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Resident Sea Monster
Oct 25, 2009
Raleigh, NC
So we went to Islands of Adventure/Universal/CityWalk and I lost my shit over Harry Potter Land. In fact, although I had a BLAST in all areas of the park (Beastie Boys on Rip Ride Rockit? yes ma'am), I'm only going to focus on the Wizarding World of HP for this. And really all I have to say is how phenomenal it is and how much fun I had. So! Let *clap* me *clap* tell *clap* you. It was breathtaking. It was SO over-the-top well done. And it appeals to everyone, from fans who are discerning to those who only have a peripheral awareness of Harry Potter through general culture. The forecast called for rain the first day we went (a Saturday if you believe in miracles) and there were very light crowds. My cohorts and I roll up to Kings Cross and that gorgeous fountain and we're literally, for a solid two or three minutes, looking around like "So where is it? Is this it? This can't be it, what on earth?" And like a pack of dirty muggles we had no idea that of COURSE there was a "hidden" entrance. So we walk a bit farther and oh my gentle Jesus the effing wall illusion. We turned the corner and there was music and color and I think I gay gasped so loud someone passing by me laughed.

Ok, so we're in. First things first. We're hungry and on the greatly appreciated recommendation of Nicole I lead us into the Leaky Cauldron. There I had my first taste of Butterbeer which I have to say I'm not a huge fan. It's basically a caramel cream soda situation which was great on the first sip but each subsequent partaking was less and less enjoyable. I can easily understand how others would love it but it just wasn't my jam. But the decor though! The place was themed for the gods and they overlooked no detail. From the eponymous cracked cauldron to the pictures on the wall to the rafters to the hostess asking if we preferred light or dark (I chose dark because my soul is sullied).

After lunch we stepped outside to discover that evidently there had been a torrential downpour that lasted exactly the time we were indoors. Hashbrowns blest. But wait because here comes the best part. We roll up into Ollivander's (or Oleander's if you're my "I like Star Wars better" friend... fuggin Hufflepuffs *eyeroll*) and enter through the "Wand Choosing Experience" door. I loved the experience SO much! It was such an authentic experience, the way my group was guided to the room by the "Wandmaker's Apprentice" and then omgosh there's a man at the top of the stairs and that's Mr. Ollivander!!! ... So girl comes down the spiral staircase in her robes and and matching hat and everyone's on edge for what's about to happen and immediately he stops halfway down and squints directly at me. "Oh!" she says to me. "I was wondering when I might be seeing you!"

Ok. So I am literally vibrating a foot off the floor. I was *beside* myself! I mean oh my goodness grannies I GOT CHOSEN!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! And if you know about "the experience" then you'll know he goes through basically the whole scene from the movie and the light was shining down on me like Jesus himself gaying the f out and just AHHHHHHH I GOT CHOSEN!!!!!!! I was OVERJOYED. I can't even explain this rapture. I was so elated. There was SO much Potter-nerd all over that room by the time I left. And afterwards I googled it and I had the same guy that Emma Watson had when she went through:


Naturally I purchased my wand and didn't put it down for the next three days we were there. I was stomping around Universal like "I am serving Ravenclaw fishy realness" and not a fuck was to be given. I tried to go to any medallion that I came across but honestly it was way too crowded after the rains cleared. Plus I just sort of loved watching the really young ones keep at it until they got the swish-n-flick right. I think my wrist naturally knows how to do it though because baby I got that toilet to flush and those trolls to pirouette on the first tries (among other things). God I love that wand. Those medallions are SO cool and the whole set up is one heckin fun time.

Now, let's see... I want to say we spent a good deal of time just exploring Diagon Alley. There was SO much to see. The dragon blasting fire (wow that was hot even from the street) and the little details everywhere, oh and there's even Knockturn Alley which was so dark and foreboding and awesome! And that was it for the day, but even walking around other areas I would just smile like Julia Roberts on a roller coaster every time I saw a child or grown adult walking around in full or partial Potter attire. It was so amazing to be there and be around all that energy, I deeply appreciated it immensely.

The other highlights (of which there were many) over the next few days was the Hogwarts Forbidden Journey ride - WOW that was crazy! The walls and things got SO close to you and those dementors were the stuff of nightmares. Forbidden Journey and Gringotts had the most amazing themeing, I was *astonished*. Dumbledore's office, the founders chatting away, the newspapers on the desks... We did Forbidden Journey twice just because it was so awesome. I mean I expected moving pictures but WOW they really did a terrific job. And all the little touches and objects and (according to google) actual props from the movie sets that were used... I mean just ridiculousness. And the train! I don't want to spoil anything for others who haven't done it but gosh darn you MUST do the train. The word I'd use for it is *clever*. So incredibly clever the way they do it. One family that was in our cabin the third go-round consisted of three kids staring at their cellphones, and I was just like "how are you not loving this!?" But to each their own.

We also went to the Three Broomsticks which was also very good and on the last day, again per Nicole's recommendation we went through the circus of Fortescue's and got some butterbeer ice cream. The ice cream version is a significant improvement, at least to me, over the drink iteration.

So without boring you further, I just wanted to share that my experience of the Wizarding World was mind-blowing. It really was one of the best times I've ever had in a theme park and I can't WAIT to go back. I'm sure there's a method to going when the crowds aren't quite as heavy (because that was the only negative I could even really say about it) but even so the whole thing was coconuts. Diving in and out of shops and restaurants, the endless novelties, and the sheer quality and thought put into this area is overwhelming. As I said, I can't wait to go back and I have nothing but wonderful things to say about it. If you're an HP fan then do yourself the favor and make this journey. Don't research *too* much about it beforehand because discovering the secrets in the manner in which they were designed to be experienced is... just perfect delight.

Thanks! <3

Edit: As I wrote this I was informed that Verne Troyer passed today at 49. Very saddened by this news and want to publicly say that he was a great actor both in HP and many other films and television. Much love and appreciation to you! *raises wand* Lumos!
I’m so glad someone geeked out as much as I! Although, I tried all of the interactive wand spots on both sides. Children be damned. Did you try the skeleton in Knockturn Alley?

I understand not enjoying the butterbeer. I, personally, like hot butterbeer best, but I can only handle a single frozen one (although I do like the taste). Did you try any of the other interesting drinks?

What did you think of Gringotts?
Thank you!!! I love you guys so much, lol.

@NicoleNeverBotheredMeAnyway - I wasn't able to because a kid walked up and cut in front of me and then his sister joined him and then his six cousins and I didn't want to make a scene (and yes, it would have been a scene). I came back the next day to try again but it's a popular wand spot and there was so much to do. :/ Oh! But guess what! Did you know the map glows in Knockturn Alley!!!?!??!?!

I also wanted to try Fire Whiskey because I'm a lush but, again, there was just SO much to see and do. So I'm saving it for next time because boy howdy there WILL be a next time. Amen. And Gringotts was supremely impressive. I was a bit confused about having the picture taken at the beginning of the ride but at the end I bought it anyway because I thought it was a nice pic. Here it is btw:


(I blurred my friends out because I haven't asked them if they cared to be displayed online, that's not actually what they look like)

But anywho, I thought Gringotts was amazing. I LOVE that the actors came back and got in full costume and character to fully act out the little snippets in all these rides. And like I said before the themeing was crazy! Those stalactites and everything! Personally, being a Busch Baby, it screams money to me because I wish BGW had the funds to pull off this level of decor but all the same this ride is particularly well done. It really is an incredible ride because of the amount of thought that went into it.

@ThomasTheDankEngine - Here's the wand I got:


Sooooooooooooooooooo many dick jokes. The one and only drawback of being chosen in the Wand Experience is that one is very likely to buy the wand that chose you. So next time I'm definitely going to pick one out myself, but that's not to imply that I don't adore this first one because it's special. I did see a *lot* of other people with Elder Wands which I can understand is desireable as it's "the most powerful wand" and all per canon but I think there are a lot of really nice designs that are absolutely lovely.

@HeartAttack-ack-ack-ack-Zach - Are you flirting with me? Because it's working.

@Razmataz - You are going to LOVE it. Can I come with you? I'll swing by and pick up Nicole, Zachary, and Thomas. I hadn't been to Universal since, probably, 2001 myself but I think the draw of the Wizarding World has really upped the ante for IoA and Uni. You're SO going to love it, please please please come back with a review this August.
Great trip report!

I, too, prefer the Butterbeer ice cream over the drink. I find the drink way too sweet.

The last time I rode Forbidden Journey, Aragog and The Dementors' kiss weren't working and the sound went out on the flight around the castle at the end. I hope you were able to experience all the special effects during the ride.

Also, did you get to ride the Hogwarts Express both ways?
Not this time Merboy. Twill be a family adventure. But I'll be sure and post some kind of review. I'm not convinced that I am as big of a HP fan as you are, so my review will certainly have a bit less flair.
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I love that I get to see guest reactions like yours daily. Wizarding World of Harry Potter & Diagon Alley really gives you the feels, especially if you are a HP fan. Plus, I hope you come back next year when the new Harry Potter coaster opens on the old Dueling Dragons (DRAGON CHALLENGE) plot. It's gonna be very unique, new technology, animatronics, screens(Yes Uni loves their screens, LOL). You should also search for it, but CELEBRATION OF HARRY POTTER in January is so much fun & worth it.
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Helllllo SukaUniFl!!! Welcome to the forum and I'm so glad your first post was to my review! I'm honored and yyyeeeeesssss I am DEFINITELY going back as soon as I can! To be honest I completely forgot that the new coaster was going in to replace Dragons and I can't WAIT! I'm so excited for it.

So you work in the Wizarding World? I think that would be such a fun job (or at least parts of it) just to see those happy faces. Just being there as a guest was such an experience to be around "my people", lol.
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Thanks Merboy! I actually don't work in WIZARDING WORLD, I actually am usually back in A&D or behind the scenes in the back lot area. However, I do walk daily and love to go to WWoHP or Diagon Alley. I love to walk thru and watch guest, and seeing everyone in "OMG WE ARE AT HOGWARTS", it's amazing. I am so excited to see the progress of the new HP coaster, what is going on now and knowing about the 3 show houses and special effects,I can't wait to ride it. However, I really enjoy walking thru both of WW & DA when there are no guest and especially at night, it's like being in the books. Plus, I really enjoy that we do the HP night show now that keeps IOA open later, I can watch the show over and over and never be OVAH IT, nope its Potter Fan Boy Realness. Also so glad they did the upgrade or Forbidden Journey to 4K, so much better and not blurry, plus I actually see now the Dementers have hands and actually I had a scare jump when the first one comes out. Plus the CGI is so much better. Hope to see you when ya come back. I love Universal and its an escape to even just go into DA or WWoHP and get some butter beer and just people watch.
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One of the great things about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the insane amount of detail in every aspect of the area. Without it, I don't think Disney would've put in the extra effort in their new themed lands in the Disney Parks (Star Wars Galaxy's Edge for example). Plus Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is such an amazing ride that it's like Curse of DarKastle on steroids.
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One of the great things about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the insane amount of detail in every aspect of the area. Without it, I don't think Disney would've put in the extra effort in their new themed lands in the Disney Parks (Star Wars Galaxy's Edge for example).

The irony in this is that many former Disney Imagineers work for Universal Creative and are responsible for the design and creation of Wizarding World. And now one of the guys (Scott Trowbridge) who briefly worked on Wizarding World, is now in charge of Galaxy's Edge.
The irony in this is that many former Disney Imagineers work for Universal Creative and are responsible for the design and creation of Wizarding World. And now one of the guys (Scott Trowbridge) who briefly worked on Wizarding World, is now in charge of Galaxy's Edge.
Of course the execs like to spar a bunch, but the creative teams come from a fairly small community and generally like to stay amicable. It's all just one group of people essentially, Especially down here in Orlando.
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