we heart harry potter.

10 Mar

Just spent three days at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. For someone who is dreading the last HP movie and hence the last new edition to the Harry Potter francise, it was really awesome to go there and geek out with a bunch of other fans (Though I’m not sure how many kids actually read the books these days. It’s not like when I was a kid and there weren’t any movies.).

The HP park is actually really small, only once section of the whole “Islands of Adventure” park. It’s basically Hogwarts and Hogsmeade with some elements of Diagon Alley.


It’s funny because there are lines for everything in the HP section, sometimes lines just to get into that corner of the park, and the shops in the rest of the place are empty by comparison. We got off a ride in where the woman was pleading, “Come pose for a picture with E.T… it’s fun to try… please!” while everyone was filing out as fast as possible. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to make an entire park devoted to HP. Hey, I’d go.


There are three rides. The big one goes through Hogwarts (the “line” is part of the tour) and ends with a state of the art quasi roller coaster ride. Below is the Sorting Hat and Dumbledore telling you to keep your limbs inside the car at all times.


The other two are classic roller coasters. Flight of the Hippogriff (below) is a 30 second ride not worth the 45+ minute wait, but it’s fun if you get to skip the line (like we did). The other, Dragon Challenge is literally the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on. Two roller coasters go off at the same time and several times in the ride you think you’re going to crash into each other. It’s super smooth and super twisty. I loved it


The whole place is so well designed. No detail is spared. I loved Zonko’s joke shop where they packaged even mundane toys like Slinkies into cool “magical” packaging. They also made a lot of cool toys just for the park. You could buy Rememberalls, Snitchs, Quaffles, brooms, chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts beans, etc. etc.


One of my favorite places was the Three Broomsticks. Purists will argue that it was a hybrid between the Three Broomsticks from Diagon Alley and the Hogs Head from Hogsmeade. It was super dark and rustic English Pub-looking. Of course the lines were ridiculously long but you could just bring your own lunch and sneak to the back which had a nice view of the (artificial) lake and Hogwarts.


The biggest test of the park was the Butterbeer. Obviously I knew how it should taste already, I’ve known since I read the books. And they really nailed it. A cream soda base with tones of butterscotch, and caramel. The really cool thing is they put this “head” on top made of some marshmallow cream mixture that tastes like butterscotch-shortbread and was super fluffy and yummy (even though I usually don’t like marshmallow). It also comes in a slushie version which was my favorite. We bought Butterbeer every day we were there.

One of the coolest shows they do is the Olivander’s wand test. After waiting in line for an hour, 40 or so people get shuffled into a dark room and Olivander dodders around and chooses one lucky kid to find their wand. Of course it’s a big racket to get you to buy a $30 wand that is strictly “not a toy” but was a sucker enough to like it (but not sucker enough to buy a wand).


Another favorite show was a sort of tri-wizard show off with appropriately burly Durmstrang men and dainty Beauxbatons ribbon dancers.


Somehow all the workers at the park managed to be cheerful even while wearing black cloaks in the Florida weather. Again, no detail was spared and workers in different places in the park had different costumes corresponding to their “occupation”.


Sadly, the end had to come and we left Orlando yesterday (and now by Hogwarts Express either).


We are now in a small town on the coast to see spring training games (::cough:: not my choice). But as we were walking along Willie and I discovered that the palm trees here shed fronds that look exactly like broomsticks! So I’m happy to report that the Harry Potter geekery still lives on.


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2 Responses to “we heart harry potter.”

  1. Beth March 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    How fleeting is youth! I remember getting the books from Grandma Locke well before anyone in the US or Canada had heard of them, and getting them first in Canada for two releases (if I remember, waiting at the bookstore for midnight to come!). I think the last book was when we were traveling down to California…

  2. Alexa March 10, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    This is amazing! I’M SO JEALOUS!
    At least you can dream Potter-filled day dreams while you’re not paying attention to sports. All the pictures are great! I hope you’re enjoying the rest of break 🙂

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