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Harry Potter

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on November 8, 2010

We finally got to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando. The weather, cool and sunny, was a delight and perfect for entering Hogsmeade with the “snow-covered” rooftops. The village is quaint like in the stories. The tall buildings have slanted roofs with fake snow and chimneys and historical looking shop window displays. Some are real; some are not, like the old bookstore with Lockhart Gilderoy’s (sp?) books on view. You can go into the candy shop, although there was a line the day we went. Prices are high for things like chocolate frogs, jelly beans, and such.

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The magic shop didn’t seem to have anything unusual either. Wands cost $28.95 in an assortment of styles. Scarves were popular in the cool weather, and I indulged in buying one myself. I got the red Gryffindor scarf, made in China, acrylic fabric, for around $30. You could buy a school robe for $99 if you need an expensive costume.

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After waiting in line for over an hour, we entered Olivander’s wand shop where the old shopkeeper himself chose a “student” from the crowd and matched her to a wand amid special effects. It was cool, and she got to keep the wand, but this was, like, a ten minute show after a very long wait.

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We went into The Three Broomsticks for lunch. Here we entered another line to place our order wherein we were given a number and shown to a table. We ordered the platter for four, consisting of barbecued chicken and ribs, corn on the cob (with decorative husks still remaining), roasted potatoes and vegetables, and salad. It was a pretty good deal considering the feast we got, $49.99 for four. We all got Butterbeer with its white foamy top. You can get it with or without a souvenir plastic mug. It’s like very sweet cream soda with maybe a hint of root beer. Too sweet for my taste.

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I had Pumpkin Juice later, which comes in a cute plastic bottle topped with a little pumpkin. This was also heavy on the sugar with apple juice and pumpkin puree. Anyway, the décor in the restaurant is cool. There are very high slanted ceilings with wood staircases going in all directions like you see in the movies. Tables and chairs are all wood. You can almost imagine the dining hall where Harry and friends eat, except there weren’t any floating candles in the air.

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Hogwarts Castle is very imposing, a huge mountain of a fortress atop a fake hill, looking every bit as ominous as in the movies. We had no wait when we entered. There were two lines, one for people going on the ride (they had to wait inside as they wound around the premises) and one for people just wanting to tour the castle. Here we split up. I went into the latter line and followed the narrow passages inside the structure.

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As you climb a staircase, figures in portraits on the walls talk to each other. In one room, you see Dumbledore’s office as the headmaster addresses you from afar. Another chamber is like a great hall with a balcony at the far end. Standing on this balcony are holographic type images of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. They make snow fall and use their invisibility cloak. It’s all very cool. Too bad it was dark inside and photos wouldn’t come out. Inside one display case was a newspaper with a talking photo. That’s all I remember. Our son said the ride was fun. You’re strapped in and have to leave loose items in a locker. Your feet dangle and you twist and turn, sometimes on your back, but it isn’t a roller coaster or a simulator. Sounds like a cross between Soarin’ and the dinosaur ride in Animal Kingdom.

We enjoyed the food and the ambiance and the reality of this adventure, but it would be nice if there were more shops to explore with less crowds and perhaps some interesting merchandise beyond souvenirs. Since we’re not thrill ride lovers, we didn’t partake of much else in Islands of Adventure.

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6 Responses to “Harry Potter”

  1. Sounds like fun and not too expensive to eat surprisingly.

  2. Nora-Adrienne Deret said

    My son went a month or so back, so I already knew about the lines from hell. It will probably take a couple of years before the lines into the shops get small enough to enjoy the experience. Like everything else at theme parks you also have to expect the prices to be high. I went to Disney California many years back on a trip with my partner. We lucked out in that the sweatshirts we wanted were on clearance since it was late in the season.

  3. The pumpkin juice was over $6. If you get the butterbeer without the souvenir cup, it’s a lot cheaper.

  4. M. E. Kemp said

    You like snow, Nancy? Think it’s quaint and cute? Come on up to Saratoga Springs NY and you can shovel off my sidewalk. We had the first snow of the season yesterday. Yeah, it looks pretty when you see it from a distance, but if you have to shovel it and drive in it, the fun fades fast. M. E. Kemp
    DEATH OF A DANCING MASTER
    coming out any minute!!! Yeah!!

  5. As much as I love Harry Potter, I have to admit to a laid back attitude when it comes to the park, as in, I’ll wait until the excitement dies down a little. It does look like a lot of fun, though. I’m not into thrill rides much either, although I think I’d try the castle ride you describe, but more than anything I’d just enjoy the atmosphere of strolling around Hogsmeade and all.

  6. IMHO, snow is only fun when it’s fake or you can look at it through a glass window. Then again, the first snowfalls of the season are always exciting. It is beautiful to see the sun sparkling off pristine snow. I went to school in Rochester NY so have had my share of winters. It helped to go to Hogsmeade in cold weather. It must seem weird to see the fake snow in the heat of summer. And Allison, we pretty much strolled around too. I wish the Harry Potter section were bigger.

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