Sunday, October 11, 2015

Results- Universal 2015 Trip Bucket List

As I mentioned the other day, Universal and KeyCon 2015 were awesome!  I had an amazing time with Eliot and my Key to the World family.  Not only did we have a great time, but I also accomplished most of my trip bucket list goals!  This is the closest I've ever become to completing a full list!  Here are the results: 

Melissa's Universal 2015 Trip Bucket List:

⚡️ Learn More About Universal Resort
I learned so much about Universal Resort this trip!  My Key to the World group stayed on site at the Hard Rock Hotel (which was awesome).  We had an entire presentation on Universal at our KeyCon meeting.  Our group also toured the other Universal Resort Hotels.  While on our tour, we saw one of the few Minion themed suites!  I loved seeing the other hotels and now I want to stay at all of them!  Finally, I used my three day tickets to explore Universal and Islands of Adventure!

⚡️ Meet New KTTW Travel Agent Friends
I met a lot of new friends!  It was great to spend time with my KTTW friends from last year, but I also enjoyed meeting new agents this year!  I finally got the chance to meet a few of my fellow Mainers!  I also had a great time getting to know Team Slytherin.

⚡️ See the Dragon Breathe Fire in Diagon Alley
This is so cool!  I had to wait quite a few minutes the first time I went to Diagon Alley, but it was totally worth it!  I learned that the dragon growls before it shoots fire so you can get your camera prepared if you're really quick.  It's totally worth seeing in person!

⚡️ Ride the Hogwarts Express
I had so much fun on the Hogwarts Express.  It takes you back and forth between Universal and Islands of Adventure.  The train compartments have "windows" to look out.  Each way you experience a different ride.  It's definitely my favorite ride there.  

⚡️ Go to the Hard Rock Hotel Pool Bar
Eliot and I finally got to a pool bar.  Sunday night after seeing the Blue Man Group, a bunch of us returned to the hotel and went to the pool bar for drinks.  We had a great time talking and laughing before shutting the place down.

⚡️ Go to Ollivander's Wand Shop
I did go into Ollivander's Wand Shop to buy a wand.  However, I still haven't seen the "show" where a wand chooses a wizard.  I'd really like to see that next time!

⚡️ Get Butterbeer in Souvenir Cup
I finally got my butterbeer in a souvenir cup.  In fact, Eliot got a frozen one in the other style of cup so now I have two cups!  I'm looking forward to enjoying many at home butterbeers in my new cups!

⚡️ Wear my new Happily Ever Hatter Harry Potter IllusionEars
I wore my Harry Potter IllusionEars during our park touring day.  Team Slytherin loved them and we had them in a few pictures before it started to rain.  I couldn't wear my ears with my poncho (without choking myself) so I didn't get to wear them as much as I wanted.  But I did wear them when Eliot and I went back into the park after KeyCon.  I got a lot of compliments from Harry Potter fans and Universal employees.

⚡️ Try Butterbeer Ice Cream
Butterbeer ice cream is delicious!  I really enjoyed my butterbeer ice cream and I'm looking forward to enjoying many more in the future!

⚡️ See Kreacher at 12 Grimmauld Place
I saw Kreacher in the window at 12 Grimmauld Place.  I insisted we go look for him during our park touring day so Team Slytherin camped out and got our cameras ready!

⚡️ Exchange Money at Gringotts Bank
Eliot and I exchanged money to get $10 worth of wizarding money.  The bill is really cool and you can use it at any location in the Universal parks.  I'm definitely getting another one the next time we go!  I think I'm going to frame it or put it in my scrapbook!

⚡️ Dial 62442 (MAGIC) in the phone booth outside King’s Cross
While on our park touring day, I jumped into the phone booth with the rest of Team Slytherin and dialed MAGIC.  The recording told me that the Ministry of Magic was unavailable and the visitor entrance was closed.  It was pretty cool.  I don't think many people know about this trick so I made sure to spread the word.

⚡️ Explore City Walk
I can definitely check this off the list.  I've never spent much time in City Walk before this trip.  Now, I've been to the Blue Man Group, Margaritaville, Antojitos, Cowfish, Vivo, Menchies, and taken the water taxis to and from City Walk.

⚡️ Get a Margarita at Margaritaville
This was the first thing off my bucket list!  Once Eliot and I got settled at the Hard Rock Hotel, we met a few of my Key to the World friends at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville for a light dinner and drinks.

⚡️ Mail a postcard from the Hogsmeade Owlry
I mailed a new Diagon Alley dragon postcard to myself and one to my best friend Katie while Eliot went to ride Dueling Dragons.  Unfortunately, I forgot my stamps at home and that Universal makes you buy an entire sheet of them instead of selling them individually.  I'll make sure to remember next time!  But it was totally worth it to get the Hogsmeade postal stamp!  Maybe next time I'll write them with a quill instead of a pen!

⚡️ See Knockturn Alley
I explored Knockturn Alley with a few KTTW friends while the rest of the group was going on Escape from Gringotts.  It was dark and creepy and definitely felt like I pictured it from the books.  After a few minutes of exploring, I found the Vanishing Cabinet (complete with sounds of tweeting birds) inside of Borgin and Burkes.

⚡️ Order Ice Cream at Florean Fortescues 
Not only did I get butterbeer ice cream, but I also ventured to try a few other flavors from the menu.  The chocolate chili was good, but the after kick didn't sit so well with my sore throat.  However, the chocolate raspberry was perfection.

⚡️ Get an Interactive Wand
I bought my interactive wand on our last day when Eliot and I went back into the parks after KeyCon.  It's probably a good thing, because it was so much fun that it would have completely distracted us from touring the parks!  It was so much fun to "do" magic.  I can't wait to bring my wand back with me the next time we go to Universal!

⚡️ Explore the Wizarding Shops of Diagon Alley
I did get to explore the shops in Diagon Alley.  I really enjoyed Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.  It's so much fun.  The quidditch store was pretty cool.  I spent a lot of time in Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, the store outside of Gringotts, while friends were on the ride.  The Gringotts money exchange was really cool.  I enjoyed asking the head Goblin questions.  I also explored the Magical Menagerie.  I didn't realize they made so many plushes of things from the movies!  And as mentioned before, I also went to Borgin and Burkes, Florean Fortescues and Olivanders.

⚡️ Get a picture with the Minions
This was the only thing on the list that we didn't accomplish.  Apparently, there isn't an area to meet the Minion characters at the park.  I heard you might be able to at a character breakfast, but we didn't have time for that this trip.  However, if there was something that I couldn't do this trip, this would have been my top choice anyways.

We also had a few experiences I wasn't expecting:

⚡️ Eat at Both Leaky Cauldron and Three Broomsticks in One Day
During our park touring day, we had breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron.  Then, later in the day, we had lunch at the Three Broomsticks.  This was a lot of fun.  It definitely made the Harry Potter experience feel more complete.

⚡️ Celestina Warbeck
We didn't have a great view, but Eliot and I did catch a glimpse of Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees while we were enjoying our butterbeer.

⚡️ Tale of the Three Brothers
Eliot and I did see the Tale of the Three Brothers from a closer vantage point.  I'd heard this was a must see if you were able to.  The puppets and props were really cool.  I really enjoyed the show and thought it was a great way to tell the tale.

⚡️ Picture with the Knight Bus Conductor and the Shrunken Head
I knew I could get a picture with the Knight Bus but I didn't realize the conductor and the shrunken head would be there for a photo op as well.  Simon the conductor was very nice and it was a lot of fun to interact with him and the shrunken head!

⚡️ Try on Robes at Madame Malkins
During our park touring day, those of us from Team Slytherin who didn't want to go on the Escape from Gringotts found ourselves exploring the shops in Diagon Alley.  I suggested we go take a photo in Slytherin wizard robes and the next thing we knew, one of the ladies at Madame Malkins was helping us into robes.  She was in perfectly in character and it was a fun experience.  I'm saving my Galleons up so I can buy some robes the next time I visit!

⚡️ Menchies Frozen Yogurt
This probably sounds ridiculous to most of you, but I think it's worth mentioning!  I didn't realize a place like Menchies existed; we don't have them in Maine.  After our group split up on park touring day, I went to Menchies with my friend Ryan and we got frozen yogurt.  I got the cake batter and it was delicious!!!  I'm already trying to figure out the closest store to Maine.  Must get more yummy!

As you can see from our bucket list, Eliot and I had a fantastic time at the Universal Resort.  In fact, we're already planning to add a day at Universal to our trip next fall.  I'd really love to go back to the Harry Potter sections and spend more time playing around with my interactive wand and pretending I'm a wizard! ⚡️o-o⚡️

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