Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter


We are big fans of Harry Potter in the Nawrot house. We've read all the books, listened to all the audios, and seen all the movies. Nobody could have been more excited about the new expansion of Universal that opened this past June. However, the place was chaos. The heat and humidity, the crowds, 3 hours to get into the Harry Potter section, 2 hours to get a wand, 2 hours to ride the rides. Please.

But my daughter put her foot down. She must see it before school started, even if we had to wait in lines. So I donned my hat, took my Prozac (ha) and off we went.

We arrived right when the park was opening, and were happy to see that there were no lines to get into the new area. Still, once you get into Hogsmeade, it was nearly standing room only. (An hour and a half after the opening of the park, however, the line was very long.)




Within the Wizarding World, there are three rides, but two of them (a tame coaster and a kick butt coaster) have been refurbished from before, therefore not new to us. Our goal was to ride the new attraction, The Forbidden Journey. Riders must be 48 inches tall to ride. (There has also been some scuttlebutt about the ride not accommodating larger folks as well.) At 9am, the wait for this ride was one hour, and does not offer an express option. We decided to get in the single rider line, and it took only 15 minutes. Another tip? Don't bring your backpacks and bags to the park...period. Not only do you have to have these bags checked by security before you enter Universal (which is a long line) but for this particular ride, all guests carrying bags have to stand in a long line just to put their gear into lockers. I shove all of my belongings in pockets. It's the way to go.

The queue meanders through the Hogwarts castle. All of the framed pictures on the walls are actually LCD TVs, and they move and talk. Right before you get on the ride, the Sorting Hat wishes you well.

The ride itself it a blast. Your car moves through different rooms in the castle, and incorporates film, movement and three dimensional elements, like steam and water, to make it a virtual ride. You feel like you are riding a broom, and get to come face-to-face with dementors!

Once you are wandering around Hogsmeade, you are faced with more lines. Particularly, if you want to buy a wand at Olivander's (an experience in itself, I am told), you must wait for the privilege. There is a "secret entrance" in the back of the shop that will allow you to bypass the lines, but alas, it is no longer secret. There was a long line for that too!

So, we had to try Butterbeer, right? All three of us got a cup of it, and all I can say is...now we know what it tastes like. To me, it was like a butterscotch candy liquefied and kind of milky. Frankly it was pretty gross. None of us could finish it. They serve it regular and frozen. They also served Pumpkin Juice too, but we chickened out. (See their faces? They're not looking too sure, are they?)

















We did shop at Zonkos Joke Shop (Emma got a Pygmy Puff. When you buy one, they ring a bell and announce to the crowd that a "Pygmy Puff named Poofy has just been adopted!". I also bought the kids Chocolate Frogs at Honeydukes. I did notice they have a restaurant called The Three Broomsticks, where guests can dine on authentic British food. The village is a feast for the eyes and senses - the attention to detail allows for lots of browsing.









































So is anyone planning on visiting? We definitely will be returning ourselves...when it is cooler and when there are a few less people visiting the park!


26 comments:

Melody said...

Awww...I want to go! But first, need to save up for those airtickets and do some planning, LOL. Thanks so much for sharing, Sandy! The pics look awesome too!!

farmlanebooks said...

What a fantastic insight into the wizarding world! I didn't realise that two of the rides were just refurbished old ones :-(

I've just spent my weekend in Thomas Land (the tank engine!) so I know all about rides being busy! I'm sure I'll make it to Harry Potter world at some point, but it will probably be at least 5 years before I get there. Hopefully you'll have been several times by then and be able to let me know all the secrets!

Willa said...

Beautiful!

JoAnn said...

You're a brave woman, Sandy! Theme parks are just not my thing...one of the worst days of my life was spent at Sesame Place ;-)

Molly said...

I swear, Sandy, you should write a book about a native's guide to Orlando. This is a TERRIFIC post and now I want to take my daughter to the exhibit even more.

I hope it works out...still crossing our fingers for a January visit.

Beth F said...

Jealous, jealous, jealous -- even with the lines, the heat, and the not so great butterbeer.

The park looks fantastic.

Anna said...

It looks like a lot of fun, minus the lines. My family loves Harry Potter, too, so we'll have to make the trek at some point.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

My family too are "Potter heads" as we like to call ourselves and I can not wait to go and experience this!

I dont think I will get there until February when my hubby goes to Florida for the equipment auctions but believe me - I am going! :D

Zibilee said...

We have been wanting to go, but stayed away this summer because of the heat and the ridiculous crowds. Harry Potter is huge in our house, and the books are constantly being read. That's one thing about my kids, they wear out books from repeated reading. Now that the husband is working for Sea World, there is a chance that there may be some cross pollination with tickets to Universal in the future, so we are sure to be going, just don't know when. I am happy to wait, if it means that I don't have to stand outside in the heat for hours. I loved this post, and wanted to thank you for the real scoop on this attraction!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Butterbeer sounds ick! Love the picture of your kids' reactions!

bermudaonion said...

I am green with envy! That sounds like so much fun!

Nymeth said...

Reading this post made me remember again just how much I love the world of these books - thank you for that!

caite said...

I am not a fan of the Potter books...I know not why...but I do want to see the Universal stuff..at some point.
Like November...December...January...when the heat goes and the Snowbirds arrive

Alyce said...

That would be so cool! I think I'd want to try to go in the off season though (if there is such a thing). I can't stand crowds, but I think with it being a new attraction they are going to be inevitable.

heidenkind said...

Aw, I want to get a wand!

Julie P. said...

Sounds like so much fun! I just saw tickets at Costco of all places.

Trisha said...

I wanna go! Looks like we are forgoing Florida this year to head to Mexico instead, but next year...next...that is so long from now...must go talk to husband about necessity for two vacations this winter...

Matt said...

Oh my gosh, I really want to go see this! Your pictures make me so envious! And, I totally agree with Molly about the TimeOut guide on Orlando, authored by you! I can even spend a day or two at the beach when I'm there...

Kathleen said...

This sounds like so much fun and I fear would have be rereading the books too!

Darlene said...

I am beside myself with jealousy. lol. I'd love to go and see it. At least by the time I go the crowds will definitely have thinned out. lol. The butterbeer does sound pretty gross but I'd love to walk through the shops, etc. What fun!

ds said...

Cool! Sounds as though they made a near-perfect re-creation. Sorry about the butter beer...

Jenners said...

It sounds so neat ... but I can't do lines. I just can't. I'll see it in about 5 years or so. Thanks for the tips though!

Alice Teh said...

Ooooh ooooooooh! I'll be heading to the US in Dec 2010/Jan 2011 and Universal Studios is one of my touristy stops. Is this the one in LA?

Becky said...

Oh, I so want to go! Thanks for sharing. I love the pictures so we can see more of our favorite wizarding world!

Iliana said...

This sounds like so much fun! What is a pygmy puff? I'm sorry I'm not quite as up to date on my HP stuff :)

I really like theme parks but I'm not fond of crowds so that's always the drawback!

Melissa M said...

I love all your insider tips to the parks!