I'll admit it: I love theme parks (I visit at least a couple each summer) and I love Harry Potter, so I've pretty much been excited for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando since it was announced. The footage and images coming out of this park (opening June 18th) look pretty awesome. (See for yourself!) I'm seriously considering booking a flight and braving the crowds so I can indulge in some ButterBeer and chocolate frogs. The only real disappointment I have is that while the rides haven't totally been revealed, there seem to only be three. Perhaps that number will grow, but to start there is just Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (a magical ride inside the castle), The Dragon Challenge (dueling roller coaster) and the Flight of the Hippogriff (a family friendly roller coaster). The reason I go to parks is for the thrill rides, not necessarily for the merchandise, but since Wizarding World is planted next to the Hulk roller coaster that I still love and the Spider-Man attraction, I suppose that I could find something else to do while I was there. Anyway, not everyone needs to be spun upside down constantly in order to be entertained, and what WW sounds like it has an amount of detail sure to please Muggle and wizard alike. Here are the five things that I think look the most impressive about it:
To stand in Ollivander's and have a wand pick you? That's pretty much guaranteed to make kids (and their parents) squeal with delight. But maybe you want to be a little wary if the wand has a Phoenix feather in it. On the one hand, that could mean you are the next Harry; on the other, well, you could be Tom "Voldemort" Riddle.
Flight of the Hippogriff
Sure it's just a roller coaster, and it a family-friendly one at that, so it isn't likely to make adrenaline-seekers happy. But walking past Hagrid's hut and having him instruct you on the proper way to take care of the half-eagle/half-horse creature just sounds cool, plain and simple.
Inside Hogsmeade, you can go into this owlery and mail actual postcards to your friends and family to make them totally jealous. That is if you can get past the high-pitched screech of the Howler in the window, of course.
Also inside the Hogsmeade shopping complex is Zonko's, where you can get your very own Sneakoscope. Yes, it is a gift shop, but if I'm going to spend cash on merchandise I'd far rather it be clever things like Pygmy Puffs, Extendable Ears or Shrunken Heads than yet another tacky mug or oversized pencil with my name on it.
It seems to tower over the landscape, and like Hogwarts when Harry arrived, it is a sight to behold. But it's the inside that is likely to really grab fans, as it's filled with replicas of Dumbledore's office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room and a mysterious-sounding ride (the aforementioned Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey) which is said to use some new technology to soar above the castle grounds. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it certainly piques my curiosity.
There is also Dervish and Banges selling Nimbus 2000's, Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods where you can pick up your own Death Eater mask, Honeyduke's for Cauldron Cakes and Fizzing Whizzbees and a tavern for some actual food. The only thing that could make this experience better would be if Cyndi Lauper were there reprising her Celebrity Apprentice schtick and just yelling "muggles and wizards!" at passersby. Hell, I'd pay extra to see that.
Your take on this new park? Is it worth a trip to Florida? If not, we've got some other theme park ideas that might float your boat.
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