The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

For those that were somehow unaware, Universal Studios of Orlando, Florida is adding a new section to their theme park — The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Hogwarts

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is what Universal Studios is calling their cooperative effort with JK Rowling and WB Productions to create an entirely Harry Potter themed Theme Park.  The park is set to open on June 18th, 2010.  It will be housed on about 20 acres of land as part of the Islands of Adventure portion of the entire Universal Studios experience.  The theme park is described as being a completely immersing Harry Potter experience.

And from what the Official Website reveals, it looks like they’re not exaggerating.

The following are excerpts from the site.

From magical spells to magical creatuers, from dark villains to daring heroes, it’s all here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Grand Opening is set for June 18th!  Join Harry Potter and his friends as you venture into a world where magic is real… and excitement knows no bounds.  Pass through the towering Hogwarts castle gates and explore the familiar passageways, classrooms, and corridors.  Visit the shops of Hogsmeade and sample fare from the wizarding world’s best-known establishments, including the Three Broomsticks and the Hog’s Head.  Plus experience pulse-pounding rides including Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a state-of-the-art attraction that brings the magic, characters, and stories of Harry Potter to life in ways never before imagined.

All of that sounds great, doesn’t it?  It gets better.  Next, you’ll get to see the site’s descriptions of all the places available to explore within the massive 20 acre park.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Enter through the towering castle gates and make your way through the familiar passageways and corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  You’ll visit iconic locations such as Dumbledore’s office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, the Room of Requirement, and more.  Then get ready to soar above the castle grounds as you join Harry Potter and his friends on an unforgettably thrilling adventure, coming face-to-face with an array of magical creatures!  This amazing new attraction uses groundbreaking, state-of-the-art technology (and a little magic) to create a one of a kind ride experience.

This sounds amazing. Being able to go on a ride that explores the Hogwarts Castle? I hope it moves slowly enough that I can get a good look at every little detail. Or that the lines aren’t too long so I can go on the thing about fifteen times before I’m satisfied.

Dragon Challenge

Marvel at the blazing Goblet of Fire and the shining Triwizard Cup as you take on the Dragon Challenge.  Choose your “dragon”: an aggressive Chinese Fireball or a ferocious Hungarian Horntail.  Then climb aboard and hold on tight as the two dragons twist, loop, and nearly collide with each other in an intertwining roller coaster chase across the sky.  Dragon Challenge is actually two high-speed roller coasters – each “dragon” is a completely different ride.

Gotta love roller coasters, right!?

Flight of the Hippogriff

Pass by Hagrid’s hut and follow his instructions as you learn the proper way to approach a Hippogriff, which has the head of a giant eagle and the body of a horse.  Then it’s time to take a “training flight” aboard the Flight of the Hippogriff, and enchanting family coaster woven from wicker and decorated with fluttering leaves representing feathers.  Bow as you approach the “real” Hippogriff, and then you’re spiraling and diving around the pumpkin patch, and swooping past Hagrid’s hut.

Sounds like a tamer “thrill-ride” than the Dragon Challenge, but still, this means that I’ll get a look at Hagrid’s Hut. Also exciting!

Dervish and Banges

Be sure to stop and Dervish and Banges for such magical items as Sneakoscopes, Spectrespecs, Omnioculars, and the Monster Book of Monsters.  Dervish and Banges carries all your Quidditch needs including t-shirts, Quaffles, Golden Snitches, and brooms including the Nimbus Two Thousand and the Firebolt.  You’ll find Hogwarts school uniform clothing including robes, scarves, ties, t-shirts, and sweatshirts.  The store offers an assortment of other merchandise such as journals and stationary items.

Here we go! This is where the “buy stuff” line starts becoming a mantra. Now, I realize that a lot of what follows is going to sound very… commercialized, but as a Harry Potter fan myself, I can say that almost everything I’ve read about sounds like something I would love to own. It’s one thing to be peddling things that you could pick up just anywhere, like a T-shirt with Mickey Mouse on the front, and another thing entirely to be selling tiny Golden Snitches. At least in my opinion.

Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods

Here you can see confiscated items and purchase souvenirs such as Hogwarts clothing including jackets, t-shirts, sweatshirts, shoulder bags, caps, and scarves; plus house crest banners, stationary, and other gifts.  There are authentic movie prop replicas including character walking sticks, Death Eater masks, and film-based chess sets; assorted Quidditch clothing; magical creature toys and clothing; plus a variety of assorted toys and other souvenirs.  It is also here, at the attraction’s exit, that guests can purchase a photo of their ride experience on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

I imagine my face would look something of pure awe in the picture taken during the ride. And Harry Potter chess? Like, Wizard’s chess? Yes, please.

Honeydukes

A must-stop for visitors to Hogsmeade, at Honeydukes, the shelves are lined with all manner of colorful sweets, including Acid Pops, exploding bonbons, Cauldron Cakes, treacle fudge, Fizzing Whizzbees, and Chocolate Frogs, which contain a wizard trading card in each box.  Inside the shop, you can fill up a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans… who knows that tasty (or not so tasty) flavors you’ll discover!  The shop also offers other classic favorites such as chocolates and fudge.

I love candy. I love magic. I love Hogwarts. This seems like the perfect end to a sweet and sour equation.

Ollivanders

Visit Ollivanders, Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C.  Step into the small, dusty shop and gaze up and countless wand boxes stacked to the ceiling.  Here, in a unique interactive experience, a Wandkeeper can help the want choose YOU.  You can purchase the wand you tried out, or select from Ollivanders’ full array of wands including replicas of the Harry Potter film characters’ wands, Collectible wand sets, and more.

This is perhaps one of the most exciting things about this theme park. A chance for a wand to choose me? Seriously? I would head down to Orlando even if JUST for this half hour of my life…

Owl Post

Look up to the timber rafters of the arched ceilings and you’ll see nearly two dozen resting owls dozing, hooting, turning their heads, and ruffling their feathers.  Numbers benches give you a place to rest too as you take a break during your day’s adventures.  Cover your ears as you pass the Howler displayed in the window, and check your watch as the grand Owlery clock tower hoots on the hour.  The Owl Post itself is a functioning post office.  You can drop your postcards and letters into the post box and they’ll be delivered with an authentic Hogsmeade postmark.  The Owl Post sells a variety of stationary, writing implements, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter stamps, as well as owl-related toys and gifts.

And now I’m tempted to go down to Orlando to mail off all of my Wedding invitations there so they’ll have the Hogsmeade stamp…

Three Broomsticks

Three Broomsticks is a rustic tavern where visitors to Hogsmeade can come to share a pint of Butterbeer or pumpkin juice and dine on hearty fare.  In this restaurant, you can choose from such main courses as the “Great Feast Platter,” fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, Cornish pasty, turkey legs, and fresh vegetables.  Children’s menu items include chicken,, macaroni and cheese, fish and chips, and chicken fingers, each served with grapes and applesauce.  Dessert choices include apple pie, strawberry and peanut butter ice cream, and chocolate trifle.  At the rear of the Three Broomsticks tavern is the Hog’s Head pub.  Here the family can enjoy Butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and other beverages while adults sample the pub’s selection of domestic and imported beers, specialty drinks, wine, spirits, and mixed drinks.

What’s that? I get to eat the crazy stuff they feed the students at Hogwarts? Butterbeer approved by J.K. Rowling? An ADULT bar in a Harry Potter theme park? SIGN ME UP ALREADY!

Zonko’s

Zonko’s is your destination for novelty items, jokes, and toys.  At Zonko’s Joke Shop, you can take home such items as a Sneakoscope, Extendable Ears, Screaming Yo-yos, a Boxing Telescope, Fanged Flyer, Pygmy Puff, Shrunken Heads, and more.  There are sweets including Fainting Fancies, Fever Fudge, Nosebleed Bougat, Puking Pastilles, and U-No-Poo.  The shop also offers Zonko’s t-shirts, mugs, and other assorted souvenirs.

This is probably the one place I wouldn’t buy a million dollars worth of stuff, mostly because I’d be looking at the novelty of everything. I’d probably take a zillion pictures, though!!

So… Guess who has her 21st birthday coming up in a month?  Oh yeah, that’d be me…  I’ll now be taking donations for the “Make Nateal’s 21st Birthday the BEST Birthday in the Entire History of Birthdays by Sending Her to Orlando this Summer” fund.  Seriously, though.  I would kill to be able to get down there this summer.  I don’t think that’ll happen, though.  I couldn’t afford it if I wanted to right now.

But hey, it’s nice to dream, right?

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