Vacation magic: Wizarding World of Harry Potter

July 12, 2011, 6:20 am

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been an amazing tourist attraction since the day it opened. Well here is a step by step description for all those who have not made it out to Universal Orlando yet. The first thing one sees is the Hogsmeade Express, the red, steam-powered train puffing smoke and blowing its whistle. You might even get a chance to meet the Hogsmeade conductor and snap a few pictures with him. He is always wearing beige uniform, and red vest will pose for pictures with guests before checking his brass pocketwatch and dashing away.

Hogsmeade’s cobblestone streets are lined with dark gray shops and eateries familiar to and beloved by Potter fans. Few leave without finding a memento to take home. Zonko’s is jammed with novelty toys and gimmicks including a Sneakoscope, a boxing telescope, and extendable ears. At the Owl Post, you can buy a stuffed Hedwig owl with sound (for $29.95) or a Hedwig ceramic mug ($16.95). The biggest lines in the park were at Ollivanders, where fans can wave the magic wand of their choice, whether it be oak, hazel, willow, or most any other type of wood. Or choose a model named for such characters as Professor Snape or Professor Dumbledore. Most wands were $29.95.

Through the castle gates, muggles find their way to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, a state-of-the-art simulator ride that fluidly combines videos, motion, and scenic backdrops to take you on a broom ride behind Harry. The ride seems genuine as you zoom up over the castle and into a Quidditch match, past dragons and spiders and all sorts of strange creatures.


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