Friday, October 15, 2010

harry potterville: first impressions

i decided i should do a first impressions post of harry potterville.  awesome husband and i are going to make universal our bitch again tomorrow, by leaving E A R L Y and getting there at park opening.  we'll probably only stay a few hours, but that's how annual passholders roll.  just to make you more jealous, we might hit up epcot on sunday.  or magic kingdom.  or whatever we want.  because we can.  i figure that since we know we're moving back to new york SOMETIME, we should get our fill of disney until we're throwing up little mickey heads.

SO.  we did harry potterville, which is actually called 'the wizarding world of harry potter'.  but that's a mouthful.  i could refer to it as wwohp, though.  but that's strange to type.  mostly because i'm not a fan of typing 'w'.

so harry potterville it is destined to remain.

we made our way back to where harry potterville is.  it's actually the village of hogsmeade.

the arched entrance to the village of hogsmeade
close up of the hanging sign
as you might notice, the attention to detail is remarkable.  i would say it is up to disney standards.  which you may know are super high standards.

the hogwart's express.  please ignore the muggles, i don't know who the fuck they are but we weren't about to wait in line to take a fucking picture.

hogsmeade train station schedule - very neat!
there are photo opportunities everywhere.  workers are in appropriate clothing, like adults wore in the movies.  the shops had very long lines - we may hit some of those this weekend.  in order to control crowding in many of the shops, there are lines that you wait on and they allow a certain amount of people in at a time.  a couple of shops, including ollivander's wand shop, have interactive shows.  depending on the lines, i may force awesome husband to see that one with me.

now along with myself and awesome husband were brother, sisterfromanothermister, and mom.  mom doesn't like thrill rides.  so she sat out a few, including the newly revamped dueling dragons ride that is now called dragon challenge.

dragon challenge ride - only 15 minute wait!!
dragon challenge is totally based on the triwizard tournament.  each track represents a different dragon and they run simultaneously - a couple times you will think you're about to crash.  it's super fast and twisty and upsidedowny and i loved it.  the queue is AMAZING - again, disney quality.  you walk through the outside queue and see signs for each champion.  you enter the tent that the triwizard champions waited in before facing their dragon.  you may also notice the goblet of fire and the triwizard cup!  it's very exciting - and then you climb atop your dragon (okay, you can see i've been indoctrinated by disney - you board the fucking roller coaster) and soar off into the sky. 

the triwizard cup!

since mom wasn't too keen on this ride, we needed somewhere to park her.  we found a covered area with lots of benches and went to deposit her there.  when we looked up, we realized this wasn't just a sitting area.

the owls moved, but did not poop.  thankfully.
it was the owlery.  when you looked up, you saw quite a few owls.  there was quiet hooting and rustling feather sounds (of course, i could have imagined those.... hmm.  i'll check on that) and the owls shuffled about above you.  very neat.  the clock gears were at the front of the covering - i didn't even check to see if the clock is actually out there.  i'll check tomorrow.

the clock from in the inside

there is also a small, wild mouse style roller coaster called flight of the hippogriff, which features an animatronic hippogriff and a visual of the outside of hagrid's hut.  the coaster cars themselves are cute - they look like wicker baskets, but are a bit snug.  this is not an actual children's ride, but one big girl (me) and one full grown adult (awesome husband) are a bit of a snug fit.  not uncomfortable, but.. well, snug.

finally, we did harry potter and the forbidden journey.  words alone cannot express the awesomeness that is this ride.  seriously.  it is that good.  i think universal outdid themselves and disney in this queue area and attraction.  i can honestly say that i think this is the best ride i've ever been on. it is not comparable to any other ride i've ever been on and deserves it's own blog entry, frankly.  i have been trying to think of things to compare it to, and NONE EXIST.  i am not being over dramatic here.  i rode this ride twice and sat in my seat slackjawed the entire ride BOTH times.  i will probably do the same tomorrow.  and the next twenty times i ride it.  it is that amazing.

the queue area is long.  super long.  it is a very popular ride.  the wait was 120 minutes that morning, and 45 in the afternoon.  i recommend checking first thing though - it was definitely worth a long wait, but it appears to rise and fall throughout the day.  i would not be upset waiting 45-60 minutes for this ride.  if you can stand riding solo, there is a single riders line.  it took us under ten minutes to get through the single rider line, and there was a 45 minute wait on the 'regular' line.  i took some photos of the queue with sisterfromanothermister's camera, but we were moving and it's dark in parts, and i didn't know how to use her camera or if it had a low light setting.  so i have some photos, and hope to take more of the other rooms (like the ones with the moving portraits!) with my olympus (which i mostly know how to use and does have a great low light setting).  be prepared to be attacked with photoawesomeness.  i'll try to put them in the order which we experienced them, but i cannot guarntee that.  since i was overcome with ridiculous emotions.  mostly awe.

humpbacked witch - the same who hides the entrance to the secret tunnels in the books?

inside the herbology greenhouse waiting to enter the castle

another shot of the greenhouse - it's two levels and has real hanging plants

mandrakes!  none of them were screaming though.

about to enter hogwarts castle!

i have read that this may be the statue of the architect of hogwarts.

there are SO MANY other things to take photos of, but it's hard to do so while walking and in such low light.  i'm also a big believer in NOT taking flash photos in dark rides or queues.  the darkness sets the tone and can also hide non-show quality shit.  i can tell you that you walk through dumbledore's office and the defense against the dark arts room, where harry, ron, and hermione make an appearance.

now, that was just some of the QUEUE.  the actual RIDE.  my mere words cannot do it justice.  really.  it's unlike anything you've ever done before.  it moves up, down, side to side, you'll lie on your back at one point.  it makes you feel like you're flying along the quidditch pitch, through the chamber of secrets, and across hogwarts grounds to escape a dragon.  you can try to find ride throughs online, videos that people take of the ride.  i haven't looked, but i doubt there are any out there that do it ANY kind of justice.  i cannot say how fucking awesome this ride is. 

HAVING SAID THAT.  i would have liked to see some elfs.  if you have read all the books, you realize what an important and central character dobby turns out to be.  having said that as well - it feels like this version of hogwarts nd hogsmeade is kind of frozen in book/movie four - the goblet of fire.  there's lots of stuff about the triwizard tournament, there are shows where the students from durmstrang and beauxbatons are introduced, and no one really mentions voldemort.  you can see why they did it this way - it is immortal.  nothing will really change in universal's harry potterville, and this was a great spot to freeze in time.  voldemort had not yet returned to power, zonko's was still open (which is why there is no weasley's wizarding wheezes shop), and dumbledore was in charge of hogwarts.  it is a beautifully done area, and worth many, many more visits - which is why awesome husband and i upgraded our day tickets to year-long passes before we left the park that day (it was only another $59 for both of us, and seems like a good idea considering). 

i hope to give you another blog post with more photos of harry potterville soon.  i'll exhaust my camera tomorrow, i promish.  i will end with this: if you come to central florida, i don't care why you do it, but if you come here and can get to universal in any way, shape, or form - do it.  it is worth checking out at least once.  if you'd rather hang out at disney, i don't blame you.  i still prefer disney to universal - but now i see that universal has something else to offer me!

plus, the fucking butterbeer is AWESOMETASTIC!

hogsmeade village


  1. I have to admit to being a bit of a closet harry potter fan. Kinda of messed up for a dude in his late 30s huh? I doubt i'll ever make it there so it's nice to live vicariously through you!


  2. i don't think it's messed up to be a harry potter fan in your late 30's. neither does awesome husband.

    but we are also harry potter fans. so that might color our judgement of that.

    ANYWAY. harry potter is awesome.

  3. I love harry potter and am super jealous that you got to go and see that. Great blog, I really enjoyed this one tons.. :)

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