Friday, November 26, 2010


In July, I, and three friends, Cindi, Carrie, and Jackie grabbed a portkey to Orlando to visit Universal Studio's newest attraction, THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER!

We're all pretty big Potterheads, so seeing our favorite places from the books and movies come to life was fantastic. The castle, was utterly amazing. Granted, the surrounding palm trees do take away a bit of the authenticity, but, eh, when you see something that doesn't make sense, just claim a Wizard did it.  

We got to the park a little before it opened, but they actually let us in early. There were NO lines whatsoever! We immediately made our way to The Forbidden Journey, the ride inside the castle. We tried to take our time as we went through the Halls of Hogwarts, but like I said, no line! We saw the founders in their portraits, and of course, they talked and moved, just as any good magical painting should. I think my favorite thing was the Dark Arts classroom. I don't have any pics from the interior, but if I can snag some from Carrie, I'll update them here! Anyway, on with the rest of the show!

The crest of Hogwarts outside of Argus Filtch's Emporium, which also serves as a locker bay for Muggles who can't use shrinking charms.

Before I get ahead of myself, running off to the Tri-Wizard Tournament, let me tell you a bit about Hogsmeade. You enter the HP section of the park by walking into Hogsmeade. The day we were there, it was overcast and a bit drizzly, which really enhanced the atmosphere. True, it was a bit warm, but at least it looked the part!

Here, you can see the large number of Muggles that are waiting to get into Ollivander's Wand shop. Ollivander's was, by far, the most popular attraction. We got into the shop, but we didn't stay for the show. More on that later.

As you enter Hogsmeade, you are greeted by this happy little Gryffindor snow Wizard and his owl.

I loved the stack of Cauldrons in front of Potages. The entire design of the village is so whimsical.

Hermione's lovely dress robes in the window Gladrags. The robes very gently float as they are displayed. Harry's are in the opposite window.

The rafters outside of the Owl Post are of course, filled with owls! I do regret the fact that I didn't get to send a letter from Hogsmeade to myself, simply for the fact that I really wanted that postmark. Yep, it's a functioning post office!

Speaking of post offices, you usually see wanted posters in them, but this one was just hanging out near the Hogshead, behind the Butterbeer wagon. I'm pretty sure Sirius Black was cleared of all charges, so we didn't bother to look for him. Honeydukes and Zonkos were next on the list!

You could find pretty much anything you wanted, from a stack of chocolate frogs or Bertie Botts to a Sneakoscope, they had it. I will say, the cauldron cakes are excellent, and they make the best cookies and cream fudge I've ever had.

The shelves at Zonkos, packed with many an item from the books and movies!

All I can think of is Umbridge!

Ah, frozen butterbeer. How does it taste? It's like a thick, slushy cream soda with a creamy butterscotch head. Honestly, it's amazingly delish, but have more than one and you might contract diabetes. It really is that sweet. So sweet in fact, that Cindi actually got a little ill from it and decided to call it a day. If it's a bit much for you, there's always pumpkin juice, which, though sugary, isn't nearly so saccharin as butterbeer.

Thankfully, the Hogshead offered water, so I didn't die from a sugar overload. One cool thing, the head snorts and moves and talks, but of course, you expect that of magical taxidermy.

Speaking of Hogsmeade pubs, here's a quick shot from inside The Three Broomsticks, where you'll be happy to see that there are, indeed, three broomsticks.

What visit to Hogsmeade would be complete without a visit to the Hogwarts Express? Not ours!

Aw! Look at all the little Muggles!

Another nifty attraction in the WWoHP is the Dragon Challenge, based off of the Tri-Wizard Tournament.

Don't touch it! It's a portkey! Voldemort is such a total jerk if you do.
You can choose to ride either the Chinese Firebolt or the Hungarian Horntail. (Now, long ago, this ride used to be the Dueling Dragons, and I've previously ridden it. The ride is the same, but the walk to the ride is much cooler now that it's HP themed.) Between the two coasters, I have to say the the Fireball is the winner.

Dervish and Bangs had The Monster Book of Monsters, safely caged! They also sold cauldrons, Quidditch kits, robes, and all kinds of HP paraphernalia. From D&B, you could walk directly into Ollivander's shop, which was small and cramped, and so crowded that you literally couldn't turn around inside.

Here is one of the few pictures I was able to take in Ollivander's. Few because the crush of the crowd was just ridiculous. I had to raise my arms over my head and just snap there you go...a ton of wand boxes and a giant owl. Did I buy a wand? No. I couldn't see spending 30+ bucks for a replica when I can very easily make one.

...And one more quick shot. Sure, I didn't buy a wand, but I did get some souvenirs. Usually, I don't buy theme park junk, but I couldn't pass it up this time. I'm now the proud owner of three HP t-shirts,  a Slytherin mug, a Dark Mark wax seal set, luggage tag, and House bar glasses. Oh, but I am a nerd!

Well, I've got many more pictures which I could post, and kind of want to, but this post is already ridiculously long and not very linear, so I'll go ahead and wrap it up now. Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you were amazing and my friends and I really enjoyed our time, so thanks. I hope to see you again soon.

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