Finding the Magic at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
“Hogsmeade looked like a Christmas card; the little thatched cottages and shops were all covered in a layer of crisp snow; there were holly wreaths on the doors and strings of enchanted candles hanging in the trees.”
As a child I used to wish that I could visit magical places like the ones I found in the books I read. I would close my eyes and let my mind wander as I visited far off places and exotic locales. I loved how books opened up my imagination for me and let me travel to places that no real place could ever live up to. This is why I was let down by movie adaptations of many of my favourite books because frankly my imagination did a much better job of bringing a book to life.
It’s hard, dare I say, almost impossible, to bring to life a book without causing disappointment in legions of faithful fans. It’s hard for a movie and even harder still to create an immersive experience that you can touch and feel. One exception to this rule is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.
The task at hand for Universal was daunting to say the least. JK Rowling’s popular series of books has created a legion of highly devoted, and highly knowledgeable fans that know every detail of this wizarding world. They had to be absolutely meticulous in making this imaginary world real. To say they succeeded is an understatement.
My first time passing through the gates at Hogsmeade elicited an emotional response from me. It is quite something when your imagination jumps out before you as bricks and mortar buildings. Reason tells you that you’re in the middle of theme park in Florida, but your imagination is so taken with the notion that you’ve crossed into a magical realm that you let reality become suspended while exploring the cobblestone streets around you.
Once you start to absorb what you’re seeing for the first time, it’s a little like Christmas morning. Look, there’s Honeyduke’s! That’s Hermione’s Yule Ball dress! It’s Ollivanders! Is that Moaning Myrtle I hear in the washroom? And it goes on and on. All the wonderful details from Harry Potter that you’ve come to adore are there before you.
Like Butterbeer — a wonderful foamy concoction that will leave you wanting more. For the record, I highly recommend the frozen butterbeer over the non-frozen. As you can imagine though, fans are divided.
The pièce de résistance though, has to be Hogswarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Even waiting in line to ride Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey, found within the castle, is a treat. It’s a journey through the book as you wind your way through the school’s greenhouse and through the castle past talking portraits, through the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and past Professor Dumbledore’s office, then *poof* Floo Powder whisks you away on what is in my humble opinion, the best theme park ride ever. It’s an amazing mix between simulation and traditional park ride that takes you on an incredible ride through the Forbidden Forest (yes, the Whomping Willow is there) and a Quidditch Match that will get your heart racing.
When you’re done exploring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time, you’ll only be left wanting more. The beauty of course, is that more is on the way, with Diagon Alley set to open this summer. Once it’s open, guests will be able to board the Hogwart’s Express and travel between King’s Cross Station and Hogsmeade. Magical indeed.
Disclosure: Child Mode was hosted by Universal Orlando. All thoughts and opinions are our own as always.