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Travel Bear: ~Wizarding World of Harry Potter~

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My husband and I went to Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter this last February for our 5 year wedding anniversary. We stayed in one of the on site resorts so we were able to enter the park an hour before the public, which was worth it for sure. We got to the park at 8am and were led through the rest of the park to Hogsmead and the Hogwarts area as only that area is open for early admission. Walking up to the little village and train station instantly transport you to the wizarding world and is simply amazing.

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When we entered the village of Hogsmead we walked around, got some good pictures while the crowds were calm from early admission. We headed straight to Hogwarts castle to ride “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” where you are taken on a flying adventure with so much to see, we rode it twice. We even enjoyed waiting in line for  “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” as you get to go through the castle and in each little waiting room there is something to entertain you while you wait. There are moving portraits to listen to and watch, film accurate rooms to marvel at and much more.

One thing I was glad for in the parks is that before every large ride where you can not take your bags (we took a back pack) there are lockers outside of the rides where you can store your stuff for free while you are on the ride. You scan your finger print and then get your locker number, store your stuff away and then after the ride you just go and scan your print again and it opens your locker for you to grab your things and go.

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I could spend all day walking through the shops and looking at every little thing. The shop fronts are amazing and really draw you in. In Hogsmead you have so many amazing things to look at: “Honeyduke’s” where you will find shelves of magical candy and treats, “Dervish and Banges” where you can find a bit of everything from t-shirts to brooms, “Ollivander’s” which is a smaller shop than the one in Diagon Alley but there are all the wands a wizard would want to pick from, “The Owl Post” where you can send mail or purchase stationary and quills, and “Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods” which is the gift shop located at the end of “The Forbidden Journey” where you could spend quite a bit of time looking around at all the odds and ends.

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We grabbed some breakfast at “The Three Broomsticks” which has “Hogs Head Pub” attached to it. You can sit and look at all the interesting decorations while grabbing a bite or a drink.

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In “Islands of Adventure” where Hogsmead and Hogwarts is you have two rides: “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” and “The Flight of the Hippogriff” . They are right next to each other so once you get off one head directly to the next one. “The Flight of the Hippogriff” was a simple small track coaster where you get to see Hagrid’s Hut and Buckbeak chilling outside. We went the first week of February and the crowds were not bad at all. The longest we waited in line for anything was 30min but 8 out of 10 rides were much less of a wait time than that.

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You really want to try and go during low crowds because it is so great to be able to really take everything in. When you are in the shops look everywhere, side to side and up and down, there are things everywhere to see. Exploring is such a big part of the experience of the Wizarding World for sure.

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Once you’re done walking around Hogsmead, if you have the park to park pass you can hop on the Hogwarts Express to head to “Universal Studio’s” where you will find Diagon Alley. Riding the Train to and from the two parks was fun and each way you will have a different experience so we found the park to park pass worth the extra cost since we only had one day to do all we could.

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When you get off the train it puts you out into London where you need to look around for the entrance to Diagon Alley. When you walk through the opening and there are buildings looming on each side you are transported to when you first read “The Philosopher’s stone” or saw the movie for the first time. The hustle and bustle of everyone adds to the charm of the area as there are things to see and do all around.

The main ride in this area is “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts” which was a blast, this ride was multi-dimensional with so much to experience. On top of the bank is a dragon that blows fire every few minutes and man can you feel the heat below! You can go next door to the “Gringotts Money Exchange” where you can trade your U.S. Dollars for Wizarding Notes you can use to purchase things around the Wizarding World.

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The Florida heat can bear down even in February so you should stop by “Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor” for some fantastic soft serve or hand dipped ice cream in many fun flavors including ButterBeer Ice Cream!

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Make sure to take the little tour of “Ollivander’s Wand Shop” where a lucky wizard will be chosen by a wand. You can purchase replica wands or interactive wands that can cast spells around the park, each wand is about $50.

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There are many shops to look at in Diagon Alley: get your jokes at “Weasleys Wizard Wheezes”, some dapper robes or dresses at “Madame Malkins Robes for all Occasions”, all your Quidditch needs at “Quality Quidditch Supplies”, find a loving companion at the “Magical Menagerie” and several more shops to explore.

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Make sure to try and catch some of the shows while you are visiting. We got to see “Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees” sing some great tunes and embarrass a lucky person with a serenade.

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In Diagon Alley you can grab a bite at “The Leaky Cauldron” which is where we ate lunch, you can also go by “The Hopping Pot” for your choice of all the wizarding drinks to be had like: Toungue Tying Lemon Squash, Fishy Green Ale, Wizards Brew and many others.

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We took the train back to ‘Islands of Adventure” and got to see the Frog Choir show which was so fun to watch. Besides Celestina’s show and the Frog Choir there is a Triwizard show as well that takes place in the same area as the Frog Choir.

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We sat and relaxed in the middle of Hogsmead as the sun went down and watched the lights come on giving a truly magical ambiance. The Hogwarts light show at night was one of the coolest shows my husband and I have ever seen. Such a wonderful experience to bring our magical day to a close. We headed back to our room which was so easy with the resorts shuttle services.

I could go to the Wizarding world every week and never get bored. We really enjoyed our time there and can not wait to go back.

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Have you ever been to Universal’s Wizarding World? Let me know about your trip in the comments! What house do you claim? What is your favorite treat in the park?

 

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~Travel Bear: Food and Drink at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter~

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure is filled with a treasure trove of amazing eats for sure.  From the shelves of candy straight from the story to the savory food that makes you feel like you are in the UK.

Lets start with the candy. If you’re like me you had dreams of Honeydukes and all the amazing magical candy that Harry and his friends partook in on multiple occasions in the books and movies. The Wizarding World brought to life the magic of wizarding candy with the fairly accurate packaging that makes for great decorations and the many options there is something for everyone. You have your best selling chocolate frogs that come with the collectible card of a famous witch or wizard and a large solid chocolate frog. There are Fizzing Wizzbees that have a pop rock chocolate bee shaped candy, Acid Pops, Exploding Bonbons that are orange and pineapple flavored, Jelly Slugs, Bertie Botts  Every Flavor Beans and so much more. It is so much fun to walk around and look at everything.

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For breakfast my husband and I went to The Three Broomsticks, he got the American Breakfast which had: Fresh Scrambled Eggs, Breakfast Potatoes, Crisp Bacon, and Link Sausage, With Butter Croissant and I got the Continental Breakfast which came with: Assorted Fresh Fruit, Blueberry Scone and a Butter Croissant. Everything we got was very good and fueled us for the day. My husband got a coffee while I tried my first wizarding drink of Pumpkin Juice. I normally don’t like drinks with pumpkin but the Pumpkin Juice was very good and reminded me of a pumpkin pie cider. It was so sweet though and I wasn’t able to finish it all.

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It is seemingly a requirement when your at the Wizarding World to try the Butterbeer. There are three different ones to try: Chilled, Frozen and (sometimes during the year) hot. We got the chilled butterbeer which was sweet and tasted of butterscotch with a thick creamy foam on top that makes it a very enjoyable experience. Many people try to get every kind but after one I was sugared out for the rest of the day.

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For lunch we ate at The Leaky Cauldron and as my drink I got the odd Fishy Green Ale which was mint and cinnamon flavored drink with blueberry popping boba in the bottom. My husband tried the Dragon’s Scale Beer which was a nice pairing with the savory British style food we got.

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My husband got the Fish and Chips which was very tasty and I got the Toad in the Hole lunch plate that consisted of English sausages baked into a Yorkshire pudding with brown gravy and some roast vegetables. I really liked everything and would order it again for sure. There were several options from: Shepard’s Pie, Fisherman’s Pie, Banger’s and Mash and several other things that all looked tasty.

In the Wizarding World you have many options to dine in at or get treats to walk around with. There are: several types of beverages you can get, ice cream scoops,  soft serve, churros, pretzles, lots of English food, savory and sweet options galore. The next time we go we will try new things to really have a new experience every time we go.

Have you been to the Wizarding World? What was your favorite thing to grab for lunch? Which Butterbeer was your favorite? Did you have a favorite ice cream flavor? Let me know in the comments!

 

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~Travel Bear: Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium at Universal’s City Walk~

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So this past week I celebrated my 5 year wedding anniversary with my Husband by going to Orlando, Florida for a few days. We drove in from Northern Alabama and got to where we were staying (The Cabana Bay Resort) around dinner time. I had found this amazing place at Universal’s City Walk called the Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen that gave me Wonka Steam Punk feels and knew that would be our first stop on our Anniversary adventure.

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The factory look of the restaurant was so neat and the decor was Steam Punk inspired with lots of cools things to look at while you are being led to you table and as you sit. There were so many options for food, drinks and of course massive decadent desserts.

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I ordered the Vegetable Press which was a warm sandwich with roasted vegetables, portobello mushrooms, arugula pesto, gruyère and dill harvarti cheeses, on cranberry herb artisan bread. It was so good! Everything about my food was amazing and delicious. My Husband ordered the Vegetable Garganelli that had italian penne pasta, seasonal vegetables, garlic, and white wine. We could have shared either one of these dishes as they were fairly large and filling and so so good.

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As we sat eating and enjoying the atmosphere we watched some of the most glorious desserts going by, milkshakes with cupcakes and cookies out the top, chocolate everything and so much more. If you want to come here for just dessert there is an area you can do just that!

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Attached to the restaurant is a amazing gift shop/sweet shop. There was countless artisan chocolates, macarons, cakes and other sweet things in cases you can get to take back to your hotel or to enjoy right there. There are t-shirts, packaged candy and steam punk accessories to buy as well. It is lots of fun to really walk around and look at everything in detail.

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Going to the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium was definitely the right way to start our adventure and we will for sure go here again.

 

 

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Heading to Korea ~Day 1~

This was my first day of adventure heading to South Korea! I went from Birmingham, AL to Dallas,TX then to Narita, Japan and finally to Seoul, South Korea. It was such a long day and I went through 4 airports and was on a plane for a total  of around 21 hours.

I flew with American Airlines and Japan Airlines and let me tell you, Japan Airlines is fantastic, the hostesses were so caring and attentive to make sure the flight was as comfortable as it could be. The food was good and man did they keep on feeding you.

It was so great to see my friend in South Korea, we hadn’t seen each other in over 7 years! The moment I entered South Korea I fell in love with the Country.

Stay tuned for many more videos about my adventures, tips and tricks and much more!

~First Impressions: Stranger Things~

This last month brought forth an AMAZING Netfllix Original Series “Stranger Things” and the social medias have been reeling from it. After seeing so many great things on Twitter and Facebook I had to check this series out.My hubby and I sat down one evening and pressed play, I must say no regrets. From the first episode we were hooked. My husband was a child in the 80’s and so he really appreciated the many throwbacks and references to 80’s movies, games and other pop culture.

This series embodied many of the best things from some of our favorite movies like: “Alien”, “Aliens”, “The Thing”, “Stand By Me” and many others. Every episode was good and the end of each one left us wanting more. The young cast did a fantastic job and pretty much out shined any of the older actors. You defiantly form favorites.

The series was good throughout and has a lot of possibility for a continue of greatness in the next season. There are so many things that could be explored and touched upon. I eagerly await the next season, it could not get here fast enough.

What did you think of this series? Who was your favorite character? Let me know in the comments!

~First Impressions: Anne-Happy~

I am usually drawn to anime series like this with large eyed colorful characters that are in a word MOE. This anime is quirky in many senses but is also a simple joy to watch with little stress. You follow a group of girls who are all very unlucky in different ways. Each of them has entered a new school and in their class the main goal for the year is- to be happy and over come their misfortune.

Some of the misfortunes are wacky and silly but it is fun to watch this cast  of girls deal with each situation.

Have you watched this series? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!

~Trying Mexican Candy pt.2~

Oh man the candy we consumed were not at all good. Our tummys were upset for a few hours after trying all these >_<

~Strawberry Love~

I love Strawberry chocolates and candies from Japan. What ever strawberry flavoring they use is so different than what is in our candy and it is so much better. The first time I had anything strawberry from Japan was when I was young and I got to try Strawberry Pocky, it was so good and reminded me of strawberry nesquik milk. Whenever I go to any of the Asian marketsI am always on the lookout for Strawberry chocolates, usually only finding the little appolon cone chocolates.

In april and may however is when there are strawberry fastivals around the  nation and the markets stock a vast array of Japanese strawberry themed treats from: chocolates, cookies, snack cakes, and hard or chewy candies. I always love going this time of year because it is the only time I really stock up on alot of treats.

Ember and I tried all the new candies this year together and had a fun time!

Check out last years post~ https://kawaiihousewife.com/2015/06/29/ichigo-matsuri/

 

What is your favorite kind of candy? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

~TravelBear~ The Absinthe Room

On my recent trip to Memphis TN I had the pleasure of visiting “The Absinthe Room” on Beale Street where I got to try three different brands of Absinthe and enjoy the neat atmosphere.

It was really cool getting to watch the process of serving Absinthe and see the color change from the beginning to the end. I am not a fan of licorice but I found this drink growing on me as I sipped my first glass of it.

Have you ever tried Absinthe? What did you think of it? Where did you have it? Let me know about it in the comments!

Divinity Original Sin = A+ Couple Game

Divinity is a one-player/multiplayer fantasy role play video game that is very reminiscent of Dungeons and Dragons to my Husband and I. This game is jam packed with content, we played 30 hours in the first town making sure we didn’t miss anything at all in that map. The game play is really good for co-op in my opinion because you are able to lock your screen into a split screen and both people can go off and do whatever and not be held down by the other player.

There is so much content from talking with lots of NPC’s, getting quests, making things to sell, fights and exploring the maps. The fighting system is turn based and goes by initiative similar to the D&D system. There is a fighting style for everyone, if you like magic casting, long range bow shooting, sneaky close range dagger slicing, or tank two handed sword/axe bashing.

This game was partially funded by Kick starter and has become critically alclaimed with a sequel now in the works! I think this game is great for couples to play together or just by yourself. This is a team work building game with so much fun fantasy aspects that draw you in to the story.

What do you think of this game? Let me know in the comments!