Well, hey there.

I’m Kelsey DeLange: wife, mother, encourager, and the artist behind Honey and the Hive. Welcome to By Honey and the Hive, a lifestyle journal dedicated to living intentionally, crafting a beautiful life, and seeking magic in the every day.

Kelsey DeLange

Hogwarts, We're Home

This year as a joint Christmas and Birthday present for Dallas (whose birthday is just a few days after Christmas) we decided that instead of doing traditional gifts, we were going to surprise him with his dream vacation - a trip to Universal Studios, Wizarding World, and Disney World in Orlando!  This trip is something that we've wanted to do as a family ever since Dallas showed an interest in Harry Potter so finally having the opportunity to take him on this trip was a dream come true.

I designed cute little "tickets" that we had tied to the end of balloons and packed up in a big box for 
him to open on Christmas morning.  He was absolutely speechless! You can see his reaction here!

We stayed on resort at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which was so cute!  It's got an awesome 1960's vibe with a bowling alley and arcade inside, and even old classic cars out front.  We absolutely loved the resort, and had so much fun bowling and playing games on the first night we arrived.  Our room overlooked Volcano Bay which was quite the sight to wake up to each morning!  In total we had 3 days at Universal, which we chose to mostly spend in Wizarding World, and 2 days at Disney which we split between Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.  Because there's just so much to share I'm going to break up our trip into two separate posts, starting today with Wizarding World!

We very much allowed Dallas to set the pace for this trip and make decisions on how he wanted to explore Wizarding World.  It was important to him to sort of follow in Harry's footsteps, so we started our adventures in Diagon Alley with our first stop being Ollivander's to get him his wand.  From the moment we stepped into Diagon Alley we were completely engulfed in the magic of it all, it's truly an absolute fantasy land.  Seeing all of the shops and the details that we've come to love from the books and movies like the knitting needles in the shop window, and all of the goodies in Weasley's Wizard Wheezies - it absolutely felt like we had left our real lives behind and had stepped into a completely different world.  Going through the Ollivander's wand experience was so neat - afterwards Dallas chose Harry's wand for himself (of course) but it was just remarkable from the moment we stepped through the threshold how much attention to detail there was throughout the entire park.  We constantly found ourselves stopping and just being in complete awe of the magic of it all.

One of the coolest parts about the Wizarding World is how interactive it is.  You can use your wand to cast spells throughout the park and create your own little magic in the shop windows.  We all loved taking turns doing the different spells and watching as the window displays came to life.

Just like in the books, in a dark little corner of Diagon Alley lies Knockturn Alley, ripe with Victorian style shops dedicated to the dark arts.  It's always dark in Knockturn Alley (which if you didn't know is a bit of a pun on "nocturnally"!) and it's delightfully spooky.  You can visit Borgen and Burkes where Harry mistakenly finds himself after his floo powder incident and view tons of magical artifacts including the Vanishing Cabinet.  If you listen closely you can hear a bird chirping within the cabinet, and if you are brave enough to touch it you can even feel it rattling.  There were several shops and things to experience in Knockturn Alley, including a magical tattoo shop called Markus Scarrs Indelible Tattoos where the flash on the walls is enchanted and moves, which Alex definitely got a kick out of.  You can even cast a few spells while you're there.

While in Diagon Alley we of course had to pay a visit to Gringott's to ride on Escape From Gringott's.  It was so cool getting to step inside the wizarding bank and see the goblin's hard at work. The story of Escape From Gringott's is that you're at the bank to open an account at the same time as Harry, Ron, and Hermoine when a bit of trouble breaks out.  It's such a fun 4-D ride, transplanting you right into the world of Harry Potter - you even get a photo taken for your Gringott's ID (which you can purchase after the ride if you choose) and a pre-ride show with Bill Weasley.  One thing that we found ourselves saying over and over again is that it never felt like we were waiting in a line because the entire experience is so immersive.  The attention to detail throughout Wizarding World is just incredible, it truly feels like you're a part of it.

After our visit to Gringott's we headed to King's Cross Station to hop aboard the Hogwart's Express to Hogsmeade!  Stepping into the station and seeing the train for the first time was such an incredible experience - there is even the billboard we saw in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince! As you walk through the station you'll come to a familiar spot between platforms 9 and 10 (definitely be sure to watch as those ahead of you walk through this part because from the outside you can see what appears to be people walking right through the wall - so neat!) Boarding the train you'll be put into your own compartment and as you watch out the window you get to experience taking off from the station and viewing Hogwarts for the first time - Hagrid is even there to welcome you!  A little bit of havoc breaks out on the train, but Harry, Ron, and Hermoine take care of it quickly.  The entire in-ride experience is so cool, and it really added to the magic.

Walking into Hogsmeade was an absolute dream.  I think this was by far my favorite part of the Wizarding World.  The buildings are all covered in snow and as we turned the corner and saw the castle for the first time it was just pure magic.  We sort of just walked around in awe of it for a little while, constantly pointing to things and exclaiming "OH MY GOSH, LOOK!"

We loved exploring Honeydukes and seeing all of the classic candies that we marveled over in the books and movies all these years.  It's full of Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and other iconic wizarding treats, plus the owners even make their own homemade fudges and treats!  While most of the candy is not vegan friendly, we did get a bag of Candy Floss and just being in the shop and experiencing it all was such a fun experience.  There is truly something magical around every corner, Moaning Myrtle can even be heard in the bathrooms!  We loved visiting the Owl Post and seeing The Monster Book Of Monsters acting up (thankfully locked in a cage so no one lost a finger).

Dallas was decked out in his Quidditch robes for the first day, so of course we had to get a photo outside of Spintwitches Quidditch Supply after casting spells in the windows.

The first thing Dallas chose to ride in Hogsmeade was Flight of the Hippogriff, where you actually are lined up in front of Hagrid's Hut!  There's even a Hippogriff moving around in the brush.

My absolute favorite ride in the park was Harry's Forbidden Journey.  The premise of the ride is that Harry, Ron, and Hermoine are going to sneak you onto the Quidditch pitch during the big match and enchant the seats so you can come along for a very wild ride.  Waiting in line you're actually walking through the castle, going outside through the Herbology class where you can even see Mandrakees!  Once you go back inside you find yourself weaving through hallways and making your way into Dumbledore's office where there are a plethora of magical artifacts that you'll remember seeing in the movies.  Dumbledore even pays you a little visit!  Then you'll go into the Potion's Classroom - there are so many neat things to see including a dragon's skeleton hanging from the ceiling, and you'll also get a visit from Harry, Ron, and Hermoine as they give you the details of your magical adventure, Ron even makes it snow inside of the room!  You go through a few more corridors coming across lots of moving portraits, and you even see the portrait of the Fat Lady!  At the end of your time in the castle you even come across the sorting hat before getting onto your enchanted seat and going on the ride.  Just being inside of the castle and getting to see everything first hand was such an incredible experience, I kept finding myself wanting to touch everything - it was pure magic.  The ride its self is so much fun, it absolutely transports you into the movies - just watch out for the dementors!

Dallas's favorite ride, and the one we found ourselves on the most was Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.  During this ride you're walking through an abandoned wing at Hogwarts on your way to your Care Of Magical Creatures lesson from Hagrid himself on Blast-Ended Skrewets - this is actually the first time we've ever had the opportunity to see what a Blast-Ended Skrewet looks like in the Harry Potter universe!  As you move throughout this wing of Hogwarts you come across a ton of magical things such as a corridor full of dragon's eggs, and a classroom where you'll get a little lesson from Hagrid and Arthur Weasley before you head out to board your motorbike and ride off to your lesson.  The ride is so much fun, taking you through twists and turns and introducing you to a ton of magical creatures along the way - you'll see Cornish Pixies, Fluffy, and the Blast-Ended Skrewet before taking a trick turn into the Forbidden Forest where you'll see the flying car, centaurs, and get tangled up in a bit of Devil's Snare.  You'll end the ride getting to see unicorns before safely heading back to the castle.  We rode this particular ride 5 or 6 times, and each time was a little different experience.  

On our last night we were front and center for the light show and fireworks at the castle, which was so neat.  It's narrated by The Sorting Hat and focused on the unique qualities of each Hogwarts house. Seeing the castle all lit up for the night was an absolute spectacle - pure magic.

Much to our surprise, and what has come to be our most treasured memory of this entire trip, on our last night at the park due to a little situation with our lockers on a ride, we were given passes for another ride after the park had closed.  Dallas of course chose Hagrid's Magical Motorbike Adventure and it was so so cool riding it at night - a completely different experience.  At night the unicorns actually glow!  After getting off the ride we had the opportunity to walk through Hogsmeade one last time, walking through the park with the streets empty and the shops all lit up for the night was pure magic, and getting to be the last people to see the castle all lit up for the evening was beyond our wildest dreams.  It was truly by a complete stroke of luck that we got this experience, but it is without a doubt something that we will all remember for the rest of our lives.

Hogwarts will forever have our hearts.  Until the very end.

Universal Studios Vegan Eats + Treats

For our fellow vegans I wanted to share a bit on how we were able to eat within the parks each day, and a few of our favorite spots for yummy food.  Unfortunately, Wizarding World is not the most vegan-friendly area in the park.  If you go into The Leaky Cauldron or The Three Broomsticks they will make a few things vegan for you by request, but we chose leave Wizarding World when we were ready to eat meals.  Within Wizarding World we purchased Candy Floss at Honeydukes and Pumpkin Juice from a stand (which was sooooo yummy!) . Our favorite spot to eat in Universal was Mythos which is right outside of Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, here we shared the Mezze Platter (minus the baba ganoush as it isn't vegan) Dallas got the Pad Thai, I got the Summer Truffle Risotto, and Alex got the Couscous - we all really enjoyed everything we got here.  We also ate at Mel's Drive-In which is inside of Universal Studios Orlando where we had Beyond Burgers and the Avocado Chik'n sandwich - both were super yummy options.  We also tried Confisco Grille inside of Islands of Adventure, but this was unfortunately not our favorite spot to eat.  Dallas and I got the Plant-Based Chipotle Sausage Orzo, and Alex got the Portobello and Grilled Vegetable Sandwich  but none of us really enjoyed our meals so I can't say I recommend dining there.  We also got a refillable popcorn bucket that we snacked on throughout the days, ice cream at Ben And Jerry's where Dallas and I got the Non-Dairy Caramel Almond Brittle and Alex got Berry sorbet, and pretzels (minus cheese sauce) from a few snack stands.  Breakfast at VooDoo donuts in Citywalk is an absolute must!  They had about a dozen vegan donuts (The Seattle Cream and Maple Bars are EVERYTHING - I will dream of these donuts).  I highly recommend following @universalorlandovegans - it was such a useful tool in mapping out what restaurants we wanted to visit during our time there.

Tips and Tricks for Wizarding World

My number one tip for getting the most out of your time at Wizarding World is just to take it slow and give yourself an opportunity to take it all in - there is so much attention to detail and something magical just about everywhere that you look.  We spent 3 days in the parks and each day we discovered something new that we hadn't seen on previous days.  Also there are tons of different things happening at different times of day so be sure to ask for a schedule when you enter the park. You'll have the chance to see the Death Eaters descend on Hogsmeade at night or the shows like the Triwizard Spirit Rally, the Hogwarts Frog Choir, The Tales of Beedle and Bard, and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees.  You definitely can't miss the nighttime light show and fireworks at Hogwarts either. Also make sure to download the Universal Studios app - it shows you what wait times are on specific rides, provides GPS to get you from place to place within the parks, and you can also make reservations for the restaurants or order food to-go.  Finally, I very strongly suggest staying in a Universal Resort if you have the opportunity to - not only do you get a free shuttle to and from the parks each day, but you are able to enter the parks one hour before the public which helped us to get to experience certain things before it got too busy and wait in much shorter lines for certain rides. 

This trip was an absolute dream come true for our family, and something will never forget.  As someone who grew up reading the Harry Potter books as soon as they were released and being in line for each movie premier, getting to experience Wizarding World ourselves for the first time was magic beyond our wildest dreams, but what was even more magical was seeing the absolute wonder and awe in Dallas's eyes as he got to experience this world that he's dreamed about for so long.  It was truly, truly, magical.

Hogwarts Will Always Be There To Welcome You Home


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