Bucket-listed: Drinking Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Since the dawn of the Harry Potter series, I’ve been filled with an unquenchable thirst. Every time I read about how Harry and his friends journeyed to Hogsmeade with a stopover for some Butterbeer, my mouth watered. And how do you satiate a thirst when the drink in question doesn’t even exist?

Ah, but it does.

Thank you, Orlando, for helping me tick one major item off my Bucket List.

I <3 Universal

Seems silly, right? A simple drink being such a major motivator for travel? Wrong. If you know me and my obsession for books and literature, you’ll understand a little more how Harry Potter became such a big part of my life. The funny thing is that I didn’t enjoy the movies – not even a little – but Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter drew me in anyway.

It wasn’t a part of the original plan with Aeroplan when they sent me to Florida with their “Welcome Aboard” event, but there was no way I was passing up that opportunity. My buddy Camile and I headed over to the park early on a Monday morning to jump aboard the legendary Forbidden Journey ride and prowl the grounds of the park for ourselves.

But Spring Break in Florida had other plans.

I felt like a kid when entering the WWoHP: the gabled peaks of the shops in Diagon Alley were covered in snow, and Hogwarts loomed like a dark shadow in the background. The Hogwarts Express tooted its horn as Camile and I wrestled the crowds to make our way to the castle where the Forbidden Journey ride awaited.

We observed the Wait Time: 120.

“An hour and 20 minutes?” I said.

“120 minutes,” Camile responded.


Feeling bitter and annoyed, I decided to get into line-up for a Butterbeer being pumped from an old-skool truck pulling a giant red keg. No big deal, right? Dude just pumps the keg and the beer flows freely. Except it was like 30 degrees Celsius and I had to wait 45 minutes.

I guess it’s true that you appreciate things more once you “work” for them, because DAAAMN that iced Butterbeer was amazing. It tasted exactly like how I imagined it would: sweet, and butterscotch-y. The only thing that could have made it better was it actually contained alcohol (seriously Universal, get on that).


Then Camile and I skipped off to do the Jurassic Park river ride. After that exhilarating experience where once again I tried to face my fears of t-rex (but in reality now I’m just having more nightmares), I was propelled by a sense of adrenaline and decided to skip back and check on the Forbidden Journey.

75 minute wait-time. “Screw it,” I thought. “When will I ever get back to Orlando?”

Once inside the castle, I moved into the “Single Riders” line (if you opt for this route, you move a lot quicker as the workers use you to fill seats).

And once you’re inside, the wait is actually FUN. Talking paintings on the walls warn you of the upcoming ride, and the Sorting Hat spouts out safety instructions. Everything is pitch-black and exactly like how you’d imagine the inside of Hogwarts.

It’s freaking brilliant.

The guides usher you along the moving conveyer built to strap you into a seat, like in a rollercoaster. And that’s when the fun starts.

You swoop, soar, and fly over Hogwarts, dashing demons and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. You sit alongside Harry, and are guided through a mystical landscape you can’t even imagine in your wildest dreams.

I have actually never experienced such open-mouthed wonderment before. I was gobsmacked, blown away by visuals and the reality of it all. I kept pulling up my feet to avoid hitting things.

The wait time? Worth. Every. Second.

By the time we pulled to a stop and the entire cast of the movies was waiting for me and cheering, I actually got a little teary-eyed. Even my legs felt weak.

The Forbidden Journey was my FIRST blown-away moment experienced somewhere outside of the great outdoors. Truly. I would go back again, and again, and again.

TIP: DEFINITELY do the Single Rider thing. You can’t see the other riders in your seat anyway, so it doesn’t even really make sense to go with a group unless you’re with your family.

TIP 2: People prone to motion sickness, beware. Have that Butterbeer after the ride.

  • March 29 2012

    Glad you got back in line…to quote the great Steve Jobs, the Forbidden Journey is Insanely Great…

    • March 29 2012

      SO GLAD I got back on too. I would have gotten back on immediately after, if I could have!

  • March 30 2012

    Love this post! And I see you and my man Deej became friends. Was it after my suggestion?

    Oh and you look cute rocking the matching earrings!

    • April 09 2012

      YES, actually! Haha. I sent him an email. Thanks for that :)

  • March 30 2012

    I had no idea it rocked your world quite that much! I am so glad we went back! =)

  • March 30 2012

    This sounds absolutely amazing. I so so so want to go to the Harry Potter theme park. I don’t care if it’s touristy and crowded – it definitely sounds like it’s well worth the wait.

    • April 09 2012

      Definitely! Takes some getting used to the crowd, but SO worth it.

  • March 30 2012

    Beer, without beer? Why that’s just downright un-Canadian! The ride looks amazing though… :)

    • April 09 2012

      I seriously can’t believe they haven’t thought to make the alcoholic version yet.

  • March 30 2012

    “Every time I read about how Harry and his friends journeyed to Diagon Alley with a stopover for some Butterbeer, my mouth watered.”

    Please tell me when that actually happened, because I don’t think it did and now I’m WEEPING inside that you’re not remembering the books correctly. Butterbeer’s not in Diagon Alley, Candice, it’s in Hogsmeade! :( Truly sad about this, please tell me I’m forgetting a part! (FYI other readers: I’m upset because Candice was the one who made me read the first HP book when we were kids and our shared love of the series was very important to me) Yes, I’m a nerd.

    • March 30 2012

      Bahaha! You’re right. But in the World, the truck I drank from was in Diagon Alley. I shall update.

      PS its been like 10 years beotch

  • March 30 2012

    It was a cause of great concern to certain members of our family that Universal mixed shops from Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade together in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I actually liked the waiting area for Forbidden Journey far better than the ride – probably because I had my eyes open while I was walking through the waiting area. :)

    • April 09 2012

      Hehehe. I remember thinking, “This ride is actually kinda terrifying, how are kids on it?!” The whole thing is genius.

  • April 01 2012

    I would enjoy checking this out as well! :)

  • April 01 2012

    I have built a stopover in Florida at the end of the month just to go here, so this post has me even more excited! Sounds so amazing!

    • April 09 2012

      YAY! I wanna hear all about it!

  • April 02 2012

    Thanks for the tip, Candice…
    Accio Dramamine!

  • April 04 2012

    This looks amazing! (Although I’m not sure if I thought butterbeer would taste like butterscotch…and it was always implied that it was alcoholic!)

    It will be interesting to see what kind of theme parks pop up as the Hunger Games explodes. Here’s one that’s kind of terrifying: http://hungergamesfantours.com/ (I just got back from Forks so I’m a little obsessed with literary-inspired vacations at the moment. More here: http://www.gofurthertravel.com/2012/03/twiharding-road-trip-to-forks.html.)

    • April 09 2012

      Was it implied that it was alcoholic?! Hmm, not sure.

      I haven’t watched or read Hunger Games yet, but you’re right, it’ll be interesting to see what pops up! I’m surprised nothing has for Twilight yet. LOl.

  • April 04 2012

    SO JEALOUS!! I’ve been wanting to go to Harry Potter World (as I will continue to call it forever) since before it even opened!!

    I’ve been told that an hour-long wait on the Forbidden Journey is actually perfect, because of all the cool stuff inside.

    I need someone to send ME to Orlando now!!

    • April 09 2012

      Yup! It was a pleasant surprise for me, being inside Hogwarts with all that cool shiz. So much fun. Let’s go together!

  • April 05 2012

    I am so impatient … but this sounds awesome!

  • November 16 2012

    I love your website; it makes my dull days so much brighter. Keep at it!

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