I don’t want this to turn into one of my usual super long blog posts with tons of pictures that no one really cares about. So I decided to focus on each individual part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section and only put up a picture or two to demonstrate it. Hopefully, it’ll be a little bit more of an enjoyable and less of a laborious read lol. Click to enlarge any pictures in here!
When you enter the WWoHP section of Islands of Adventure, you enter into the wizarding village Hogsmeade. It is an AWESOME replica, right out of the books. Hogsmeade Station and the Hogwarts Express are there! Many of the shops read about are there: Honeydukes, Ollivanders, the Owl Post, Zonkos, the Three Broomsticks restaurant and the Hogs Head Pub. It was just too cool. The entire village is snowy and there are a few carts set up on the street to satisfy your Butterbeer craving. Walking along and looking at the shop fronts, you could actually picture yourself inside the wizarding world. Some of the shops had store fronts with familiar items, which added a great touch. For example, the book store had an entire window display of Gilderoy Lockhart’s books. Inside Honeydukes, you could buy your very own Chocolate Frog (complete with a witch or wizard trading card, of course!) or pick up a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans to eat at your own risk. They also sold Cauldron Cakes and Pumpkin Tarts. Zonkos sold Extendable Ears and Sneakoscopes and had Pygmy Puff adoptions. When I say it was detailed, I’m talking it was really detailed. For instance, the candles on the walls inside the Three Broomsticks were obviously flameless candles BUT someone had designed the ceiling right above where the “flame” would have been to make it look like it had flame/smoke damage. That’s how freaking detailed it was. You could even see shadows of dancing brooms “around the corner” in the restaurant. It was just fantastic.
Exploring Hogwarts itself is combined with waiting in line for the “big ride” at the park, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. As you enter the line, you enter the castle and pass the Mirror of Erised, the Potions Classroom, the Green House, the House Jewels keeping tally of who has the most points, the talking portraits, Dumbledore’s office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Griffyndor Common Room, and the Sorting Hat. It’s a shame you have to wait in the line for the ride to see it, but it’s probably one of the coolest things about the entire park. YOU’RE IN DUMBLEDORE’S OFFICE! Aaaak the Sorting Hat! The Mirror of Erised! I feel like the line for this ride is the part of the park that all Harry Potter fans are expecting the most.
There are three rides in the WWoHP. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the Flight of the Hippogriff, and the Dragon Challenge.
1. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (I’ll call it HPFJ) is an indoor roller coaster/simulator that takes you on a journey through many familiar places and scenes in the Harry Potter world. The seats are similar to the way the Haunted Mansion ride is set up at Disneyland, where you sit in them as they move down a conveyor belt in rows of four. Hermione douses you with Floo Powder and suddenly, you’re “flying” along behind Harry and Ron. You go through the Astronomy Tower and observatory and onto the Quidditch field. You get chased by the Hungarian Horntail into the Forbidden Forest where you encounter Aragog and crew, dodge the Whomping Willow, get chased by Dementors, play some more Quidditch and of course, (spoiler alert!) save the day. HPFJ is really fun ride but beware: you’ll get jerked around a lot, go almost upside down, and interact with some “scary” creatures. Personally, I loved it, my sisters loved it, and Jeremiah #2 loved it. We weren’t expecting it to be like it was at all but that said, we did go on it twice. We would have gone on it a 3rd time but the line for the ride is RIDICULOUSLY LONG within an hour of the park opening. If you’re going to be visiting WWoHP, make a beeline for HPFJ and see the rest of Hogsmeade afterwards. Also, if you’re going to choose to not leave your camera or cell phone in your locker (I held onto them our first ride), be careful not to lose them. I thought my sweatshirt had deep pockets but within 15 seconds of being on the ride, I had to hold onto my phone & camera in my pockets rather than hold onto the seat.
2. The Flight of the Hippogriff is a roller coaster for kids. It’s short (maybe 45 seconds, tops) but you actually get some good height and roller coaster-y goodness within those quick seconds. We went on this one multiple times. Short, but sweet. Also, it was the only ride where you could get a good look at Hagrid’s Hut. I hope in the future that Hagrid’s Hut becomes an attraction of its own. If you have children, they’ll love this ride. Big kids, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that Flight of the Hippogriff is way cooler than it looks.
3. The Dragon Challenge reminded me of California Screamin’ from Disneyland on crack. It was great. Dragon Challenge is a dual roller coaster in which two “dragons” aka cars compete against each other on identical tracks to see which ones wins the Triward Tournament event. You could ride either the Red Dragon or the Blue Dragon. This is definitely a big kids roller coaster. It goes upside down and swings your free-hanging legs to the side. If you aren’t afraid of roller coasters, then you definitely need to give this ride a shot. It even has an Express Pass line (our room keys to the Hard Rock Hotel doubled as Express Passes, which was aweeesooomeee!).
Oh, Butterbeer. So much to say about ye. As a stranger/fellow park goer said to Jeremiah #2 & myself when he saw me holding a Butterbeer, “That stuff is addictive!” Where to start? First, it was not alcoholic. We were kinda disappointed to learn this but it was probably for the best. I’m not sure the exact ingredients but from what we figured during our 3 day analysis of it, Butterbeer is cream soda with a butterscotch foam. I *loved* it frozen but wasn’t a huge fan of it not frozen and the main reason for this was that I could taste every calorie when I didn’t have brain freeze get in the way lol. We also made the mistake of drinking our first Butterbeers on empty stomachs. I say if you really like sweet things, then you’re going to love non-frozen Butterbeer. If you like Slurpees, then frozen Butterbeer is going to be the best Slurpee of your life (that’s what she said). On a side note, I did try the Hogs Head Brew but was totally unimpressed. I’m fairly certain it was Mic Ultra on tap haha. Also, the food at the Three Broomsticks was just meh. I’d still eat there again for the first time just for the experience but it wasn’t any fine dining. It was expensive park food. Not terrible but not “worth a second trip” great. My sisters tried the Pumpkin Juice and the Pumpkin Fizz (carbonated Pumpkin Juice). They said they sorta tasted like squash but liked each of them despite this. We’re a family of non-soda drinkers and when we do, it’s diet so it takes our taste buds a little while to warm up to sugary drinks. I would recommend 100% trying regular Butterbeer and if it’s too sweet for you, then go for the frozen version. Totally different and totally addictive.
Okay, so that’s what I’ve got. Anyone been there? What did you think?