Posted in: Food, Sightseeing

Universal Studios: Food

We stopped at the Leaky Cauldron for some food after riding Escape from Gringotts. We ordered a butterbeer ($7.99), a frozen butterbeer ($7.99), sticky toffee pudding ($7.49), and a scotch egg ($4.50). The butterbeer tasted a lot like butterscotch. The frozen butterbeer was similar to a slushy, and 3/4 of us liked the frozen butterbeer the best. The sticky toffee pudding was pretty good and was presented warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The scotch egg was ok. It came with a side of tomato (pico de gallo maybe) and a dipping sauce (mustard based). The breading had a flavor to it that I hadn’t had with a scotch egg before. It was $29.79 for the four items.

The window display of food does not make the food look very appetizing, but most of what we had tasted pretty good.

Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor was our next treat in the day. We all shared a cone (they said they were out of cups). We got a waffle cone, which came with double scoops ($7.99). We got a scoop of the Earl Grey and Lavender and a scoop of the Chocolate and Raspberry. The Earl Grey and Lavender was a very delicate flavor, it wasn’t very strong. It was tasty though and different from what we would normally get. The chocolate and raspberry was also good, but it seemed like it was a chocolate ice cream with raspberry flavoring added in. I didn’t see any pieces of raspberry, and it had a slightly artificial taste to it.

We stopped in at Sugarplums and they had quite the candy/sweet collection of offerings. We went with the Cauldron Cake ($11+tax). It is a chocolate cake that comes in box and is served in a silicon cauldron (which you can keep and reuse to bake your own cauldron cake at home!). The cake wasn’t too bad, but the icing was a little fake tasting.

While the boys and I waited in line for the Twirl ‘n’ Hurl in the Simpsons area, Ben went to find the Flaming Moe ($11). The ride line wasn’t moving fast, so we left and joined Ben. The drink tasted like an orange soda and unlike the show’s version, is non-alcoholic. The cup had a bottom compartment with dry ice that creates the smokey effect once the drink is poured on top.

Towards the end of the afternoon, we stopped at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. It is a really cool building on the outside. We bought a chocolate shot ($7.95, looks like a little chocolate cup), a Shamrock cocoa bomb ($10), and 3 candy bars ($4 each or 3/$10). We got the Cherry On Top, Dark Amaretto Coffee, and Mechanical Malt bars. The Chocolate shot was good and really cute with the gear base and handle. It was filled with a ganache. The whipped cream topping was not as good, and I didn’t eat all of it. The Cherry On Top chocolate bar had cherry jelly beans in it! Cherry and chocolate is always a good combo, and it was an ok texture combination once you got over the fact that there were jelly beans in your candy bar. The Dark Amaretto Coffee was one of my favorites, but it was grainier with small pieces of coffee beans. I would buy that one again. The Mechanical Malt bar was ok, not as strong of a malt taste as I was expecting. We tried to get a spot for dinner in Toothsome’s restaurant around 2:00pm and they were booked for the entire day. I did not see a way to make reservations on the app. However, there was a phone number listed on the app. I also found out later that if you went to the actual Universal website you could make reservations online.

We stopped at the Studio Store in CityWalk on our way out to pick up some Harry Potter Chocolate Frogs. They are solid chocolate, which makes for one heavy little frog! ($12 each or 3/$30)

In terms of amusement park food, it was good, although pricey.

Posted in: Hiking, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Universal Studios: Harry Potter Diagon Alley, Wands, and Escape From Gringotts

Once we finally made it to the correct park and had our tickets scanned, we scurried over to Diagon Alley. We saw the Knight Bus by a fountain and a white building with pillars. The entrance to Diagon Alley is through the white building! It was hidden and it was really neat to “find” the entrance.

Our first stop was the Gringotts Bank to ride Escape From Gringotts. The dragon on top of the building was amazing and shoots fire every 10 minutes.

Click to play

Even the ride’s queue lines were spectacular. We walked right through the
middle of the bank, with goblin tellers on either side. They moved, blinked,
and occasionally spoke. The line wrapped around to the back and traveled past bank vaults, offices, and record books. There were paintings and newspapers that spoke and moved.

The ride was a 3D adventure. There was a hill/drop towards the beginning, but it wasn’t too far. (If you know me, I hate rollercoasters but this one was ok as far as the drop went. It was totally worth it.) The graphics and interaction with the riders’ cars were impressive. Everyone agreed that it was our favorite ride of the day.

We stopped by Ollivanders to get a wand. We picked out our own wand, we did not do the experience/show. We bought one interactive wand for all of us to share. I picked a Willow Wand. There are spots around Diagon Alley that are for use with the interactive wands. (Think of Magi Quest if you have been to Great Wolf Lodge.) There are spots marked on the map you receive in your wand box and also by gold spots on the ground. We found that if you could find the sensors (black circle with red lights) it worked better. We explored the area and used our wand for a little bit.

Interactive wand map, trying out some spells

VIDEO CLIPS OF HARRY POTTER, ESCAPE FROM GRINGOTTS, WAND SPELLS, DRAGON FIRE

We had not eaten yet, so we stopped at the Leaky Cauldron. We ordered a
butterbeer, a frozen butterbeer, sticky toffee pudding, and a scotch egg. The
butterbeer tastes like butterscotch. The frozen butterbeer was similar to a slushy. We liked the frozen butterbeer the best.

We also stopped at the Gringotts Money Exchange. We only exchanged $10. The Gringotts money could be used in the Harry Potter area, changed back to US currency, or I think it would make a cute souvenir (if it was like $1).

We stopped at a souvenir store outside of Universal on our way back to the campground to get Nick a wand. It was about a huge difference in cost ($8.99+tax) compared to the non-interactive wands in the park ($49+tax) and was still labeled “Harry Potter”. The wands in Universal are made from resin. Nick’s wand seemed to be made of lighter weight plastic (it also was a pen and had a light at the tip). For smaller kids who don’t know the difference and will quickly loose interest, or even older kids who just wants it as a souvenir, it might be a good way to go.