Universal Orlando’s, Islands of Adventure, is the new home of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Just opened this year, Hogsmeade superbly remanufactured for all to experience Harry Potter’s world.
From Butterbeer to Pumpkin Juice, Three Broomsticks to Ollivanders, the town of Hogsmeade transformed from the big screen to real life, details upon details unmissed. You can see the entire collection of Professor Gilderoy Lockhart’s book collection, Quidditch articles such as the chest containing bludgers, the quaffle, and the golden snitch, the uniform, and you can see the wiggling and screeching Mandrake roots – don’t worry you won’t pass out or die, the glass prevents it; all of this in the window dressings. You feel like you were really in Hogsmeade and Hogwarts – it was magical.
You can visit stores like Dervish and Banges and Honeydukes or ride on the rides like Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge, or even Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. You can even find the chocolate frogs in the same box wrappings in Honeydukes.
I rode the Dragon Challenge and it is amazingly scary. It is thankfully short, since I am afraid of heights. There are two tracks so both cars leave at the same time coming -almost – together at one loop (11 or 12 inches). It was extremely frightening for my poor mother who rode with me – my 14-year-old son declined. When I got off, I didn’t know if I was still scared or partly exhilarated. I give it 5 stars, two thumbs up – no hard feelings for my fear of heights.
The Hippogriff was very fun. My entire family loved this ride. My 6-year-old twins loved it too. Labeled a family ride, it was not what I thought it would be – angled turns, and fast. It would have been even better if it were longer. It always seems that way though when we are having fun. I give it 5 stars, two thumbs up.
Hogwarts is excellent. As you take a tour through the castle, on your way to the ride, you see many details like the talking paintings. There are many paintings, but some of them talked – just like in the movies! Closer inspection showed it looked just like the other paintings – we all know it was TV screens, but they must have rubbed on a clear coat of something to make it have the painting appearance; fantastic – nothing short of a perfect replica. Next, you see Professor Dumbledore in his office warning you to get out. You see and hear Hermione, Harry, and Ron explaining what is going on and warning you to get out. Then you get on the ride. This ride is not for all body types and the rider must be a certain height – my twins were a bit too small and they were very mad. This too is 5 stars, two thumbs up.
Now, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the best ride! It is an inside roller coaster that is a mix of a traditional inside coaster and a virtual ride. They definitely outdid themselves. The ride contains dark dementors, spitting spiders, hissing serpents, fire-breathing dragons, darkness, and chased through a Quidditch match. It is better than awesome; it was better than memorable; it was better than amazing; it was perfect. I give it 5 stars, two thumbs up.
The Butterbeer was so delicious that I need to get that recipe – not kidding! I cannot describe it; you need to drink it yourself. It comes in two ways: frozen or cold. A person suggested to me that a first timer should drink the frozen first, so I did. My mother and I had the frozen – my teenage son tried the cold. Of course, we tried each other’s and found that the frozen is the best. The cold actually is carbonated and it didn’t taste good to us; my son thought it was good, but frozen was better.
Ollivanders was very cool as well. After you wait in a very long line (no express or singles line), allowing entry for a group of people at a time, your kids go to the counter and wait. The wand master will talk a bit, pick one child, and begin to help that child pick the ‘right’ wand with a show. Once completed, you are escorted into ‘The Owl Post’ were you picked your wand(s) and shopped throughout the rest of the store for your ‘school supplies’: owls, cages, cloaks, uniforms, and even the ‘nimbus 2000’ or the ‘The Monster Book of Monsters’.
There are other things and stores to see, and it was all great, all so realistic, and yet so… magical. It was definitely a treat. I had a lot of fun and my kids did too. It is great for the entire family. I will definitely go again. I give the entire Hogsmeade and Hogwarts 5 stars and two thumbs up.
My suggestion is that if you want to go and the Harry Potter theme is the main reason to go, you should wait until your kids are taller than 55″ tall, just to make sure they can ride everything. The Hippogriff was the only ride they could ride in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; however, they still had so much fun. Oh yes, don’t forget to buy your wand; there are many to choose from, or buy them all for your collection.