Escape From Gringott's and more!

After our WDW experience we headed over to Universal Florida for our last two days of vacation. . . like we needed to walk another 20,000 steps each day on our poor, aching feet.

The biggest and only tip I'll give for UF is to stay at one of the big three Universal hotels that offer free Express Passes for every member of your group staying in that hotel, AND early admission for the two parks. They have another brand new hotel called Cabana Bay Beach Resort, but this hotel doesn't offer the Express pass perk.  Personally, these free passes pay for themselves if you figure that each Express Pass is roughly $85 per person per day, times the amount of people in your party added to the potentially "cheaper" hotel rate, depending on peak season rates. Off season, this pass isn't as important as it is during peak season as many lines were 45-60 minutes and the Express Pass line was about 5-15 minutes.

Though the Express Pass doesn't work for either Escape from Gringotts in Diagon Alley, or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Hogsmeade, the key element here is the hour prior to the official park opening that nullifies ugliness like this. . .
Well, okay, this is actually the line to Escape from Gringotts. By the time we got to the entrance of the bank the wait time was 45-60 minutes.
The early hour admission is also imperative if you don't want to wait in a peak season four-hour long wait time to ride Escape from Gringotts.

Remember to buy a park hopper ticket otherwise you will NOT be able to ride the Hogwarts Express to the other park. And that is something you want to do in each direction as the 'countryside' and Harry, Ron and Hermione do different things on the train.
Actual running Hogwarts Express Train (Hogsmeade station)
Here's a few sneak peak pictures of Diagon Alley. Knockturn Alley was also in this area, but it really was dark and creepy, and by the time we thought about taking pictures we were to befuddled by butterbeer soft serve ice cream.

Yes, we were eating ice cream at 9 in the morning.
The Knight Bus was outside Kings Cross Station before you even enter Diagon Alley. This was taken a little later n the morning because the attendant wasn't there until the official park opening at 9 AM.

Snatchers (mudblood hunters) guard the walkway in Diagon Alley to make certain you are following the correct path. Yes, they are really into their role playing!

Random Diagon Alley shot

Another random shot. The 'mermaid' on the fountain looks like the ones in Goblet of Fire.

The dragon over Gringotts entrance.

About every 10-20 minutes the dragon roars and a ball of fire plumes out of his mouth.

Here are a few pictures inside Gringotts bank. I won't say much about the ride except that it was seriously, freaking AWESOME!! It was a combination of roller-coaster and story, similar to the movie feel of the first Harry Potter ride, but mixed with The Mummy and Spiderman in terms of excitement. It is it's own story, but you interrupt the story of Harry, Ron and Hermione escaping the bank, along with Bellatrix and Voldemort.

This is only one section of the waiting area, but it's the most impressive.

The goblins all moved.

And another picture.
 Though the Harry Potter areas are but a fraction of the parks, it seems as that is where we took the most pictures. We rode lots of other rides in both parks on both days, but it seems as if I was befuddled by the Dragon Scale beer I had when I visited The Leaky Cauldron.

Here are a few pictures from the expanded Simpsons area of UF.
A kiddie ride, but Kang and Kodos, Twirl-n-Hurl was fun.
Patting Lard Lad's tummy

The kidlet got cozy with Barney inside Moe's Tavern
The kidlet drank a Flaming Moe (orange soda with dry ice), while Todd and I enjoyed a Duff beer.
And with this last picture, I must say adieu to our vacation and hello reality.

Okay, this was actually taken at WDW on the first day, but it's a cute ending.

Later, Peeps!


Meg said...

LOVE! the pictures!! Thanks!

Margaret Golla said...

Thanks, Meg!