Orlando, Fla. — A trip to Florida sounded amazing, until I heard the highlight of the trip would be visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park with my mom and 11-year-old cousin, Shanell. I can’t say that I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so at first I wasn’t too attracted to the plan. Of course my cousin was the most excited out of the three of us. Tickets for my mom and I were $79 each and my cousin’s ticket was $69 without tax.
With it being opening weekend, of course the turnout was unbelievably large but the extreme crowds, and long lines didn’t seem to bother many attendees. I have been familiar with the Harry Potter books and movies, to my surprise the theme park actually did look like the scenes and descriptions from movies and books. The appearance and overall atmosphere was surely exciting and enchanting to observe. I’m sure the effect of the scenery will heighten when things cool off and there isn’t such a large crowd.
Unfortunately, we spent more time in lines than we did anything else. Thinking we were early, but expecting chaos, we arrived around 6am and waited about an hour to make it into Universal Studios and another four hours to actually enter The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Surprisingly, my cousin Shanell was so excited to enter that the five hour wait didn’t bother her one bit.
Upon our entrance to Hogsmead, the buildings with snow covered rooftops dynamically resembled those in the movies. We decided to return to Hogsmead later in our visit and head straight to the rides for a better chance of shorter lines.
We took the well looked forward to Hogwarts castle tour that preceded the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. There were three rides in the theme park, fortunately we got to ride all of them. There were two roller coasters, Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge as well as the highlight ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which I enjoyed the most.
Even though it only lasted about five minutes long, it gave an exciting video game feeling of flying. The ride took us through Professor Dumbledore’s office, beyond castle grounds and through multiple run-ins with familiar creatures.
There were also many shops straight from the books and movies; some we were able to get into, for others the wait would be way too long. Due to the massive lines, we were not able to enter shops Dervish and Banges or Flich’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods and didn’t feel a need to visit the Owl Post.
We were able to visit Honeydukes, a homemade sweets store filled with experimental and exclusive sweets of all kinds, the solid chocolate frog was $10. Zonko’s Joke Shop sold stuffed animals for $15 and Ollivander’s Wand Shop carried various wands, starting at approximately $30.
We also waited two hours to enter the Hog’s Head pub which was located in the rear of The Three Broomsticks, the only restaurant featured throughout The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My mom, cousin and I waited to try the frozen Butterbeer served in commemorative plastic cups at about $10 dollars each.
After tickets, Butterbeer, sweets and a wand for my cousin, we spent a little over $300 dollars at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Although, neither my mom nor I are major Harry Potter fans, other than the extreme hot weather and long lines we both really enjoyed the visit to the theme park. As a huge Harry Potter fan, my cousin Shanell really enjoyed herself and loved every moment of it with no complaints.
Compared to other amusement parks in the Orlando area, the scenes of Wizarding World were very intricately detailed, this theme park was definitely more than just average, and it was a very unique and memorable experience, with visual details and effects I’ve seen nowhere else.
Although I was skeptical at first, I would go back to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter again. After spending a day at the Wizarding World, I definitely recommend the experience to all.