I got in! I got in!! That’s right, yesterday, I was able to get into the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter park for a three hour preview!
I’m going to write a brief review of my experience and then, over the next few days, give you more detailed information and video from each area, attraction, and ride.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
Just as everyone’s said about this ride, it’s very unique and fun. Rather than copy what everyone else has said about it, I’ll give a brief review of my own experience. There may be a few spoilers, so be warned!
The best way I can describe the ride is that it’s a mix between Spider-Man at the Super Hero island and Soarin’ at Epcot. This doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s the best analogy I could come up with after riding it, twice.
I do not recommend this ride for kids! It has some potentially very scary scenes and effects. My 6 year old son meets the height requirement (48″), but I would never bring him on this ride. He’d have nightmares for weeks.
The queue line for this ride is almost as much fun as the ride itself! I know, hard to believe, but I really enjoyed the line. As you move from section to section of Hogwart’s Castle, you see a different show with different effects and props. I waited about 60 minutes when I went through the full line and it didn’t seem like much of a wait, at all. In fact, I liked that I was able to move slowly through the castle to appreciate all the shows and effects. I used the single rider line for my first ride and you miss almost the entire castle in that line.
Ollivander’s Wand Shop
The line for Ollivander’s was crazy! Around the corner from the door, up the exit queue for the Dragon Challenge, back around a “closed” shop, and finally up towards the Forbidden Journey. All of this to buy a wand? Well, no, not really, as I later found out.
I decided I definitely needed to wait in that line and fortunately, Universal was smart and sent serving girls around to take your order of Butterbeer (review coming up in a future post) and Pumpkin Juice. By the time I waited for my Butterbeer and drank the delicious mixture, I was at the front of the line.
I did not realize that Ollivander’s was strictly a show! You go in with a big group, the “wand salesperson” picks out a person (usually a child), and does the show that you saw in the videos, last week. Once the show is over, you’re led into the Owl Post to purchase your wand. Once in the Owl Post, I realized you can enter directly into the Owl Post and buy your wand without going through the Ollivander show.
However, the Owl Post and Dervish & Banges (connected to the Owl Post) are both extremely small, making it very hard to find anything you’re looking to buy (especially wands) and I expect it to be VERY, VERY crowded and frustrating come opening time.
Three Broomsticks, Honeydukes, and Zonko’s
I’m grouping these three together because there’s really not much to say about them, individually.
You are not allowed to look around Three Broomsticks, unless you’re buying food. Truly a shame, since this looks to be one of the most interesting buildings in the new Harry Potter park, aside from Hogwart’s. I made sure to mention this error for Universal upon my exit (they were randomly selecting people to take surveys and I was one of the lucky ones!). You can look from the entrance, but that’s it and I had just eaten, so I wasn’t going to buy some food just so I could look around.
Honeydukes is a big candy store with some cool colors and candy. This is probably the biggest store in the new park and they should have used that space for Dervish & Banges or Owl Post, both of which will likely get more traffic than a candy store. I have a hard time imagining that Universal will sell enough candy out of this location to make it profitable.
Zonko’s is very cool and seemed to be running the best of any retail location in the new park. It has just the right amount of space and some really cool toys, gadgets, and gizmos.
One of my favorite things about the new Harry Potter park is that the show never seems to end! Everywhere you look, there’s some moving animatronics character, live character shows and performances, a ride, scenes from the books, and so on. This includes both inside the retail locations and attractions, but also out in the “streets.” You’re continually entertained and made to feel like you’ve truly entered the world of Harry Potter.
As I noted, earlier, I will be giving a lot more detail about each of the places, rides, and attractions I mentioned above in upcoming posts. Stay tuned, subscribe to our RSS feed, sign up for our newsletter (it’s free!), and keep checking back for the latest updates about the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter park.