In early February, my sister and I flew off to Orlando for a wonderful girl’s bachelorette weekend. I picked Orlando as our destination simply because I’ve never been to a Disney park and have always wanted to go. That, and I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. So what better way to spend a few days than visiting both Disney World and Harry Potter World?!
We stayed at The Point Hotel, which I absolutely loved and would highly recommend. It was super close to Harry Potter World and the other Universal Parks, as well as right in the middle of a bunch of restaurant and shopping access. We got our room for a really great price and it even had two king beds, which I’ve never experienced in a hotel before. We had lots and lots of space to spread out!
We got there Friday evening, so after unpacking we took a short Uber over to The Whiskey for dinner. A live musician was playing awesome covers and while very loud, the atmosphere was fun and lively, perfect to get our bachelorette trip started. Known for their burgers, we skipped out on that one and opted for salads and of course, a whole plate of fries. All of it was scrumptious.
The next morning, we woke early to make our way to Universal Studios. The Point Hotel concierge sells tickets to all the parks right there in the lobby and even offers a free shuttle. After grabbing our tickets, we headed over to Universal’s Islands of Adventure first, where Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade attraction is.
Tip: There are two Harry Potter Worlds- Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley- in two different Universal Parks. In order to access both, you have to purchase a park hopper ticket which is more costly than the single park ticket. We purchased the park hopper ticket and I’m so glad we did, as each World offers a very different experience.
It takes a really long time to get to Hogsmeade once you enter the park. They basically make you walk through the whole park to get there, so be prepared! My sister dragged me, against my will, to the Skull Island: Reign of Kong ride, where we walked through dark caves, dodging mummies as they popped out and grabbed us (not fun, by the way), culminating in a thrilling ride that maybe someone, somewhere who doesn’t have anxiety would enjoy!
Once we found Hogsmeade, I was transported into a magical world of pure delight. This park is so gorgeous and enchanting with its snow topped buildings and an abundance of butter beer. We stopped to watch a musical show right behind Hogwarts (performed every 30 minutes) and it was well worth it.
After visiting Ollivanders wand shop and watching a wand pick its wizard, we decided to stop and eat lunch at Three Broomsticks.
Tip: If you have food allergies like I do (wheat, dairy, eggs), and you’re planning on eating at one of the Harry Potter parks, it’s best to go to Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. I checked online ahead of time and the restaurant in Diagon Alley only had snack-like foods that I couldn’t eat. Three Broomsticks, however, offers salads and plates that can be more easily catered to those with food allergies. Also be aware that the butter beer is not dairy free. I asked!
Next, we made our way to Hogwarts Station and took the Hogwarts Express over to the other Universal Park, Universal Studios Florida.
Tip: The Hogwarts Express doesn’t really drop you off right into Diagon Alley. There’s a secret entrance that you’ll have to find to make your way into that park. I’m embarrassed to say that it took us a little longer than I liked for us to figure this one out! Just watch for the people ducking away to the left of the station once you come out.
Diagon Alley, while visually stunning, wasn’t my favorite. I much preferred Hogsmeade, if only for the energy of the park. Diagon Alley was extremely crowded and since it’s in a more enclosed space, it felt a bit overwhelming at times. It seems there was much more to do and see at this park but it was hard to do so when it was so busy.
For dinner, we were excited to try Cooper Hawk’s Restaurant and Winery. We made a reservation ahead of time as it tends to get booked. We got there early and got a glass of wine at the bar, where you can also do tastings of their wines. Then, we ate a wonderful meal of modern casual dining. They have a separate gluten free menu and were happy to work with me on my other allergies.
If you’re nearby, make your way over to Mango International Cafe. We happened to stumble into their famous “Dinner and Show” without even realizing! Every night, the restaurant puts on an amazing Latin-themed show with dancing, singing, and more. It was so much fun to watch that we actually went out salsa dancing ourselves afterwards.
The next day, we finally made our way over to Disney World!! Since we had limited time, we could only choose one park and I decided on Magic Kingdom as it’s supposedly the most quintessential representation of Disney.
Tip: Once you arrive and park or get dropped off, be prepared to take a ferry or shuttle to the park. The shuttle was malfunctioning when we got there so we had to take the ferry along with everyone else, so we waited a long, long time and it was kind of a mess. The ferry ride was a fun way to see the sights though and I would recommend it over the shuttle train.
We immediately found a shop where we could buy ears- even purchasing some with a veil attached so that I looked like proper bachelorette- and began our pictures in front of the stunning Cinderella castle.
Tip: If you try to take pictures in front of the castle, there will be about a million other people in the background. Walk around the park a bit and you’ll find a bridge towards the back of the castle which is way better suited for pictures and you still get the beautiful, magical feel of the castle!
As was established at Universal, I’m not big on thrilling rides, so we looked for rides that anyone and their dog could enjoy without an ounce of fear and we chose The Little Mermaid ride. The line was only about 25 minutes and it was neat to see the story of The Little Mermaid as we rode “underwater” through caves. (There’s not actually any water involved).
The Plaza Restaurant, right off Main Street, was our convenient and yummy stop for lunch before I started my search for Tinkerbell. I’ve been obsessed with fairies since I was a child and Tinkerbell is my all time favorite character so pretty much the only reason I came to Disney World was to see her!
Tip: Tinkerbell’s meet and greet is a little hidden at first, which actually worked out great for me since there wasn’t a line to meet her at all! To meet Tinkerbell, head to the Town Square Theater, on your right side almost immediately after entering the park.
All in all, we had a wonderful time in Orlando. There was so much to do and see that we will definitely have to go back soon!! I’m sure all of the different Disney parks have their own flavor and flair. Which Disney park is your favorite??
*This post contains affiliate links. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own, and I plan all my travel independent of affiliates.*