While I had great expectations for Diagon Alley, I can definitely say that they were exceeded and then some. Starting with the London facade, including the Knight Bus and 12 Grimmauld Place, it pulls you in and once you are in it is all encompassing. The tall buildings block out the outside world in a way that the original Hogsmeade does not. And the shops are a level above as well. I was surprised at how many new things that I wanted to buy considering that I have been coming down here since the beginning. All that being said, I was amazed even more by Kings Cross station and the Hogwarts Express. The attention to detail and making you feel like you are there is incredible and I can’t wait to ride again today. Escape from Gringotts awaits so I have to head that. More to come!
Kaswell and I made it down here to enjoy one more trip to Orlando. We are grabbing a bite to eat at Simpsons and then going to make our way over to Diagon Alley. May not make it onto Escape from Gringotts today but are going to look around and shop and definitely ride the Hogwarts Express. It is going to be awesome!!!
So after a long spell of not updating, I have finally found the time to come back and spin things back up. While the actual theme park portion of #6parks1day was a success, getting home turned out to be problematic due to weather. I will work on providing a belated recap of that prior to attempting it again in September. I also made very fun and successful trips to March and May and will be heading back to Orlando this weekend to visit Diagon Alley. I am incredibly excited and can’t wait to get down there as waiting a month since opening has been no fun but I hope it has allowed them to work out some of the kinks. I hope to be able to make several posts while I am down there about all of the new attractions, food and drink, and merchandise. If anybody has already been, I would love to hear about your experience. Look for updates starting on Sunday. Have a great rest of the week!
I have been hinting at a new quest for a while now and I am finally ready to reveal it in the form of a new hashtag:
My goal is to drive from Knoxville to Orlando, visit all 4 Disney parks and both Universal parks all in one day (riding at least 2 rides in each), and drive back home. And to do it in under 36 hours. By far my most ambitious solo adventure yet. There are a couple of keys in my mind to making it happen.
- Epcot or Hollywood Studios needs to be first, since their biggest rides back up almost immediately after opening.
- Staying onsite to take advantage of morning Extra Magic hours.
With that in mind, I have picked a day with Extra Magic hours at Epcot starting at 8 am and will be staying at the Pop Century resort. This allow me to ride both Soarin’ and Test Track and make it to Hollywood Studios just in time for opening if I hustle. Those two will be followed by Animal Kingdom, the Magic Kingdom, and finally the two Universal parks (not sure about the order of them yet)
I will be keeping everybody updated via Twitter throughout the day as to how it is going and where I am at. I will provide more details and discuss ride choices at each park in the next couple of weeks prior to my trip. I welcome any tips or suggestions that anyone has. Talk to everybody soon!
So as 2014 begins, I wanted to get back on here and reflect about the year and look forward to what promises to be a great 2014. I was able to make 5 separate trips to different parks (2 solo) and visited 7 different parks total.
A quick summary of the trips:
Jan – A solo trip to Orlando to hit Universal Studios Florida and Islands Of Adventure. By getting to the parks early, I was able to ride 9 different rides a total of 10 times in 3 hours and 40 minutes. Made the entire trip in 31 hours.
June – A 5 day trip covering over 2000 miles. Kaswell (my eldest daughter and partner in fun) and I left very early on a Wednesday in order to be able to spend the afternoon at Universal. Was at USF by 6:15 am for the opening of the Transformers ride. There was a great show put on for the opening and we ending up spending all day at the park, finally leaving the park just after 9. Friday brought a drive to Richmond, VA, and KIng’s Dominion. We arrived at the park just after 5pm and managed to ride all the rides we wanted, including riding the Dominator 3 times. A quick drive to Williamsburg after that put us right next to Busch Gardens for the weekend. If you have never been, I highly suggest going to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The park has great theming and landscaping combined with world class roller coasters, including Apollo’s Chariot and Alpengeist. The food and wine festival was also well done. We spent 2 days and was able to ride all of the roller coasters at least twice. These five days equaled a great and exhausting trip.
August – After flying into Tampa to pick up a car for Sean (my stepson), I drove to Orlando and spent the night so I could get in another solo trip at Universal. Thanks to Universal’s early admission for passholders at 8 am with onsite guests, I was able to be the first person to ride Forbidden Journey followed by breakfast at the Three Broomsticks. Between 8 and 9:30 am, I rode 6 rides (Forbidden Journey, the Dragons, Hulk, Dr. Doom and Spiderman). After the quick walk over to USF, I rode the rides I wanted (Rip Ride Rockit, Mummy, Transformers and MIB) and had a great lunch from Krusty Burger. After hitting my favorites one more time (Mummy and Transformers), I headed out with another successful solo trip behind me.
October – In what is becoming an annual tradition, Julie and I went to both Halloween Horror Nights and Mickeys Not-So-Scary Halloween along with the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. The details of the trip have been covered here so I will just say it is a tradition I look forward to continuing.
November – Some of the details have already been posted here so I will fill in the rest. The day at Epcot was better than expected. The Candlelight Processional was even better than expected and walking from country to country listening to the presentations on Christmas traditions was an unexpected surprise and a great learning experience. Sunday brought the Magic Kingdom and Mickey’s Christmas party. We arrived early to see the Welcome show and ride a couple of rides early. This also put us in a great spot to eat at Be Our Guest, which we managed to do before the line formed. The restaurant was very well done and the food was good, only wish we had been able to try the Grey Stuff 🙂 (only available at dinner, when you have a special occasion). After taking a break, we went back for the party. The Jingle Cruise was a great change from the normal ride and show and the cookies and hot chocolate make most anything better. The Tommorowland dance party with Stitch/Sully and Mike Wazouski was quite cute as well. The parade and fireworks were well done but the Halloween versions are still my favorite.
As you can see, it was a wonderful year filled with theme park trips and good times. Plans for 2014 are still forming with two on the calendar so far. I have a solo trip planned for January, which I will be revealing details for in the next few days, and Julie and I are taking a trip in March. There are many more ideas and possibilities and I look forward to sharing them with everyone. Have a Happy New Year!!