Hello readers! It’s Belle and I’m here to write about my adventures in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This was an early 18th birthday gift to me from my Nana and when she told me, I freaked out! Being a huge Potter fan (read all the books twice, seen all the movies, signed on to pottermore), it was like a dream come true to finally be able to go!
We woke up pretty early to make sure we could get there at a good time. Dad dropped us off (after a lot of confusing navigation through Universal) and I was bursting with anticipation. First we walked through City Walk, and I thought that was really neat, but I had tunnel vision for Potter. We got to Islands of Adventure and walked through the main area and to the right into Seuss Landing. I thought it was adorable and I thought of how my sister would love it. They have a little train track running across the top like their version of the TTA in Walt Disney World, but only in Seuss Landing and it lasts about 5 minutes, if that.
After we left Seuss Landing we walked into the Lost Continent area, which looks like it has a lot of mythology references and a big Poseidon temple that has a walk through ride called “Poseidon’s Fury” it was okay, kind of cheesy but the effects were nice.
Then I saw it, the Hogsmeade sign!! I squealed and Nana and Bob chuckled at how excited I was. I ran up to the arched sign and snapped a picture then tried to contain all the screams of excitement inside. The Hogwarts Express was just inside the arch and I got my picture taken with the conductor. He asked for my name and told me it sounded like royalty so he had me take his arm.
After that I took a picture of the street with all the shops lining it, and the grin on my face would stay there all day! I took pictures of Zonkos and Honeydukes, then ran over to this small plaza in front of the three broomsticks restaurant and saw a wanted poster with Sirius Black in it, moving just like it did in the movie!! I squealed again and took a picture, even though it didn’t turn out too well. We walked closer to the castle Hogwarts and past the Dueling Dragons coaster and Flight of the Hippogriff.
Suddenly I got a little nervous about what we were hurrying to do: The Forbidden Journey ride inside Hogwarts. Some people told my mom and I that it was pretty intense and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I like tame thrill rides (if that makes sense), but I had no idea what it would be like! Despite being kind of scared and seeing all the signs saying: Don’t go on if you get motion sickness, I plowed through the entrance telling myself “I CAN DO THIS!” Nana was nervous too – she’s really sensitive to that stuff and gets sick pretty easy, but she had the same mindset as I did. I was doing this and there was nothing that was going to stop me!
So we walked in and had to blink several times so that we could see, it’s very dark inside. The attendants told us that we needed to get a locker for the backpack because there’s really no space to put it on the ride. We walked into the locker room and they’re organized in wall sections with a touch screen for each wall. They take your finger print and then open a locker for you (it’s totally free by the way) and then you open it up and put your stuff in, no problem. Also, the lockers look really small but we were able to fit nana’s purse and a full backpack into it.
Now we have our stuff taken care of, so we set off into the line. It starts off in Hogwarts and we walked past the Mirror of Erised. For those that don’t know, that’s the mirror in the first movie that shows what you desire most. Like for Harry, it was his parents. (Erised is Desire backwards). Then you walk outside into what looks like a big greenhouse like the one shown in the second movie when students have to pull those creepy Mandrakes out of the pots. It’s a decent wait out there when it’s busy, but we walked right through because it was still early.
Then we head back into Hogwarts and the really cool stuff starts to show up. Like on the right is a big statue with the house mascots draped at the man’s feet, and four jars with beads tallying house points (Gryffindor was in first, Ravenclaw was last), then straight ahead at the end of the hall was the entrance to Dubledore’s office – that really big phoenix with his wings slightly extended.
We round the corner into a big hall with talking portraits – all who happen to be the founders of each house such as Godrick Gryffindor and Rowena Ravenclaw. They talk and bicker with each other and talk about the people in line, and it’s amazing how real it looks. Then we walk into Dumbledore’s office and his tools are in the glass containers all around the line and people wing around to see his desk and Dumbledore himself in his portrait talking about how brave we had to be for the journey ahead. He mentioned the Defense Against the Dark Arts room not having a teacher at the moment.
We walk into the Defense Against the Dark Arts room next, and immediately you can hear Harry, Ron, and Hermione talking to each other. Everyone looks kind of confused because it’s an empty landing, then they suddenly take off the invisibility cloak and they’re standing up on the balcony in front of us. It looks like they’re really there, and everybody in line got excited (including me!). They were explaining the ride and what we were going to do, but I didn’t catch any of it because: 1. I was too busy freaking out that they were there and 2. The line was moving fast and we had no time to hear any of it.
We round the corner into another short hall with more talking portraits and then- we’re there. The ride has officially started. Now, I’ve tried to explain the concept of the ride to people but it’s difficult. It’s like soarin at Disney World (the way you sit) but it’s also like the Sum of All Thrills. The ride is on a robot arm and it twists you through different scenes. The reason why it has warnings for motion sickness is because the ride goes from screen to actual ride (props and scenery and animatronics) to screen again. It’s not 3D (thank God) but it still manages to get me pretty dizzy. It’s very fast and it jumbles you around a lot. There’s a harness that you wear like on rollercoasters, and it made me feel really safe so there weren’t any “Oh gosh I’m going to die” moments, hahaha.
I won’t give too much of the ride content away, but if your children are prone to being easily scared, please don’t put them on this ride. There are dementors, spiders, and dragons, and things do fly at your face. Also – nana learned this the hard way – they mean it when they say don’t ride if you’re prone to motion sickness. It didn’t outright spin you in circles, but it does whirl you around a lot and the constant transition between screen and animatronics gets to be a little much sometimes.
After we got off the ride we headed over to Ollivanders and stood in line. Yes, there is a line outside of that shop, and it gets very long! I would actually suggest doing that before going on the ride in Hogwarts because we waited for a good 20 minutes and it was still very early in the morning.
But whatever you do – don’t bypass it! They take about 15 people at a time into Ollivander’s wand shop and it’s simply amazing. I would say that’s one of the most authentic-feeling places of the whole park. Ollivander (who looks and sounds like the one in the movie) pulls someone out of the crowd and has them try out different wands – and the results are truly magical. At the end he explains how the wand chooses the wizard, and the person finally gets the right one. I’m pretty sure they still have to pay for it, but I wasn’t picked so I wouldn’t know.
Nana bought me a wand of my own, but it wasn’t a character wand. A store employee helped me pick out a wand according to my birthday. It’s about 31 dollars including “ministry” tax (ha) and the character wands are the same. The shop is separate from Ollivander’s and it’s technically called the Owl Post, which had owls and mail strewn about the ceiling rafters.
Nana also bought me a Hufflepuff patch (that’s the house I got sorted into on Pottermore) so I could iron it onto a shirt or sweatshirt. Then we went into the middle of the street and bought my very first BUTTERBEER! I got it in a special mug that said butterbeer (it’s plastic). It tastes amazing – like butterscotch rootbeer with this buttery frothy foam on top. I took it into Honeydukes and fell into candy heaven. There was pretty much every kind of candy imaginable plus authentic candies from the books like chocolate frogs, peppermint toads, and Bertie Botts every flavor beans! Nana bought me a jar full of peppermint straws with the words Honeydukes on the outside so I could stare at it in my room (hahaha).
Nana and Bob waited outside while I looked at Honeydukes sipping my butterbeer, and then I walked into Zonkos. The hall that connects them has a sign that says “shh, the walls have ears” and then you look up and there’s a bunch of ears hanging on strings. The joke shop is filled with rubber chickens, whoopee cushions, and pygmy puffs galore! Laughter is heard throughout the store and puffs of air startle some people in different areas.
After I finished and cleaned out my butterbeer mug, Bob and I decided to go on the ride again so we could get experience more and not be so terrified this time. Nana stayed behind since she still wasn’t feeling too well, and she met a nice family from England. Meanwhile Bob and I had to wait a little longer than last time (about 30 minutes) but that was fine, the line scenery really makes it all worth it. I would wait an hour if I had to.
After we got off the second time I was starting to feel it – that small feeling in the stomach that says “ok you’re done now, unless you want to see that butterbeer come back up”.
I took about 50 pictures of Hogwarts at every possible angle and pictures of the buildings in Hogsmeade. We ate lunch at the three broomsticks. I would suggest it for sure because the food was amazing. They had fish and chips, chicken, potatoes, meat pies, and more – very hearty and healthy feeling food that you would want at your own table. I wouldn’t suggest eating before any rides though because it is pretty heavy. They had the Hogs Head as well but I didn’t check it out.
In front of Dervish and Banges right next to the Owl Post is a man in front of a booth and what he’ll do is send your letters and put a nice wax seal on a special Owl Post letter! I told myself next time I go I’ll definitely have to do that for my friends.
We saw the two shows they have: the Triwizard picking and the Frog Choir. The triwizard thing is cool because the Beauxbaton and Durmstrang schools both do short little talent displays and then at the end they let you take a picture with all of them. The frog choir is very cool and they sing about 4 songs including the main Harry Potter theme. One person from each house sings and two people hold deep voiced toads who sing with them. They come right up to the crowd at the end of one of their songs so get as close as you can – it’s really cool!
I didn’t ride the roller coasters, which now I guess I kind of regret, but I had an amazing day. To wrap it up (after we toured more of Islands of Adventure) we said goodbye to the Wizarding World by having one more butterbeer. They also had Pumpkin juice but I didn’t try it, I only took a picture of it. There’s a lot more that I didn’t mention but I’ll leave that for you to discover!
Everything is authentic as it can be, they cover almost everything in Hogwarts and on the ride, and Hagrid’s hut is inside the roller coaster Flight of the Hippogriff so don’t freak out if they don’t have something you wanted to see – because they probably do, you just haven’t looked hard enough! It does seem like a very small area but there’s a lot to do. We got there at 9 and stayed in the Harry Potter area until about 2pm so there’s a lot to occupy your time with. The merchandise is very expensive but make sure you look at every store because there are some little bits in them from the movies that you might recognize (especially the store window displays).
I had an amazing day and I would go back again in a heartbeat – I was really sad to say goodbye to it. BUT, I have my wand to show off and remember what a great day it was. I have thanked Nana and Bob so many times because without them I wouldn’t have been able to go. It was a great birthday present and I suggest those die-hard Potter fans like myself plan a trip – it is SO worth it!!