The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

18 Jun

Today is the grand opening of the newest island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. You may have heard something about it. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Luckily, since I live right down the street from Universal and have a pass I’ve already been there! Twice actually!

The first time we visited was Saturday afternoon. JC and I were going to Islands of Adventure to ride some coasters (not expecting WWoHP to be open) before seeing Train in concert (Train was amazing BTW). On our way over to Dueling Dragons Dragon Challenge we noticed people walking through part of the Wizarding World and we got giddy. We rushed over and got in! Dumb me didn’t bring his camera, but luckily we went over on Monday (while my car was being fixed) and I took some pictures.

Snow...In Orlando!

Now, I must start this by pointing out I have seen part of the first movie and have not read a single page of the book series. I don’t really know much about all of this stuff, but I will do my best.

The first thing you will notice from my pictures is the sheer amount of detail. It is AMAZING!

The whole city is set in Winter. There is even a snow-wizard with an owl on its arm. Of course I didn’t take a picture of that. To be honest, I didn’t get a ton of pictures. Mainly because I found myself just standing looking up in awe.

There are three rides in the WWoHP island. Two are made-over rides that have existed for a while and one is all new. The first (which I have absolutely no pictures of) is Dragon Challenge. It is a re-theming of the Islands of Adventure original Dueling Dragons. Instead of Fire and Ice dragons they are Potter themed as the Chinese Fireball Dragon and the Hungarian Horntail Dragon. The queue has been changed but the ride is the same. The other old ride was the former Flying Unicorn re-themed as Flight of the Hippogriff.

I took pictures of that one!!

This scare-crow welcomes you to the queue

The ride is themed as a training ride for riding a Hippogriff.

At the entrance to the lift hill is a Hippogriff for you to bow to.

He bows and talks to you too! One of the many many many animatronics in the WWoHP

Flight of the Hippogriff is a kiddie coaster. A good kiddie coaster, but still a kiddie coaster.

Wait, what was that in the background?

View of the lift hill surroundings

There it was again!

More ride surroundings!

Come on! What is that giant thing back there?

Well, it happens to be Hogwarts and it just so happened that I was so excited to get in (on our second day in the park) that I didn’t take any pictures of it. I know lame. Inside that giant building is the only brand new ride of the park (also not pictured) The Forbidden Journey.

I’m not sure how I will explain this ride except with one word, AWESOME. The queue? AWESOME! The ride? AWESOME! The gift shop? AWESOME! It is a very cool ride that is an original. It takes parts of different rides and puts them together to create something unique. I’m not a big Harry Potter fan, but I loved the ride. Be sure to check it out!!!

Around the island there are gift shops, a restaurant and a bar. In the middle of the square they serve Butterbeer

I got my collectors cup!

It tasted a lot like cream soda and they add a frothy top to it. If you are wondering it is safe for the kiddies. Completely non-alcoholic, despite the name.

There are many well-themed fake storefronts (ones that will never open) but they are amazingly themed. I’m sure most people won’t take an extra second to take a look, but you should!

The music shop has instruments that play themselves!

Remember those animatronics I mentioned are everywhere? Look for a cello bowing itself. Every once in a while a loud ruckus is heard and what appears to be sheet music flies all over the place behind one of the windows:

I know you can't see it...but its happening!

There is also a tailor store front with a very interesting magical being:

It's a kitty made of tape-measure!

The kitty moves BTW!

There is one storefront that you will need to wait in a line for. Yes, you read that right. Ollivander’s wand shop is more than a shop. Well, to be honest it isn’t really a shop! It is an experience. Get in line. It is worth it. If you have a small Potter fan, get them up front and they may be able to participate. Ollivander (or maybe its one of his underlings?) chooses one small Wizard to find a wand. The only problem? You don’t choose your wand! Your wand chooses you!

After trying a few wands and causing some awesome happenings in the store everyone is hurried into the Owl Post.

It is also a WORKING post office!

Once there you can find your wand! Well, your wand can find you I guess. There are replica wands for all of the major characters plus some “unique” wands that the store personnel can help find for you. Based on your birthday they can find your perfect wand. The wands vary greatly in size and shape.

JC and I have birthdays less than a month apart, and so we both had the same wand “choose us.” Neither of us were that thrilled with it. We were both drawn to some of the stores replica wands. JC chose Sirius Black‘s and I chose Voldemort‘s. Yes I know he is a bad guy damnit!

Our wands side by side

The wands come in a nice box:

Official stamp!

Custom fit!

The wand’s are really cool. They are weighted different from each other and have a ton of detail! I know they are just plastic, but man I like them. We even got a passholder discount!

In case you were wondering:

Here is Lord Voldemort holding my wand

I must say that the WWoHP is awesome and a great addition to Islands of Adventure. Be sure to check it out the next time you get a chance to escape Disney World.

Finally, here is a shot of JC and I being cute in the Wizarding World:


2 Responses to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”

  1. Chris Johnson June 18, 2010 at 11:12 pm #

    Great Post Joe! I want to go now!

  2. sunshinekmp June 20, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    Cool. I know virtually nothing about HP too….you should go again…and take more pics!

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