If you have ever waited for an owl to deliver your invitation to spend 7 years of education in Hogwarts, if you have always wanted to feel what it's like to take a subject called Potions, if you have always wanted to take a sip of that oh so famous Butterbeer, or if you are simply a Harry Potter fan, you have to go straight into the heart of Orlando. Inside the Islands of Adventure in Universal Studios, you will find the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Lomo Location of your dreams.
Orlando is a popular tourist destination in Florida, home to big theme parks such as Disneyworld and Universal Studios. Just last year, on the 18th of June 2010, they decided to make it even bigger by opening up the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for millions of Harry Potter fans across the globe. As a Harry Potter fan, I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to go there barely a month after opening. Once I heard about its construction on the news, I knew I had to add it to my bucket list. Now it’s crossed off!
I was there on the 29th of June and had to experience the scorching Florida sun. A tip: apply extra sunscreen if you’re going there during summer! Since it has just opened, my friend and I had to go through long hours of waiting, most of the time under the sun. We were so toasted and tired when we left, but it was so worth it. Here’s why…
Although it was disappointing that the Hogwarts Express wasn’t really running and you couldn’t go inside it (probably due to space limitations), it still felt amazing to see a major piece of the Harry Potter books/movies recreated right in front of me.
Walking along Hogsmeade was lovely. They have the shops you’ve come to know all throughout the 7 books – Gladrags Wizardwear (with Hermione’s Yule Ball dress on display), Scrivenshafts, Potages Cauldrons, etc. Unfortunately, those are just for aesthetic purposes. The only real shops are 1) Dervish and Banges, where you can find magical things like Golden Snitches, Omnioculars, Remembralls and the Monster Book of Monsters. 2) Zonko’s, where you can find Fred and George Weasley’s items for pranks and tricks such as the Boxing Telescope and Filibuster’s Fabulous No-Heat, Wet-Start Fireworks. 3) Honeydukes!, where they have Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and Chocolate Frogs with wizards inside.
You will also find the Three Broomsticks where you can have a mug of Butterbeer! Finally tasting Butterbeer was an accomplishment for me. It was delicious and oozing with sweet foam, like a mix of rootbeer and butterball candy. As I read the books and watched the movies, I’ve always wondered how it would taste like. I couldn’t get enough and had 2 rounds! Sorry, I don’t have an analogue photo of Butterbeer to show.
We stopped to watch the Triwizard Spirit Rally and the Frog Choir. The Durmstrang boys and the Beauxbaton girls were quite lovely, reminiscent of that scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. A choir of Hogwarts students also performed some songs with large croaking frogs.
The rides were awesome. There are just three rides: Flight of the Hippogriff, Dragon Challenge, and the amazing Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The first two are rollercoasters but the Dragon Challenge is for the extreme thrill-seekers. I wasn’t able to get on it, but I surely won’t miss it next time! Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is one of my favorite rides of all time! They made the queue in such a way that you’ll be journeying through the Hogwarts castle as you move along the line, walking past the classrooms, Mirror of Erised, the greenhouse and mandrakes, Dumbledore’s office, and talking paintings. The ride takes you on a forbidden journey that is simply beyond words! It’s like the ultimate Harry Potter experience. You’ll be facing dragons, huge spiders, and soul-sucking dementors!
Seeing the Hogwarts Castle made my heart skip a bit. This is where the adventure started! The Wizarding World was enchanting. A bit smaller than what I expected but lovely nonetheless!