore appears in front of in Half Blood Prince!






When you come out of the station, you are in London and you can see Grimmauld Place and the Knight Bus, which you can climb into the back of and peek inside. Kreacher periodically peeks out of the window above 12 Grimmauld Place, too!












Dress & Ring: Hot Topic//Shoes: H&M//Bag: ASOS//Belt: Thrifted
If there wasn't a worker directing you towards Diagon Alley, you might not realize that it was even there, which is exactly how it is in the books/movies. If you don't know about it, then you wouldn't see it or get to it. There is a brick wall that you have to walk around and then it opens up into Diagon Alley where there are a ton of shops and signs and amazingness. The center of it all is Gringotts Bank which has the dragon sitting on top and also houses the new ride that they have. It's hard to describe how awesome everything looks in that first moment that you take it all in. It's pretty magical!











With the magic also comes a sense of feeling overwhelmed. I didn't know what to do first! I wanted to see it all, but I kept getting distracted by all the stuff to look at! There are lots of shops, but only a few that are actually real. Others are just part of the setting and you can't actually go into them. The biggest one is Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, which is right at the beginning when you first walk in through the brick wall. The Leaky Cauldron is also right when you walk in, too, and you can eat in there if you want!












After a walk around of the place, my mom and I decided to get in line for the Escape From Gringotts ride, which was luckily only a 30 minute wait. While you wait in line, you go through the lobby of the bank, which is stunning. The goblins look really real! Also, once you get further in, sometimes you will see the shadows of Harry, Ron, and Hermione as Bellatrix and hear them talking. The ride itself was awesome. It was in 3D and it did not last long enough, but rides are always short! You can also just go in to just walk through Gringotts and look around if you don't want to or can't ride the ride.











After the ride, we continued walking around. I discovered Knockturn Alley, which was surprisingly actually really creepy. I'm sure they do this on purpose, but going from the bright Florida sun to the extremely dark Knockturn Alley (which is kind of indoors, though it still feels like it's outdoors) makes it seem EXTRA dark because your eyes don't adjust right away. My parents had gone to the bathroom, so I went through alone and it was pretty creepy. I wasn't sure if there were people who worked there that were going to do something creepy or scary as I walked around because you can tell that someone is there in the shadows, but you can't tell who or what they're doing. No one did, though. Borgin & Burkes is here, and is the only store you can go into. It's full of Death Eater merchandise and creepy things. The vanishing cabinet is there, as well as the trunk that Moody was kept hostage in. It even shakes and makes noise, too. I didn't notice it until my friend told me about it and I went back another day.





The dragon on top of Gringotts Bank is very realistic looking, and it even growls and breathes fire every so often. I thought that maybe it shot the fire out at a set interval, but it turns out it just does it randomly. I was able to catch it, though!




Of course, I had to have pumpkin juice. I prefer it over Butterbeer, though I haven't met many people who feel the same. I did meet someone who works at the park who liked pumpkin juice more, though! We got the juice in Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, but didn't try the ice cream this day.



The ride on the Hogwarts Express is different depending on which way you are going, so of course I had to experience both of them. Eventually, after we were done exploring Diagon Alley we took the train back to Hogsmeade to see what the train had in store for us that way. In my opinion, it was way better going from London to Hogsmeade.



I guess I sort of subconsciously saved this dress for when I went to the Wizarding World. I have had it for a while and never wore it. It's pretty thin, so I didn't really get a chance to wear it since it's been so cold. The funny thing is that Chris actually got this dress for me for Valentine's Day because he didn't know I had gotten it myself! I felt so bad, because I know he was probably really excited to have gotten it for me. It's a great dress, and I got a lot of compliments and comments on it throughout the day. Even the Knight Bus conductor made note of it! I also wore my Harry Potter ring as well. :)




Because it was the first time I was there, I definitely went photo crazy. Sometimes it's really frustrating to take photos in theme parks because so many people are moving around you and you don't want to be in their way for that long, so you gotta be fast and you also have to watch for people being in the way of your shot. The first day we went was a Tuesday, and it was definitely not as busy as the other days we went which were Friday and Saturday. Those days were MOBBED. I will have some more posts on my other days here, but they probably won't be as meaty as this one. Sorry for the long post, but I hope it was worth it...especially if you're a Harry Potter fan like me! :)width="534"