"Not all those who wander are lost" J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogsmeade Village
Hogwarts Castle, from down in Hogsmeade Village
If you are any sort of Harry Potter fan at all then the Twist family wholeheartedly recommends you hop on the nearest Nimbus 2000 and fly yourself to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. The second you enter the gates of Hogsmeade Village you are immediately immersed, not only in an exact replica of everything you see in the movies, but also in the feeling of an authentic English village, complete with quaintly crooked chimneys.

The first thing we did in Hogsmeade Village was try the Butterbeer and the Pumpkin juice.  Pumpkin juice tastes like liquid pumpkin pie and is delicious.  The Butterbeer is reminiscent of cream soda with more buttery than vanilla flavor and a creamy, mustache making foam.  Mmmmm.

The second thing on our list was Ollivander's, making fine wands since 382 BC.  They herd you in a group of 20 or so and we all had the expectation that everyone would get a chance to have a wand "choose the wizard" but this was not the case.  Only two people were chosen and then we were shuffled into Dervish and Banges in order to choose our own wands. The store was packed with folks buying entire outfits of robes, scarves, wands and other HP paraphernalia.  The boys were a bit disappointed after waiting so long in line but Ollivander was kind enough to pose for a photo.
Along with wand selection was purchasing sweatshirts as the boys were freezing.  Our 60 degree and sunny weather turned out to be 50 and very gray, until 3:30 in the afternoon when the sun came out.  I hated the unexpected expense of theme park sweatshirts (translation:  cost way more than they are worth) but I had a couple of really happy and warm boys so, oh well.  By this time everyone was ready for food and with The Three Broomsticks right over the street we decided a Harry Potter style feast was in order. Everyone actually loved the food, deeming it better than expected.  Plus, it was hot so we were able to warm up a bit.  Donald and I tried a Scottish beer called Hog's Head Brew.  Although not quite as dark as we like, we agreed it was tasty.
The entrance to The Three Broomsticks (look carefully for a triangle of brooms over the door)
Looking up, in The Three Broomsticks
My menfolk around their food
The Feast:  salad, chicken, ribs, roasted potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and corn.  
After eating it was time for some rides.  We toured Hogwarts Castle but as I'm not a great photographer none of my pictures turned out so well because, being a castle, it was pretty gloomy inside.  However, the castle is amazing, complete with moving pictures.  Dumbledore, Harry, Ron and Hermione all appear, speaking to the crowd.  And speaking of crowds, when we got to the castle the wait time was 30 minutes.  We groaned a bit when all of a sudden an official wizard saw that we had a service dog.  She whisked us into our own entrance into the castle and gave us our own private tour, including a few things that aren't generally seen by the public.  After the tour she took us to the Forbidden Journey ride where the boys and I were put, immediately, into our own car.  No waiting!!  The Forbidden Journey is a 4D simulation of flying on a broomstick with Harry as he plays Quidditch, battles Gigantic Spiders in the Forbidden Forest who sprayed water at us from their huge fangs, fights a dragon who puffed smoke right in our faces and then faces off some Dementors.  The ride was AWESOME!!  We really felt like we were flying as we twisted and turned, that is, until the ride experienced technical difficulties and stopped for about 10 minutes while we were upside down in the car.  I wasn't too worried but I was ever so thankful that Donald was not with us.  He would not have done well being strapped in upside down.  As it was, my youngest was the only who panicked so we all held our upside down hands and sang "Jesus Loves Me."  And froze.  We were right under an air conditioning shaft.  The ride continued and we were all fine, only #2 was a little shaken by the time we exited the ride.  The attending wizard asked if we wanted to go again (how's that for service!) and my inner child would have gone again but the responsible mother ushered her pale child off to his father.
At the beginning of the Forbidden Journey

My oldest son and I are mostly peas in a pod.  Being fairly reserved people by nature we have a wild side that loves the thrill of a roller coaster.  The Dragon Challenge coaster is hands down the best roller coaster we have ever been on.  It's the sort where your feet hang free and comes with multiple corkscrews and loopy loops.  We tottered off the ride on a speed high and it was several minutes before our equilibriums righted themselves.  It was crazy good!

The porch of The Three Broomsticks

Wands at the ready, Hogwarts in the background

Hogwarts Express
We spent some time wandering in the Hogsmeade shops and trying to warm up in the sun.  Honeydukes Sweet Shop and Zonkos Joke Shop are well worth the experience.  #1 bought Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans (he deemed the sausage flavour the worst) and #2 purchased a Chocolate Frog.  Both were ridiculously overpriced but they had allowance money burning holes in their pockets so what can you do?  By this time we had exhausted all that Harry Potter had to offer so we decided to check out the rest of the park.

The best part of the rest was definitely the Marvel Superhero Area.  It looks like a cartoon version of Gotham.  #2 got to meet some of his favorite Superheroes.  Cyclops told #2 that he wanted to be him because he gets to travel the country in an RV.  That made #2's eyes shine!  My thrill seeker and I went on the Hulk roller coaster and rated it as the second best ride ever for its sheer speed, drops and the way the cars roar, sounding just like the Hulk himself.  The Jurassic Park area was a bit of a let down but I did manage to take this photo of a T-Rex trying to eat my children.  

And, of course, what would Florida be if we didn't end our day with a little surfing?  We drove home, cold and exhausted but exhilarated.  We have talked about this day for months and even though there was no real magic, the day provided its own and was everything we imagined, but better.  How often does life give you that kind of day?  

1 comment:

  1. The green eyed monster rears it's ugly head again. I'm so incredibly jealous. I'm near tears. No WW of HP for me at all this year. Too much expense. Wish I could have gone with you. That coaster looked like fun!