It's Finaly Here - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Yes, my fellow Muggles, the moment we've all been waiting for - an actual wizarding world.
Potter fans everywhere have been completely inseparable from Harry since the first time we lay eyes on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone in 1997. The books are pure magic (no pun intended), and have fueled the imagination and love for literature of an entire generation. The films gave us a fantastic visual representation of what the world of our imagination might look like, but now it's gone one step further - we can actually visit it.
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter opened earlier this summer, and has so far recieved almost unanimously positive reviews, both from fans and general guests.
Wizardry World (Part of Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure theme park) has been described as a very faithful representation of the world of Rowling's imagination, and includes recreations of Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest, and Hogsmead. Reviewers have congratulated Universal Studios for the fantastic job they have done in terms of detail, shopping, catering, rides, and pretty much every other aspect of the park. Let's have a look at the main attractions:
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
The Forbidden Journey is the largest attraction at the park, and takes riders on an adventure through Hogwarts and its surrounding areas. It uses an advanced type of technology called KUKA robocoaster technology. This means that one's seat is being held over the track by a giant robotic arm, which can pivot, turn, drop, shake, and even turn over the seat in pretty much any direction.
The ride is, however, not a roller coaster, but more of an incredibly elaborate ghost train. The ride features 47 cars, each holding up to 4 passengers. It lasts for 4 minutes, and reaches a top speed of 23 mph. Passengers must be between 48" and 80" inches tall to ride, and although there are no official weight restrictions, passengers who are too large to fit within the safety restraint will not be allowed to ride. The park is currently working on adding additional restraints to accomodate larger guests.
Dragon Challenge is a pair of duelling rollercoasters made to look like dragons, one being a Hungarian Horntail and the other a Chinese Fireball. The overall theme of the ride is the first task Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and features objects from the movie such as the Goblet of Fire and the Triwizard Cup. The ride existed at the park before Wizarding World, under the previous name of Duelling Dragons, but was re-themed for the Harry Potter park. The ride lasts for 2 minutes and 25 seconds, and features 5 inversions as well as 3 near collisions with the other dragon. Due to the high speeds, corkscrews, near misses, and inversions, this ride is more for thrill-seakers and might be to intense for younger children. Passengers must be at least 4 feet and 6 inches tall.
Flight of the Hippogriff
Flight of the Hippogriff is a more child-friendly rollercoaster, as it is more mild and has no inversions. Like the Dragon Challenge, the coaster existed at the park previously, but has been re-themed to fit in with Wizarding World. The line for the ride features a back story of Hagrid attempting to teach students to ride Hippogriffs, and goes past scenes of Hagrid's hut and the Forbidden Forest. The ride lasts 1 minute and 6 seconds, reaches a max hight of 49 feet, is 1,099 feet in length, and goes up to 28.5 mph. Passengers must be at least 3 feet tall to ride.
Shopping and catering
Wizarding World features many shops and restaurants featured in the Harry Potter series. These include:
- Owl Post, a post office from which one may send postcards, or purchase stationary, stamps, and quils.
- The Three Broomsticks and The Hog's Head, both based off pubs in Hogsmead where one may purchase wizarding items like butterbeer and pumpkin juice, as well as traditional Muggle items.
- Honeydukes, a sweetshop with a huge array of magical sweets featured in the books and films.
- Dervish and Bangs, a gift shop selling replicas of items from the films, apparel, stationary, gifts, and Quidditch supplies.
- Zonko's, a joke shop selling many mischief-making goods as well as toys.
- Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods, a gift shop selling general souvenirs.
- Ollivanders, based on the Ollivanders wand shop. Guests are taken through the shop in groups of 20, where they go through the process of selecting the perfect wand. Souvinir wands are then sold at the end.
Well, it seems as though my prayers have been answered.
The fantastic world of the Harry Potter series is utterly inspirational, especially when it has always been such a big part of my childhood. I cannot WAIT to visit, which I hope to do this coming summer, and I hope that all my fellow Potter-lovers will get a chance to go and experiece the magic and love that is Harry Potter!