A Muggle in Hogsmeade: CL intern Hannah Walk reviews The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I didn’t actually get to taste the Butterbeer, but a person in line behind me to enter Honeydukes said that the foam on top was like “vanilla amazingness.”

Dragon Challenge. Do you remember Dueling Dragons? It was built in 1999 and has a top speed of 60 mph. It’s still one of my favorite rides, but only a few changes have been made to accommodate Potterdom:  the outside decorations now commemorate the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and the fire and ice dragons have been renamed Chinese Fireball and Hungarian Horntail.

Flight of the Hippogriff. A pretty tame coaster with no major loops, but still a bit of a thrill for the weak of stomach among us. I didn’t get to ride it, but it looked like fun.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (line). I can’t say if I like the line better or the actual ride. The line takes the usual rattrap of theme park lines and inserts it into a tour of Hogwarts for us muggles. You visit the greenhouses, halls filled with talking portraits, Professor Dumbledore’s office and the classroom used for Defense Against the Dark Arts. Every element has been picked directly out of the movies, right down to the dinosaur skeleton that hung in the DADA class when Professor Lupin was teaching (in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (ride). An exciting mix of roller coaster, simulator and IMAX movie. The four-seat carriages twist and turn through both tangible and virtual spaces showing quidditch, acromantulas and many other prominent features well-known to HP fans around the world.

Hogsmeade. From the snow-covered roofs of the shops, to the chocolate frogs inside, nothing feels out of place inside Hogsmeade. While some of the shops (like Ollivander’s) actually belong in Diagon Alley, the overall image is true to the films.

While some tourists have said that they feel like they are stepping into the world created in J.K. Rowling’s books, I would have to disagree ; I felt like I was stepping into a movie set. The crowding, combined with the sheer perfection only possible at a theme park or in a movie, detracted from the “magic” but not from the value of the park.

As theme parks go, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has set the bar very high. I would definitely recommend it to the fan-next-door, but would also remind fanatics that reality is corseted by physics and budgets.

Based on the up to six hour wait that's been reported to gain entry to the Wizarding World, my cousins and I weren't the only ones there. Rabid Nick went too and has lots of pretty pictures.

Here are some of my own.

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It would be a cliché to say that stepping into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is a magical experience, but in many ways it was. Visiting this recreation of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts is like walking through the movie screen into the world of the Harry Potter movies. It's no wonder: Universal purposefully constructed the $265 million addition to Islands of Adventure to look like the movie sets.

Having finally resigned myself to accepting that I might be a muggle, I jumped at the chance to tag along on my Weasley cousins’ trip to Hogsmeade, including a tour of the famous Hogwarts Castle.

Having stayed at a Universal hotel the night before, we were able to enter the park an hour before regular guests, thus saving my cousins and me from the inordinately long line for entry into the Wizarding World area of the park.

So let’s talk about what’s really important at WWoHP.


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