What many people are announcing as a new “park” in Orlando is actually a (small) part of the Islands of Adventures, which is part of the Universal complex in Orlando. You buy the ticket to the Islands of Adventures, which costs around US$89.00 or choose the package with the two parks including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for just over US$120.00.
At the entrance to the park, we first pass the Port of Entry and all the attractions (Dr Seuss and the Lost Continent if you go right; Marvel, Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park if you go left) until we reach the end of the park in the area that has been named “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”. And because it’s new, this part of the park that opened on June 18, 2010 is the most visited area.
Here begins the journey of witches and witches (who are not witches). Built exactly like the movie, the little town has some shops that really work and others with facades just to compose the scenery, but no detail has been forgotten… even the fake snow on the roofs. You can feel yourself entering the film and all the residents (employees) of this area are dressed in character and not even the accent was left out, most of them come from England.
The first thing you see at the village entrance is the train to Hogwarts, the school of Sorcery and Witchcraft, which has become a mandatory stop for photos. A driver, with a British accent and everything, welcomes the “passengers”.
There are only three rides: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge. There are also some attractions like the “Frog Choir”, the “Triwizard Spirit Rally” and the “Olivander” magic wand store.
The first ride when entering the world of Harry Potter, just after the train station is the Dragon Challenge roller coaster. For those who have been to the Islands of Adventures before, it is the old “Duelling Dragons”.
In line for the roller coaster you pass the flags of the tribute tournament, the Hagrid’s little house, the Weasleys’ beaten flying car and enter the Tent of Champions, where the “Goblet of Fire” on the roof lights up the place. Several tunnels are traversed until you reach the place where you choose which roller coaster you will ride first: the Blue or the Red.
Yes, there are two roller coasters that run parallel paths at the exit, turn to go along opposite paths and almost hit three points. Each of them has a different route in two and a half minutes and reach almost 100km/h of speed.
Following through the village, you can find several little shops for the witches to equip themselves. In Olivander you enter a store with thousands of wands and let one of them “choose you”. It is one of the few attractions where smaller children can enter and interact. One of the people in the group of 30 at each presentation is chosen to interact with the wand.
The exit is inside the store where wands of all characters are sold, for the ‘modest’ price of $29.90. If you want the complete costume, the witch’s outfit can be bought at the adjacent store: “Dervish and Banges” for the $99.00 bagatelle.
If you are hungry, the restaurant “Three Broomsticks”, with typical tavern decoration, offers classic options such as “Fish and Chips”, Roast Chicken with corn and baked potatoes, the famous turkey leg, Ribs or the “Shepperd Pie” with salad. You can choose the lemonade, or more unusual options such as Pumpkin Juice or ButterBeer.
Each one describes the butter beer, which can be “Cool” or “Frozen”, in a way. I’ve read that it tastes like caramel raspberry, Mi said it tastes like “soda mixed with whipped cream”. For me, they put a vanilla essence in a “juice of nothing” and put it to freeze.
On the seller’s recommendation, I chose the Frozen version, but I couldn’t take even half of it and it was literally US$4.25 thrown away. You want to prove it, you’re on your own… don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you like real beer, the Hog’s Head bar inside the Three Broomsticks restaurant serves the Hogsbrew beer that was specially developed for the park.
If the order after lunch is dessert, at HoneyDukes there are chocolate frogs and “Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans”. And when I say several, include some that aren’t even that tasty.
After the walk through the village, there is an area between the two roller coasters with performances every half hour that go from the Singing Frogs with the Hogwarts students’ choir to a students’ parade in preparation for the Tribuxo tournament.
The “Flight of the Hippogriff” roller coaster is the most family owned roller coaster. It was also repagined to be part of the world of Harry Potter and at the beginning of the trip it is possible to notice the Hagrid’s house and from the top you can have one of the best views of the park in this area. Children from 91 cm can enter and it is not so radical when the Dragon Challenge and lasts less than 1 minute.
And finally we arrive at the castle, where the most popular attraction is located: “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”.
This attraction was shrouded in mystery until the opening of the park and does not disappoint. The lines are huge, so it is advisable to go right to the opening of the park or at the end of the day. But the entrance to the castle takes visitors immediately to the world of Hogwarts. For those who are fans of the series details will not go unnoticed, like the room full of books by Dumbledore, the school principal.
The corridors and rooms have on their walls the “talking” pictures where the founders of the school and other characters talk to each other and visitors.
The highlight of the visit inside the castle is when an image of Harry, Ron and Hermione, who are wearing the cloak of invisibility, invite visitors to participate with them in an adventure. The photo cannot fully capture it, because the images are projected.
From this point on, no objects are allowed in the hands because visitors will sit on chairs that will shake and move through time. The scenery is projected on screens and you enter the film. From chasing a dragon, to a flight through the castle, to chasing the Dementator and many, many spiders. A quadribol tournament gives you the feeling you’re flying right into one of the Nimbus 2000, the film’s magic broomsticks. For a few moments, the adventure can be frightening for some, so be aware of that before you enter with children or more sensitive people.
At the exit of the attraction, the store “Filchs Emporium” has besides the uniforms of Sonserina and Grifinória, sips, which are the balls used in quadribol, and other little gifts to take as a souvenir.
And a collection of stuffed animals with the animals of the series, like the three-headed dog and also an owl that is a puppet and moves its head.
The attractions were designed for slightly older children. The little ones will have fun in the streets of the village, in the shops and nothing else. But the park has many other options for them!
For those who have trouble understanding why it is so successful, my explanation is simple: this area of the park is an immersion experience… entering the world of Harry Potter, seeing the little houses as in the movie, going into the shops, seeing the characters walking through the streets is the biggest attraction.
And don’t be surprised to see people of all ages and even entire families on the streets of Hogmeade, dressed up as Harry Potter and Hogwarts students. But don’t worry if you don’t fit into the fan category, if you have patience with the lines, even those who haven’t read the books or seen the movies end up getting into the mood and enjoying it.