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hogwarts castle at the wizarding world of harry potter Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is just one of the places that comes alive at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios (Photo courtesy Ana Deluca-Mayne)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This fan found it fabulous!

By Ana Deluca-Mayne | null null , null

Walking along streets with vendors hawking pumpkin juice and fruits, I actually believed I was in Hogsmeade, a magical village in the fictional world of Harry Potter.

The town comes to life in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new theme park attraction at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. When I visited this June, even the fake snow on the rooftops was realistic. I forgot about the Florida summer heat and fell under Harry’s spell.

Since I am a huge Harry Potter fan, I was prepared to be disappointed. I wondered if Universal Studios would be able to make the butterbeer as spectacular as the snow looked. How were they going to make something that I knew only in a story be as good as my imagination?

This question was answered when we entered the Hog’s Head Tavern. The pub was dark and quaint with an opening into the Three Broomsticks just as author J.K. Rowling had described. It was crazy how realistic it all looked. As soon as I saw it I kept thinking about how accurate all the details were.

We ordered the butterbeer, which you could get either cool or frozen. Not sure what to expect, I took a sip. My eyes grew wider and I took another. This drink seemed magical. The taste was just how I had imagined it when Harry first tried it in the third book!

The crazy thing was, unlike most fizzy drinks where the more you drink the less it fizzes, this drink was the exact opposite! And it was delicious! My mouth is literally watering at the thought of it.

Since, however, this is an amusement park, I left the fantastical Hogsmeade to ride the rides. If you don't like roller coasters where you go up and down and upside down, then you probably want to skip the Dragon Challenge. But if you like a challenge, then this one is for you!

The main ride to go on—whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not—is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Even waiting in line is fun. No, really! It is!

While in line, you take a tour of Hogwarts, the school-in-a-spooky-castle that Harry Potter and his friends attend. You see the Mirror of Erised, with perfect details, as well as Dumbledore’s office, the Portrait Gallery, and the Sorting Hat. All this is before you even get on the actual ride, which, I have to say, is incredible!

On the ride, your are in boring Mr. Bin’s class when Hermione enchants your bench so you can go to a quidditch match. Basically, the ride takes you through the castle using movie screens.  As the storyline unfolds in front of you, the bench you are on begins to move to make you feel like you are actually traveling.  

Malfoy makes snide remarks as you dive for the golden snitch. You barely miss a dragon’s fiery breath, before a three-dimensional Whomping Willow comes out of nowhere to take a swipe at you. Off you go, soaring in the Forbidden Forest, plowing through spider webs where you meet Arogog, the king of the arachnids. It’s not long after you survive that when you are faced with loosing your soul to a Dementor’s kiss.

At the end I didn't want to get off, and when I did, I was jumping up and down with excitement!  It was amazing! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is definitely an incredible place to visit.

Even better, since none of us can be there all the time, you can always return by picking up any of the seven books of the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends, or watch the movies.

You can also take a virtual tour of the Universal Studios exhibit on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter website. That’s pretty amazing, too!

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About the Author

Ana Deluca-Mayne is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.


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