10 Things you MUST do at Universal Orlando

My family LOVES Universal Orlando!

10 Things you MUST do at Universal Orlando! Learn about rides and attractions you can't miss! What's new and coming soon at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and more with family vacation and travel tips. LivingLocurto.com

We have traveled to this amazing park for the last three years with the Family Forward Retreat for bloggers and their families. Not only have we made a ton of great family memories, but I’ve been inspired to make Butterbeer Microwavable Cake, homemade butterbeer and several of Minions party ideas.

Gringotts Bank Dragon Diagon Alley. 10 Things you MUST do at Universal Orlando! Learn about rides and attractions you can't miss! What's new and coming soon at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and more with family vacation and travel tips. LivingLocurto.com

People always ask me what they should do at the park, so I thought I’d write an article for you and any of your friends who might be planning a family vacation to Orlando!

As a part of the Family Forward bloggers, we get the inside scoop about what’s new and what is coming soon. I hope you enjoy this list of exciting things to do at Universal Orlando. Learn about some new attractions and also things that my family enjoys the best.

10 Things you MUST do at Universal Orlando! Learn about rides and attractions you can't miss! What's new and coming soon at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and more with family vacation and travel tips. LivingLocurto.com

To help those who have already traveled to Universal Orlando,  I’ll start with what’s new to the park and what I’m personally most excited to tell you about! I hope you enjoy these family vacation travel tips.

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A Harry Potter Tour of London

The Great Hall at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London (Courtesy Warner Bros. Studio Tour London)

The Great Hall at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London (Courtesy Warner Bros. Studio Tour London)

London plays a pivotal role in the Harry Potter books and movies. It’s where Harry takes the Hogwarts Express to Hogwarts, where Diagon Alley hides behind the Leaky Cauldron, and where the Order of the Phoenix kept their headquarters, to name a few. The city, therefore, is simply crammed full of kid-friendly spots, landmarks and attractions that the average Harry Potter fan will relish visiting. Here are some of the best ones.

With the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book scheduled for release in a couple of days and the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie slated in November, it’s the best time to take a Harry Potter tour of London.

King’s Cross Station

Trolley at Platform 9¾, King’s Cross Station (Flickr: City.and.Color)

Trolley at Platform 9¾, King’s Cross Station (Flickr: City.and.Color)

In the Harry Potter series, King’s Cross Station is where Harry and his schoolmates take the Hogwarts Express to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, located somewhere in Scotland, from the Muggle-hidden Platform 9¾. This makes perfect sense as many trains leaving London to Edinburgh, another city that help inspire the series, take off from this station. These days, King’s Cross Station is a mecca for HP fans, thanks to Harry’s luggage trolley that’s sticking out of the wall at Platform 9¾ (it’s the perfect photo opportunity, but the line is almost always long). Right next door is the Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9¾, which sells wizarding world artifacts, souvenirs and gear.

Harry Potter Studios Tour
Take a National Railway train from neighboring Euston Station, a 10-minute walk away from King’s Cross, to Watford Junction where you can take a bus to the kid-friendly Warner Bros. Studio Tour London in Leavesden. The building, which used to be an aircraft and aircraft engine factory, was turned into a production studio by Warner Bros. and is still being used today for filming. It is, however, more popularly known as the filming location for many scenes in the eight Harry Potter movies. It was the Hogwarts Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office, the Black Lake, the Ministry of Magic, and many other iconic places in the series. Today, Harry Potter fans from all over the world visit the studio to not only see props, costumes and artifacts from the movies, but also walk through the still existing sets, including the Great Hall, Diagon Alley and the Gryffindor Common Room. Visitors can also see the Knight Bus, Number 4 Privet Drive and Hagrid’s Hut. Afterwards, there’s Butterbeer and Butterbeer Ice Cream to enjoy and plenty of shopping to be done.

Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market (Flickr: DncnH)

Leadenhall Market (Flickr: DncnH)

Head back to London and walk around one of the city’s most beautiful markets. Leadenhall Market, a covered market on Gracechurch Street, is one of London’s most photographed markets and frequented by both locals and visitors in search of fresh produce as well as dry commodities. Vendors and stores here sell everything from clothes to flowers to meats and cheese. The beautiful Victorian architecture and ornate high ceiling that the family-friendly market boasts are enough for a proper visit, but Harry Potter fans have another good reason. The market has also been used as filming locations in a number of films, the most notable of which is the first Harry Potter film. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Hagrid led Harry through Leadenhall Market to get to Diagon Alley. The entrance to the Leaky Cauldron was also filmed here, at an optician in Bull’s Head Passage.

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus (Flickr: Moyan Brenn)

Piccadilly Circus (Flickr: Moyan Brenn)

It may be London’s version of Times Square and it can be crowded, but family-friendly Piccadilly Circus is certainly worth a visit at least once during your London vacation. The famous road junction in Westminster boasts massive screens and neon signs, beautiful architecture, public sculptures, a memorial fountain (that they turn into a giant snow globe during the holidays), shops, and some nightlife (for moms and dads looking to spend a night away from the kids). It’s also where Hermione apparated with Harry and Ron after escaping the Death Eaters attack at Bill and Fleur’s wedding. It’s that scene where they appeared right in the middle of the bustling street and almost got run over by a London bus.

Clapham Junction
Take the Tube from Piccadilly to Victoria and grab a train to Clapham Junction, an area in Battersea southwest of Westminster. It didn’t play an important part in the Harry Potter series; only that neighboring Clapham is home to minor characters Sturgis Podmore and Stan Shunpike. However, it does play a historical one in the creation of the series. Clapham Junction was where JK Rowling lived when she began writing her legendary series, after the story idea formed in her mind during a delayed train trip from Manchester to London.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Play

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Courtesy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Courtesy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)

If you’re going to do the Harry Potter tour of London right, you’ll need to add the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play to your itinerary. The newest installment to the series, co-written by JK Rowling herself, is a two-part West End stage play that follows a grown Harry as he struggles with adulthood as well as a past that’s come back to haunt him and his family. Watch part one and two on the same day or on two consecutive evenings, if you can manage to obtain the highly in-demand tickets that is. While now in previews at the Palace Theatre London, the play is officially opening to the public on July 30, a day before the book goes on sale.

 

Michelle Rae Uy contributed this to MiniTime. She is a travel writer based in Los Angeles and MiniTime’s Head of Content, who spends her free time on adventures and film photography.

 

More from MiniTime:

Insider Guide: London

Exploring One of London’s Oldest Neighborhoods with Kids

Coolest Olympic Stadiums to Visit with the Kids

The Most Magical Harry Potter Nursey Goes Viral

Do you believe in magic? You just might after you see this Harry Potter themed nursery!

I didn’t read the series until I was in college but I was hooked from the first chapter and still love it deeply, even after all this time. I dressed my oldest son up as Harry for Halloween when he was 2, my husband sewed him a custom cloak (because I don’t sew) and I crocheted him a matching scarf in the Gryffindor house colors. Nerd alert, but in the best sort of way.

This Harry Potter themed nursery is going above and beyond the requirements of true Potter fandom and I’m all for it. Heck, I kind of want it to be my bedroom and I’m almost 35 years old. The details are incredible down to the owl humidifier and custom mural.

J.K. Rowling would be so proud, I know it!

*all photos from Kaycee Daniel via Scary Mommy

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via Kaycee Daniel

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via Kaycee Daniel

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via Kaycee Daniel

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via Kaycee Daniel

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via Kaycee Daniel

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via Kaycee Daniel

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via Kaycee Daniel

I keep waiting for my letter to Hogwarts anyway, maybe something like this would speed the process up?

 

New Offerings at Universal Studios Hollywood This 2016

Hogwarts Castle and the Flight of the Hippogriff are among Universal Studios Hollywood's newest attractions (Courtesy Universal Studios Hollywood)

Hogwarts Castle and the Flight of the Hippogriff are among Universal Studios Hollywood’s newest attractions (Courtesy Universal Studios Hollywood)

It’s an even better year for one of California’s favorite theme park destinations. Last year saw the opening of Universal Studios Hollywood’s hits like the high-octane, multi-sensory Fast & Furious Supercharged and the unique Nighttime Studio Tour. This 2016, the family-friendly theme park is taking it up a notch with the launch of not just one but two major attractions, including the much-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Needless to say, there’s never been a great time to visit!

Here are a few awesome things families must check out at Universal Studios Hollywood this year.

 

(MORE: Family Survival Guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley)
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogsmead at Universal Studios Hollywood (Courtesy Universal Studios Hollywood)

Hogsmead at Universal Studios Hollywood (Courtesy Universal Studios Hollywood)

It’s one of California’s much-awaited attractions, and the wait is almost over. Apparating in the heart of Universal Studios Hollywood this April 7 is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, based on JK Rowling’s beloved magical world. Take the kids to explore the cobblestone streets of Hogsmeade, which is bustling with the famous series’ memorable establishments like Honeydukes, Zonko’s Joke Shop and the Owl Post. Families can participate in the grand tradition of wand fitting at Ollivanders (character wands are available), and then later visit Hogwarts Castle, where the super exciting, super immersive 3D-HD “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride awaits. The kids will want to go on this ride over and over again. Also in store, kid-friendly rollercoaster “Flight of the Hippogriff” and a treasure trove of Harry Potter merchandise for some good old retail therapy.

Traditional English Food AND Butterbeer

Shepherd’s Pie at Three Broomsticks (Courtesy Universal Studios Hollywood)

Shepherd’s Pie at Three Broomsticks (Courtesy Universal Studios Hollywood)

The only thing better than having a magical adventure at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is sampling the delicious fares that Harry Potter and his friends themselves feasted on in the books. And if the traditional English dishes served at Three Broomsticks and Hog’s Head are as good as their Universal Orlando counterparts, then families visiting Universal Hollywood are in for a delicious treat. English breakfast, lunch and dinner items like Bangers & Mash, Shepherd’s Pie and Fish & Chips are on the menu at Three Broomsticks, as is the addictive Butterbeer, based on the popular drink in the series, that come cold or frozen. We love the frozen version. Meanwhile, Hog’s Head serve WWoHP alcoholic drinks for moms and dad; Wizard’s Brew, Hog’s Head Brew and Fire Whisky, to name a few.

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead maze at Universal Studios Hollywood (Courtesy Universal Studios Hollywood)

The Walking Dead maze at Universal Studios Hollywood (Courtesy Universal Studios Hollywood)

While not for the little ones, big kids and adults no doubt love one of Halloween Horror Night’s most popular mazes, an attraction that Lauren Cohen (Maggie) herself approves of. Everybody enjoys a good scare, right? The great news is Universal Studios Hollywood is turning the thrilling “The Walking Dead” maze into one of its permanent attractions at the park, expected to open in the summer. The chilling maze will feature more than state-of-the-art special effects and realistic animatronic zombies; although those are also in the mix. The walk-through attraction will also boast some live walkers as well as props and areas replicated from the AMC hit show, a feature that big fans of the series will really appreciate and find immersive. This one’s for families with big kids, tweens and teens; but beware, the maze has never been for the faint-hearted.

 

(MORE: Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley Mixes Fire and Ice)
LudoBird

LudoBird at Universal Studios Hollywood (Courtesy Ludo Lefebvre)

LudoBird at Universal Studios Hollywood (Courtesy Ludo Lefebvre)

Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s popular LudoTruck may have permanently retired its engine a few years ago, but it doesn’t mean the end of the world renowned chef’s fried chicken specialty. On March 26, LudoBird will officially open its doors to Universal Hollywood visitors at the CityWalk, a fantastic news for fried chicken lovers everywhere (and who isn’t?!) The second LudoBird location, the first one being at Staples Center, will boast a menu of delicious fried chicken creations like fried chicken sandwich and chicken strips, side dishes like the honey-drenched lavender biscuit and, of course, signature sauces.

 

Michelle Rae Uy contributed this to MiniTime. She is a travel writer based in Los Angeles and MiniTime’s Head of Content, who spends her free time on adventures and film photography.

 

More from MiniTime:

15 Reasons to Travel More with the Kids

Great Spots to Get Back to Nature in the US Virgin Islands

How to Score Cheap Flights to the Caribbean

Homemade Butterbeer Recipe

This homemade Butterbeer Recipe is a perfect treat for all Harry Potter lovers!

This homemade Butterbeer Recipe is a perfect treat for all Harry Potter lovers!

Homemade Harry Potter Butterbeer Recipe!

Our wands are packed because we’re headed to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter tonight.  We can’t wait for the magic to begin! We love Universal Orlando and we can already smell the Butterbeer. If you can’t  make it to the park, Homemade Harry Potter Butterbeer is very easy to make with this homemade recipe.

Butterbeer from Universal Orlando is a very sweet drink and comes in a frozen version or regular topped with a tasty foam. I can’t make it exactly like they do at home, but sure came close!

This homemade Butterbeer Recipe is a perfect treat for all Harry Potter lovers!

I was excited to share my fun and very delicious recipe for Microwaveable Butterbeer Cake in a Mug earlier this week. Did you see the video? It’s such an easy and yummy treat!

Harry Potter Butterbeer - Microwave Cake in a Mug! LivingLocurto.com

Make Some Homemade Butterbeer!

If you really want to feel like you are in the world of spells and adventure, but prefer a tasty Butterbeer drink instead of cake, make a batch of Homemade Harry Potter Butterbeer with this easy recipe.

We can’t wait to drink the real thing in Orlando. Enjoy this Butterbeer recipe at home, fill up a mug and maybe even share one with a friend!

–> Follow the Harry Potter fun on my Instagram feed here.

 

Harry Potter Butterbeer Recipe

This Homemade Butterbeer Recipe is a perfect treat for all Harry Potter lovers!

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 2 cups cream soda ice cubes (freeze cream soda in ice cube trays)
  • 2 teaspoons butter extract
  • 4 tablespoons butterscotch syrup or ice cream topping (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 cup cream soda
  • pinch of salt
  • whipped cream for topping
  1. Put all of the ingredients excluding the whipped cream in a blender and whip it until smooth.
  2. Pour in your favorite frozen mug, top with whipped cream and butterscotch syrup. Enjoy!!

 

The post Homemade Butterbeer Recipe appeared first on Living Locurto.

Harry Potter Butterbeer Cake in a Mug

Homemade Harry Potter Butterbeer - Microwave Cake in a Mug. Easy recipe that's perfect for a Harry Potter Themed Party. LivingLocurto.com

I often get asked if I have any recipes or craft ideas for a Harry Potter themed birthday party. Well, look no further Harry Potter fans!! Today I’ve got some fantastic ideas for you!

First of all, I’m super excited to share this delicious Harry Potter Butterbeer Cake in a Mug! The BEST thing about this cake recipe is you bake it in the microwave. It only takes a few minutes to make this tasty treat.

How cute would this Butterbeer Cake in a Mug look on a Harry Potter party table? Instead of the usual cake or cupcakes, all you need are some glass beer mugs for a magical party display!

Since you can make it in the microwave, it’s perfect for quick treats for one or two people anytime of the day!

Homemade Harry Potter Butterbeer - Microwave Cake in a Mug. Easy recipe that's perfect for a Harry Potter Themed Party. LivingLocurto.com

I’m going to make some Butterbeer Cake for my kids before we go to Universal Orlando this weekend. We can’t wait to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with our friends from Family Forward. Yay! This will be our second year of VIP treatment on this amazing family conference for bloggers… I think we’re getting spoiled!

Homemade Harry Potter Butterbeer - Microwave Cake in a Mug. Easy recipe that's perfect for a Harry Potter Themed Party. LivingLocurto.com

Instead of my usual recipe post, I did a video for you! I’m a visual person and really enjoy watching and making videos. I would LOVE if you clicked over to my Youtube channel and subscribe here.

Living-Locurto-DIY-Party-Videos-on-YouTube

I teamed up with my friend Maggy from Red Ted Art to create some amazing Harry Potter Themed Party Ideas! She made some homemade wands that are so incredible! Her wands are an easy DIY craft that anyone can make. Perfect for party favors or a Harry Potter fan!

Harry Potter DIY Party Ideas - Butterbeer Cake in a Mug and Homemade Wand Craft by Living Locurto and Red Ted Art

 

Watch how to make Butterbeer Cake in a Mug

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