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  • The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

    Dustysage and I recently got the chance to experience the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter land at Islands of Adventure. Below is a pictorial and review with MINOR SPOILERS.


    Passing through the barrier walls and into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was something of a mindblower. I felt that I had taken a step into the books of J.K. Rowling. I am no crazy fan of the books or movies. I think they are great, full of vibrant imagination, but not my cup of tea. In other words I am a muggle. But knowledge of the books is not required to feel totally immersed and enjoy this beautiful new area of the park.


    Hogsmeade

    As we had just an hour to explore the Wizarding World before the area opened to regular park guests, we headed first to the far end of the land towards Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This is the location of the flagship attraction; Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Visitors enter and are immediately directed to store loose articles FOR FREE in lockers. We threw our stuff into a locker and then headed into the halls of Hogwart's Castle.
















    The queue wanders through the school and through insanely themed environments from the story's famed school.


    Just one of the friendly "students" at the school




    The school has welcomed visitors to their halls. Meanwhile, Harry, Hermoine and Ron plan to sneak you to a Quiditch match. Their plan is to have you meet them in the room of requirement and give you a seat on a school bench that Hermoine will enchant so that it flies along with them.


    Dumbledore welcomes visitors in one of the most elaborate rooms of the queue.






    Harry Hermoine and Ron give you the run down in the Dark Arts Classroom. There are special effects in this room which will delight (and perhaps surprise) you if you can avoid the spoilers long enough.


    The Fat lady guards the door to Gryffindor house






    The boarding spiel is cleverly masked in the form of the brilliant talking portrait effect






    The amazing animatronic sorting hat gives you a brief rundown on how to board and what to do.

    You board in a Haunted Mansion style area where a conveyer "belt" floor moves at the same speed as the ride system. You hop in to an empty school bench an pull the over the shoulder restraint down. The seating is comfortable and does not obstruct view at all. Hermoine appears above you and casts her spell. Immediately your bench comes to life and you are lifted up and into your forbidden journey.


    The boarding area

    The ride is a mix of digital projections, lush practical sets, animatronics, and special effects. The ride mechanism, a smoothly moving Kuka robotic arm on a rolling track, is 100% hidden the entire time. This allows you to suspend reality and let yourself believe that you are actually flying. Think of the ride as the most elaborate dark ride ever. Sort of a cross between Sorin', Spiderman, and Indy. But this ride defies classification and sets a new high standard for themed attractions.

    This was the first time in a LONG time that I got chills, my eyes got watery, I got a little emotional, and I let myself believe the reality the ride was trying to convey. I was dodging a dragon, escaping dementors, and fighting off the Womping Willow. Every theme park trick is used here to it's very best and the end result is an immersive world of believable reality.

    This is the BEST theme park ride since The Amazing Spiderman and Disney's Indiana Jones Adventure. In fact I would say that Disney has been beaten like a red headed step child at it's own game. This is great storytelling at it's best. Islands of Adventure now has the two best theme park attractions in the world, hands down. If you are in the Orlando area, Islands should be your first stop this Summer.

    After riding the ride twice, decided to explore the rest of Hogsmeade. Some of the other Quidditch teams.





    We took a trip over to Boar's head pub and bellied up to the bar for a serving of Butterbeer. It is offered regular and frozen. I preferred the frozen. Butterbeer is like a mix of butterscotch and cream soda. It is delicious! And stick around a while and see the hog come to life.










    We took a trip into Olivanders and witnessed two children learning how to choose wands.












    A spell gone awry causes wands to shoot out of the wall

    We then wandered the stores.


    Three Broomsticks































    My big complaint with the stores is that although they are very accurate and intimate, they are far too small for theme park crowds and get overwhelmingly full. Claustrophobics need not apply here. Seriously. We were in a small controlled group of visitors, I can only imagine how bad this situation will become on opening day. Will every shop require a queue?






    We had just enough time left to check out what happened to Dueling Dragons in the Potter make over. Originally Dueling Dragons told the story of two dragons, Fire and Ice, that were locked in an eternal struggle with each other, leaving a path of destruction behind them. The queue used to tell the story of all of the knights that fell while fighting these dragons. It was a beautiful immersive queue.




    What has happened to this once amazingly detailed queue in the transition is disgustingly sad. All of the detailed themeing has been torn out and the halls darkened. Tournament banners along the outside queue and the goblet of fire inside are the only noticeable touches. Very very sad indeed. I am just so appalled that such a lovely queue has been stripped down to nearly nothing. This is the only real sour note in Potter land.













    Overall the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a stunning success of story telling and immersion. The sets are fully fleshed out, the details are ALL there, and the main attraction is better than anything Disney has ever done stateside. Our main concern is capacity of the shops and traffic flow. The land is intimate and tightly packed. From the flow of the traffic to the size of the aisles in the shops, it is all authentic to what the Potter world would actually look like. No liberties have been taken to accommodate the hordes of people that will be descending on this one portion of the park. We have to wonder if J. K. Rowling has insisted a bit too much on accuracy to the point of making the land almost impassable in crowded conditions.

    It will be a mad house on opening day to be sure. We experienced the area in a limited group and the land already felt very tight, and the shops difficult to navigate. The line for the main attraction was swelling to an hour and a half, and there was a line of 15 minuted to get into Olivander's wand shop. Three Broom Sticks restaurant and the Boar's Head Tavern were pleasantly busy and Dragon Challenge was a walk on. Unfortunately, we missed the land's only other attraction, Flight of the Hippogriff (a kiddie coaster); but, we are told that it contains a full sized Hippogriff animatronic next to the queue.

    Our visit was a magical experience indeed and we can't thank our tour guides, and MiceChat fans, enough for their kindness and generosity. Universal has created the single best theme park attraction in the world, it is an achievement nearly beyond belief.

    Looking for more Harry? Please stop by Kevin Yee's review of this amazing attraction (he loved it too): Wild about Harry
    Last edited by Dustysage; 06-08-2010, 11:39 AM. Reason: Correct Kuka
    "All my life I've had one dream, to achieve my many goals.
    Homer Jay Simpson



  • #2
    Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

    Thanks for the great review and pictures. Sorry to hear about dueling dragons, it was great.
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    • #3
      Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

      Thanks for the pics!! Can't wait to try this for myself. But scared of what the crowds will look like when I do.


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      • #4
        Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

        Thanks for the report Fishbulb. I have been a huge fan of IOA since I first visited in 1999. I am glad to hear the new section turned out good. Is the rest of the park looking nice? I have heard in the last few years it had become somewhat run down looking with a lack of paint.

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        • #5
          Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

          Wow, The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter looks great. Thanks for the many beautiful pictures. I'm really impressed what Universal Studios did with Harry Potter. I haven't read the books, but we definately have to go to Universal next time.

          Shouldn't it be Disney to build such amazing attractions? Instead we get a bunch of carnival rides called TSPL in Paris and Hong Kong and a Disney Princess overloaded Fantasyland in Florida. Well done Disney!!
          At least the other attractions built in Hong Kong and in the Disney California Adventure park are going to be great.

          Since we are planning to visit the US next year again, we will skip the MK and go to Universal instead.

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          • #6
            Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

            Originally posted by Melonballer View Post
            Thanks for the report Fishbulb. I have been a huge fan of IOA since I first visited in 1999. I am glad to hear the new section turned out good. Is the rest of the park looking nice? I have heard in the last few years it had become somewhat run down looking with a lack of paint.
            They have been spiffing up the park this year. Jurassic park area was refurbished. They repainted all of Toon Lagoon and Cat in the Hat lands as well. There making the park seem brand new for this opening.
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            • #7
              Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

              Thanks for an awesome TR! I'll be going in December to Orlando mainly for for WDW but this land looks great! I hope I can go to IOA when I'm there. Personally, my favorite attraction has been TDS Journey to the Center of the Earth but we'll see if the Forbidden Journey can top that. Thanks again!

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              • #8
                Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

                Thanks for the best review and photos of the WWOHP so far!

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                • #9
                  Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

                  WHoa! This looks like the exact thing Disney needs to step it up and bring jaw dropping thrills and attractions to its wanting fans.

                  Thanks Norm, you did a great job explaining the park and having great pictures to boot!

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                  • #10
                    Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

                    Originally posted by mikeland View Post
                    Thanks for the best review and photos of the WWOHP so far!
                    X2 Agreed.

                    Thank you Fishy, your reporting skills are unmatchable. :ghug:

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                    • #11
                      Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

                      Thank you for posting the pictures at a reasonable size. Not all posters have done that.

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                      • #12
                        Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

                        Great stuff Fishy. Glad you had a great time.

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                        • #13
                          Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

                          Just looking at those pictures makes me anxious to go! Already planning a trip in March and hopefully by then crowds will be much lighter. Thanks so much Norm for giving us a good overall look at this new area in IOA.

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                          • #14
                            Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

                            Thanks for the report, Norm! Looks spectacular!

                            I'm just hoping that DCA's Radiator Springs in it's own way, will be just as spectacular! With your description of the new main attraction, and it's incredible queue, I'm not so sure Radiator Springs Racers will make it to the Harry Potter level . . . .
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                            • #15
                              Re: The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter PICS and RIDE REVIEW

                              I had to sign in and say that I loved this review!

                              Gd to know about close quarters and that there are lockers. It's the little info things that I like...don't want to me blindsided by details.

                              Again, thank you for this great review. I hope to visit during my Oct trip.

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