As promised, I'm back from my mad week in Hogwarts, am already desperately missing the toasty Florida heat, and come armed with plenty of pictures for you guys to enjoy.
It was my second time to the amazing park, this time there because they opened the expansion (Diagon Alley) three months after my last visit, and I could not rest easy knowing I'd only just missed what would surely be another awesome addition to the already incredible world that Universal had brought to life with Hogsmeade.
The entire week was amazing beyond words, but I'm pretty sure one of the highlights of my week was being chosen in Ollivanders first thing on my birthday morning (oh yeah, the reason why I went there was because of the expansion, but the reason why everyone else came was because I was turning 21. Yay! The satisfaction of handing over my ID that first time on my birthday was something else, let me tell you), and getting my very own interactive wand made of yew, with unicorn hair core; I also got quite a kick out of texting my aunt at 7am that I was outside Leicester Square, then giggling madly to myself because it was 7am, I was still half asleep, and it occurred to me that I had just flown over an entire ocean, only to find myself outside a tube station again.
The expansion itself was breathtaking. They really outdid themselves with it, and even though the dragon doesn't hold a candle to the beauty of Hogwarts, it does have its' own unique quirks (handy hint and tip: don't stand directly under/in direct proximity to it for very long, or you will have the fright of your life).
And the train journey is truly something to behold. The best part, arguably, is crossing the wall between Muggle Kings Cross and Wizarding Kings Cross. If possible, try to get someone to film you going through, it looks really cool on video - but if that's not an option, make sure to stop for a bit and watch others go through before you do.
And the ride itself, Escape from Gringotts, is exhilarating to the last second. I'm not a big roller coaster fan myself, but absolutely loved this ride - it had just the right amount of coaster, mixed in with simulation, to make it good for both people who love roller coasters, and those who aren't too keen on them.
Having gone on it extensively (you won't believe the miracles of the singles line! It's a godsend, but do make sure to go through the full queue at least once, or you'll miss tons of fun stuff), I can say with absolute certainty that front row on the first cart is the place to be on that ride. The further back you get, the less awe-inspiring the effects are, because you can see all the heads in front of you, and it sort of takes away from the action going on in front of you -- unlike with Forbidden Journey, where, again, having been on it to exhaustion (less so this time around; I must have ridden that thing at least 100 times a couple of years ago), all four seats are pretty amazing, though the fourth seat is more likely to get sprayed by beasties.
That's my week for you guys. I'm going to go curl up in a ball and sleep for the next week, probably, but it was definitely worth it!