By now you all must have realized that I am a theme parks nerd and obsessed with Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. As a Florida resident and annual pass holder of Universal Studios, I have been there umpteen times that I have lost its count. Every time I go, Universal Studios treats me like an old friend visiting him again and again and I bet that I never get bored!
My favorite place in Universal Studios is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you don’t know about this place, it’s located in two theme parks of Universal Orlando, Florida. But good news for west coasters is that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is going to open in Hollywood on 7th April’ 2016 after almost five years of rumors and speculations.
This is a must visit place for every Harry Potter fan. I loved all the stores with the candy, the wands, the clothes, the books etc. It’s amazing! This is for everybody who has read the books or seen the Harry Potter movies.
You will find the 20-acre Wizarding World – Hogsmeade at Island of Adventure which is depicted in winter and covered in snow. This is the area’s primary shopping and dining venue includes Dervish and Banges, Honeydukes, Zonko’s Joke Shop, The Three Broomsticks, and the Hog’s Head. You can taste butter beer and visit Mr. Ollivanders store to get your own wand or you can go into Hogwarts and see Dumbledores office and ride on a roller coaster which is pretty awesome.
Exiting Hogsmeade, you first glimpse the towering castle housing Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, flanked by the Forbidden Forest and Hagrid’s Hut. The grounds and interior of the castle house part of the queue for the super-headliner Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The place looks like the authentic set from the Harry Potter movies and the snow topped shopping roofs look splendid. And of course there is the beautiful iconic Hogwarts Castle which in itself is a site to behold.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Island of Adventure takes place inside Hogwart’s Castle. This 3-D adventure is more appropriate for brave muggles 48 inches and up and definitely not for those prone to motion sickness. This is my favorite ride of Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you are a die-hard Harry Potter fan who can brave the Quidditch pitch, Whomping Willows, dragons and dementors, then this ride is for you.
Flight of the Hippogriff
This is small family friendly roller coaster ride located adjacent to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The roller coaster’s back-story is that Hogwarts’s Care of Magical Creatures professor, Hagrid, is teaching young wizards to fly on a Hippogriff by using a wicker replica of the creature. It’s fun ride!
The next attraction of Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Island of Adventure is Dragon Challenge. Let me warn you that this roller coaster is not for weak hearts. It is a pair of intertwined inverted roller coasters. The ride is themed to two chasing dragons, one side being Chinese Fireball and the other Hungarian Horntail. It is the deadly roller coaster ride that moves with the speed of 60 mph and finishes within a fraction of almost 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Earlier I used to get a bit queasy on this ride but now I am used to it. If you are looking for a high level of adrenaline rush in your body, then this ride is for you!
Hogwarts Express welcomes you at entry to Hogsmeade. If you’re going to Universal Orlando mostly for the Harry Potter parks, you want to make sure to get a park-hopper (park-to-park) ticket so you can visit both parks in one day. Then you can take the Hogwarts Express between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
Get on at Hogsmeade Station in Islands of Adventure and get off at Kings Cross Station in Universal Studios. It’s a fun way to “travel,” and actually can save you some time walking between parks (assuming the line for the train isn’t too long). Not only is this, traveling on Hogwarts Express is no lesser than any ride itself. Don’t get scared if you see Dementors out there.
Diagon Alley is the legendary attraction of Universal Studios. You will see Knight Bus standing in front at the London waterfront, which is opposite to the entrance to the Diagon Alley.
The main attraction in Diagon Alley is Gringotts Bank. From the moment you walk into Diagon Alley and see the fire breathing dragon at the top of the bank, it draws you in to see what hidden down in the vaults.
Escape from Gringotts
Escape From Gringotts is one hell of a ride, a technologically awesome thrill that puts you in the middle of Harry Potter’s dramatic break in and escape from the Wizarding World’s Fort Knox. The centerpiece of the new Diagon Alley expansion to the fantastic Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park sends you on a daring dash through the bank’s underground vaults. You spin and whirl down the track, riding past massive 3-D projection screens (yes, you wear glasses) on which the heroes and villains of J.K. Rowling’s epic series act out the story.
In the lobby are remarkable animatronic goblins, the bank’s tellers, that are—what’s the word for it?—freaky. They’ll occasionally look up from their work in the bank’s ledgers and stare at you wordlessly. (If you want to actually interact with a goblin, there’s one in the Gringotts currency exchange building down the street that will actually answer questions that are posed to it.)
Past the lobby, a long hallway filled with desks and other office furniture has copies of the Daily Prophet, the wizarding world’s newspaper, complete with magical moving photographs. Further down the way you’ll enter the office of Bill Weasley, older brother of Harry’s ginger pal Ron. You won’t see much of Harry, Ron and Hermione on the Gringotts ride.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – both at Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley is detailed oriented masterpiece art work which will mesmerize and leave you spellbound by its ambiance. You will feel that you are walking on the sets of Harry Potter movies.
Universal Studios has done an incredible work to make the colossal display of Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The people who work there, the buildings, the furniture, the food, the drinks, the stores, the rides, the artwork–everything is extremely detailed and it feels real. If you are a huge fan of Harry Potter books and movies, then I can bet that the Wizarding World won’t disappoint you!
Have you been to Wizarding World yet? Do share your experience in the comments below? If not, when are you planning to visit?