Dining Review: The Three Broomsticks

The Three Broomsticks is located at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade) in Universal's Islands of Adventure.
The Three Broomsticks is located at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade) in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

When paying a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, you have to stop by The Three Broomsticks, the Hogsmeade dive Harry and company frequent (though sometimes while invisble).

This hog's head sits above the bar at the Hog's Head. Below are tankards of yummy butterbeer.
This hog’s head sits above the bar at the Hog’s Head. Below are tankards of yummy butterbeer.

The Three Broomsticks restaurant and Hog’s Head bar (featuring an interactive hog’s head) appears sturdy and weathered, as if it has truly endured generations in the village. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating. If it’s nice weather, be sure to visit the back patio. You’ll get an unobstructed view of Hogwarts, which is ideal for pictures.

My friend Morgan and I explored the back patio of The Three Broomsticks.
My friend Morgan and I explored the back patio of The Three Broomsticks.

The food is inspired by English dishes, featuring traditional favorites like Cornish pasty, fish and chips, shepherd’s pie and the like. The restaurant offers the Great Feast Platter, mimicking the feats served at Hogwarts. The dish has a little bit of everything, but come hungry. It’s a large serving. Do you have picky eaters on board? No worries. The Three Broomsticks has kiddie meals like macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers.

I am a self-proclaimed picky eater, but I usually order the fish and chips. The fish is served hot and crispy, but the real star is the chips. Fried potato wedges are packed with salty flavor, making the perfect compliment to any meal.

Frozen butterbeer is my favorite treat served at the Universal Orlando resort.
Frozen butterbeer is my favorite treat served at the Universal Orlando resort.

You’ll see pumpkin juice sold throughout Hogsmeade, but only at the Hog’s Head can you buy pumpkin fizz. Pumpkin fizz is pumpkin juice paired with some kind of bubbles (seltzer, club soda, or something like that), turning the juice into a fizzy and delicious drink. My longstanding favorite is frozen butterbeer, a non-alcoholic, butterscotch-y treat. You can enjoy butterbeer at the Hog’s Head or at the butterbeer stands along the main path to Hogwarts. The Hog’s Head also serves alcoholic beverages, including their Hog’s Head brew.

The Three Broomsticks does not require reservations, but remember peaks times (11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) during peak seasons can make eating difficult. I prefer to grab a late lunch (around 2 p.m.) or an early supper (around 5 p.m.) when visiting The Three Broomsticks during the peak season.

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Spring into Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival

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Photo from Disney.com

Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival, a springtime special event focusing on the flora and fauna of the park, is underway. You can enjoy this festival, included in your park admission, until May 18, 2014. The festival begins in early March (March 5 of this year).

Topiaries and Gardens

Epcot has grand topiaries throughout the year, featuring favorites like Lady and the Tramp, Mickey and Minnie and Phineas and Ferb. Disney floral artists create topiaries exclusively for the Flower and Garden Festival every year. Be sure to check out the display at the entrance of Future World, showcasing Goofy, Donald and Daisy and their love of Spring.

Photo from D23.com
Photo from D23.com

I’m most excited about the new garden area, Mike and Sulley’s Monstrous Garden. Located in Future World near Innoventions, this play area features James P. Sullivan and Wazowski with one I.

Are you a Frozen fan? Be on the lookout for a troll topiary in the Norway pavilion in World Showcase.

Festival Center

My mom and I outside Festival Center in 2013.
My mom and I outside Festival Center in 2013.

Festival Center, located in Future World, is the hub of the event. With meet and greets and sessions led by HGTV stars, local vendors and exhibits on how Disney garden artists create the magic, it’s a farmer’s market with flair. Many of the local vendors offer free samples, such as seeds and gardening supplies. Even if you’re not a gardener, I recommend stopping by.

Meet and Greets:

  • April 25-28: David Bromstad
  • May 2-4: Chip Wade
  • May 9-11: Genevieve Gorder
  • May 16-18: Allison Victoria

Food

No Epcot festival is complete without seasonal treats (the Food and Wine Festival and Christmas Around the World both offer seasonal dishes throught the park).

  • Florida Fresh: Located near the Germany pavilion, this station highlights Florida produce, such as watermelon and citrus fruits. Try a refreshing watermelon salad or dive into adventure with a kumquat pie. Fresh lemonade and local Florida wines are also served here.
  • Jardin de Fiestas: Near the Mexico pavilion, this is the perfect stop for tapas, small Spanish appetizers packed with flavor. Try a mushroom and cheese quesadilla or chocolate flan for a sweet treat. Mexican libations, such as Mexican white sangria, margaritas and Mexican beer are also available.
  • Buttercup Cottage: This cutely named spot is located in the United Kingdom pavilion. With English-themed treats like potatoes, cheese biscuits and lemon scones, it’s a place fit for Mary Poppins. Chilled varieties of Twining’s tea are offered to quench your thirst with your pinky out.

Music

Concerts take place throughout the festival at the amphitheater in the America pavilion. Arrive early if you would like a seat. You will be able to hear the concert if you don’t nab a spot, but you won’t be able to see. I recommend arriving at least three hours early for a big act.

Upcoming concerts

  • April 25-27: Herman’s Hermitts Starring Peter Noone
  • May 2-4: Starship featuring Mickey Thomas
  • May 9-11: Chubby Checker and the Wildcats
  • May 16-18: Alan Parson’s Live Project

I haven’t been to a Disney festival that I haven’t enjoyed, but this is by far the most beautiful festival they host. You can also enjoy milder temperatures (mild for Florida) during this time.

Adding theme park touches to your wedding

I’m planning my upcoming June wedding, and throughout the planning I’ve worked to incorporate my love of theme parks into the event. My fiance also loves theme parks, so it made sense for us.

However, I didn’t want these nods to our favorite vacation destinations to come off as tacky or overdone. It’s been a balancing act between what is too much and what is not enough.

In this series, I will share a few of the ideas we’re incorporating into the big day. Be on the lookout for follow up posts!

Save the Dates with Disney Flair

Photo by Digital Bliss Photography
Photo by Digital Bliss Photography

We used bride and groom mouse ears to add some magic and quirkiness to our save the dates. The balloons added another theme park touch. I originally thought I would order mouse-shaped balloons (like the ones sold in the parks), but decided they would be overkill paired with the ears. You can purchase the bride ears here and the groom ears here. You can purchase used ears from Amazon and eBay, but I wanted brand new hats as we plan to use them for several things. When ordering from the Disney Store, you don’t have to worry about the hats being squashed in transit.

Ceremony Music

I wanted our ceremony to be a mix of traditional and unique music. We’re still using traditional songs, like Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” and the Doxology, but we’re also incorporating some different songs to showcase our love of theme parks.

Some of our ceremony songs:

  • “Soarin’ Over California Ride Score” by Jerry Goldsmith: The Soarin’ music is some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. It completely transports the rider to, well, California as you see and smell sights over the state. Every time I ride Soarin’ I cry. The music touches me deeply, so I wanted it to be part of this important day.
  • “Main Theme from Jurassic Park” by John Williams: One of our favorite movies of all time is Jurassic Park. My fiance is probably most excited about hearing this song at our wedding. He visited me while I lived in Orlando, and during his visit, I took him to Universal’s Islands of Adventure (he had never been). The Jurassic Park section entranced him.
  • “When You Wish Upon a Star” by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington: This song has become the theme song of Disney and the Disney dream, so I knew it had to be part of our wedding. Our families will be seated to this classic tune.

I purchased the sheet music for “When You Wish Upon a Star” and the “Main Theme from Jurassic Park” on MusicNotes. The site offers a wide selection and is easy to use. It also lets you preview how the song will sound with the given sheet music. The “Soarin’ Over California Ride Score” is free for private use via SheetMusic.cc.

I highly recommend listening to the songs you’re interested in on YouTube before making your decision on ceremony music. If you’re using live musicians, listen to how the songs sound played on the instruments you’ll have at the wedding. I will have a pianist, so I wanted to make sure these songs sounded just as beautiful without the other instruments. I’ve listed the YouTube piano covers of these songs below.

 

New feature: Vacation Planning

Are you feeling stumped as you work to plan your Orlando theme park vacation? I now offer vacation planning services under the Vacation Planning tab at the top of the page. You can also click here to learn more.

I have traveled to Orlando to visit the theme parks over 4o times, and I lived in the area for three months while interning for SeaWorld. I’ve planned and booked vacations to the area for the past three years, planning for a variety of budgets and groups of people (friends, families, couples, etc.).

Pricing

  • Consultation (Preliminary email/phone calls to discuss budget, dates, goals, etc. No booking.): Free
  • Booking (Includes hotel, flight, car rental, theme park tickets, dining reservations, entertainment, etc.): $40

If you’re ready for me to plan the vacation of your dreams, simply fill out the form below!