Blishens-Fire-Whiskey

Blishen’s Fire Cinnamon Flavoured Whiskey Now Available at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Universal Studios Orlando

This week, Universal Studios added another Wizarding World beverage option to their range of themed libations: “The King of Whiskies” Blishen’s Fire Cinnamon Flavoured Whiskey is now available as single or double shots, and as a mix-in to certain existing themed beverages.

Currently, Blishen’s Fire Cinnamon Flavoured Whiskey is only available at The Hopping Pot in Diagon Alley, and The Hog’s Head Pub in Hogsmeade. Full-size 750ml bottles featuring a beautiful full-color with gold foil embossed label are on display at each location to promote the addition of the whiskey, but the bottles themselves are not for sale.

Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. filed a trademark for “The King of Whiskies” Blishen’s Fire Cinnamon Flavoured Whiskey in April 2014, and it was approved by February 2015. The trademark includes the label design in various formats which we can assume will start appearing on souvenirs, apparel and other items in the near future.

Universal Studios partnered with TerraPURE Spirits in North Charleston, SC to develop this private label handcrafted 35% Alc. By Vol. (70 Proof) cinnamon flavoured whiskey.

Shutterbuttons

Shutterbutton’s Top-Notch Shots Moving Pictures Souvenir Video from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley (Universal Studios Orlando)

As an early Father’s Day gift, my Dad and I created a moving pictures album at Shutterbutton’s in Diagon Alley. This hidden gem is a wonderful experience, and creates a magical memory.

It is located within the same interior space as, and behind Quality Quidditch Supplies, next to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.  A dedicated entrance is also off of Carkitt Market near The Hopping Pot beverage stand, and adjacent to the Merperson statue that spits water.

Wearing the house robe of your choice, you are directed through 12 scenes against a green screen in a private filming booth. Afterward, you are given a short preview on screen of your finished moving pictures, and then are provided with a DVD copy that comes housed in a keepsake steelcase with Shutterbutton’s graphics.  A digital copy is also sent to you via email, and hosted via Universal’s PhotoConnect which is the same service that supports the delivery of the digital on-ride photos and character meet and greet photos.

The entire process takes no more than 20 minutes once you enter the filming booth and here is the result from our experience:

Ollivanders-Wand-Selection-Ceremony

Ollivander’s Wand Selection Ceremony Videos – Hogsmeade & Diagon Alley – at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Orlando)

A special experience for young wizards or witches is that of being chosen for the special wand selection ceremony. This is a show for all in attendance, and the experience is available at both Ollivander’s Wand Shops (in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley) at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Orlando. A very popular attraction, both shows take place in a separate, private area from the main retail shop and feature dialogue, interaction, music and special effects that recreate a similar experience to that of Harry Potter finding his first wand.

Below, are our own videos and photos of the wand selection ceremony at each location:

Hogsmeade:

 
Photo Gallery:

Diagon Alley:

 
Photo Gallery:

Harry-Potter-and-the-Escape-from-Gringotts-Climax

Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts – Closed for Two (2) Days from February 25-26, 2015

One of our many visits to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley was on February 24-26, 2015.  Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts was open only on the first day of our visit, with 1.5 hour wait times in both the regular and Single Rider lines.  So much so, that they closed the Single Rider line as it was exceeding the regular wait time.  Having never seen the “extended” area of the ride, we took the time to wait, and take a few new photos of the extended queue area as well as some updated photos of the interior queue and pre-show.

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts was completely closed for the next two days for “preventative maintenance” which we later found out was actually to repair a damaged portion of the screen from the climax scene of the ride.

While this information has not been confirmed officially by Universal, according to inside-sources, testing was being done on the ride Tuesday night, which is standard procedure. During the testing, an accident may have occurred during the climax scene… SPOILERS AHEAD: in which Harry, Ron and Hermione – with the help of the Ukranian Ironbelly dragon – rescue guests and pull them up from the caverns of the Gringotts vaults. During this effect, the ride vehicles launch forward through a cloud of steam just after KUKA arm (the same robotic arm that powers Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride) removes a portion of the screen in order to allow the vehicles to pass through. Apparently, that evening during testing, something prevented the screen from moving which resulted in a vehicle smashing into it.

As of February 27, 2015, the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride has safely re-opened.

Diagon-Alley-Fireworks

VIDEO: Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular Fireworks – View from Diagon Alley

100 Years of classic Universal film clips are projected onto cutting-edge waterfall screens within the Universal Studios Florida lagoon, surrounded by colorful, synchronized fountains, and pyrotechnics against a stirring musical score:

Harry-Potter-and-the-Escape-from-Gringotts-Extended-Queue

Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts – Extended Ride Queue Photos

One of our many visits to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley was on February 24-26, 2015.  Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts was open only on the first day of our visit, with 1.5 hour wait times in both the regular and Single Rider lines.  So much so, that they closed the Single Rider line as it was exceeding the regular wait time.  Having never seen the “extended” area of the ride, we took the time to wait, and take a few new photos of the extended queue area as well as some updated photos of the interior queue and pre-show.

Visit our full review from September 2014 of the queue and ride with extensive photo gallery

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts was completely closed for the next two days for “preventative maintenance” which we later found out was actually to repair a damaged portion of the screen from the climax scene of the ride.

Read our full article to learn more about what may have happened to instigate a 2 day closure of the ride.

Ride-Queue

Ride Experience & Single Riders Line at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort

I recommend going through the “normal” or full lines for every ride the first time you ride them.  The ride queues are an experience unto themselves and often help to set-up the story for the ride experience and immerse you in the environment which really adds to the experience.

Ride Experience

Many of the rides leverage the most technically advanced systems in the world, with intricately timed visual, audio and engineering systems that have to work in sync to produce the experience… so at times there are glitches!

If a ride has any complications at all… such as poor/missing audio, screens that do not display or anything else like that that seems “off” – don’t be shy and definitely tell the ride operator as soon as you exit the ride vehicle – and before leaving the loading area – that you experienced an issue.

Be as detailed as possible with describing the issue(s), at what point during the ride the issue happened, and they will most often be very grateful and allow you to re-ride immediately by going through the Child Swap area and not having to wait in line again!  For 3-D rides, you will surrender your glasses as usual for security/sanitary reasons, and they will give you a new clean pair before you re-board the ride.

Single Riders Line

After your first ride, you could consider the “Single Riders” line (if available) because you can get back on the ride usually quicker, but at the expense of bypassing most of the themed queue (e.g. a shortcut).  In this line, you must go 1 at a time even if you are in a group, as the Single Rider line is used to fill-in the ride vehicles whenever there is an odd numbered party and empty seat.  Often your wait will be less than half of the normal posted time, but a lot of people have caught onto this technique, and sometimes it’s actually the same amount of time or longer!

Most importantly: have fun, do everything you can, and immerse yourself in the experience!


Previous Tip: Carrying Bags, Using Lockers & Shopping at Universal Orlando Resort

Next Tip: Coming Soon!  In the meantime, check out our vast Photo Galleries

Butterbeer

Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Saving on Food & Drink at Universal Orlando Resort

Butterbeer

Butterbeer is THE most popular drink in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and you cannot get it anywhere else in the world, except at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.

Butterbeer has been especially developed by the culinary experts at Universal Orlando Resort, and is described as “reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch”.  The base beverage is very similar to a cream soda, and all of the beverage versions (see below) are topped with a bubbly foam that infuses the beverage with vanilla and  butterscotch notes.

At Universal Orlando Resort, Butterbeer is available in 4 versions:

  • Cold Butterbeer (similar to a soft drink)
  • Frozen Butterbeer (similar to a smoothie)
  • Hot Butterbeer (only available during the “winter” months)
  • Butterbeer Ice Cream (soft-serve)

Not all locations serve all 4 versions, but for the cold and frozen variety – which are the most popular – there are several spots to buy them in each park.

We have found the shortest lines for Butterbeer can be found as follows:

Hogsmeade
Inside The Hog’s Head Pub which is attached to the Three Broomsticks sit-down restaurant, but also has its own front entrance so you can just order from the bar and see the Hog’s Head on the wall move and snort while you wait!  In Hogsmeade you can only get the cold and frozen varieties of Butterbeer.

Diagon Alley
The Hopping Pot beverage stand is integrated into the building facades and located at the rear of the Carkitt Market annex of Diagon Alley near where the live stage shows are performed.  At this location you can get all 4 varieties of Butterbeer!

Saving on Food & Drink

We recommend:

  • Eat light snacks throughout the day versus big sit-down meals
  • Consider a kids’ meal option to keep the meal less “heavy” and also cheaper
  • Consider a Dining Plan which will earn you a discount on your first meal, and include a snack and beverage for later in the day

 

Lockers

Carrying Bags, Using Lockers & Shopping at Universal Orlando Resort

When visiting Universal Orlando Resort, I recommend travelling as light as possible.

Carrying Bags

I do not recommend bringing a bag, purse or backpack at all, and only carrying what you can fit into your pockets (money, ID, cards, sunglasses, tickets, small camera/phone).  That way you can avoid the extra time and stress of using the free lockers (for the 1st hour) outside every ride.

I usually go straight from the airport on arrival to the parks since you can’t check-into the hotel until 4pm anyway.  So, I usually just pack a small backpack for the trip, and then rent a standard locker which can be found just inside the park near the entrance/exit of whatever park we plan to be in the latest that day – and leave my bag there all day instead of carrying it around.

For larger bags like roll-aboards (which I recommend not using unless you are going for more than 3 days), there is a Guest Services area right inside the gate after you enter Universal Studios Florida (not Islands of Adventure) called “Studio Audience Center” that will hold the bag for you for free all day with a photo ID presented at drop-off and pickup.

Using Lockers

None of the rides allow bags or loose items of any kind, and every ride has a bank of adjacent lockers for these items.  The ride staff are very strict about enforcing this policy, and there are several checkpoints along the ride queue to ensure you are not bringing any bulky items with you.  I have seen people actually at the point of boarding a ride vehicle with those small drawstring backpacks or hip pouches that take up no room and could be sat “against”, but they were asked to leave the vehicle and were directed to the locker area which is outside the entire ride and line area, in order to store their belongings and get back in line.

Using the ride lockers is by far the biggest time drain and nightmare experience, because the locker bays are very cramped, and of all the people who do not know any better are fumbling through the whole process of “renting” a locker or re-opening a locker which involves various steps on a single touch-screen that serves a bank of lockers, including:

  • Language selection
  • Action desired (rent a locker or open a locker)
  • Select size of locker (certain locations)
  • Select location of locker (top, middle, bottom)
  • Estimated time needed
  • Enter 6-digit security code
  • Complete payment (for usage beyond the 1st hour)
  • Fingerprint scan (certain locations)

… not to mention remembering where your locker is in the first place, and then working your way through all of the people to actually get to the touch-screen that services that bank of lockers.

If you travel “light”, then that time will not be needed and you can walk right into the line for the ride without having to stop and “rent” or “re-open” a locker.

Shopping

As with carrying around bags or backpacks, I recommend the same for shopping bags.  Save your shopping for the end of the day when you don’t plan to go on any more rides.  Shops are open up to an hour after park closing, and the resort shops along CityWalk and inside the hotels are open much later and often carry much of the same things you can get in the parks.

Most, if not all, of the shops will ship your purchases to your home address via UPS if desired, and if you are staying at a hotel on property, they will actually deliver your purchases to your room so you don’t have to carry them around!


Previous Tip: Arriving at Universal Orlando Resort – Transportation Hub, Security Checkpoint & Ticketed Entry Process

Next Tip: Ride Experience & Single Riders Line at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort

Transportation-Hub

Arriving at Universal Orlando Resort – Transportation Hub, Security Checkpoint & Ticketed Entry Process

Whether you are arriving by car, taxi, bus, drop-off or shuttle, you will begin your journey by passing through an expansive, elevated Transportation Hub that includes an information desk, security checkpoints, bag check and moving sidewalks that progress you along an elevated pathway toward CityWalk and then through to the entrances to each park.

Transportation Hub

Except for those walking to the parks, you will enter the hub and go through security at the same location which is a central hub with various “spokes” that service the parking decks which are accessed at the same elevation, and the guest drop-off areas which are at ground level and require a trip up an escalator or stairs to get to the hub.

Security Checkpoint

Often the bag check/security checkpoint can be very crowded since all methods of entry funnel into this hub area.

You can do a few things to expedite this process for both yourself, and those waiting behind you:

  1. Look for the “no bag” line at the far left.  If you don’t have a bag, use this line – even if you are travelling with others who need to have their bags checked.  This courtesy will cut-down on the volume of people waiting in line for the bag check process.
  2. Have all the pockets on your bags “unzipped” in advance before you approach the security guard, so they can check inside quickly.  Otherwise they will have you take a step back to do this, and check other people while you are preparing your bag as requested.
  3. Unzip and remove smaller bags that are inside your larger bags, such as toiletry kits or make-up bags.
  4. Avoid bringing beverages.  Guards may also ask you to throw away any water bottles or beverages before entering the park.   This is relatively a new policy, and may have just been in place for Mardi Gras to avoid alcohol being brought in secretly, but just in case… you have been advised!
  5. You do not need your park ticket at this point… so keep that in your pocket or packed away during the security process.

NOTE: When approaching the parks on foot – using the pathways and directional signs – you will terminate your walk at the Valet parking drop-off area, which is actually on the opposite side of the hub from the parking decks and drop-off areas, and as such, closer-in to CityWalk and often less crowded for bag check/security.

Ticketed Entry Process

Every time you enter either park through the front gates – or whenever connecting from one park to another via the Hogwarts Express – you will go through the following process, so be prepared:

  1. Present your ticket to the ticket taker
  2. The ticket taker will scan the barcode on your ticket
  3. Biometric scan – place your finger on the scanner
  4. Green light = proceed
  5. Red light = re-scan your finger*

*NOTE: choose your finger to scan carefully the first time you enter, as you must use the same finger every time you re-scan or the system will not see it as a match.


Previous Tip: Selecting a Hotel for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Orlando)

Next Tip: Carrying Bags, Using Lockers & Shopping at Universal Orlando Resort