I’ve been a pretty obsessive Harry Potter fan for years. When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was announced, I was excited that Hogwarts was coming to life. On June 18, 2010, fans finally got to experience Harry’s world.
The Wizarding World’s Stores
Zonko’s joke shop and Honeydukes’s are connected. While all the stores are small, connecting them is a way to keep people moving and not crowding around. Honeyduke’s has an amazing selection of Harry Potter candy directly from the books. The Chocolate Frogs are huge and come with a card featuring one of the four Hogwarts founders. There was also Peppermint Imps, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans, and Treacle fudge, among others.
Zonko’s was a bit lagging on the magical gags, unfortunately. There were Fanged Frisbees and Sneakoscopes, but there was also weird items like rubber chickens and robots. Hopefully in the future, there will be more Harry Potter themed items there.
Dervish and Banges is connected to a part of Ollivander’s. While connecting store usually helps ease the crowds, in this case it them worse. People at Ollivander’s would spill over and make the crowds seem even bigger. Dervish and Banges felt like the smallest store in the Harry Potter park. The aisles were extremely narrow and too many people were allowed in at once. The really cool part of the store was the attacking and caged Monster Book of Monsters.
Ollivander’s is an awesome experience and worth the hour and a half wait. Fifteen or so people are taken into the store where the Wandkeeper explains how wands choose the wizard. One lucky audience member is picked to experience how Harry felt when he got his wand. My son was picked. First, he was asked to point a wand at the shelves and try to get a red box down. Of course, it didn’t work right. With animatronics, every box threaten to fall down. Then he was given a different wand and asked to water some flowers. The flowers died instead. It was done very well and really felt magical. Finally, a wand picked him and different lights shone, creating the effect we see in the first Harry Potter movie.
The Three Broomsticks is another authentic to the books place. The restaurant served British dishes, like fish and chips and Cornish pasties. Of course, there was a wait to get in, but it’s was worth it. The feel and look of it is everything it should be. They also served Butterbeer, which is very creamy and tastes like butterscotch. Pumpkin Juice is a tasty mix of apple and pear ciders with pumpkin puree and apricots. It came in a cute bottle with a plastic pumpkin on the top. The Hog’s Head is a small bar connected to the Three Broomsticks and served mostly alcoholic drinks. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Firewhiskey.
The Forbidden Journey Ride
While the waiting areas of the other rides in the Harry Potter park were given a magical make over, the best ride is the new Forbidden Journey. While waiting to ride, guests are taken through Hogwarts. Everything from the Greenhouses, to the Sorting Hat, and talking pictures are here. Universal really outdid themselves. During the wait, you pass Dumbledore’s office where he talks to you. In the next room, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, is the Trio. They explain what the ride is about. The rooms look directly out of the movies and you really feel like you’re in Hogwarts.
The ride itself is thrilling. It really feels like you’re flying right through the grounds, with an escaped dragon on the loose. You also wind up in the Forbidden Forest, next to the Whomping Willow, and even in the Chamber of Secrets.
As a Harry Potter fanatic, I was definitely pleased with the way the Wizarding World turned out. I hope if it remains popular in the future, Universal will try to expand it. The section could use another restaurant, at least. Even if it stays the same, the Wizarding World is a must see for Harry Potter fans.