Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Florida
2 reviews from the community
Review of "Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Florida"
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This was definitely the best part of my holiday to Orlando, Florida by a long way. I was lucky enough to get early entry to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as part of my holiday package, which meant I had entrance to the park at 8am instead of the usual 9am. There was a lot of people, but nowhere near what it would have been later in the morning.We walked straight there, and were greeted with the Knight Bus, along with Stan Shunpike the driver, who was happy to take photos with us. Opposite this was King's Cross Station, and slightly along was Grimmauld Place, number 12 of course being the residence of one Sirius Black. It all looked so authentic, I forgot I was in a theme park in America and was totally blown away by the experience.
Firstly, you go through the wall much like Hagrid and Harry Potter did the first time he visits Diagon Alley. Upon walking through, you are greeted with the most lifelike Diagon Alley I've ever seen - and I've been to the Studio Tour in the UK too! I was blown away by its look - at the end was the imposing Gringott's Bank complete with fire-breathing dragon, Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes, the Wand Shop, Quiddith Supplies, Madame Fortescue' Ice-Cream parlour, Gringott's money exchange and much, much more. I simply cannot convey in this review how brilliant it looked. We walked down, past the many shops, to the only HP ride in this park which was 'Escape from Gringott's'. Again, we only had a 5 minute wait due to early entry which was great. There were free lockers at the entrance, and you enter through Gringott's, complete with goblins at the tills on either side. The ride was amazing, a 4D experience that blew me away, we loved every second!After this, we decided to board the Hogwart's Express which you enter by going through King's Cross Station. You do need entry to both Universal Studios and Universal: Islands of Adventure to use this ride. You walk through, again we had no queues, and reach a point where you can have your photo taken as you 'disappear' into the wall between platforms 9 and 10, a great little extra photo opportunity! You then head onto Platform 9 3/4 which looked amazing, and wait to board the famous Hogwart's Express. The train was wonderful, and carriages looked exactly as they did in the films. The windows were showing a video of the journey to Hogwarts, complete with scary Dementor shadows, an appearance by Hagrid on his flying bike, the Ford Anglia and more. It only lasted 3-4 minutes but was fantastic, and worth doing.
You exit here into Hogsmeade, the wizarding village that Hogwarts pupils visit. This set was amazing, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There is a replica Hogwart's Express train on the right for photo opportunities, and then you walk forward into Hogsmeade, which I loved. Here you can buy Butter Beer, Gillywater, Pumpkin Juice, get your postcards stamped with 'Hogsmeade' at the Owlery for free, and visit Honeydukes, the sweet shop! I loved this area, decorated with snow it has that festive feel to it despite the temperatures and I was blown away - yet again!As you walk through and head right, you'll see the amazing replica of Hogwarts Castle, it's truly stunning and of course was popular with people taking photos. There are 2 rides here - Flight of the Hippogriff' which I did with my son, a short but speedy rollercoaster, taking you on a quick trip past Hagrid's Hut, it was fun and aimed at younger riders. Then there was the Forbidden Forest ride - I chose to not do this as it was a simulator ride and they made me sick, but reviews for it were amazing. There was also a Filch's emporium shop filled with lots of (pricey!) Harry Potter themed goodies. I did purchase myself and my son a t-shirt, but at $25 and $35, they weren't cheap! Even the pins were $10, a snow globe was $20 and hoodies, scarves and robes were much more - around $120 for a robe! Wands were also available.
We then rode the Hogwarts Express back to Diagon Alley, and the video within the window screens was different this time, but just as enjoyable. We sadly didn't get any chance to take a photo of us in the carriage as we were asked to sit straight away when we boarded and then hustled out at the end which was a shame, it only would have taken 20 seconds for us to take a picture, but we were able to get one near the steam engine which was great.It's worth noting that you can buy some Harry Potter wizarding money at the Gringott's Bank Exchange, where you can have a conversation with a goblin too. Prices start at $10 and go up depending how much you buy. My son purchased a small bag of Gringott's chocolate sickles and knuts which was $6 and more in his price range - the canvas bag it came in is a lovely keepsake too. You can also try a Butter Beer ice cream at the ice-cream shop opposite the Gringott's Bank, and of course you must wait for the dragon to breathe fire - it's a spectacle and certainly a photo you'll want to get! There's no set time frame for it, so you just have to be patient.
Overall, this was definitely the highlight of my whole holiday, and everyone around seemed to be amazing by the whole experience as well. Early entry was definitely a boon, but we visited Universal on a separate day and while queues for the rides were hefty (60-90 minute waits), the shops weren't too busy and we were able to browse easily. A must-do experience for anyone visiting Universal Studios, it's purely magical!https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g34515-d1968468-r413565008-The_Wizarding_World_of_Harry_Potter-Orlando_Florida.html#
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Listed on Ciao since: 24/01/2011