Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Detailed Review of the 2015 Walt Disney World Ticket Prices Increase

It's February, which means it's time for Walt Disney World to increase ticket prices once again! 

So, how did tickets increase?  Well, first, a one day Magic Kingdom base ticket increased by $6, to the unprecedented total of $105. Disney has also decided to increase ticket pricing for Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom, however they will see cheaper rates than the Magic Kingdom.  The cost to get into those three parks will be $97, a $3 price increase.

It wasn't just One Day tickets that increased though.  Instead, all Magic Your Way tickets have increased an average of about $11 per ticket option.

In addition, both the Park Hopper Option and the Water Park Fun and More option have increased by $4 each.  Also, the dual option where guests get the Park Hopper and the Water Park Fun and More increased by $4.  This year, Disney discontinued the option to purchase the No Expiration option, however, if you already have tickets that are No Expiration, you are ok and able to use those.

One Day Theme Park Ticket Options
TicketAges 10+ Ages 3-9
Single Day Magic Kingdom Ticket$105$99
 Single Day Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Ticket$97$91

Magic Your Way Ticket Options
Number of DaysBase Ticket
Optional Add-Ons

Ages 10-upAges 3-9Park Hopper®Water Park Fun & MorePark Hopper® & Water Park Fun & More
10 days$365
($36.50/day) increase of $11
increase of $11
$64  increase of $4
$64 (10 visits) increase of $4
$90 (10 visits) increase of $4
9 days$355
increase of $11
increase of $11
$64  increase of $4
$64 (9 visits) increase of $4
$90 (9 visits) increase of $4
8 days$345
increase of $11
increase of $11
$64  increase of $4
$64 (8 visits) increase of $4
$90 (8 visits) increase of $4
7 days$335
increase of $11
increase of $11
$64  increase of $4
$64 (7 visits) increase of $4
$90 (7 visits) increase of $4
6 days$325
increase of $11
increase of $11
$64  increase of $4
$64 (6 visits) increase of $4
$90 (6 visits) increase of $4
5 days$315
increase of $11
increase of $11
increase of $4
$64 (5 visits) increase of $4
$90 (5 visits) increase of $4
4 days$305
increase of $11
increase of $11
$64  increase of $4
$64 (4 visits) increase of $4
$90 (4 visits) increase of $4
3 days$275
increase of $1
increase of $1
$50 increase of $1
$64 (3 visits) increase of $4
$90 (3 visits) increase of $4
2 days$192
increase of $4
increase of $4
$50 increase of $1
$64 (2 visits)  increase of $4
$90 (2 visits) increase of $4

Base Ticket: One theme park per day
Park Hopper: Can hop between more than one theme park on each day
Water Park Fun and More: Allows guests a specific number of visits (between 2 and 10 depending on the number of days of your ticket) to choose between the Disney Water Parks, DisneyQuest Interactive Theme Park, Disney’s Oak Trail golf course, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Disney’s Winter Summerland.
No Expiration: Allows you to use your tickets at any time, with no expiration date. (Tickets are only good for 14 days after first day's use, unless this option is purchased.)

In addition, Annual Passes have increased in price as well.  Both adults and children pay the same price for their Annual Pass. There is no separation of pricing like the Magic Your Way tickets offer.

Annual PassPrice
Annual Pass (Pass gets you into all four theme parks for 365 days.)$654 increase of $20
Premium Annual Pass (Pass gets you into all four theme parks, Disney’s two water parks, Disney’s Oak Trail golf course, DisneyQuest, and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.) $779 increase of $25

One of the things that I've never done, but think it's interesting to take a look at is the general rise of ticket prices.  They have especially increased since they changed over to the Magic Your Way system, which was done in 2005.   Now, do keep in mind that prior to the Magic Your Way system, there were quite a few years where ticket prices increased twice in a year...both increases were small, but when added together, they were significant enough...the graph reflects the total price raised in a year, not each individual increase.  (With the exception of 2006, when there were two increases and I did show them both on the graph.)

It is staggering to see though that in the course of 15 years, ticket prices have increased to almost double.  When looking at the increases over the 10 years prior to 2000, while tickets increased yearly, it was still at a moderate rate.


What are your thoughts on this latest increase?  And what are your thoughts of the increases that have taken place since 1990?  Let me know in the comments section.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 2/16/15 - 2/22/15

News and Rumors are gathered from various different sources. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such. 


Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Some of the first details for Star Wars Weekends have been released.  Once again, James Arnold Taylor, the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars: Clone Wars” will be returning to host each and every weekend.  He's the host of the "Stars of the Saga" talk show, which, for this year, will occur in the Theater of the Stars (where Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage is performed). Darth's Mall will be moving to near the Streets of America.  Finally, as part of the evening’s events, there will be the “Summon the Force” celebration, where favorite characters will assemble and social media moments will be shared. The evening will end with the “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks extravaganza.

Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Flame Tree Barbeque's refurbishment has been extended.  It will now take place until April 22.

General Walt Disney World News
  • Walt Disney World ticket prices have increased. The cost for a one day, Magic Kingdom ticket is now $105 for those ages 10 and up. The cost for a one day ticket for Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, or Disney's Animal Kingdom is now $97 for adults ages 10 and up. In addition, all other Magic Your Way ticket prices increased. Other changes include a one day ticket for the water parks will now allow guests in to both Disney's Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon in one day, when both parks are open.  Finally, Disney has removed the No Expiration option for guests to purchase, which means that from here on out, guests will no longer be able to purchase that option. Those who have purchased No Expiration tickets in the past are still valid.  For more information about the ticket price, read my post from
  • Disney is testing a direct route to Disney's Typhoon Lagoon from a few different hotels. The routes are:
    • Wilderness Lodge/Contemporary Resort to Disney's Typhoon Lagoon
    • Polynesian Village Resort/Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to Disney's Typhoon Lagoon
    Buses will operate approximately every 20 minutes, with service beginning 30 minutes prior to park open and ending 1 hour after park close.
Downtown Disney
  • Sound Lion has officially opened.
  • Erin McKenna's Bakery has officially opened.


  • Is Aloha Isle closing to make way for the upcoming restaurant refurbishment at the Adventureland Veranda? Also, could the theme be centered around Princess and the Frog? 
  • Epcot will likely be offering a new show in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot themed around Tokyo’s Harajuku, a neighborhood known for attracting Japanese teens and young adults and their unique fashions. 
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Be Our Guest Restaurant - Is It Worth The Hype?

Be Our Guest Restaurant has to be, hands down, the most popular restaurant at Walt Disney World, at this point. It is super hard to get Advanced Dining Reservations for dinner, they created a FastPass+ system for the counter service lunch, and the standby lines for lunch were crazy long!  Which is why the Magic Kingdom restaurant will be switching over to an all reservations for lunch system.  You see, beginning next week, on February 25, all guests visiting the Magic Kingdom can book a reservation via their My Disney Experience account to enjoy this restaurant's counter service option.

Guests be able to make reservations 180 days out and guests will need to submit a credit card to hold the reservation.  The card will not be charged unless the guest does not show up.  Also the restaurant will allow for walk-ups, if by chance they are available.

The question Be Our Guest Restaurant worth the hype?  Is it worth the trouble to get in just to dine there?

I would arguably say yes!  It actually is.  I've tried both dinner and lunch here (I was lucky enough to get a lunch FastPass!) and I have been consistently pleased with both options.

For dinner, I enjoyed the thyme-scented pork rack chop with the au gratin macaroni and cheese and seasonal veggies for $23.99.  While the meat was delicious, what I especially enjoyed was the au gratin macaroni and the green beans! The au grain was super cheesy and the green beans were nice and crisp.

For lunch, I sampled the braised pork, which consisted of slow-cooked pork with vegetables and bacon served with mashed potatoes and green beans jardiniere for $12.99.  Holy cow!  This was the best counter service meal I've ever had at Walt Disney World.  The meal was dinner quality was fantastic and that price was incredible.  The pork was fork-cuttable, the green beans had great flavor and the mashed potatoes were great too. 

Of course, I also had to have dessert both times.  At dinner, I tried the Triple Chocolate cupcake and for lunch, I had the Master's Cupcake. While both were chocolate and delightful.  I found the Triple Chocolate one took the cake....literally!  The best part...these cupcakes are also relatively reasonably priced!

Of course, part of what makes this restaurant so popular, is the fact that it's themed around the classic movie, Beauty and the Beast.  But to me, that isn't enough...I mean, look at another movie-themed restaurant, Tony's Town Square, in the same park.  Tony's should be extremely popular!  It's based off a great movie, however, the food is clearly lackluster. (I don't know how anyone manages to screw up pasta, but boy they certainly found a way!)

Overall, the Magic Kingdom is sorely missing the mark on restaurants.  I mean, there isn't a stand out period that guests are really excited for, for the most part.  (Many enjoy Crystal Palace...though the cost is insane, especially for dinner. Oh and for those who claim the price is justified due to it being a character meal, Be Our Guest does allow you to meet the there is a character component...even if it isn't advertised as a character meal.)

But honestly, if you want to dine at a great restaurant and you're at the Magic Kingdom, you're better to head to the Magic Kingdom Resorts instead. Every meal at the Magic Kingdom, is lackluster or stupidly expensive (or both) at best.

That was until Be Our Guest came along.  Be Our Guest changed things because not only do they offer food that actually is delicious and unique, but it's also not ridiculously priced.  Now I know that many will disagree with me, but I find both lunch and dinner costs to be pretty darn on the mark for a good Disney restaurant.

Yes, lunch costs more than a lot of other counter service locations, but I feel you are getting a much higher quality meal and some of those options are worth paying more for.  (Like my braised pork....honestly...that was more along the lines of something I would have had for dinner.  I could have eaten that for lunch and had either a very light dinner or snacked the rest of the evening and been happy...for under $15!  That's a bargain, especially for Disney!)  However, they also offer sandwiches that are more unique than you'd typically see at most other Disney quick service restaurants.

As far as dinner is concerned...I find the quality, again to be top notch, but when compared to something like Liberty Tree Tavern, which I find yummy, let's face it, isn't the most high-class cuisine you can have.  And ALL of the meals at Be Our Guest currently cost LESS than Liberty Tree Tavern's feast.  (Granted LTT's meal is also all you can eat, but still....I'm not typically getting more than one plate anyway.) 

Of course, with all the success, I'm actually rather shocked that Disney hasn't attempted to make this a signature meal.  Of course, with the rumored Adventureland Veranda restaurant coming, maybe they are using that to relieve the pressure off of Be Our Guest and once that one opens, will change Be Our Guest to signature dining.  (I'd actually bet pretty good money on that one.)

So, yes, Be Our Guest Restaurant is absolutely worth the hype...because it's honestly the only hypable restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.  I just hope Disney learns from the success of this restaurant and eventually applies it to some of the other Magic Kingdom restaurants too.  (Again...I'm looking at you Tony's Town Square. don't have to change much...just start serving edible food!) 

What do you think?  Is Be Our Guest Restaurant worth the hype?  I know many will agree, however quite a few of you will strongly disagree, so share your thoughts on the Facebook page or in the comments section! 

If you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word about us here at A Disney World After All!  Share it on Twitter or the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here!  Also, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!      

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 2/9/15 - 2/15/15


Magic Kingdom
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad refurbishment has been pushed back to April 27-30.
  • Construction permits have been filed for the Adventureland Veranda, furthering the rumor that it will be turned into a restaurant once again.
  • The Tomorrowland Arcade has closed officially as of February 9.
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin will be closed for two days, March 4-5.
  • Peter Pan's Flight will also be closed for two days, March 5-6.

Downtown Disney
  •  Sanuk has officially opened in The Landing section.

Disney Resorts
  • Las Ventanas Restaurant at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort will be open now for dinner. 

General Walt Disney World News
  • The Richard Petty Driving Experience will be closing at the end of June. 
  • Eligible Guests staying in a Walt Disney World hotel will now have the option to go directly to their hotel room once it is ready, without the need to stop at the Front Desk, seamlessly streamlining the Guest check-in process. To be eligible for this optional offering, Guests must have the MagicBands for their current stay shipped to their home, as well as completed the Online Check-In process including paying for their reservation in full or establishing a credit card and PIN.  They also must provide a method of communication--either text or email.  Once Guests have created their MagicBand and had them shipped to their home, they will receive an email making them aware of the service and providing information regarding the other steps they need to take. If the Guest has completed all eligibility steps, they will receive a message via email and/or text prior to their arrival notifying them of their room number and that they have the option of going directly to their room.  Upon arriving at the hotel, the Guest will be greeted by Curbside Cast and the Guest can to choose to use the traditional check-in method or  to go directly to their room.  This process is being slowly phased to all resorts.  The schedule is as follows:
Now Available:
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge (including Jambo House, Kidani Village)
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort (including Bay Lake Tower)
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts
February 25
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn (including Boardwalk Villas)
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (including Grand Floridian Villas)
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (including Wilderness Lodge Villas)
  • Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts (including Beach Club Villas)
March 10
  • Disney’s All-Star Resorts
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground implementation is to be determined.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Running the RunDisney Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 10k

So, has gotten away from me and we are now a month past Marathon Weekend?!  Wow...I cannot believe my race was just over a month ago.  It really seems like it was just yesterday.  But, alas, here we are on the cusp of yet another Disney race weekend, with Princess Weekend and I have yet to talk about my experience on the blog!  So, it is time to rectify that!

Let's go back...back to November of 2013.  Before November 2013, I was not a runner.  You couldn't get me out there to run.  Running and I just didn't go together.  All that changed in November 2013.  How?  It was because I was chosen to take part in the RunDisney Atlanta meetup!  Here, I was tasked with running 2 miles as part of the meet.  Whoops.  I didn't run...guess I better get out there.

So, I did.  I started with the couch to 5k method.  I only had a few weeks to get to running two miles, so I knew this was an effective method.  I thought I'd try it. It worked out well.  I did the training runs, but the day of the race, I quickly realized I was not prepared.  However, despite my not being prepared, I sort of caught that running bug people talk about.

Then, in January 2014, my hubby and I went down for Marathon Weekend to cheer on the runners.  That was what we were supposed to be doing.  Instead, a friend of mine contacted me and told me he had a bib if we wanted it.  (Not a practice that can be done any longer, by the way.)  So, Brian decided he was going to run the half with no training...just run it.  He was the runner in the family...he was constantly going out there to run a few miles at a time.  He could manage.  And he did.  He killed it.  But this started him being a bit addicted.

We got to talking and he and I decided we were then going to participate in the 2015 Marathon weekend races.  I knew I'd be able to manage a 5k easy by that time and I wanted to give myself a challenge, so I decided to go for the 10k.  Brian went for the ultimate challenge for himself, the Full Marathon.

We both went out and trained over the course of the year, but I definitely didn't do a full training, I had felt.  I had not gotten close to 6 miles by the time of Marathon Weekend.  What really kept me from it is that I'm a slow runner and to run for 4 miles took me almost an hour.  So, I only did a few runs near the end where I did the 4 mile runs.  I figured that the last two miles were in Epcot and at the Epcot Resorts, so I could manage just based off of sheer will and distraction at that point.

We get to the trip weekend.  We left on Wednesday evening late, as always and went to the ESPN Wide World of Sports to check in at the Expo the next day.  (My race would be on Friday morning.)  We were both super impressed by the complex.  I'd been before but Brian hadn't.  We wandered around a little bit, having fun, picking up our race packets, and doing a little shopping.  I was disappointed that there was a ton of merchandise for all the other races, with the exception of the 5k and the 10k.  To me, it felt like a slap in the face because those of us running those two races have been training hard for our races too and the fact that we couldn't really celebrate our achievements (even if they aren't as large as a Dopey is) is still important.  But I digress.

Anyway, so we went to hang out at the parks for a little while, but knew that we needed to be back at the hotel early to head to bed early.  Of course, that's much easier said than done.  It feels so odd to go to sleep at 8:30 p.m. Or at least attempt to.  Luckily, after some tossing and turning, I did manage to fall asleep for my 3:00 a.m. wake up call.

I woke up with relative ease and I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be.  I knew I could do it.  I'd trained and I knew what my body was capable of by this point.  I felt confident.

After getting dressed, we headed out.  We were staying off property, so the best piece of advice I learned from Marathon Weekend is to follow the signs...don't go the way you think will be best.  Disney has orange roadwork signs directing traffic so you don't have to wait in huge massive lines (you'll still have to wait in traffic, but it's much more manageable using their directions.)

I met up with my fantastic group of friends and then it was time to enter the corrals.  Guests are asked to arrive early because roads are closed off, but that means you'll be waiting for a while before the race starts.

This is the part that is the hardest.  The waiting.  (Oh and make sure to use the porta potty before you get in your corral...just a heads up.)  The waiting eeks on because you are excited to be there and you just want to start running.  It takes a good half hour of waiting usually before the first corral is released.  If you're like me and in the last corral, then you have to wait for every other corral to go before you...which means more waiting.  It's a slow, agonizing process.  (One done for good reason, but that doesn't mean it isn't agonizing.)

Finally, it was my turn to run!  I took off over the start line and I immediately felt good.  While I normally do the run a minute/walk a minute method, I actually was able to run the first mile with no problem! Thanks adrenaline!

The first few miles were pretty empty.  We were running on the outside road of Epcot, so there wasn't much to see...nor were there many characters or anything else.  I was just a touch disappointed.

The run went so smooth, but around mile 3, it got tough. (Usually where I start to hit a wall.) The good part was that we would be hitting Epcot soon.  I started to see the backstage of Epcot near Test Track and knew I was home free!  I could do this.

Once I entered World Showcase, I kept myself distracted by taking selfies in each country.  This was easy!  I meander through World Showcase all the time!  By the time I made it through to the International Gateway, I didn't feel like time had passed at all.  What's even more impressive is that I had so much fun running the Epcot Resort loop, that I don't even remember running it! 

The next thing I knew, I was backstage again...where again, I felt the wall approaching.  I was starting to feel tired and hurting a bit.Then got mile 6...the furthest I had ever run.

Worst picture ever, but proof that I'd run the furthest I'd ever gone

Once I made it past that, it was smooth sailing.  I only had .2 miles to go.  I started seeing my friends cheering me on.  Then, there it was...the Finish line!

I sprinted to the line!  I had done it.  I had made it.  I was so proud of myself. I had accomplished something I'd never thought I'd be able to do.

I went and got my medal, beaming from ear to ear.  This was what I'd been running for.  This moment.  It was totally worth it.

Many ask me would I run longer distances.  At this moment, I don't know that I would.  I've debated running some 15ks here (because they are the only ones that give out medals and what's the point of running a race and not getting the medal?) but I'm just not sure I could do the extra 3 miles yet.  So, I think that the 10k is a good length for me.  It's enough for me to be able to go out and run 3 or 4 miles training runs and then be able to will myself through the last two. 

I also get the question of, I don't run...but I'm thinking about it.  If you're thinking about it, do it.  Start slow.  Go out and run for 5 minutes...then 6...then 7.  Ease yourself into the process.  You'll be impressed with how fast you can get those miles in.  Easing into the process is what really made me love running.  Back in high school, there was no real easing into were just expected to run.  But what that does is makes people like me hate running.  Easing into it made all the difference in the world.

Trust me...if I can run 6 can do it too.  Just take it one step at a time.

If you like this article, I shamelessly ask that you spread the word about us here at A Disney World After All!  Share it on Twitter or the photos on Pinterest, hit up the Google + emblem...just let others know about us here!  Also, make sure to LIKE our Facebook page and find me on Twitter, I'm @RikkiNibs!      

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Walt Disney World News and Rumors 2/2/15 - 2/8/15


Magic Kingdom

  • Beginning on February 25, Be Our Guest Restaurant will no longer offering FastPass+ reservations for lunch.  Instead, guests will be able to make a dining reservation via or calling (407) WDW-DINE.  Once a guest has made a reservation, they can choose to pre-order their meals via their My Disney Experience account.  Guests can do so via a link in their confirmation email or through their My Disney Experience profile under "My Reservations". Pre-ordering can occur anywhere from 30 days to 5 minutes prior.
  • The Liberty Square Riverboat will be closed from August 4-10.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • The Golden Coach from Cinderella is now available for guests to see on the Streets of America.
  • The Trolley Car Cafe (Starbucks) has officially opened.

Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • It's official. Creature Comforts will officially be turning into a Starbucks location.

Downtown Disney

  • Chapel Hats, Apex by Sunglass Hut, and The Art of Shaving have all opened. 

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Day Trip to the Universal Orlando Resort

Just a few weeks ago, my brother, who lives in Orlando, wanted to take me over to Universal Orlando.  He'd been talking about taking me there for a while, and this time, the stars aligned, our schedules worked, so we said yes, we'd go.

The first thing to note is that at Universal, you park in a parking garage.  There are two different garages to choose from, and each level is labeled.  Make sure to make a note of where you're parking, because the garages can be confusing.  (She says from experiences her brother has shared with her!)

You make your way over to the main resort and you enter a shopping and dining area, CityWalk.  CityWalk has seen a lot of upgrades over the last year, with many new restaurants being introduced.  I have to admit, some look pretty darn awesome.  But, we weren't here to eat.  We were here to play.

So, we went to the kiosk to pick up our tickets (we did the park to park so we could see both areas) and entered.  We decided to go to Islands of Adventure first. What was unique about our visit to Universal was this was my first visit ever with Brian and it was the first time my brother and I had been since 2002.  So, it was pretty cool to get to experience the park this way. (I had been to Islands previously in 2011).

We decided to go on Hulk first.  One thing to note about Universal.  There really are a lot of thrilling attractions here.  Because of this, for many attractions, you will need to put your bags in a locker that are located near many of the attractions.  Keep in mind that these lockers are free for a limited amount of time (usually how long it should take you to wait in line, ride the ride and then come back out.)  Just be aware that you will need to store bags at many attractions throughout the day, so if you can, try to carry what you can minimally get away with. 

Next, stayed in the Marvel area and we went for The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, which to me, is one of the greatest attractions anyone has done.  It utilizes video screens and physical sets (something that again, Universal is well known for) to tell the story.  It's such a creative attraction. 

We then went to ride Jurassic Park, which yes, I rode, even though I don't like dinosaurs.  Do keep in mind that this is a water ride and you will get wet...likely pretty drenched.

From there, it was time to enter the land we were most excited about (well, Brian and I).  Hogsmede.  Brian and I are both big Harry Potter fans, and this was his first experience in Hogsmede.  He loved it.  The land is just so well done. 

We rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which made him a little ill.  (The screens moved a little too fast for him).  After exploring the area a little bit more, it was time to head to uncharted waters.  It was time to take the Hogwarts Express and head to Diagon Alley.

It was really so neat to get to head to the train station and see that massive scarlet train in front of me.  I couldn't believe it was real!  We very much enjoyed the attraction.  (Do keep in mind that if you want to take the Hogwarts Express, you MUST have a park-to-park ticket.  You aren't getting on it if you don't have one).

I stepped into London...I mean Universal Studios Florida and was blown away.  I had seen photos, but the scale of London was massive. 

Then, stepping through the jagged brick entrance of Diagon Alley....I couldn't believe it.  If I thought Hogsmede was fantastic, I would be blown away of the detail in Diagon Alley.  It was so realistic.  There was the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes and yes, the statue out front really does move and a rabbit does appear as if from nowhere!

Then there's the Leaky Cauldron.  It's like it is in the movies.  I kid you not.  I loved the touch of the actual leaky cauldron!

This is where we had lunch and it was fantastic!  I had the Cottage Pie, which is meat and veggies, covered by a mashed potato crust.  The meat was good and the mashed potato crust was cooked just perfect.  Crunchy on the outside and smooth on the inside.  I also enjoyed that they served the meal with a salad.  I really appreciated the outside-the-theme-park-box food choice.

Of course, I also had to try warm butterbeer.  This was a new addition and it was heavenly.  It was butterscotchy with a hint of vanilla and the warmth of it was perfect.  It wasn't like coffee, but like flavored milk.  It was fantastic.

After lunch, we wandered around for a while and I absorbed the atmosphere.  It really is crazy how realistic it was.  And yes, the dragon is as cool in person as it looks on videos.

We then rode Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.  I had managed to avoid most spoilers from this attraction.  (Yes, I knew a few bits and pieces, but I completely avoided watching videos of the attraction.)  Holy was incredible.  The themeing of this attraction is beyond.  It's really almost as good as my favorite...The Haunted Mansion in regards to detail.  I was so happy I avoided major spoilers, because I was certainly surprised by it all!

One area that was particularly cool was Knockturn Alley.  This is the dark wizard area and I loved how it really was dark and spooky in there.  We went inside Borgin and Bourkes and I loved that you could see the Vanishing Cabinet!  (You have to have read Harry Potter to get that reference.) 

I really could have spent hours in both Hogsmede and Diagon Alley, but unfortunately, we still had the rest of Universal Studios Florida to do and we had half a day to do it in.  Now of course, we didn't see everything, but we did see most of the highlights.

On our way back into London, I managed to find Kreacher watching out of 12 Grimmauld Place and of course, I tried to enter, but alas...muggle.

We headed towards Men in Black Alien Attack, a shooting game, where you try to hunt down aliens, and something I find to be far superior to both Toy Story Mania and Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.   We also did Revenge of the Mummy, which I was kind of nervous about.  It is a roller coaster-type attraction, but what I was most nervous about what that I don't like when things pop out at me and I had heard that there were things that popped out at you on this attraction.  I'm glad I did it though, because it actually ended up being really fun and not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. 

After The Mummy, we went to do Transformers.  This was an attraction Brian was particularly excited about because he loved Transformers as a kid.  I enjoyed it as well, and it's very similar to Spiderman.  The best things about these attraction are that you don't have to be well-versed in the lore to understand the attraction.  That's true for all of Universal's offerings.  (I am not well-versed in Transformers, but I got the gist of it all.)

We then went to an attraction that my brother and I both remember doing as kids and that was Twister-Ride it Out.  Twister, for some reason, is a movie we both identify with from growing up...and the attraction is super hokey and silly.  But we had such fond memories of it and we enjoyed the heck out of it!  It was good to get to see it with him again...especially because rumors indicate that it will be removed soon.

My brother and I then went to try Rip, Ride, Rockit.  I don't love roller coasters which start out going vertically up, but I didn't have time to fret on that.  We literally walked on the attraction as it was boarding. This is a ride where you get to pick the music that plays, so I was busy fiddling with that and I didn't have time to think about the vertical portion until I was in it!  And then the ride took off and I swear, I haven't laughed that much in a long time.  It was one of the most thrilling things I'd ever been on.  

After we got off Rockit, it started to rain, but we pressed another attraction we both went on as kids...E.T.  I only remembered the name portion and nothing else of the attraction.  Holy cow is that one a drug trip!'s just crazy and fantastical!  I really have no words.  It's a classic and really trippy.

As we got done with E.T., we passed by the beloved Back to the Future Delorean.  Now we know where Doc Brown ended up in 2015.....

And then the heavens unleashed and the rain started coming down in buckets.  We ran into Springfield, where we quickly ducked in to Moe's Tavern, from The Simpsons.  This was another area that impressed the heck out of me.  Again, it is spot on to the hit TV show.  I felt like I really was in Springfield.  There was the Love Tester (which we all tried!) and Barney.  On our way into the bar, we passed the Bumblebee Taco Truck and Lard Lad Doughnuts, and of course, Chief Wiggum.  

We really wanted to ride The Simpsons Ride, so we ran over to the main entrance, thoroughly drenching ourselves in the process.  (Seriously, raining buckets.)  The ride was so much fun!  We loved how they made fun of theme parks and themselves all in one full swoop! 

From there, since we were already drenched and it was getting late, we decided that we wanted to head out, but first, we had to make our way back to London because I wanted to have one more ride on the Hogwarts Express.  (There are two different shows that play, depending on the direction you are going.)  This is where you go through Platform 9 3/4.  It's a really neat effect! 

We then hightailed it out of the park, soaked to the bone.  But all in all, it was a successful day at Universal Orlando.  We got in quite a few attractions and had a wonderful time.  I won't lie, the parks are different than visiting Disney World, but I don't think that's a bad thing.  They are both unique theme parks that should be experienced.  Walt Disney World will always be my home park, but sometimes it's nice to see what other places have to offer.  

Now, I didn't want to make this too long of an article, I just wanted to give you a taste of what the Universal Orlando Resort has to offer, so if you have any questions, please, don't hesitate to ask.  You can do so in the comments or you can email me at  I will be happy to help with any thing you may want to know.

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