I had big plans to spend loads of time in all the other Florida Disney parks, but said plans were dashed to pieces once I set foot inside Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure. Wizarding World is amazing in every way imaginable and once I went there, I found just didn’t care about Epcot, the Disney Studios, or Animal Kingdom any more.
Agreed. I actually just got back from a cruise in Florida, and my family spent two days in Orlando before the cruise visiting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. As someone who has always gone to Disney World and visited *all* of the theme parks each trip, I was doubtful that Universal could pull off anything as impressive as my early memories of Epcot or Animal Kingdom, but indeed, they have.
Lots has been written about the Forbidden Journey ride and the land itself, but what I was struck most by is this is probably the most faithful adaptation of a movie and story into a theme park environment I have every seen. Every time you try to adapt a story to a theme park something gets lost and the result, if you're lucky, is that you've created something else based on a popular theme that stands on its own merits. The closest thing that Disneyland has done in that regards was Star Tours - it extended the Star Wars universe and had a plausible story and complete environment that took you on a journey starting from the moment you stepped into the space port.
The entire Harry Potter area of Islands of Adventure does that from the moment you step into the *land*. You *become* a young child again wanting to check out all of the stuff they've got in the stores because you've heard about them in the books. You want a chocolate frog and a butterbeer! Even jaded engineering geeks like me know the Hogwarts castle is a foreshortened optical illusion (check it out on satellite Google maps if you want to be really amazed) but standing in front of it, it's so well executed that even staring at it in person, I had a hard time telling exactly how big it was. To everyone else in my party they were convinced they actually built the complete outside of the castle!
As an amateur magician to me the most amazing magic tricks are the ones that still entertain you and are magical even after you know the secret. The Hogwarts castle facade is one of those tricks.
Disney bean counters take note - when I go back to Orlando again, the Wizarding World *will* be on my list of things to see again, and if I'm short on time, something else will be dropped from my itinerary.