In my book no holiday to Florida is complete without a visit to at least one of the many theme parks on offer. For fans of Harry Potter then the Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida is a must visit! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ provides fans with a truly magical experience with 3 wizardry theme park rides including the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™, the Dragon Challenge ™ and the Flight of the Hippogriff™.
Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – Ride
On the approach to the ride you can see the Hogwarts castle for the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this is the signature ride for the Islands of Adventure. The imposing Hogwarts castle can easily be seen from a distance once inside the Islands of Adventure theme park and goes some way to build the anticipation of what to expect as you get closer to the entrance.
As you pass through the large towering gates towards Hogwarts castle you can’t help but be impressed by the sheer size, well it is a large seven-story high castle supported by magic! The adventure starts by working your way through the dungeons, familiar corridors, classrooms and passageways, passing magical talking portraits and many other iconic wizardry locations such as the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore’s office, the Room of Requirement and more.
Once you arrive in the Room of Requirement you take your seat on the enchanted bench to begin your magical journey with Harry. The shoulder restrains come down and its then you realise its all too late now! The adventure beings with Hermione Granger dousing the bench with Floo Powder and the enchanted bench comes to life or should I say flight!
You find yourself flying through the Floo Network to the Astronomy Tower and into the Observatory. While following Harry in a dynamic and dramatic flight you’re never too sure which direction you’re heading off to next with the action continually unfolding in the dark and magical setting around Hogwarts.
You soon find yourself flying around the Hogwarts towers and into a Quidditch match, Hagrid’s pet Hungarian Hortaintail dragon starts to chase you and before you know its breathing fire at you! Descending into the Forbidden Forest you encounter the huge Aragog spider who spits at you. Shortly, you’re back into Harry’s and Ron’s game of Quidditch. Slytherin scores into Gryffindor’s goal and Dementors arrive with Harry leading you safely away to the school, but only to drop into the Chamber of Secrets. From here Dementors appear and attempt to steel your soul after putting you in a trance. Harry saves you just in time, which leads to the dramatic finale where the cliffs outside the Chamber of Secrets crumble and cave in, with you racing against time to get out!
The rides ends with a fly over Black Lane and back into Hogwarts castle with welcoming cheers from familiar faces. Professor Dumbledore sends you back through the Floo Network to the Room of Requirement where the forbidden journey ends.
A throughly enjoyable ride for all the family and certainly all the better if you’ve read the books and seen the films. Great fun with a fast paced storyline; the ride spins, drops, twists, turns and at times lies you on your back! The ride lasts a surprising 5 minutes which is a testament to how entertaining and action packed the journey is, as it does seem much shorter than this.
You must be at least 48 inches or 1.20 metres tall.
2011 – Best Dark Ride (Amusement Today, Golden Ticket Award)
2010 – Best New Attraction (ThemeParkInsider.com)
The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride uses never seen before KUKU robocoaster technology, which allows the seats to pivot on a robotic arm while being held above the track. The name of the technology is misleading as the ride is not a roller coaster ride but a scenic dark ride.
Alnwick Castle was used for the filming of the first two Harry Potter films including Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002 (the crash landing of the flying Ford Anglia) and Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone in 2001 (the first Quidditch lesson).
The Wizarding World of Harry Pooter
Set in a magical world of mysteries you can also explore the snow covered quirky shops and eateries including:
- Three Broomsticks™ – A rustic tavern which serves up authentic British food including proper cuts of English bacon, I tried the Full English in the morning and washed it down with a pint of Butterbeer™ which I have to say certainly hit the spot. The Three Broomsticks serves food throughout the day and watch out for the stuffed hog’s head on the wall which periodically grunts at passing guest.
- Dervish and Banes™ – Ideal for picking up magical items and clothing such as Sneakoscopes, Spectrespecs, Omnioculars, brooms (Nimbus 2001™ and Firebolt), uniforms, robes, scarves and other merchandise.
- Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods – In here you’ll find confiscated items and purchase Hogwarts™ and Quidditch™ clothing, banners, movie prop replicas, magical creature toys and other treasures.
- Honeydukes™ – A shop full of sweets! Jars of sweets in all colours and flavours including the Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans™, treacle fudge, Chocolate Frogs™, Acid Pops, Fizzing Whizzbees, exploding bonbons and much more.
- Ollivanders™ – Want to purchase your very own wand? Then step right up, you’ll find a wide choice of wands to purchase including; should you wish a replica of Harry Potter™ film characters’ wands, collectible wand sets and more.
- Zonko’s™ – This fun little shop has a host of novelty jokes and toys. Purchase an array of funny items including a Sneakoscope, Screaming Yo-Yos, Boxing Telescope, Pygmy Puff, Shrunken Heads, Fanged Flyer and more. There are also sweets and an assortment of souvenirs to choose from.
Fancy Planing Your Trip to Florida?
Start planning your trip today and choose from a wide choice of stunning Florida villas which are only a short 30 minute drive from Universal Studios, Disney and SeaWorld.