The 411: Universal Studios Harry Potter World
Role Mommy contributor Linda Grant visits The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with her daughter and shares all the details!
Since it's opening in June, hundreds of thousands of Muggles have invaded the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located in Universal's Island of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida.
As a true fan of the books and the movies, walking into Potterland was truly an amazing experience. The designers of the park have made an exact replica of what you see in the movies and I was impressed by the authenticity of the park.
My daughter and I wandered through the park shopping at Hogsmeade, sampling chocolate frogs at Honeydukes, experienced the magic at Ollivander's wand shop, ate at the Three Broomsticks restaurant where the Shepherds' Pie and Fish and Chips were just yummy and not at all like theme park food. Of course, our favorite treat was the frozen butter beer. Yes, the chefs at Wizarding World of Harry Potter have invented butter beer. I recommend the frozen butter vs. regular which I can still taste now, it was that good and I am not of fan of root beer or crème soda.
The most spectacular feature of the park is Hogswarts Castle. It truly takes your breath away at how realistic it is. You really feel as though you have stepped into Harry Potter's world. What is incredible about Hogwarts Castle is that it is visible from several vantage points throughout the entire Islands of Adventure park. We spent a lot of time taking photos with the castle as a backdrop or pointing it out from several rides we went on.
Hogwarts Castle may look realistic on the outside but one of the most exhilarating rides you will experience is contained within the castle: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The ride takes you on a journey as you travel via the Floo Network, soaring over Hogwarts, dodging dragon attacks, whomping willows, death eaters and getting pulled into a Quidditch match. Arrive early for this ride as it has the longest line and is the most popular. Long lines at amusement parks do not make me happy but I have to commend the park designers in that as you "wait" in line, you are actually winding your way through Hogwarts Castle like the main characters. There is so much to look at as you wind your way to the ride. There are talking pictures, a holographic Professor Dumbledore explaining the rules and Ron, Hermione and Harry pop up to invite you personally on the Forbidden Journey.
And then there is the ride. My daughter loved it as any seven year old would and so much that she rode it twice. Personally, I definitely loved it for all the bells and whistles but my tum tum took a beating on the ride but don't let that stop you. It is a must experience.
There are two other rides, Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff . Visitors can brave a Hungarian Horntail or Chinese Fireball on dueling roller coasters onf the Dragon Challenge and I mean challenge. At a couple of points during the ride, the two coasters turn upside down and interlock with each other. Scary. The Flight of Hippogriff is a little more sedate of a roller coaster.
As if the rides were not enough, one of our favorite experiences was going to Ollivander's Wand Shop. The Shop instantly brings you to that moment in the movie when Harry picks out his wand. My daughter, of course had to have a wand and ended up choosing Hermione's wand. There are special wands based on birthday or character inspired wands.
Of course, don't miss out on visiting Honeydukes for every imaginable sweet under the sun and Zonko's for magical toys.
As any parent has experienced when visiting a theme park, be prepared to spend a ton of money on Harry Potter products. Many are not available anywhere except at the park. I ended up with buying the Hedwig the owl, which I thought out of the ordinary since you can make the head move and it actually coos, Hermione's wand, and of coursee postcards with the Hogmeade's stamp,
All in all, the park is really worth visiting for all Harry Potter fans.
Thanks to Beth for the opportunity to enjoy the trip.
Visit www.UniversalOrlando.com for vacation packages at on-site resorts that provide special benefits inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Full Disclosure: Universal Studios provided her with airfare, accommodations and complimentary entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Linda's opinions regarding her experience are strictly her own.