A Review of Wands and Wand Activities At Universal Studios Orlando

As you’ll recall, Jamie and I did a bit of incognito recon over at Universal Studios Orlando recently, mainly in order to check out the Harry Potter experience.  Being a bit of a Potter nerd myself, I decided we absolutely MUST have a wand.  So, wand shopping we went!

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The nearest shop we encountered was Wands by Gregorovitch, located right in front of Diagon Alley.

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They had several different wands to choose from, all replicas of the wands used by various characters in the movies. We chose Hermione’s wand, mainly because we liked the scrolling ivy decoration but all of them were amazingly detailed and beautiful.

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Once you’ve chosen a style, you get to choose if you want a standard wand or an interactive one.  The standard wands are $40, however, if you spend $8 more you can get an interactive one.  We thought that sounded like a bargain so we chose the interactive one.

That was a bit of a mistake.

Let me explain how the interactive wands work.  There are several stations set up throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade (you get a map with your wand so you can locate the stations) where you can use your interactive wand to make an action happen.  You need to stand on a medallion embedded in the pavement, point your wand at a certain spot and move it in a specific way (the movement is on the ground medallion).

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Sounds easy and super awesome, right?  Wrong.  Some of the interactions are very difficult to get right.  In fact, they’re so difficult a Universal team member is standing by to assist and sometimes even THEY can’t make the action happen.  This is problematic because you’ve spent so much for the wand you want to make the thing work, right?  Guess what, so does everyone else.  That means that you’re standing in line for a long time behind someone who can’t make the action happen so they finally give up.  Then the next person stands there for 10 minutes trying to make something happen and they can’t either.  Then the next person stands there for 15 minutes and so on and so forth and it’s just a giant waste of time.  It was such a huge disappointment.

I love the idea of these interactive wands and they just look SO COOL, but until Universal can figure out how to make them work properly, it’s a colossal waste of your money and time.

That makes me sadder than biting into an ear wax flavored Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean.

Restaurant Review – Leaky Cauldron at Universal Studios Orlando

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I was fortunate enough to dine at this fabulous quick-service restaurant on a recent FAM (familiarization) trip to Universal Studios and I will proudly recommend it to ANY Harry Potter fan I meet who will be visiting Diagon Alley!  The food is truly very good — not your typical theme park fare at all.  I enjoyed a wonderful lunch consisting of Cottage Pie, Sticky Toffee Pudding, and Fishy Green Ale to drink.  Yes, I said fishy when referring to a drink!  Don’t worry, dear reader, I haven’t lost my ever-loving mind…’twas just a cheeky name for bubble tea.  The “bubbles” were blueberry flavored and the drink itself was a super sweet cinnamon-mint concoction.  It was quite tasty but proved WAY too sweet for my liking.  I was only able to drink a tiny bit of it.  The Cottage Pie was incredible.  Large chunks of veggies and tender beef in a delicious gravy were topped with buttery, flaky pastry.  YUM!  The Sticky Toffee Pudding was also wonderful but, again, too sweet for my palate.  I wasn’t able to finish it, even with a child-size portion of the Cottage Pie.  My Cottage Pie (child portion) and Sticky Toffee Pudding both rang in at $6.99, while my Fishy Green Ale was $4.99.  I would absolutely skip the Fishy Green Ale on a return trip, and stick with my absolute favorite, Pumpkin Juice ($3.99).

 

IMG_9253I’ll definitely visit Leaky Cauldron again with my own family.  I have 2 sons who would be absolutely delighted with all of the wonderful details in this restaurant.  I feel they did an excellent job of staying true to the Wizarding World and skimped on no detail!

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Side note:  If you’re a beer lover, be sure to hop around the corner to The Fountain of Fair Fortune and try a Wizard’s Brew or Dragon Scale.  Being a stout fan, I ordered the Wizard’s Brew and cannot wait to return and have another!