Tag Archives: Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Draco Malfoy Visits the Wizarding World

Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) visited with the Beauxbatons at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during his recent visit to Universal Orlando Resort.

First Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and now Tom Felton (the actor better know as Draco Malfoy) has made his way to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. He’s one of our favorite “bad boys” and what fun to see him here in Orlando. He was present at the Grand Opening, but it’s nice that he’s come back again.

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Filed under Only at a Theme Park, Universal

The Deathly Hallows: What a Joyous Memory!

Yeah, we’re big Harry Potter fans in our household. As an English teacher, I know the value (and power) of reading and so I started reading aloud to my son when he was in utero. (Really.)

When he was old enough to want to tackle Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I dutifully read aloud each night until we finished the book. This blossomed into us standing in line awaiting each new release–my husband even grabbed one early in New York one time and brought it home as an early birthday present–and produced many fond memories. I smile when I think back to the third book, The Prisoner of Azkaban, when my son was so scared of Sirius Black and so he would make my hubby sit with him as I read aloud.  Good times!

My son as Harry Potter

And, once the movies started coming out we were in line… and then once again as Harry Potter’s Wizarding World opened. So, as the film series is finally winding down, with the Part I of the last movie opening today, it is with bitter sweetness that I post this new video below… enjoy!

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Filed under Education, family, Just for Me, Universal

Sneak Peek Part 3: Ollivander’s, Butterbeer, and More!

So after the Forbidden Journey ride in Hogwarts Castle, my hubby needed to rest his stomach a bit, so he found a seat in the Owl Conservatory. Owls of all sizes roosted in the rafters of this open seating area…but since they were animatronic, there was no owl poop! Nice!

My son J was dying to go on Dueling Dragons, now appropriately part of the Wizarding World, and so he got in line for that. I wasn’t too keen on a rolling roller coaster so soon after flying about on a broom, so I found my downtime at Ollivander’s Wand Shop.

There was a line to get into Ollivander’s, which made me wonder why Universal designed such a small gift shop! But the line moved quickly, letting in groups of fifteen to twenty people at a time, and I soon found out why…Ollivander’s is actually a show! A very, intimate, quaint show that gives the place a very authentic feel. As I entered the wand shop, there was shelf upon shelf of wands, all stacked together as if they had been there for centuries! As a collector of old books, I loved the musty-dusty feeling of the place, but yes, it was a tight fit for all of us in there.

Then, a wand keeper started the show by calling forth a boy from our group. After some clever dialogue, he had the boy try a wand or two, creating some magical effects along the way. (See the video below.) After a few minutes, the show ended and we were ushered into the real wand shop/gift shop to pick out a wand. Here’s mine:

A quick gripe: This real gift shop still left me wondering why on earth Universal designed something so small! It was nearly impossible to navigate through the crowded, tiny space to find the perfect wand or anything else for that matter. You could purchase a celebrity wand (Dumbledore’s, Draco’s, He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named’s, etc.) or you could purchase one based on your birthdate. I went for my birthdate and got that kooky striped one that seemed perfect!

Another quick gripe: Yes, I willingly paid my near $30 for the plastic toy in incredibly nice wrappings (love the box!) but it would have been a much better effect if they had included a simple slip of paper that told a bit about my wand. For example, does it have a unicorn hair in it? Or a dragon heartstrings? Or a phoenix’s feather? When was my wand made, etc.? This would have added greatly to the fun of my fine wand made just for me! Oh well, maybe that touch will be forthcoming.

At any rate, all griping aside, I highly recommend Ollivander’s at it was my favorite thing about the attraction!

After that, my son and I reconvened with my hubby, who still was a bit disoriented, and we all tried a bit of butterbeer. It is extremely sweet and the froth on top is extra yummy! I do not recommend the regular, though, as it reminded me of day old sticky root beer that has sat in the Florida sun for too long, but the frozen butterbeer is infinitely better…YUM!

So we ended our big morning at Universal by heading to Hard Rock Cafe. (Where else!?)

All in all, we’ll be back after the crowds from opening day die down a bit. I highly recommend you go see it, especially all you Harry Potter fans out there. Here’s hoping the magic is real!


Filed under family, Fun, General Info, Only at a Theme Park, Tourist, Uniquely Florida, Universal

Sneak Peek Part 2: Hogwarts Castle

So, after we made it into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we then bee-lined for the main attraction: Hogwarts Castle!

From the outside, it is fairly intimidating. It looks like a real castle and appears to have the same overwhelming dimensions as that in the movie. It sits atop a craggy mountain and its towers soar into the air impressively. There was hardly any line for most of it, thanks to our 8:00 a.m. admittance, so we snaked through the queue pretty quickly. The neat thing about the castle is that it is actually two attractions in one.

Getting ready to go in...

You find as you wind your way through very dark castle passages, that the queue itself actually is a show. Here you see all sorts of appropriate Potter memorabilia: large statues from the houses, the grand stairwell where portraits talk noisily, as well as a peek into the headmaster’s private office, where Dumbledore himself greets you. And, thanks to modern technology, he actually looks as if he is really there!

Greetings from Dumbledore.

Talking portraits.

Then you wind your way into the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom, where all sorts of telescopes, potions, and such are overshadowed by the skeleton of a dragon hanging from the ceiling.  Here, you wait while Ron, Hermione, and Ron sneak into the classroom under the cover of their invisibility cloak. Once they throw their cloak off, they look every bit as present in the room as Dumbledore did!  After some dialogue, Ron accidentally makes it snow, which is a fun touch. (Unfortunately, the ride broke down at this point, so my hubby and son and I saw this little skit twenty or so times…more than enough snow for a Central Florida summer day!)

Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

The Dragon.

Once we were moving again, we passed by the Fat Lady’s portrait as she lectured us about Harry Potter getting into trouble (or something like that) before we saw the Sorting Hat. This was a very cool and welcome effect, as you can get very close to the hat, watching it realistically drone on about safety on the ride.

The Sorting Hat.

And then, you could see into the Great Dining Hall…well, kind of. It was actually a fairly small area where you boarded the ride, but the magical effect of lights, faux candles, and mirrors made it seem passable for the Hall. Here’s video of our adventure. (I had to tinker with the lighting and exposure due to the entire video being black when I started out!)

We loaded four to a “car” where we were strapped into individual seats and then took off as a unit in the simulator. As we moved, my seat tilted backwards, forwards, and swung around mightily. I saw a combination of amazingly realistic green screen images of the outside of the castle, while flying on a broom behind Harry and Ron, and actual mock ups jumped out at me as I “rode” by.  I was chased by dragons, spiders, and dementors and got to swing through a Quidditch game… it really was fun!  And, yes, I did forget there were other riders in the “car” beside me. I felt alone on my boom!

All in all, this was well worth the wait during the delay. My son and I loved it…my hubby, however, who is sensitive to motion sickness on such rides, was done for the day! So, be warned, o ye of sensitive inner ears, this ride is definitely topsy-turvy and very capable of making you feel like you are really flying!

Be sure to check back later for Sneak Peek Part 3: Ollivander’s and Butterbeer!


Filed under family, Fun, General Info, Only at a Theme Park, Uniquely Florida, Universal

Sneak Peek at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

So, Harry Potter goes way back in my family… ever since my son J and I devoured the first books together. When he was little, we would sit on the couch and I would read aloud to him, page after page, and we relished every word. (During the reading of the Prisoner of Azkaban, J was so scared of Sirius Black, he made my hubby sit with him while I read! *Muhahaha*)

Not only did we read the books, but my son loved all things Potter, every magical toy manufactured to having a dragon painted on his bedroom wall!  He even dressed as Harry Potter for Halloween… probably more than one year running!

Then came the movies and eventually word about the theme park, which we breathlessly awaited…until this morning!  We got a sneak peek! So how did we manage it?  Well, we heard via Twitter that guests staying on-property were being allowed in, while regular park guests were on stand-by. Well, we wanted to be sure we gained access, so we made reservations at the Royal Pacific Hotel, which had a lovely Asian aura to it.  It was recommended by the concierge that we pick our tickets up that night, as admittance to the Wizarding World was before Will Call opened. So, we took the cool transport boats to City Walk, ate at the Latin Quarter (Chilean Sea Bass…yum!) and then went to get our tickets. The tickets with our resort key were our passport to Hogwarts!

The ticket lady told us to be at the entrance to Islands of Adventure by 7:30 for an 8:00 a.m. opening for resort guests. (Virgin Atlantic had a special going where the Brits got in at 7:30 a.m.! Good marketing!)  So, we got the early wake up call and then headed out on foot to the park…too early for the transport boats to be running!  We made it there by about 7:20 and were about tenth in line. Not bad, or so we thought.  Hundreds filed in behind us and by the time the gates opened at 8, there was a mad rush for the ticket takers.

Be warned Florida Residents!  Our tickets showed up as expired (much to the lady’s despair in line behind us because we slowed her down) and so we were taken to Guest Services who explained that Florida Resident tickets must be used the same day, lest we pass them along to a non-resident. (Wish the ticket lady had told us this the night before! She cost us precious minutes in getting to the WWOHP!)

So we switched out tickets and were back on the run for the entrance…and boy! was the wait worth it!  The first view of the snow-capped rooftops as you scanned the area was breathtaking! It was just as I imagined it should look!

So, here’s a short video of the first part of our sneak peek. (I’ve got two other videos I will be posting shortly.)  Enjoy, you muggles!

Remember to check back for Parts 2 and 3.


Filed under family, Fun, Just for Me, Only at a Theme Park, Tourist, Uniquely Florida, Universal