Universal Studios was completely different from Disney World, but had some very fun things to see and do. Since Disney was more important to us, we went to Universal on the days when we had less time to spend in the park. That means we actually missed quite a bit, but I don't think the kids were disappointed at all. There was an entire section of the park that where everything was straight out of Dr. Seuss and we just had to walk right through it in order have enough time to see Harry Potter world.
Right as you get out of the parking garage there is a large atrium with some kiosks selling Universal products. Of course, our kids loved the Minion merchandise. I thought the banana hat was the funniest on Chris. We went and did the Minion ride, which was very fun, especially since Leah and Shannon were sitting next to me giggling like mad the whole time.
Next we pretty much headed straight for Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. First we saw the Night Bus. The shrunken head really freaked out Chris, so he isn't in these pictures.
This is pretty much the first thing you see once you enter Diagon Alley. The Weasley's store and a long, narrow alley of wizard stores.
With Gringott's bank at the end.
The dragon on top of Gringotts breathed fire about every 15 minutes.
This is a terrible video because it's so dark, but the kids liked this part so much that they have reenacted it several times at home, with special effects and everything.
We found Knockturn Alley.
It was dark and blessedly cool, so we liked it. We watched some kids use their interactive wands to make a skeleton move and turn some lights on. Chris was scared, but this wizard found him and made him happier. Just an interesting side-note--I asked this wizard if Harry Potter was around, and he got out of character for a moment (which I thought was a no-no) and told me that J.K. Rowling had an agreement with the park that none of her characters would be personified. She wants to leave them to our imaginations. He said they aren't even allowed to tell people that they know Harry or any of the other characters. They are just random wizards and witches.
Borgin and Burkes shop. Very much like I imagined it.
Then we left Chris with the grandmas and took the girls on the Escape from Gringotts ride. It was actually pretty intense! Enough to knock my camera out of my pocket, anyway. Luckily there are enough honest people in the world and the seats were deep enough to keep it in the car that I got it back in about 20 minutes.
As you walk into the bank to get to the ride, you are treated to this:
We got to pass all of the people you see in the above picture. It was pretty awesome! The goblins look very real and even move!
On our way out for the night we passed a giant Optimus Prime.
The next time we went to Universal, we headed up the opposite side of the park (actually, it's a separate park called Islands of Adventure, and you have to have a park-hopper pass to get in) and went straight to Hogsmeade.
Of course, we had to try the butterbeer and pumpkin juice. The butterbeer was slushy and delicious. The pumpkin juice tasted mostly like apricots and was not that good, but it will make a great Halloween decoration!
Waiting to board the Hogwarts Express, Grandma snuggled and sang to the boy.
Platform 9 3/4
There's the train!
This was what happens during the ride. This might have been my favorite thing there. The dementor was so cool! Christopher obviously thought it was real.