The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Monday, September 27, 2010

The first full day of our trip was devoted to the Magic of Walt Disney, but the second day was devoted to a completely different kind of magic. The Harry Potter kind. I have been waiting for years to see this park, literally for years. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a Harry Potter nerd. The kinds who dresses up, talks about mandrakes, yells "Expecto Partronum" on rides and buys wands. It's ok, I understand if you are just now grasping the full effect of my nerdiness.

The Wizarding World is at Universal's Islands Of Adventure. We had season tickets to Universal when we lived in Orlando so we had been to the park many many times. When we got there we decided to head straight for Hogsmeade and Harry Potter land. This time of year is not very crowded anyway so there weren't a ton of people at the park, however, I think every person there had the same idea we had: bypass Seuss Landing and The Lost Continent and head straight for Hogsmeade Village. I was like a kid sprinting to see Santa Claus while we walked through the park. The rest of the islands were like ghost towns just hoping to catch some waves from Harry's wake. I had pretty high expectations and hopes for what lied ahead but the Wizarding World exceeded all of them.

We approached the sign that said, "Hogsmeade, please respect the spell limits", I was in awe. It by far exceeded my expectations. The second we walked under that sign we were transported to a wintry English village with cobblestone streets, stone shops with weathered signs and the bustle of people battling the Florida heat. I was like a tourist in Times Square for the first time, I gasped and walked slowly just looking up and around, taking in my surroundings. Zonkos and Honeydukes were to our left, the Hogwarts Express and Hogsmeade station were to our right and a butterbeer cart was directly in front of us. I was in Potter heaven.

We decided to head straight for the new ride, The Forbidden Journey. Seemingly, this is what everyone else did as well. The line was wrapped around the sidewalk but said it was only a 30 minute wait so we hopped in. This ride is in the Hogwarts castle so we could see the amazing castle in front of us. I was reluctant to admit, but I think I liked this one better than Cinderella's castle. (Steve asked me which I liked better and I gave him a lame answer like that is comparing apples and oranges. He totally called me out cause it is comparing castles and castles). We had Cian with us and were doing the kid-swap thing so we by-passed some of the line. Sweet, I am not above using my child to move ahead in a theme park line. We walked through the gates to the castle and shortly came to the greenhouse. In typical theme park fashion there was a weaving maze of metal directing the line. I was so glad we had come in an off season and didn't have to wait through the entire thing. We made friends with the lady waiting behind us in line and she told us that at times in the summer there had been a three hour wait. That is nuts! I talked about mandrakes and herbology while we were in the greenhouse and we even saw some potted mandrakes! Upon entering the castle we could see the phoenix statue and the entrance to Dumbledore's office. I won't give away the entire castle, but we saw the cylinders keeping the house points, talking paintings, the pensive, and the defense against the dark arts classroom. This makes waiting in line so much fun! Steve and Rob rode the ride first and I took Cian into the kid-swap room where they had "The Sorcerer's Stone" playing on a tv. Cian saw the screen and yelled out "Potter"! He is so my kid. After they had ridden Steve and I got on the ride and it was incredible! We were taken through a Quidditch game, the Chamber of Secrets, past the Womping Willow and into the Dementor's clutches. I actually screamed "expecto patronum" at the dementors. Unfortunately I cannot produce a patronus so Harry had to come save us.
Cian yelling "Potter"at the TV

There are two rides in that section that have been revamped with a Harry Potter theme, Dueling Dragons is now the Dragon Challenge and don Tri-Wizard tournament decor and The Flying Unicorn is now Flight of the Hippogriff. The lines were really short for the other rides so we were able to ride the dragon challenge a few times in a row. For the first time I felt nauseated from riding a roller coaster so I had to skip a couple rides after that. We got some butterbeer and visited a few of the shops. We tried frozen and regular butterbeer and the frozen was my favorite. It tasted like a mix between butterscotch and cream soda but so much better. (This was Steve's analysis, all I could come up with is really really good). We came back throughout the day and visited the owlery, Ollivanders and Honeydukes.

We got a wand that is made of vine (like Hermione's). They had wands of the Harry Potter characters and wands associated with your birthday. Mine must have been the Virgo wand. At Honeydukes there was a chocolate frog in the window that croaked and jumped, Cian really got a kick out of it. I did get some goodies including a chocolate frog. We skipped on the Bertie Bots because it might have broken us to buy everything. (We didn't bring enough gallions).

We did hit up the rest of the park and our wait times were usually 20 minutes or less. Cian didn't do as well here because there wasn't much he could ride and he was cooped up in his stroller all day. This is torture for an almost two year old. After a rather embarrassing screaming and crying fit we finally took the hint and fed the kid and took him to Seuss Landing where he could ride the Carou-seuss-al and see Cat in the Hat. He loved this!! We rode the Carousel twice because he loved it so much. I probably should have just gone straight there after WW and stayed for the rest of the day so the boys could have enjoyed the other rides. I felt especially bad for Rob who had to wait around on us while we tried to calm our screaming banshee. At the end of the day we had a great time but on our way out it started pouring. You know, the afternoon downpour that Central Florida gets every day! It was actually kind of a nice cool down.We had a great time and I can't wait to go back to visit. I wish I could go every year...I guess I will have to settle for every three to four. (Sorry Steve).

Rob and Steve on Dr. Doom (this was during my nauseated period)

Steve and Rob on The Hulk

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