The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

A couple weeks ago Mike and I took a quick trip to Orlando to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Yes, it was as AMAZING as it sounds.

Yes, we are grown ups who LOVE Harry Potter.

No, we don’t care if you think we’re nerds.

We flew down on a Friday evening and went straight to our favorite Disney restaurant for dinner – ‘Ohana. We’ve been to Disney twice and each time my absolute favorite thing was the food. Everything at Disney is designed to be an experience and the dining is no exception. The food is just glorious! I think my dream vacation would be to go to Disney and just eat the whole time. Anyway… ‘Ohana is the restaurant at Disney’s Polynesian Resort and it is probably my favorite restaurant anywhere. The bread…and dumplings…and noodles…and the sauce…oh my word, the sauce…I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is, just know that it is wonderful.

On Saturday, we spent the day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. As Disney fans, we felt a bit like we were cheating by going to Universal. And, it was hard not to compare the two. The cost of admission is about the same…but what you get for that cost is drastically different. Disney is so clean and kid friendly and seems to run like a well-oiled machine. Universal is…not so much. We felt Universal was more like a Six Flags – you get rides but it’s just not magical. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was an exception to this.

As Potter fans, we loved the experience of walking through Hogsmeade and drinking Butterbeer at Hogs Head and touring Hogwarts, Zonkos and Honeydukes. We ate lunch at the Three Broomsticks and explored wands at Ollivanders. Even got spooked by Moaning Myrtle in the ladies room.

There are three Harry Potter themed rides. The Dragon Challenge is a great roller coaster. Not for the faint of heart or queasy riders. Lots of twists and loops and I felt a bit dizzy for a while after riding.

The Flight of the Hippogriff was the one disappointment of the Wizarding World. We waited in line for probably 50 minutes and the ride lasted about 7 seconds. Ok, ok, I’m exaggerating…it was 9 seconds. It’s a “kiddie” coaster and we knew that going in but thought it would at least be worth the wait. The unfortunate thing is that the only way to see Hagrid’s house is to walk through that line…just wish the ride itself was a bit longer.

The main ride is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The line for this ride is a walk through Hogwarts castle – and it was impressive. You walk through Dumbledore’s office and through the great hall and you get to see several Hogwarts “artifacts” like the sorting hat. The portraits talk to you as you walk along…it’s all very realistic and very well done. The ride is part simulation and part things-jumping-out-to-scare-you. It too is very well done and you get to “see” a lot of the castle and school grounds during your “flight”.

Although I didn’t fall in love with Universal as a whole, I would still highly recommend a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to anyone who is a Potter fan – especially if you’ve read the books. We plan to go back someday. When Mikayla is old enough to appreciate the movies and books we’d love to take her for a visit to Hogwarts.

Question: Are you a Potter fan? What do you think about the “real-life” magical world at Universal?

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2 responses to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

  1. Laura McClellan March 9, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Agreed about Universal. My husband and I are huge HP fans so we HAD to go to Harry Potter world while we were in Orlando, but the rest of the park is pretty much the worst. But man, it was PACKED when we went and I’m pretty sure I’ve never been so hot in my life, so we didn’t wait in line for the hippogriff or dragon rides–i’m bummed we missed seeing Hagrid’s hut though! And I didn’t experience the bathrooms with Moaning Myrtle! Gotta go back. πŸ™‚

    • Chrystal March 9, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      It’s good to have an excuse to go back. You know so you can explain to your friends who think you’re nerds for loving Harry Potter so much. (assuming you have friends like we do, that is.) πŸ™‚

      I think I’d go back just for the butterbeer. It was delicious. Have you tried any homemade recipes?

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