Bahia Principe Bouganville Review

This luxury resort in La Romana, Dominican Republic is for adults only and is the ideal spot for soaking up some sun. Relax in the spectacular bay and pamper yourself with superior services. Enjoy a wide variety of cuisine at a number of different restaurants, explore the vibrant culture of the region, or choose between a round of golf or a spa treatment. This Bahia Principe Luxury Bouganville review will cover everything you need to know to decide is this is the best resort for your stay!

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21 Must-Have Items For an All-Inclusive Resort

All-inclusive vacations are ideal for when you just really need to relax. During an all-inclusive resort vacation, you don’t have to worry about cooking or planning your meals, you can choose to lay in a lounge chair or partake in any of the daily activities, and you never have to make your bed! Partake in special themed nights, enjoy multiple nightlife scenes, and hit the gym during your stay if you please. It’s a wonderful opportunity to do less thinking and more relaxing. Don’t forget to pack these 21 must-have items for an all-inclusive resort.

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Standard Luggage Carry-On Backpack Review

Standard Luggage Carry-On Travel Backpack

Have you ever found yourself eager to travel but looking for ways to minimize the cost? A great travel tip I’ve been following for years now is to pack no more than a carry-on. Checking Luggage is a thing of the past; hidden luggage fees can really add up and put you over your travel budget. The Standard Luggage Carry- On travel backpack has helped me to completely eradicate the fees and hassles that go along with checking bags.

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9 Cedar Point Tips and Tricks

I love rollercoasters, and Cedar Point is known as the rollercoaster capital of the world. I need to make the absolute most of my time in the park so that I can enjoy all of my favorite thrills as many times as possible. Use these 9 Cedar Point tips and tricks to Make the most of your time at Cedar Point and have a thrilling day at the rollercoaster capital of the world! At the end of this post, I will share with you my complete Cedar Point Travel Guide.

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter Travel Guide

Easily maneuver through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter With this Travel Guide

If you awaited your Hogwarts Acceptance Letter in your pre-teens with fervor, you can’t miss this. Live out your wildest dreams -and biggest childhood letdown- at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In this guide, I’ll be sharing everything you need to know about Universal Orlando’s’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter. At the end of this post, I’ll be sharing 7 tips for your Wizarding World of Harry Potter interactive wand, an absolute must for all visitors.

Find The Content You Need

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10 Basic Tips for Winter Hiking

Winter Hiking: A Beginners Guide

Do you love to hike but live somewhere that gets cold and snowy in the winter months? Don’t let cold weather dull your shine, get outside! There is so much beauty to be found in winter hiking as long as you’re prepared for the temperatures and the terrain. In this post, I’ll share 10 tips that will help get you out on the trail tomorrow. I will also share how I pack my pack and what I’m wearing to stay warm, dry, and comfortable while winter hiking.

What are the Benefits to Hiking in the Winter?

  1. Trails are often desolate; few people want to brave the cold temperatures or own the proper gear to do so so you’ll often have a normally busy trail to yourself.
  2. Snow and freezing temperatures vastly change your favorite trails making them seem almost brand new. Your senses are surprised by new smells and sights on the same ‘old’ trails you’re used to! But be warned, the trail might not be as easy to follow so be sure to brush up on your navigation skills.
  3. In the winter months, your phobia of bugs and/or fear of animals on the trail is pretty much diminished! Enjoy the lack of bug spray, bear spray, and bug bites at the end of your hike.

Top Tips for Winter Hiking:

1. Layering is Key when Winter Hiking.

Layer your clothing; you want to be warm without sweating too profusely. Once your clothing is wet its ability to retain heat becomes impaired.

How Do You Layer For a Winter Hike?

Layer 1: Thin, sweat wicking synthetic fabric on top and bottom

Layer 2: Merino Wool or Polyester Material

Layer 3: Puffy Zippered Vest (this is generally what I wind up hiking in)

Layer 4: Puffy Jacket with hood (worn or packed to start your hike!)

Layer 5: Hard Shell, waterproof Pants and Jacket

Layer 6: Accessories (Necessities)! Fleece Hat, Waterproof Gloves, Wool Socks/Battery-powered Heated Socks, & Gaiters

Footwear: Insulated Winter Hiking Boot

**Always pack an extra pair of each accessory!**

2. Allow Yourself Appropriate Time Frames

Hiking and Snowshoeing require similar effort (unless you’re breaking trail that is!), however, snowshoeing will take you longer. Please allow yourself more time to hike a trail in the snowy, winter months! Plan small for your first couple of winter adventures to see what speed you generally move at; it’s only up from here!

A Winter Walk in the Woods!

3. Plan Ahead and Prepare

There’s always so much to plan for! First and foremost, make sure you have a good understanding of what your hike will entail and what kind of gear you might need. Depending on what type of terrain you’re tackling you’ll need some combination of the following: Snowshoes, micro spikes, crampons, and an ice axe.

Additionally, be sure to know where your trailhead is. If you’re hiking a trail that begins on a season road, you might have a tough time driving to the trailhead! You’ll have to hike the distance between the main road and the trailhead; cross country skiing that distance is another really great option as well.

Some other things to keep in mind include:
Planning to be at your highest point at the warmest and/or clearest point in the day depending on your priorities! Taking into account all land forms; bodies of water can be tough if they’re not fully frozen. And, being prepared for the sun to set earlier in winter months as well.

Just below the summit of Lake Placid 9er, Hurricane Mountain

4. Appropriate Equipment is Vital

As always, with any kind of wilderness adventure, please make sure you are appropriately equipped in both gear and knowledge! You can usually find training and pertinent information through local organizations; if not, look on-line! You’re bound to find a course that can better prepare you for winter conditions if you know where to look. Personally, for any outdoor enthusiast, I would suggest looking into a wilderness first aid course as well (or at a minimum read up on proper winter first aid needs.)

In the winter, having the proper gear is a true necessity. You can’t show up to a snowy trailhead expecting to hike a mountain with nothing but hiking boots; you’re going to need additional gear for safety and success. What you need depends on where you’re hiking!

Loose, Fresh Snow: Snowshoes or Cross Country Skis
Icy Flat Terrain or Low Angle Slopes: Microspikes
Steep and Icy Terrain: Crampons & Ice Axe


What do I Need To Pack For Winter Hiking?

  • Backpack: Gregory Zulu
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hand Warmers/ Foot Warmers
  • Water (64oz.)
  • Snacks
  • Extra Hat
  • Extra Gloves
  • Spare Socks
  • Packable Down Coat
  • Tissues
  • Essentials (Fire Starter, Navigation, Headlamp, Knife, etc.)
  • Micro spikes
  • Duct Tape
  • Camp Blanket/Bivy/Sleeping Bag
  • Personal Location Beacon ($$$, but could save your life!)

5. Follow All Leave No Trace Principles

Although some of these have already been covered, one in particular sticks out to me in winter over others. Basically, don’y destroy the trail. Follow Fall appropriate LNT principles and be sure to utilize snowshoes or cross country skis where appropriate to refrain from post-holing and making the trail dangerous for other hikers (and especially cross country skiers)!

6. Snack Storage is Important

Store snacks close to your core to prevent them from freezing and to ensure you are able to consume them when you’re in need of energy. You may not feel hungry, but cold temperatures and breaking trail through the snow requires a lot of energy; make sure you are appropriately equipped with enough snacks!

7. Water Freezes

Store your waterbottles lid-side-down in your pack. This will just change ‘the top’ which is likely to freeze first. Having a wide mouth opening and filling your water bottle with warm water before departure also help prevent water from freezing.

8. The Cold is Draining

The cold causes batteries to die faster. Keep this in mind if you plan on using your phone, a headlamp, or a camera; hand and body warmers are great ways to keep these items warm while you’re hiking. Make sure you bring extra batteries for your headlamp. Carrying these items close to your body is helpful as well!

Please, for the love of all things holy, utilizing a paper map and never relying on your cellphone out there, no matter the temperature. Reference your phone if it makes you happy, but please carry additional navigation and know how to use it.

9. Warm Drinks Bring Life!

Pack a thermos full of hot cocoa, coffee, or tea! A great insulated bottle should keep this warm for a few hours. Warm yourself up from the inside out with a simple sip.

10. Make a Plan and Share It

Write out a very specific plan and share it with someone you trust. This plan should include what trailhead you’ll be starting from, any spur trails you plan on taking, and what time you plan on starting your hike. Once you share this information with a loved one, give them a time you will reach them by on the day of your hike.

It’s important that you take into consideration that you might have to leave the trailhead and drive for a bit until you have cell phone service when calculating a time. If you do not reach out to this individual by the scheduled time, it’s their responsibility to first, call you and then second, call the DEC and/or State Police. Make sure your plan is detailed enough that you can easily be found if you need help!


Enjoy Winter Outside

We Love to get outside during the winter months! Although winter hiking does require more planning, additional gear, and extra safety precautions, it’s a fairly accessible winter recreation activity. Unlike skiing or snowboarding which requires expensive gear, lift tickets, and a certain level of skill, anyone can start winter hiking as long as they’re properly prepared! I hope this helps you to make it outside this winter.

Check out these awesome Adirondack Hikes, perfect for a winter adventure.

Summit of St. Regis, Saranac 6er

Visit Cotopaxi’s website and use $20 towards fair trade certified goods today using this link!

15 Great Universal Rides for Children

Universal Florida is a great amusement park for the whole family, but are there enough children rides? The big kids have tons of awesome thrill rides to keep them busy while the youngins have kid-friendly rides to experience and characters to meet! In this post, I’ll be sharing 15 attractions you and your favorite little ones will LOVE. At the end of this post, I will share 11 tips for improving your Universal Studios Orlando Rides experience.

15 Great Universal Rides for Children

Find joy in the smiles that these rides will bring to your child’s face.

15.
Play Areas


Universal features several play areas that will keep your children occupied for hours. Young dinosaur lovers should explore Camp Jurassic, a multi-level prehistoric playground full of mammoth-sized fun. The Jurassic Park Discovery Center is right next door if you have any interest in the specifics of our planet’s prehistoric past. The Curious George goes to Town playground has a ball room, splash pad, and tons of toddler activities for inquisitive little ones. I suggest saving this for the end of your day because your kids won’t want to leave!

14.
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride!



Kid Friendly
Minimum Height 36″

Wind your way, high in the sky, through the imaginative buildings of Seuss Landing. Two different tracks mean two different Seuss stories; one continues the story of the Sneetches, while the other takes you through the ABCs of your other favorite Seuss stories. Enjoy this unique view of the park, as you travel through Seuss Landing, enjoying many of your favorite Seuss creatures while listening to your favorite stories. 

13.
Shrek 4D


Kid Friendly

Shrek 4-D is a mini-movie between Shrek and Shrek 2. See, hear and feel the story unfold from your seat with your OgreVision glasses! Experience a funny, multisensory adventure for the whole family. Be prepared to SHAKE on this ride if you sit in the interactive seating.

12.
 Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl


Kid Friendly
Under 48″: Supervising Companion Required

Although many small children won’t know the aliens from The Simpsons, they’re still aliens and what kid isn’t fascinated by extraterrestrials!? Pilot your very own flying saucer and fry Springfield citizens with lasers as you circle one of the animated alien fiends. The jokes will have you laughing alongside your children in the Simpson world of Springfield. 

11.
Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster


Kid Friendly
Minimum Height 36″
Under 48″: Supervising Companion Required

Ease first-timers into the world of roller coasters with the wacky woody the woodpecker. This kid-friendly coaster spins through a nut factory filled with silly puns and corny jokes to break the ice! No daredevil drops here, just tons of fun and smiles for everyone. 

10.
Pteranodon Flyers


Kid Friendly
Minimum Height 36″
Under 48″: Supervising Companion Required

Take flight with your little ones beneath the 10-foot wings of a Pteranodon, on this high-flying gliding coaster. The seat swings gently from side to side and there are no sudden or scary movements, making it perfect for guests who aren’t quite ready for big kid thrills. You will be soaring above the tretops with your legs danlging though, so if you fear heights – be prepared.

9.
One Fish Two Fish


Kid Friendly
Under 48″: Supervising Companion Required

I’m a huge fan of Dr. Suess and love Seuss Landing in general, but this ride is extra fun. The fish hold 1-3 riders each and you control whether the fish flies up or down. Fountains squirt water in time to a musical rhyme. Listen carefully to the song. If you want to stay dry while riding, follow the song precisely; halfway through they instruct you to do the opposite of what they say. My brother and I had fun fighting for the joystick throughout our rides because I was adamant about staying dry and he thought it would be hysterical to soak us. I won!

8.
Storm Force Acceleration


Kid Friendly
Under 48″: Supervising Companion Required

Professor Xavier and Storm have a plan that just might save the X-men and they need your help. Help Storm harness enough thunder and lightning by spinning the wheel as fast as you can so she can blast Magneto into oblivion. Spin and laugh until you puke on this hyped-up version of the teacups. This is another great opportunity to escape the Florida sun by riding a ride that puts a temporary roof over your head.

7.
Caro-Seuss-el


Kid Friendly
Under 48″: Supervising Companion Required

Climb aboard this creative cast of Seuss creations! You and your kiddos will love being able to animate your character as well – pull on the reigns to make their ears wiggle or their eyes blink. Ride on the back of a fun character, or on the bench seating that is also available. This Seuss twist on a classic amusement park ride is an absolute blast and a must-ride while you’re exploring Universal Studios Florida.

6.
Race Through New York Featuring Jimmy Fallon


Motion Simulation
Minimum Height 40″

Although the little ones might not get the Saturday Night live references and humor, they’ll definitely love this race through NYC! The waiting area is incredibly kid-friendly, featuring numerous games and Hashtag the Panda. You will collect your tickets as you enter – when the waiting room turns your color, that means its time to ride! Once you hop into your seat, you’ll zoom through, below, and above New York City in a fun-filled race against Jimmy Fallon.

5.
Hogwarts Express


Thrill
Under 48″: Supervising Companion Required

Part-to-Park Admission Ticket Required

Climb aboard the Hogwarts Express, from Kings Station or Hogsmeade, and travel between parks. Experience the thrill of walking through Platform 9 ¾ before you watch the British countryside pass by your window; the trip is different in both directions, so make sure you travel to and from each location! Although labeled as a thrill ride, there is nothing frightening about the trip. IT is THRILLING to experience the Hogwarts Express just as Harry, Ron, and Hermoine did as they traveled to and from Hogwarts!

4.
The Cat in the Hat


Kid Friendly
Minimum Height 36″
Under 48″: Supervising Companion Required

Ride through the pages of a beloved Dr. Seuss classic, The Cat in the Hat, on your couch car. Spin and twirl through the house as Thing one and Thing two make quite a mess. Race to clean up as the cautious Mr. Krinklebein reminds you that at any minute, Mother will be home! This kid-friendly motion simulator will be a family hit. 

3.
E.T. Adventure


Kid Friendly, Motion Simulator
Minimum Height 34″
Under 48″: Supervising Companion Required

I hope this classic never goes away. It’s such a fun ride that the whole family can enjoy. On this dark ride, you’ll board your flying bicycle with E.T. in tow. This thrilling, albeit gentle, ride sends you soaring above the city to save E.T.’s home planet. This magical planet full of wondrous otherworldly creatures will leave everyone talking about this original 1990 attraction. Be sure to listen for E.T.’s personal thanks at the end of your flight! It made my brother’s day to be thanked by E.T. himself. Make sure you sit in the same order you hand over your ‘passports’ in.  

2.
Men in Black Alien Attack


Motion Simulation
Minimum Height 42″
Under 48″: Supervising Companion Required

Save New York from an Alien epidemic! This is a family favorite for so many reasons. As an agent trainee, you’ll learn to have a steady hand on your laser gun to zap 120 different species of aliens to earn points. The more points you get, the closer you’ll be to becoming a full-fledged Men in Black. Make it a family competition to see who can score the most points. Naturally, my dad, the retired police officer, came in first.

1.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem


Motion Simulation
Minimum Height 40″

I just absolutely LOVE this ride. It’s listed under my 13 best rides at Universal Florida as well under more of the ‘thrill ride’ category, although it is definitely appropriate for riders of all ages. It’s a 3D motion simulator (with a stationary seat option) that takes you on a heartfelt adventure through Gru’s lab. It’s able to make it into both categories because of its design and its storyline; it’s that good. Enjoy the minions and the girls on this spectacular ride!

Best Universal Rides For Children

These rides are bound to get the whole family smiling while serving the needs of your younger riders! Here are 11 ways to make the most of your Universal Orlando experience. Stay on-site to earn early entry into the parks, and utilize the resort WiFi and Universal App to see wait times and use the virtual line program. Go see the entire list of tips for improving your Universal Florida stay.


13 Best Rides at Universal Florida

When traveling to Universal Studios Orlando, your time is of the essence. Sometimes you have to pick and choose which rides you have the time for. I love thrill rides and prefer to not waste my time on rides that don’t excite me, but sometimes it’s so hard to know which attractions deserve my attention. This list of 13 best rides at Universal Florida will help you spend your hard-earned time and money on the attractions that have the wow-factor you’re looking for. 

13 Best Rides at Universal Florida

Hang on tight as your favorite characters burst through the screen and take you for a ride. I’m a huge thrill ride seeker, and because of this, we chose to stay on the Orlando Resort so we could enjoy fast passes to all of the rides.


13.
The Simpsons Ride


Motion Simulator
Minimum Height 40″

Crash Through Krustyland on this virtual reality rollercoaster ride. The pre-show and queue areas will leave you feeling like you stepped right into Springfield. Go on an absolutely wild adventure with the whole gang as you wreck the clown’s low-budget theme park. If you are someone who feels a little queasy after motion simulation, be prepared for this one.

12.
 The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man


3D/4D
Minimum Height 40″

One of the original motion-based 3D dark rides at Universal Florida, and still a popular attraction! This is one of the first rides I ever remember riding at Universal Studios Florida at least 15 years ago. Join the world-famous web-slinger on a journey soaring above the streets of the city. Be prepared for everything as you and Spidey save the Statue of Liberty.

11.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey


3D/4D
Minimum Height 48”

Walking through Hogwarts Castle is an adventure in itself! Everything is just like the books/movies; even the pictures blink, and move, and talk to you. I can promise you that this attraction is unlike anything you’ve ever ridden before. On this ride, you’ll experience an airborne Quidditch match and alarmingly close encounters with Death Eaters as you tip, twist, and turn on a flying bench. 

Make the most of your Universal Florida experience by doing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter right. Explore Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley with your interactive wand in hand for additional park thrills.

10.
Skull Island: Reign of Kong


Thrill Ride
Minimum Height 36″

One of two rides at Universal Orlando that use immersion tunnel technology to simulate movement through an adventure. Honestly, this ride is incredibly realistic, therefore, making it slightly terrifying! You will have to brave the dangers of a mysterious island where prehistoric predators and fearsome creatures attack your vehicle from all sides. Luckily, the one who reigns is quick to save the day. 

9.
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls


Water Ride
Minimum Height 44”

This log flume ride at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida is one of the park’s original rides from 1999. Riders will most definitely get wet on this ride and I suggest rocking a poncho if you would like any part of you to stay even remotely dry. The log flume winds its way through a number of animatronics and short dips before it plummets 75 feet over a heart-stopping drop. The final drop alone earns Dudley Do-Rights Ripsaw Falls a spot on the top 5 rides at universal studios Orlando list. The storyline features characters spun off from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle television show and is actually quite funny if you really listen.

8.
The Incredible Hulk


Thrill Ride
Minimum Height 54″

This launched roller coaster took me for a wild ride on my very first Incredible Hulk experience back in the early 2000s. As a rider, you’ve been bravely volunteered to be a test subject for a science experiment based on Dr. Bruce Banner’s research. Once you’re catapulted out of the tunnel, you’ll be propelled upside down into a weightless zero-gravity roll, continuously racing faster and faster down the track.

7.
Transformers: The Ride


3D and 4D
Minimum Height 40″

Become a freedom fighter and save the earth from Megatron on Transformers: The Ride 3D. Once you board your N*E*S*T* vehicle you’ll join Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in an ultra-immersive thrill ride that blurs the line between fiction and reality. Fight to keep the AllSpark out of Megatron’s hands in an explosive battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. The Autobots are counting on you, roll out.

6.
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem


Motion Simulation
Minimum Height 40″

I love, love, love, loved Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. While you snake through the queue pay attention to the overhead monitors as they bring you up to speed on the storyline. This fun ride has a storyline that will definitely tug on your heartstrings a little.  This motion simulated ride will take you into Gru’s lab where you will be turned into a minion recruit! From here you’ll experience and all-too-realistic adventure with Gru, his daughters, and some minions. To end the ride, you’ll exit and have the opportunity to take a photo with a real minion! 

5.
Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit


Thrill Ride
Minimum Height 51″

Strap in and choose your tune of choice as you climb at a 90-degree angle toward the 167-foot first drop of this steel coaster. Adrenaline pumping and music thumping, you’ll be sure to feel the rush of this thrill ride. After your blistering 65 mph ride, you can choose to relive your ride with a photo or a music video of your adventure. 

4.
Doctor Doom’s Fearfall


Thrill Ride
Minimum Height 52″ 

Help one of Marvel’s supreme super villains test out his new invention. His plan is to collect your fear during your stay at Universal Florida to use as a weapon against the Fantastic Four. With an initial launch stronger than a 747 and acceleration faster than a space shuttle, Dr. Doom is going to get his wish. Blast off 185 feet into the sky before gravity pulls you, screaming, back down toward the earth.

3.
Revenge Of The Mummy


Thrill Ride
Minimum Height 48”

For many people, my step-mom included, this ride should have the number 1 spot at Universal Studios Orlando. I personally feel as though there are two rides that out-do even this thrilling coaster! This psychological thrill ride combines a dark ride with impressive animatronics, special effects, and a roller coaster. This ride might be indoors, but its launch style coaster will carry you through swarms of insects, warrior mummies, and fire so intense you’ll feel the heat. 

2.
Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts


Motion Simulation Thrill Ride with a 3D/4D Experience
Minimum Height 42″

Walk through the Gringotts bank and travel deep down to the underground tunnels. Journey on this multi-dimensional thrill ride through the cavernous passageways of Gringotts. On this indoor steel roller coaster, you’ll encounter Harry, Ron, and Hermoine while you evade the wrath of Voldemort, Bellatrix, and other mythical creatures through the subterranean vaults of Gringotts. Make sure you hold on, for it’s a wild ride! Universal really did it right here when they combined a roller coaster, with a 3D/4D motion simulated experience. It is one of my favorite rides I have ever been on.

1.
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure


Thrill Ride
Minimum Height 48”

This is an epic new ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Fly away into the wilds of the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid as your guide. Twist and turn through seven launches, which are more launches than any other roller coaster in the world. It is also only the second coaster in the United States to feature a vertical drop track. At nearly a mile in length, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is currently the longest roller coaster in Florida. Unfortunately, this is one of the most unreliable in the entire theme park industry due to its frequent downtimes. I suggest hitting this ride first thing in the morning and be prepared to wait at least two hours to ride. Bring snacks for the wait and know that the ride is worth the wait.

Universal Florida Rides…

There are endless thrills to be had at Universal Studios. These 13 best rides at Universal Florida should be at the top of your list! Make sure you have the time to ride them all with these 11 tips.

7 Tips For a Spellbinding Interactive Wand Experience

Interactive Wand and Spell Casting Guide for the wizarding world of harry potter

Did you wait patiently for your letter from Hogwarts on your 11th birthday? You’re probably a muggle, just like me. The good news is, you can still experience the magic of Harry Potter! Visit Universal Studios Orlando and be sure to invest in the interactive wand experience. Learn exactly how to participate in the interactive wand experience while visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWOHP).

Wands at Ollivanders

1. Don’t Wait, Purchase your Wand Immediately.

Make the most of your time at Universal by divvying up your days! Many people allot specific days to certain areas of the park they’re most interested in. If you have a day planned to experience the WWOHP, head to Ollivanders the night or day before to purchase your wand ahead of time. Having your wand ahead of time allows you to really study that map and you won’t have to worry about where you’re going to store your wand box all day. Some of the longer wand boxes will not fit in the free lockers where you store your belongings for Escape from Gringotts, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure.

Choosing An Interactive Wand.

Choose your interactive wand based off of your favorite character, or use the chart Universal has designed based loosely on the Celtic tree calendar. Make the selection of 13 wands easy by simply going with your birth month and date, or take your time in reading what each kind of wood represents and choose your wand based off of your personality.

Ollivander’s Wands List

WOODDATESATTRIBUTES
BirchDecember 24 – January 20Vivacious, energetic, perspicacious
RowanJanuary 21 – February 17Imaginative, resourceful, therapeutic
AshFebruary 18 – March 17Kind, generous, romantic
AlderMarch 18 – April 14Adventurous, confident, industrious
WillowApril 15 – May 12Resilient, confident, strong
HawthornMay 13 – June 9Flexible, strong, family-oriented
OakJune 10 – July 7Steadfast, optimistic, intuitive
HollyJuly 8 – August 4Influential, unbiased, wise
HazelAugust 5 – September 1Precocious, creative, practical
VineSeptember 2 – September 29Persistent, restless, energetic
IvySeptember 30 – October 27Tenacious, patient, goal-oriented
ReedOctober 28 – November 24Articulate, steadfast, adaptable
ElderNovember 25 – December 23Perceptive, sensitive, resilient


2. Stay late and/or arrive early.

If you have the opportunity to arrive an hour early, take advantage of it. If you’re not traveling with small children and can arrive early and stay late, do that too! Because it’s such a magical place with so much to offer, you need one full day to appreciate it all. Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade tend to be busier in the morning hours but die down a tad at night. A different sense of magic comes with the darkness as well! In addition, if you stay into the evening hours you’ll have the opportunity to experience The Nighttime Lights At Hogwarts Castle; you won’t be disappointed if you stay.

3. Read your Harry Potter Interactive Wand map!

Be sure to use the map you receive when purchasing your interactive wand. Although you can walk around and look for the emblems among the cobblestone alleyways, you are bound to miss something if you’re not paying close attention. There are tons of spells for you to try and they’re pretty much all on the map. The map will also tell you the name of the spell and what motion to create with your wand. If a specific effect is not working, you may come across an ‘Anti Jinx’ sign. Unfortunately, you’ll just have to move on.

Where are the spells?

This list of spells came from the Orlando Informer’s Interactive Wand and Spell Casting Guide and includes some secret spells not included on the map! 

Diagon alley spells.

SPELLLOCATIONDIFFICULTYEFFECT
1.TarantallegraRed-curtained shop window of Pilliwinkle’s Playthings, next to the Fountain of Fair FortuneMedium/hardCurtains open and troll marionettes dance across the stage
2.IncendioAt the end of Horizont Alley, aim your wand up towards the second floor of Flimflam’s LanternsEasyLanterns in the second-floor windows light up
3.MetelojinxLook up towards the umbrella, above the restroom entrance in Horizont AlleyEasyThe umbrella lights up and emits rain and thunder noises, while spraying water onto the street
4.SilencioThe birdcage in the right-hand window of Magical MenagerieHardThe noisy bird in the window stops squawking
5.Dark DetectorsIn the shop window of Wiseacres that faces Gringotts Wizarding BankMediumOrbs open, revealing eyes that follow the movement of your wand
6.Specialis RevelioIn the shop window near the front door of WiseacresMediumLook up to the star map to see an animated archer fire an arrow for his dogs to retrieve
7.Wingardium LeviosaThe right-hand shop window of Scribbulus, with the feather quillMedium/hardThe quill levitates before lowering down
Mystery Spell #1In the Scribbulus window to the right of the feather quill windowEasyHidden messages appear on the parchment – cast multiple times for different messages
8.ReparoBrown E. Wright’s blacksmith shop at the end of Carkitt Market, near the Hopping PotEasyA suit of armor is magically repaired
9.Locomotor BellowsAt Brown E. Wright’s blacksmith shop, immediately to the left of ReparoEasyBlacksmith bellows pump up and down
10.AguamentiThe mermaid fountain at the end of Carkitt MarketEasyActivates the frog spout, while occasionally spraying out the top (watch out!)
11.DescendoThe shop window of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes on the Diagon Alley side, with the yellow and orange toiletEasyThe U-NO-POO sign swirls down into the toilet, amid flushing sounds
Mystery Spell #2The far-right window at Slug and Jiggers Apothecary on Diagon AlleyEasyA suspicious-looking pot of brown stuff moves and emits a sulfuric smell

Knockturn Alley Spells.

While you’re exploring  Knockturn Alley, you will improve your interactive wand experience by checking out your map under the blacklights. Each spell here is indicated by a small image. These small images show you a bit of what might happen at that station. The one marked with a spider, for example, features a window where spider shadows are triggered by movement.

SPELLLOCATIONDIFFICULTYEFFECT
1.Locomotor Chimney SweepLook up to the Chimney Sweep Elf Sign, to the right of Dystyl PhaelangesEasyThe house-elf climbs a chimney away from a burst of fire
2.Moving SkeletonIn the lighted bay window across from Borgin and BurkesEasyA skeleton projection copies your movements – try playing the chimes or interacting with other on-screen elements
3.MimblewimbleLook for a cadre of shrunken heads, in a window to the left of Dystyl PhaelangesMedium/hardSilences the talking heads
4.IncendioLook for a bird in a cage in a window in the courtyard around the corner from Borgin and BurkesMediumLights a candle, the fumes of which have a magical effect on the little birdy – cast multiple times for different effects
5.AlohamoraAlso in the courtyard around the corner from Borgin and BurkesEasyUse the spell to try to unlock the door, but when you grab and turn the handle, it is still locked, and you’re hit with a blast of air
The Dancing Skeleton in Knockturn Alley

Hogsmeade Spells.

SPELLLOCATIONDIFFICULTYEFFECT
1.IncendioShop window of Zonko’s Joke ShopEasySets off the spinning wheels and rockets
2.Arresto MomentumLook up towards the wall-mounted cauldron at McHavelock’sMediumThe water stops pouring and the cauldron tips to reveal a cheeky pixie
3.RevelioThe window display at Honeydukes with chocolate frogsMediumThe large box lid lifts to reveal a croaking chocolate frog
4.HerbivicusThe right-hand window of Dogweed and DeathcapHardThe flower blooms in the window (aim your wand high and look down low)
5.Ascendio/DescendoRight-hand window of Gladrags WizardwearMedium/hardRaises/lowers a measuring tape on the wizard robes
6.Locomotor SnowmanWindow with cakes displayed at Madam Puddifoot’sEasySnowman cake-topper moves around
7.Locomotor/Arresto MomentumThe backside of Dervish and Banges, in the shop window with the Hogwarts modelEasyStart and stop the music box in the window – a tune plays and the dragon chases a quidditch player
8.AlohomoraThe shop window of Tomes and Scrolls Specialist BookshopMediumUnlocks a copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard
9.Wingardium LeviosaThe shop window of SpintwichesEasyThe quaffle and bludger balls wiggle and float in their case
“It makes me so happy…”

4. Use Small Movements.

It’s not the size of the wizard, but the size of the motion that matters. The best tip I ever received in using my wand was to make the movements no larger than the size of the emblem on the ground. At each spell site, there is an emblem on the ground with the name of the spell and the motion you must move your wand in to find success. The size of the insignia is the size of what your movement should be; it’s all in the wrist. Help guide small children who might struggle with fine motor skills!

Lending A Helping Hand

5. Be Patient.

Don’t forget to bring your patience along for the adventure. There will be lines for rides, food, and to cast spells along with lots of small children trying to perfect their swish and flick. You might feel like you’re waiting a lifetime, but some people don’t ever get to experience the magic of Harry Potter in their lifetime, so you’re quite lucky. Be patient with yourself and others as you practice spellcasting without the experience of the required Charms Course at Hogwarts; perfecting their performance can be quite tricky.

6. Ask a Fellow Witch or Wizard.

There are so many witches and wizards who could be professors of Charms class. If you’re having trouble, don’t be afraid to ask for help! A boy that couldn’t have been much older than 10 helped me through a few tough spells during my experience. Also, ask a witch or wizard who appears to work in Diagon alley where the secret spells are if you can’t find them. They love to share the magic!

Cast Away My Friends

7. Be Immature at Heart.

Harry Potter fans of all ages will be decked out in their gear. Cloaks, scarves, and wands are just some of the accessories you will come across. Join in on the fun and act like a kid! In other words, a bit of immaturity goes a long way during your interactive wand experience. Embrace your inner kid.

First Timer Tips to Make the Most of Your Universal Trip.

If you follow these steps, you’re bound to have a spellbinding interactive wand experience at Universal Orlando. Don’t forget to make the most out of your stay. Staying on the property comes with a number of perks such as free transportation and early access to the parks. Learn what other ways you can save time and money at Universal Orlando through the link below.