Category Archives: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter

Restitution to my readers: it’s a do-over!

Β© Copyright 2012 | | CLICK any photo for a larger view

IMG_1095This is the first in a series of “do-over” posts that are being created to make up for the mobile blogging errors that occurred during my last trip to Orlando.

Intrepid readers, especially those who read this blog via RSS feed or email subscription, may have noticed that during my last trip to Orlando, there were some issues with the pictures that we’ve never had here before. For those reading via RSS reader or via email, my most recent mobile blogging efforts from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort didn’t display photos – just links or else nothing at all. This wasn’t random – there’s a reason.

This was the first time I used the WordPress app for iPhone to mobile blog an adventure. The photos are stored in a different spot than they were when I was using Flickr to mobile blog here, and I believe the anti-hotlinking settings caused the problem. My bad – didn’t know subscribers were going to be interpreted that way!

I feel terrible that people had to jump through hoops to see the photos, so guess what? Do-over! πŸ™‚ That’s right. We’re going to relive the trip, the good old fashioned way, using Flickr to host the photos. I’ll spread it out in posts over several days, to simulate an actual mobile blogging adventure. LOL, there’s something about that idea that just makes me laugh πŸ˜€ Laughter is good for us. So here we go…

The first thing one needs to do when embarking on a 3 hour drive from Fort Myers to Orlando is obtain sufficient fuel for the journey. That’s a grande-no-whip-mocha, purchased at 8:27 AM on Monday February 13th, if the time stamp on the original photo is to be believed. There’s a large heart logo on the cup which can be scanned with your phone using the Starbucks “Cup Magic” app. I’m not going to tell you what happens when you scan it, but it’s cute πŸ™‚


Mickey Ears On I-4 This is one of my famous “point and pray” shots; eyes on the road at all times, aim camera in general direction of target, hope for the best! I usually try to get this structure both coming and going. It’s on I-4, just west of the first exit for Walt Disney World (there are four exits, I believe).


Characters In Flight BONUS: another point and pray shot. I happened to get lucky and see Characters In Flight was aloft as I passed between exits 67 and 68. I was headed for exit 75A, Universal Blvd.


Room With A (Hogwarts) View This was the view from my room at the Four Points by Sheraton, Orlando Studio City. I am an SPG member (Starwood Preferred Guest) and I usually seem to score a Hogwarts view when I stay at this hotel, which I like a lot. It is pretty much always reasonably priced, it’s clean and comfortable and was redecorated fairly recently – maybe within a year and a half or thereabouts. Plus it is right outside the gates of Universal Orlando Resort, and I can stay there free using Starwood points. If you are interested in the Starwood program, click here to read more about it.


Just a stroll across the parking lot of the hotel is an International House of Pancakes. I happened to have a gift card left over from Christmas, and I was ravenously hungry, so it seemed hike a harmonic convergence. Off I went to have one of their “smart” meals before hitting the parks to meet up with friends.


I emerged from the iHop apparently in the nick of time, for an egret had already besmirched the windshield next to mine and had that look in his eye, like he wanted to leave his mark on a Toyota. Um, no. You go ‘way now, ok? πŸ˜‰


By 1:52 PM, this is where I was standing, waiting for the tram to take me into Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I was about to have some fun and frolic with a pair of old and dear friends (when I say “old”, I do not mean that we are ancient; I mean that we were all once young together πŸ˜‰ )

Stay tuned, there will be more – we are only just beginning!

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Upcoming Adventures: Food, Family, Fun, and More!

Β© Copyright 2011 | | CLICK any photo for a larger view

Good grief, have I got a ridiculous amount of adventures lined up in the next several months! Suddenly, we’re going from zero to 60 in a matter of seconds. I’m still not quite sure how this happened, but my dance card filled up rapidly and I’m looking for places to insert a breath or two πŸ˜‰

2010 Food and Wine Festival themingEPCOT International Food and Wine Festival at Walt Disney World | Yes, it’s that time of year again – Chez Bro and da fambly will be rocking Disney World starting next week. I’m going for just three nights, but that should be long enough to sample all the new goodies that will be offered this year. I hear there’s a Hawaii booth offering a really good mai tai… also looking forward to visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the wake of the announcement that there will be a new “land” developed there that’s based on the film AVATAR. This land will be focused on “living in harmony” with the environment. I hear there will be an “AVATAR 2” in 2014, and I’m wondering if they will be coordinating the opening of the new section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom with the opening of the film… that would be pretty exciting πŸ™‚

Arriving at CityWalk - Universal ResortUniversal Orlando Resort and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter | These days, I do not plan an expedition to Orlando without including a visit to Universal Orlando Resort in my plans. I am smitten with The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. While I don’t think there’s anything really new there to see or do, it’s kind of cool to wander through Universal Studios circa Halloween time – they do the place up nicely, so I’m looking forward to dropping by and taking it all in. One thing that won’t be available there YET is the new book Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey – guess I’ll have to pre-order from Amazon like the rest of the world!

IMG_2067-Naples-Florida-zoo-western-cougar-tongueFlorida Panther Festival | At first I thought, “oh dear, I’m going to miss it πŸ™ ” because it’s on a Saturday and as I will explain below, my Saturdays are all booked up through early November. Then I realized I could do one of the field trips that wasn’t on the same day as the festival, and I felt a bit better as soon as I signed up. So I’ll get to hike a bit through Corkscrew Swamp, something I’ve yet to do but it’s “on the list”. Eager not only to learn about and experience the swamp, but also to observe a naturalist in action, taking people on an adventure. I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow up… πŸ˜‰ DISCLAIMER: That is not a panther. I do not have a photo of a panther. However, I had a picture of a western cougar, and since they are the same species (but two different sub-species, separated by the Gulf of Mexico), and also since he is so cute with his tongue sticking out at me like that, I decided what the heck – western cougar it is LOL.

One down, two to go - the certificate I earned in June!Florida Master Naturalist – Freshwater Wetlands Module | Having completed the Coastal Systems module several months ago, and having had a total blast doing it – it’s like day camp for adults πŸ˜‰ – I am eager to begin the Freshwater Systems Module, immediately upon my return from Orlando. Every Saturday through the beginning of November, I’ll have lecture in the morning and then field trips in the afternoons. One of the field trips will happen in a place that is very familiar to me – the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, right here in Fort Myers. The rest of the field trips are in places up in Charlotte County, to places where I’ve never been before. Oh, yes! New adventures! And I get to learn how to kayak! Doesn’t this just keep getting better and better? πŸ™‚


Mote Marine mobile aquariumMote Marine Aquarium, Sarasota | Ever since I saw the “Mote Mobile” at the Mango Festival this past July, I’ve wanted to visit Mote Aquarium, which is about an hour north of Fort Myers, in Sarasota. It’s attached to a Marine Laboratory which was founded in 1955. As if the excitement of a new adventure isn’t enough, I have a Groupon for admission AND they’re opening a new exhibit in November called “Penguin Island”. Since I’m all booked up through the beginning of November, and since the Groupon expires 11/22, guess what I’ll be doing sometime in between? Yep, I’m Sarasota-bound πŸ™‚


It's Grinchmas! At Seuss LandingHoliday Meet in Orlando | This is becoming a habit – some friends from Ohio typically come to Orlando circa the first week of December each year, and I’ve met them there several times now. We are usually good for dinner somewhere special and an adult beverage crawl around the World Showcase in EPCOT. Of course, I’ll visit not only Walt Disney World but Universal Orlando as well. The SeussLand deco is beyond ridiculous; every possible square inch is covered in tinsel and lights in celebration of “Grinchmas”. I was thinking that this year, I might expand my “in search of Christmas” resort hop; I’ve pretty well covered the Port Orleans resorts, the Boardwalk, and Downtown Disney. It’s time to expand my repertoire! So if you have a favorite resort that you’d like me to visit for the Christmas decor, please leave a comment below and I will try to include it in my itinerary. Thanks!

122720103047Christmas In New York | One of the great ironies of my life is that I’ve yet to spend Christmas Day in my own home. I moved away from New York in 2006 and have been going “home” to Long Island for Christmas every year since then. I basically pull a plug-in two foot tree out of a box to enjoy for a few days before jetting off to points north, LL Bean flannel-lined jeans and waterproof Uggs in tow. I’m-a-skeered – last year, there was a blizzard while I was there! Well, I guess it wouldn’t make very much sense to have Uggs and not get to wear them in the snow. Plus, I bought a round-trip ticket, so I’ll be back in Florida eventually πŸ˜‰ It’s good for me to go north in the snow; it makes me grateful that I’m not stuck with it and that I get to come back here to warm, sunny Florida.

Well, that’s the adventure report for the rest of the year. If I add something, I’ll be sure to let you know – but I’m pretty much certain that’s all the adventure I can stand! Stay tuned, ’cause mobile blogging from Orlando starts SOON!

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Paying a visit to Poseidon

When they expand The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I wonder what will happen to this BEAUTIFUL temple? I hope TPTB discover a way to repurpose it in some way. Would be a shame for it to be demoished, even to make way for Diagon Alley.

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The view to the left

The view to the left, originally uploaded by Erin aka Tink*~*~*.

That’s Wet n Wild down there – not a park I’d go to at this stage of my life unless the nieces were desperate to experience it. But it looks like there’s a lovely setting for those hotels across the lake.

Sorry if you can see the dirt on the windows; they don’t open up this high (as well they shouldn’t!)

i think I will head over and knock around CityWalk for a bit, figure out what I want for dinner, and come back here for some homework.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter is over capacity

Wizarding World of Harry Potter is over capacity, originally uploaded by Erin aka Tink*~*~*.

They are handing out-window-of-time tickets just to get into that part of the park, never mind on the rides. we’re going to get some lunch.

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Mickey Monitor Reminds Me: TWO MORE SLEEPS!

Mickey Monitor Reminds Me: TWO MORE SLEEPS!, originally uploaded by Erin aka Tink*~*~*.

My youngest brother (a.k.a. "Chez Bro") and his family are in Orlando at the moment and they’ve invited me to come on over for the weekend. Far be it for me to turn down an invitation to see Da Mouse (oh yeah, and Da Fam too LOL). Most of the time will be spent at Walt Disney World but at least one day will be devoted to Universal and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Of course, I’ll be mobile blogging the entire time as we tour the parks, so stay tuned πŸ™‚ SEE YA REAL SOON!

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Boughs of holly adorn Zonko’s

Boughs of holly adorn Zonko’s, originally uploaded by Erin aka Tink*~*~*.

This is definitely a better time to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter than Halloween was! I can actually walk into the shops without waiting in a queue. Here we go into Zonko’s…

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Mythos at Islands of Adventure

Β© Copyright 2010 Tink *~*~*

The “Lost Continent” section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park has taken a hit to make way for the new “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” section. Casualties include:

  • The Flying Unicorn, a kiddie roller coaster, which has now been re-themed as Flight of the Hippogriff
  • The Enchanted Oak, a counter service restaurant that had the best ribs I’ve ever tasted on this entire planet, seems to have morphed into The Three Broomsticks – still counter service but with a decidedly English countryside twist to the menu
  • “Fire and Ice”, the feet-dangling-Erin-terrorizing double roller coaster, as been re-themed to reflect the Dragon Challenge in the Triwizard Tournament, an event around which Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was centered.

Still standing is the “Poseidon” themed section of the Lost Continent, including the award-winning Mythos restaurant. Inexplicably, I have always managed to miss dining at Mythos; one thing or another has prevented me from joining any of my friends and family there, thus far. So, if there is such a thing as a theme park “bucket list”, this would be on mine – lunch at Mythos. I have the feeling I’d better get to it sooner rather than later, before what remains of the Lost Continent becomes truly lost!

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Exited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – for today

Exited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – for today, originally uploaded by Erin aka Tink*~*~*.

I think they’ve made an error of scale in there. I know small and cozy is what merry olde English towns are like but it’s too small in there for the size of the crowd. You can’t even shop without standing in a line first. I didn’t even try to get near the castle. I’ll do that with the gang on Sunday.

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Driving back to the hotel #Starwood #SPG #Orlando

Driving back to the hotel #Starwood #SPG #Orlando, originally uploaded by Erin aka Tink*~*~*.

Here’s a look at "Pearly Gates, Jr." at night. i got the school monkey off my back for a few days and tomorrow I am switching hotels, so I need to get my act together tonight. I’ll be moving to a hotel that’s closer to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure. Looking forward to my New York friends coming into town for some Wizarding World of Harry Potter fun this weekend!

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Scenes From Islands Of Adventure

Β© Copyright 2010 Tink *~*~*

IMG_3947-Universal-IOA-Lucky-MonkeyπŸ™‚ As mentioned last week, I’ll be heading off to Orlando (very SOON!). After a two year hiatus, I am very much looking forward to visiting the Universal parks once more, particularly Islands of Adventure, where the new Harry Potter-themed land has been open for several months now.

This photo of the sign for the “Lucky Monkey” shop was taken close to the entrance of the Universal Islands of Adventure theme park. I always thought the monkey on this shop sign was very cute, and I wished he was for sale. I think I want him! Maybe I could reconstruct him out of Tinker Toys or something like that – what do you think? I think he’d make a fine addition to my toy basket πŸ˜‰

Here are a few more scenes from Universal Islands of Adventure that I think you’ll enjoy –


I believe the other side of this sign says “East Of The Sun” but I don’t seem to have photographed it so I’m just working from memory here. I do know that the part in the middle spins around and on the other side I suspect there’s a moon.


I remember taking this picture and having what I now realize was a premonition. I had the sense that I was preserving it in case it was ever destroyed. This was the ceiling of The Enchanted Oak, a counter service restaurant that has been torn down to make way for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Enchanted Oak had THE BEST BBQ RIBS EVAH. It was in the shape of a hollowed-out oak tree, and the center trunk was open to the “sky”. So the stained glass window in the ceiling was “the sky” and it was beautiful to look at, especially when the sun hit it just so. I’m glad I got a shot of it before it was removed!

OK, well that’s it – the next time you see a picture of the Universal parks here on this blog should be sometime late next week – I will be mobile photo blogging LIVE from Walt Disney World and Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure starting Saturday October 23rd. So, stay tuned! πŸ™‚

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You are now entering Universal Islands of Adventure

Β© Copyright 2010 Tink *~*~*

IMG_3913-Universal-Studios-globeA trek to Orlando is in my near future, and for the first time since 2007, the plan is to visit the Universal parks for a few days while I’m there. A passel of old pals from The Loverly Isle of Long (New York) will be coming down to take in the sights at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I can’t wait to see them and experience the new adventure with them! So, to honor the upcoming reunion at Universal and my excited anticipation of finally visiting Harry Potter, here are a few shots from 2007, just in time for Ruby Tuesday


Guest Services at Universal IOA, disguised as a Mediterranean-style hotel


“Mama” welcomes us to The Open Arms Hotel with – you guessed it! – open arms πŸ˜‰


OK, I’m ready for a little breakfast – let’s go to The Croissant Moon! More next week….

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – oh, the anticipation!

Β© Copyright 2010 Tink *~*~*

We’ve heard of “too big to fail”, now we have “too big to ride”!

Well, how depressing! Imagine that you’re a real Harry Potter fanatic and you have scrimped and saved and finally landed in Orlando. You make tracks toward Universal Islands of Adventure and head straight for the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter section. As you’re standing in the queue for your much-anticipated first ride on the new attraction Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, you can barely contain your excitement. Finally, it’s you’re turn to climb aboard the vehicle. You have a seat and pull down on the restraints. All this time, all this waiting, all this anticipation, only to find… you’re too big to ride!

A guest to whom this happened recently was featured in Orlando Attractions Magazine (link below). Well, he didn’t have to scrimp and save and fly, since he’s a local – but he did have the “too big to ride” experience. His name is Banks Lee and he seems to have taken it in stride. In fact, the incident has fueled his motivation to lose some weight. He’s blogging his odyssey toward fitting in the seat – I’m headed over there now to leave a comment with an encouraging word or two. Won’t you do the same?

Banks Lee and the Three Clicks

Good luck, Mr. Lee!

Are you too big to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey? | Orlando Attractions Magazine Blog.

NBC’s sneak peek at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

In the event that you missed it, and even if you didn’t miss it and you just want to see it again – here’s a video that aired just a few nights ago on NBC, which shows how The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was conceived, architected and constructed. There’s a sneak peak of some unique footage that was shot specifically for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey using new technology developed specifically for this attraction. It’s 21 minutes long – NO COMMERCIALS! – so go grab a cup of coffee while the video buffers and then settle in for a treat.

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Theme Park Insider reader reviews “Forbidden Journey” attraction

I recently read a reader review of the attraction in question over at Theme Park Insider. The writer describes the ride without going into too much detail, so I’ve still got a sense of anticipation about it and I can hardly wait for my October trip to see one of my favorite characters – THE SORTING HAT! This writer says that the whole family agreed – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey surpasses even Spiderman as the best ride of all time!

Reader review of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal Orlando | Theme Park Insider

Tink’s *~*~* Links: Butterbeer, Bruckheimer and… boobs?

Β© Copyright 2010 Tink *~*~*

[pullquote]Think shortbread cookie with butterscotch. It’s amber-colored with a foamy top, which left me with a little white mustache. It’s cold and sweet β€” a sure diet-buster β€” yet not too filling. – Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel[/pullquote]

The butterbeer is coming! The butterbeer is coming!

I admit it. I’m a mere mortal muggle, but I would LOVE to taste me some butterbeer. Dewayne Bevil, writing for the Orlando Sentinal, described his preview of butterbeer in this article (click). I am a little worried that it will be TOO sweet for me and I won’t like it. Only time will tell, and fortunately it won’t be a long time because The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens at Universal Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando on June 18th. Can’t wait!

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Jerry Bruckheimer presents… THE SORCEROR’S APPRENTICE

Disney Pictures allows Nicholas Cage a brief respite from the filming of seemingly endless sequels to National Treasure (2004, 2007 and coming next year in 2011) with a new take on The Sorceror’s Apprentice. I was googling around about this film and found the latest “international” trailer on YouTube. The beginning of the film seems reads like a slightly more sinister version of Back to the Future, complete with wicked-fast car stunts and a mentor-madman at the wheel. Targeted for theaters this July, it looks like good, clean fun! Find more details on IMDB here, and at the Disney Pictures site here.

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Yes, I know – you’ve been waiting for the part about the boobs…

My friend Chris, proprietor of Blog du Mush, was the one who first brought this little nugget to my attention. Apparently, there’s been a casting call for wenches, um I mean lady pirates for the next Pirates Of The Caribbean film – and the powers that be are not interested in seeing you if you do not have your own boobs! Yes, I’m serious. Here it is in writing – no fake boobs will be cast. TPTB apparently believe that a natural, wobbling jiggle will carry more appeal during the “action” scenes…. you can’t make this stuff up, folks! At any rate, it appears that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is due in theaters circa May 2011, and will feature Penelope “I wonder if they’re real” Cruz as Blackbeard’s Daughter and Jack Sparrow’s love interest.

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That’s it for TINK’S *~*~* LINKS this week – hope you’ve enjoyed πŸ™‚

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