Harry Potter works his magic at Orlando theme park
Muggles rejoice! Universal Orlando Resort’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, on June 18, throws its doors open to non-wizarding folks, inviting them to meet Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and tempting them to spend a day in the village of Hogsmeade and at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
We do not have access to any photos of the theme park right now – apart from one which we think is a real photo of Hagrid’s Hut in the Wizarding World. We will be updating this page with photos, instead of the renderings we have here, as soon as we can.
Touted as an all-new adventure, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park combines a powerful storyline with dazzling new technology to leave you spellbound. Universal Orlando Resorts hopes that the 20-acre park will rival the attractions of Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
What can Muggles expect when they step foot into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Let us give you a sneak peek.
Roofs laden with snow, the picture-perfect village of Hogsmeade – nestled in a lush forest – welcomes visitors. At the entrance, the Hogwarts Express – steaming but stationary – beckons. The towering parapets of Hogwarts Castle rise high above the village. The cobblestoned streets invite you to window shop – at Honeydukes (the window display’s bursting with sweets of all kind), at Zonko’s (remember where Fred and George Weasley got their tricks and toys) and at Ollivander’s (the makers of fine wands since 382 B.C.).
This is Harry Potter’s world brought to life. The involvement of J.K.Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter universe, has been an integral part in the creation of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Related story: Plotholes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Approvals were sought from J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros., which produces the Harry Potter movie franchise, for the ambience and feel of the theme park as well as the taste and look of the trademark Potter food (Butterbeer, chocolate frogs and Cauldron Cake).
Alan Gilmore, the art director for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Harry Potter movies, said J.K.Rowling has been continually involved with the project, adding that the writer has a very clear vision of her world.
All that’s fine, but what does Butterbeer taste like? The drink reportedly tastes kind of like fudge – think cream soda spiked with butterscotch.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden journey at the Wizarding World theme park
According to Thierry Coup, creative director of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the main attraction of the World is Harry Potter and the Forbidden journey, a ride that will re-invent the theme park experience.
What does the Forbidden Journey involve? You enter the castle, meet the four founders of Hogwarts (Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin, for those who forgot their Potter history) and are greeted by the strict but “off his rocker” headmaster Albus Dumbledore in his office. Then, Harry, Ron and Hermione convince you to bunk a Defence Against the Dark Arts class and play a match of Quidditch. You sit on a magical bench, and your journey begins. You encounter a dragon and also have a close encounter with the Whomping Willow before you’re back on the ground.
The recreation of Hogwarts is immaculate. Just like the Hogwarts in the books, magical talking portraits line the walls of Hogwarts castle in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. J.K.Rowling reportedly wanted the 100 “moving” portraits in the gallery of Hogwarts just as she envisioned they should be. The Room of Requirement and the Gryffindor common room are also on the itinerary during the ride.
Rides at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Dragon Challenge and Flight of the Hippogriff
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park has two other rides – the Dragon Challenge and the Flight of the Hippogriff.
The intense Dragon Challenge is based on the Tri-Wizard Tournament theme. What does one do? Choose your dragon – either the Hungarian Horntail (Harry drew the vicious dragon during the tournament in Book 4 of the series) or the Chinese Fireball. Climb aboard and watch the two dragons face-off. The dragons are high-speed roller-coasters, each promising a different ride experience.
Photo: Flight of the Hippogriff roller-coaster ride entry (rendering from Harry Potter theme park promos)
The Flight of the Hippogriff is being promoted as a “family” roller-coaster. Walk past Hagrid’s hut and learn the proper way to approach a hippogriff (the winged creature that helped Sirius Black make his escape in Book 3). Clamber on and watch the view as you soar above Hagrid’s hut and the pumpkin patch. You might also be interested in this story: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 3D
Tired after those rides? Head to the Three Broomsticks. With its rustic, tavern-like atmosphere, it offers you a selection of goodies. Slurp down some Butterbeer or pumpkin juice, then decide between shepherd’s pie and Cornish pasties. You can round it off with strawberry and peanut butter ice cream. For those who like a drink or two, there’s also the Hog’s Head, where you can choose from a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
You can’t leave The Wizarding World of Harry Potter without a round of shopping. At Ollivander’s, a small, dusty shop, you can -enact a scene from the first Harry Potter book, letting a wand “choose” you. Or else, just pick up a replica of your favourite Harry Potter character’s wand. Related story: The Elder Wand: Debate and discussion
Check out Dervish and Banges for magical items such as sneakoscopes, spectrespecs, omniculars and the Monster Book of Monsters. Also available are golden snitches, brooms (Firebolt and Nimbus 2000), Hogwarts school uniforms and clothing like robes, scarves, ties, t-shirts, sweatshirts, journals and stationery items. You can purchase souvenirs like death eater masks, chess sets and magical toys at Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods.
Zonko’s offers you a variety of novelty items and jokes (extendable ears and screaming yo-yos). The sweets created by Fred and George Weasley for those wishing to cut classes – Puking Pastilles, Nosebleed Nougats and Fever Fudge – are also available here. For the real thing when it comes to sweets, don’t miss Honeydukes. Choose from Acid Pops, exploding bonbons, Cauldron Cake, treacle fudge, Fizzing Whizbees, Chocolate Frogs (complete with a wizard trading card) and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.
That is all for now, folks. Remember to come back later and we will have a bunch of photos from the Wizarding World theme park ready for you here!