Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Monday, August 2, 2010 - 
One of the many joys of being in Orlando for Sigma Kappa's national convention was being able to schedule a vacation!  Of course, this also would ensure a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Now, though I am a huge Disney fan (as some of you may recall,) I am also a huge Harry Potter fan.  So among all of the other fans, I had been anticipating it for quite sometime after the announcement.  I had even visited the park in August just to see if I could even see anything (and I did see a Proclamation from the Ministry of Magic!)

The WWofHP is in the Islands of Adventure park at Universal Studios.  To get into the entrance, we were asked to walk around the park rather than just cutting through Dr. Seuss.  I believe this was due to the anticipated lines, and later on the day after we exited the land, this was confirmed.  There are lines just to get into the land, but for us, this was a smooth process as we just kept walking through the different lands.  It worked well for us, because many individuals of my group had never been before.  So we walked our way around, into Jurassic Park and there it was...Hogwarts.  The first view...
If you only knew all of the details that were inside that, your excitement would triple. 

My only complaint about WWofHP is not even really about WWofHP, but about how the feel of getting into the park is.  Like Disney, Universal has themed lands around Islands of Adventure, and as I said, you have to go through Jurassic Park.  But you also have to go through a tiny bit of the Lost Continent, which isn't themed around a movie or anything, just an area that has little shops, a restaurant, and some rides.  But you have to go through this tiny bit, which is like a gypsy village, so it is odd to stand next to a fortune teller but to look at the gates of Hogsmeade.

See what I mean, to the left...

But once you are in, it is like nothing you can imagine.  It really feels like you are IN Hogsmeade, like you are a character in the books/movies.  You are welcomed by the Hogswarts Express, and there is even a conductor (and yes, all of the employees of Universal in WWofHP are in character like no other!) to welcome you aboard.

There are many shops, all which are "snow" covered,  but I must get to that in a later post because after we saw the train, we ran straight to the biggest attraction of all - The Forbidden Journey.  Fortunately, we got there right at the beginning of the day, so we really haven't waited in lines at this point (seriously, no lines in the a.m.!)  Wait time was only 45 minutes, so we began our journey through Hogwarts and the magic of the recreated castle.

The details of everything - impeccable...really, words can't describe how "real" it all felt.  I was ready to put on my Ravenclaw scarf and head to the Quidditch field.  Amazing.  We were really only outside for about 10 minutes,  before we entered the next part of the queue, the greenhouse.  Most of this was an area of lines, circling back and forth...

but when you got near display, you shouldn't be surprised to see...

 Mandrakes! Yes, aren't they so cute!?

Then, you are in the castle!  Just like that - all in about 25 minutes, we were IN Hogwarts.  And then the line wasn't long enough.  I mean it - the queue was moving so quickly (and yes, I know this is rare, we were so fortunate) that we weren't really able to enjoy all of the detail that was put into this amazing building.  

Though impressive, would have been immaculate if it was the "Great Hall" and these were so much bigger.  But still, very fun!

Entrance to Dumbledore's Office!

This room was magnificent, because it was set as Dumbledore's Office.  And yes, Dumbledore was even there to speak to you!

 Piensieve for all of the memories

And more details as you continued to walk...

 I was fortunate enough to see this (and many other great items) at the Harry Potter Exhibition in Chicago too - the movie items were amazing!

The portraits spoke & moved!

THE Mirror!

The Dark Arts classroom had so many details, it was crazy.  From writing of potions and assignments throughout, everything was perfect.  Just how you would imagine it the first time you read, and how the movie has also replicated it.  Even Harry, Ron and Hermoine were there to "speak" with you.  Magnificent.

And then, you are there, ready for the ride.  And it was such a ride!  I was smiling like a child the entire time.  From "flying" behind Harry on a broomstick, to being in the forest with the spiders, or trying to avoid the Dementors from sucking your soul - it was perfect. Even better than I would have ever began to imagine. The graphics of the video, the movement of the ride, all of the impeccably made props, even the temperature and of course, all of the sound.  It was great, I really can't say enough!

Yes, like almost every other person who has now ridden the ride, it did stop in the middle.  We were sideways.  But really, it is because the technology is so advanced for this kind of thing.  And no, it didn't even come close to ruining the experience for me.  This is a MUST ride, again and again.  So amazing...

J.K. Rowling and all of the Universal creators did such a fine job.  If you are even remotely interested in HP, you must make your way to experience the magic of this park.  A fine job was done indeed.

Next up - the shops and Hogsmeade - and yes, it will include Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice!