We are so excited with the latest Universal announcement! A brand new, thrilling Harry Potter inspired ride will be making its way to Universal’s Islands of Adventure in 2019. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade has already been a place of fun and excitement, but now this fan-favorite spot will offer more to guests!

We don’t know everything about this new thrill ride, but we have been informed on some special information. Take a look below at some of the latest details!

  1. This is a brand-new, thrill ride that will take you deeper into J.K. Rowling’s famous Wizarding World. You will become more engrossed in the Wizarding World as you journey along this ride. You will encounter some of your favorite characters and creatures. This new ride will be unlike anything Universal has ever created, and they are sure it will sure to be a favorite for the entire family!
  2. If you’re a Potterhead than this ride is for you! The new attraction will be one of the most highly-themed coaster experiences at Universal. This means lots of fun and exciting Wizarding World items and memorabilia. The ride combines a new level of storytelling with {of course} an action-packed adventure! There will also be a few surprises along the way that will have you coming back for more!
  3. Universal’s award-winning creative team has been collaborating with Warner Bros, and the incredible production design team from the Harry Potter films. You can be sure to see and experience a top-notch, fan favorite ride!
  4. This ride will be the absolute perfect addition to the thriving town of Hogsmeade. This new attraction will transport you into a new and thrilling place and will draw you into more exciting Wizarding World adventures!
  5. Universal will be permanently closing the Dragon Challenge on September 5th to make way for this incredible new thrill ride. The last day of operation for the Dragon Challenge will be Monday, September 4th. Be sure to take advantage of the last days of the Dragon Challenge before its closing.

Keep checking back for more updates! We can’t wait to hear more from Universal about this fun new attraction!

Ready to visit the incredible and amazing Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Contact an agent today to book your next Universal or Disney vacation! All Me and The Mouse agents are highly trained in both destinations!

Leaky Cauldron - Universal StudiosIf you are like most Universal Orlando guests, you start your morning by running to the back of Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure to beat the crowds to see all of the Harry Potter attractions.  After some playing, you are bound to feel hungry.  Good news!  You can continue to feel the magic of the Wizarding World with meals and snacks inspired by the series.
On the Universal Studios side, immerse yourself in London, get all of your Wizarding supplies and grab a meal at the Leaky Cauldron.  This restaurant serves breakfast,  lunch and dinner in the setting of the famous pub right out of the movies.   I prefer to grab breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron just after my ride on the Escape From Gringotts and before heading over to Hogsmeade on the Hogwarts Express.  On the Islands of Adventure side, head over to Three Broomsticks from some traditional English fare.  The ordering stations are laid out to look just like you are checking in as a guest of this famous inn.  This restaurant does a fabulous job of immersing guests into the movie while they enjoy a tasty meal.


Do I need to make reservations?

Leaky Cauldron - Universal StudiosNo!  Both of these restaurants are considered counter service locations so simply decide when you want to eat, walk up and order.  Prices range from a reasonable $9.99-$16.99 or 1 counter service credit on the Universal Dining Plan.  Both of these restaurants are pretty busy all day, but don’t let a line deter you.  They move people very quickly and there is always room to sit.


Leaky Cauldron - Universal Studios

If you are having way too much fun to take time to sit and eat, but still want to experience some Harry Potter treats, there are plenty of options.  If Butterbeer is what you crave, there are plenty of Butterbeer carts in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley served regular, frozen or my personal favorite, Butterbeer ice cream.  If you want a more magical snack to take home as a souvenir, visit Honeydukes in Hogsmeade.  You can fill your own bag of Bertie Bott’s, take home some Butterbeer fudge or surprise your friends with some Exploding Bon Bons!


Leaky Cauldron - Universal StudiosUniversal does an excellent job of immersing guests in the magic of Harry Potter.  Eating like a wizard here is a magical experience for both adults and kids.


For more information about Universal or to book your vacation, please contact a Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist. We are highly trained in both Universal and Disney destinations, and we would love to assist you!

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist

Are you ready for some Muggle Magic?

Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the most immersive and impressive themed lands ever created.  It is no wonder that this area is very popular and always crowded.  In order to get the most out of the Wizarding World with the least amount of hassle, you must go in with a plan.  By following the steps below, you are sure to experience all that your Muggle heart desires without the aggravation of lines, crowds and excessive waiting.


Step 1 – Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Park 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Escape from Gringotts!

Congratulations!  You’ve been accepted into Hogwarts so now you must pick up all of your supplies.  Stepping into Diagon Alley is like stepping into the movie.  Never have I experienced such a feeling of being a part of the story.  You will want to spend some time here experiencing all of its beauty.  Do the attractions in the following order to get the most out of your time here:

  • Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
  • Purchase your interactive wand from Ollivanders and if you are lucky, your wand will choose you!  Interact and cast spells all over Diagon Alley. (Read more about the Wand Ceremony, HERE!)
  • Grab breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron before catching the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade.


Step 2 – Arrive in Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure Park 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

You’ve made it to Hogsmeade and now you are ready to become a wizard!  Stepping off the Hogwarts Express, pause and take it all in.  The snow-topped buildings with the awe-inspiring Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will be like heaven for muggles so make sure you get plenty of photos!  Explore Hogsmeade in the following order to make the most of your time:

  • Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  • Compete in the Triwizard tournament in Dragon Challenge (Use your Express Pass)
  • Hop on board a Hippogriff in Flight of the Hippogriff (Use your Express Pass)
  • Interact throughout Hogsmeade with your wand
  • Have lunch at Three Broomsticks (Learn more about Universal’s Dining Plan, HERE!)
  • Grab a Butterbeer from one of the carts: regular, frozen or ice cream. Wizarding World of Harry Potter


Other tips and tricks to make the most of your visit to the Wizarding World 

  • Stay at a Universal on-site hotel to get early entry into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  For an even more convenient experience, add Universal Express Pass to your tickets or Unlimited Express Pass free with your stay at one of the three premier Universal resort properties.
  • Make sure you have a Park-To-Park Ticket to be able to ride the Hogwarts Express between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not, you are sure to fall in love with this area of the Universal theme parks.  Take your time, tour with patience and enjoy your journey into this magical world. For more information or to book your Universal Orlando vacation, contact your Me and the Mouse Travel Specialist.

Julie Stewart

Travel Specialist


I’m a Disney purists. I love the history, the films and of course the theme parks! I think no one does it as well as Disney. With that said, two years ago, I had the opportunity to get a private look at Universal Studios and especially Harry Potter areas of the parks. What I found was a bit surprising and amazing. Universal Studios vs Disney

As a child I had visited Universal Hollywood. I grew up watching Nickelodeon on TV and it was great seeing the shows and rides that were featured. I remember the original Back to the Future ride and the backstage tour it was great but on that same trip I also went to Disneyland. To me, Disneyland is the center of all theme parks. It’s where it all started so at the time there was no comparing the two. Disney outmatched Universal – period.

Fast forward a bunch of years. I visit Universal Studios Florida. It’s okay but no Disney World. It has some great roller coasters at Islands of Adventure and some shows but I was like “ehhh it’s ok.” Now fast forward few more years after The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens and what can I say now – WOW! It changed everything. I said something I never thought I would. “I’ve never seen something like this at a Disney park.” It’s beautifully done, well designed and incredible. That is all being said from a person, who at the time, had never seen a Harry Potter movie! Universal Studios vs Disney

The folks at Universal have done a great job transforming that park. It’s a full fledged resort with hotels, great food, shopping and world class rides. I will say their rides, in my opinion, tilt toward older children but it is still a great family destination. I think it’s worth exploring one or two days or even staying at one of their resorts.

What I wanted to point out in this blog is that I’m a person who absolutely loves Disney – my white blood cells are in the shape of Mickey Mouse! Disney will always be the best in my eyes but I also think the park a few miles down the interstate is pretty good. Check it out and see for yourself and for those of you like me let’s just keep it to ourselves and not tell Mickey! 😉

Ryan Gross

Travel Specialist

P.S. All of the Me and The Mouse agents are specialized in Universal vacations. If you would like to add a day at Universal don’t forget to contact your agent!

Are you a Harry Potter fan dreaming of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando or Hollywood? If so, do not overlook the famous Wand Ceremony at Ollivander’s, Makers of Fine Wands.Ollivander's Ash Wand- Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It was a very hot and sunny Summer day at Universal Studios Hollywood. The line was about an hour wait. My daughter, Hunter, was the only one excited about waiting in line to enter the shop. This was her ONE request for our visit. So, we all waited as the line slowly moved around the queue until we finally reached the front of the line. (You can visit the shop without going through the ceremony room).

The staff at Ollivander’s brings you in small groups into the ceremony room where one of Ollivander’s wand makers chooses one lucky guest to be selected by a wand. The room is dimly lit. There are stacks and stacks of old dusty wand boxes reaching to the ceiling, waiting for their owners to arrive.

Hunter, perhaps because she was dressed in her Hogwarts’ house shirt, was selected for the ceremony. Without giving too much away, she went through several wands before her wand finally found her, and the ceremony culminated in quite a little spectacle that was fun for everyone watching!

Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry PotterNo, you aren’t given a free wand. However, we did get a special bit of magic and a great memory from our visit.

From the ceremony room, you are led out into the main wand shop. Here you can look for different types of wands, replicas of characters’ wands from the films, or follow through the shop to the robes and other items. The majority of wands were priced between $30-$50. Robes were $110 but lined and well made.

To continue the magic in the Wizarding World, purchase an interactive wand and follow spots on the map where you can try your hand at various spells.

What a fun afternoon we had looking through all the shops, casting spells in the alleys, and stopping for butterbeer and the family feast at the Three Broomsticks!


If you’d like to add a day at Universal to your Disney vacation, let your Me and The Mouse agent know! Me and The Mouse agents are trained in Disney and Universal parks and resorts.


Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

There is always something going on at Me and The Mouse Travel, always. Last week, we were busy at a conference in Memphis, Tennessee, and this week our agents, Janene and Julie, are in Orlando, Florida! All of our agents at Me and The Mouse are highly knowledgable in all things Disney and Universal. They visit the parks often, take online seminars, and read up on rules and regulations to be sure they can best assist you.

Janene and Julie are no exception to the crew. They love what they do, and they wanted to share their super fun experience with you! They have been able to soak in some new information, tour the parks and resorts, and experience a LOT of fun! Here’s their favorite parts of the trip so far:

Janene & Julie’s Top 5

1. Touring Halloween Horror Nights & All of Universal’s Resorts
2. Visiting Both Theme Parks
3. Riding Harry Potter’s Escape from Gringotts
4. Watching The Blue Man Group
5. Having a LOT OF FUN!

Be sure to take a look at the images below to see what the ladies have been experiencing at Universal!

Take a Look at Their Experience!

Don’t forget!

While our agents are highly trained in everything Disney, we are very well trained and knowledgable about Universal. If you’d like to plan a Universal vacation or add a Universal Day to your Disney trip, be sure to mention it to your agent or fill out one of our Free Quote Forms today!

P.S. Check out our Universal Studios Pinterest Board! We have lots of ideas, tips, and tricks to make your vacation extra special!

If you’re visiting Universal Studios in Florida make your way to one of the Harry Potter worlds located in each of the parks to experience the Butterbeer Trifecta.  The trifecta is comprised of a butterbeer drink, froze butterbeer drink and butterbeer ice cream.  Both Hogsmead and Diagon Alley sell at least two of the three butterbeer treats.

Butterbeer comes in three different forms.  One is the traditional cold drink.  Many describe this drink as a butterscotch soda.  It’s a sweet concoction that is refreshing and a simple treat in the middle of your day as you walk through Harry Potter World.



If you need something a little colder, try the frozen butterbeer.  This is a slushy type drink that is sweet and refreshing.  The Fountain of Fair Fortune in Diagon Alley is one of several places where butterbeer is sold.

Frozen Butterbeer

My favorite of the Trifecta is the butterbeer ice cream. Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley is the only place to get the butterbeer ice cream.  The flavor is different from the drink.  It’s similar to salted carmel vanilla  ice cream.  It’s not overly sweet and a great treat in the middle of the day.

Butterbeer Ice Cream

Experiencing the Butterbeer Trifecta will enhance your visit to the Harry Potter Worlds.      Enjoy Butterbeer like Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione did as they sat in the Three Broom Sticks Pub or savor some ice cream as you wait in line for the Escape from Gringott’s rollercoaster.

Roxanne Genovese

Travel Specialist

Many clients ask us if their children are too young to visit theme parks. Universal Studios Orlando Resort offers unique experiences for preschool children in its theme parks.

Before you plan your trip with your preschooler to the Universal Studios Orlando Resort, it is important that you think about the following points:

Is your child:

  • tall enough to ride the attractions?
  • familiar with the characters and themed experiences at the Universal Resort?
  • adventurous and willing to ride attractions that include motion simulators, 3D films, fast or tall drops, and spinning ride cars?
  • more low key and prefer a playground and/or carnival style attractions?

Your answers to these questions will ultimately help your decision on which parks and attractions to visit at the Universal Studios Orlando Resort.

Universal Studios does contain a preschool friendly area featuring Woody Woodpecker and Curious George with a playground and splash pad. An animal show and character meet and greets (Spongebob, Scooby Doo, etc) are also sure to please.  To those children who are more adventurous and tall enough, Minion Mayhem, Men in Black, Shrek 3D, and The Simpsons attractions will all satisfy their thrills and funny bones!

Islands of Adventure is home to Seuss Landing – a preschool and elementary aged child’s dream ‘island’. Mini roller coaster, a slow moving train, a spinning octopus, and carousel allow little ones to enjoy their time in this thrill-seeking theme park. Character meet and greets (i.e. Marvel Super Heroes) will excite them as well! Depending on height and tolerance, there are also more thrill rides in this theme park to satisfy.

Harry Potter – Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) and Diagon Alley/London (Universal Studios) is amazing to experience at any age. However, if your little one is not familiar with the series, this may not be as exciting as you would hope for them. The dragon at Gringotts can be very frightening (my little one did NOT like him!) to preschoolers as well.

As a parent (and agent) who took her preschooler to Universal Studios Orlando Resort, my BEST advice is this:  Listen to your child. Make the best decision you can for them.  We chose a 1 day Park to Park option in order for her to experience all that was ‘kid friendly’ for her, and still experience both worlds of Harry Potter. At the end of the day – she decided she did not like most of what she had experienced (she is a bit of a scaredy cat), and didn’t want to come back until “i’m a big kid”.  We enjoyed our day, but we will definitely wait until she is older to go back!

While these “big kids” enjoyed Universal and Islands of Adventure – I hope this blog helps you in your decision, and are able to enjoy your time as well!  If you choose to book, we can help you! Contact us when you are ready!

Amy Sowinski 

Travel Specialist