Harry Potter Experience in the Isle of Misadventures – Part I
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the name of a themed area inside of the Universal City Studios Isle of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida. This area opened in June 2010 and media reports have described The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as being highly successful. I have research Internet forums and blogs from travelers who have already experience Harry Potter and the information confirms that the place is highly popular.
My wife and three kids made the decision to go on the 2011 Easter week. This trip started bad even before we had even gone to Florida. It is tough to take kids out of school these days. They are fearful of missing assignments and the school frowns upon kids taking time off. The reason why it is a bad idea to go visit Orlando Florida on Easter week is because everybody (that includes families from other countries) is also going to the Sunshine state theme parks as well.
I have tried going to Orlando the week before Easter week and it was also horrible with the amount of crowds that were there. After reading about vacation planning in Orlando I've discovered that the entire spring break before during and after Easter week are one of the worst times to visit Orlando. Not all schools have the same spring break and in a way that is very good. If they did, the theme parks’ rat race could be a lot worse.
The summer months of Florida can be downright nightmarish in June, July and August due to the oppressive hot and humid weather. It doesn't stop people from going because summer is normally the only time when most families can take breaks from school and work. Even April can be downright hot. The week I was there in April 2011 was no exception. I explained to my family that it would be better to go in March to avoid the big crowds and the heat.
The family did not heed my warning and we paid a price in patience and time. I knew exactly what to expect because I learned my lesson the first time. But my kids are too young to remember and my wife has a short memory. Since we were all going there anyway, I just have to make the most of any bad situation and make sure everyone has a good time.
If you imagine the Isle of Adventure on a map, the theme park is basically one big circle with a body of water in the middle. The entrance is at the bottom of the circle and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is directly at the top of the circle. No matter which direction you go left or right after the entrance, you'll run into other themed areas such as Marvel Super Hero Island, Jurassic Park, and Seuss Landing.
I asked one of the employees before the entrance what was the quickest way to get to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and she said that the shortest way was to the right. Just past the entrance there were several employees that directed people to go left if they wanted to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I steered my family to the right and it was a pleasant short walk with very little people on the way. There were only two themed areas on the path we took, Seuss Landing and the Lost Continent.
When we got to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter we were surprised that the east side of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was turned into an exit. There was an employee at this makeshift metal gate telling people to turn around and go the other way. I was deflated and angry but the two families ahead of me were the same and more vocal. They complained enough to call a manager. The manager caved in and allowed the group including my family to get in and said that this was the last time they're going to allow this. I looked at my wife and she said that we were very lucky. It would've been a very long walk around.
As we entered, the replica of the wizard town (Hogsmeade in the story) awed us. It was just like being in the movie. The first highlight we saw was the Hogwarts Express Train Engine. We took pictures of the family with the front of the train in the background. We then made our way to search for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride inside the Hogwarts castle.
The reports of the long lines are legendary with waits of four to six hours. We found the entrance to the castle and there was a marker on the line that said 120 minutes. Beyond the 120 minute marker the line continued on and on past a bridge for about 50 yards to the “entrance” of the Harry Potter area and wrapping to the castle and back four times. I estimated another two hours beyond the two-hour marker. My sister was with me when her two kids in strollers and she offered to take one of my three kids to play in Seuss Landing.
As we were waiting in line on the bridge, we were able to see magnificent views all around, such as the castle and an arch to the castle. We had nice chats with a family from Wisconsin ahead of us and that made the wait a little bit more pleasant.
About half an hour went by and employees from the park told the crowd that the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride was broken. They said that there was no time when the ride was the going to be in operation again. They suggested that if people do not want to wait anymore, they could get a tour inside the castle or enjoy the rest of the park. A lot of people were pissed to say the least. Incredulously, not very many people left the line. One couple said that they were just going to come back tomorrow. My family and I were going to look for the tour.
To be continued….