This year’s most anticipated attraction opened in June at Universal Orlando’s Island Of Adventure, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is true to both books and films alike, and it is a Mecca for wizarding fans of all ages. When visiting “Potter-Land,” fans can be a bit overwhelmed with all that there is to do. The Islands of Adventure is a great place to hang out with some of your favorite Marvel heroes at Super Hero Island, or a few dinosaurs at Jurrasic Park. However, the crowds this year were not on the Spiderman Ride, but anxiously waiting to travel with Harry into Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, and his ultra cool simulator ride – the Forbidden Journey.
10. Fans will be greeted into Hogsmeade by an outdoor vendor selling Harry’s favorite drink, Butterbeer. Fans MUST try it for themselves. The cream soda/butterscotch- like non alcoholic beverage experiece is not to be missed. One can even get a collectible mug to go with a cold or frozen beverage. If this does not sound like something you’d try, opt for pumpkin juice.
9. Have a sweet tooth? Enter Honeydukes candy store for all your wizarding candy needs. Try the Chocolate frogs, Every Flavour beans, and an endless supply of fudge, lollipops, and other magical treats. Don’t forget to collect all four Hogwart house wizards with your chocolate frog purchase. And remember, eat the beans with caution. The fun is in tasting to see if you have a strange flavor like salmon, earwax, or pepper.
8. Hungry? Well, enter The Three Broomsticks for another pint of Butter-beer, and a bite of fish and chips, Sheppard pie, or a delicious slice of cake. Just like in the films and best selling books, Harry’s favorite eatery has all of your English favorites, décor only a true wizard can appreciate, and a very entertaining wait staff that is very much into character asking guests what Hogwarts house they live in and how to cast a spell. If you want a real alcoholic beverage, venture further into the restaurant to the Hog’s Head pub. This is for adult wizards only as the sign suggests, “Under-aged Wizards will not be served alcohol.”
7. No one goes to Hogsmeade without doing a bit of shopping. Fancy a new robe? Need a family set of broomsticks? Maybe, a jersey for the Wizarding Tournaments? Throughout the Wizarding World, there are tons of shops filled with souvenirs and wizarding products. Check out Flintch’s Emporium, Zonkos, Dervish and Banges, or even the Owl Post. Since the attraction is brand new, be wary of lines – yes, lines into these shops! Just like the rides, you may have to wait, but as any wizard or muggle will tell you, it’s worth it! However, the good news is, if you are short of time and don’t want to wait, the Universal site has all of these shops online.
6. This may sound strange, but head to the bathrooms, a.k.a the Public Conveniences. It’s not much, but any Potter fan will appreciate entering the restrooms, to be greeted by everyone’s favorite bathroom ghost, Moaning Myrtle. It’s a humorous touch, reminding visitors that no matter where you wind up in Hogsmeade (even the Harry Potter potty), the magic does not end.
5. The Flight of The Hippogriff, a coaster for younger wizarding folk, is quite a ride. Along with your buddy Buckbeak the magical creature, you will ride around the track enjoying the view of Hagrid’s Hut and the rest of the Hogsmeade village. It’s not as fast as the other coaster on the premises, but it’s still an enjoyable experience for kids and coaster-challenged muggles.
4. Speaking of coasters, the more advanced wizards can ride the Dragon Challenge. This fast paced coaster takes you soaring! Keep your eyes open though, because the view of Hogsmeade, as well as Hogwarts can be quite a sight. The Dragon Challenge is also a great ride to see a few Goblet of Fire scenes as well.
3: Ollivander’s Wand Shop is another place to see. If you can take the wait, you will enter into the shop (which, is supposed to be in Diagon Alley, not Hogsmeade, but alas, even magic has flaws sometimes). Inside, you can partake in an entertaining experience of having the wand choose the wizard. Just like Harry, you too can get a customized (and often pricey) wand of your own. Parents should steer clear though, the most this wand does is, well, nothing. For the prices these wands sometimes go for, they should shoot some magical spells out.
2: Hogwarts Castle, which fans will agree makes that “other amusement park’s” castle look like a shed, is not to be passed up. Inside, Universal Studios replicated the school to perfection. Looking just as it does in the films, you can tour the inside to find talking portraits, Dumbledore’s office, and even a few holographic surprise guests. It’s quite dark inside, and one can easily get lost, so stick to the tour and don’t wander.
1: The infamous, Wizarding World of Harry Potter ride is last, but certainly not least. Of the three rides in this section of Islands of Adventure, one can not pass up the chance to come along with Harry Potter on this one. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is worth the wait on the long lines! Enter into Hogwarts castle, and anxiously await your opportunity to journey into many spellbinding action scenes from the films with Harry and the gang. You will be flying, falling, spiraling, spinning upside down, and nearly eaten by dragons as you follow Harry on his broom through Quidditch matches, eery encounters with Dementors and more. This indoor attraction is not to be missed.