I have been back from vacation for one week now and having a bit of a hard time adjusting to the lack of non-stop entertainment that is Orlando. I was once again lucky enough to be able to have a birthday vacation this year and we went to Islands of Adventure. Which meant I got to visit the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
I don’t care how old and mature you think you are; this shit is fun. When we first got to Islands of Adventure I didn’t want to immediately skip everything to run straight for Hogwarts Castle, but it beckoned in the distance with it’s fake snowy peaks. I forced myself to ride the giant green Hulk coaster first just because it was there and well those “fast pass” things were $50 a piece!
Hulk surprised me a little because there was no build up, you just shot out of the station like a bullet and immediately turned upside. It took me a minute to recover from all the head bashing. Then we did the Spider Man Experience which was super fun although I don’t care much for Spiderman in general. Of the marvel characters I think he is my least favorite.
The virtual 3D ride was really fun though. Especially when the Doc Oct character gets in your face and his mechanical arm appears to be one inch from your nose. Then at some point one of the bad dudes throws you off a roof and when the screen started rocketing towards the ground my stomach fell to my feet. It really felt like you were falling off that building and I got that little tingle in my middle like I do when Im going down an actual hill on a coaster.
After those two rides we made a break for Hogwarts, but alas there was a line just to get onto the island. Not to ride anything, just to walk around! So we abruptly left after only riding two things and came back later that night. I had a butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks, which I was told consisted of crushed cookies and some unidentifiable liquid, and one inch of foamy butterscotch on top. It was terrible but at least I can say I tried it.
I couldn’t get into Zonko’s or Honeydukes because of the lines and I also didn’t get to go have a wand “choose me,” at Olivanders. I don’t care how old I am, I wanted to be chosen! We rode the lame baby coaster Hypogriff and reluctantly took our place in line for the Forbidden Journey. I thought it was going to be another badass coaster. I was told this experience was said to be the most advanced ride anywhere in the world. The hour and a half wait in line was terrible but once we got into the castle and the paintings started talking I forgot everything else. You kept help but be swept away by the authenticity of this place.
We got to walk through Dumbleore’s study and he gave us some advice. Then we watched a projection of Harry Ron and Hermione taped especially for the ride. Hermione put a “spell” on the coach we were strapped into and it started flying. The coach sat about four people in a row and was on a track suspended in the air by a giant arm.
We watched another virtual projection of Harry and rode through different scenes in the movie. I think the Dark Forrest was my least favorite because we got attacked by a”dirty great spider,” to use Ron Weasley’s terms, and his baby spiders. Those things got a little too close to my head.
At one point we rode through the Quidditch pitch always following Harry. Then our coach got attacked by a cluster of Dementors and the Hungarian Horntail spit real fire at us. You could tell someone spent an awful lot of time and money on this thing. It was super fun and I left the castle feeling like I’d experienced something amazing.
Dueling Dragons was also fun, and a bit scary since it was really dark after we left the castle. I had to sit on my flip flops so they wouldn’t go flying all over creation, but I was soon distracted from my discomfort as my “dragon” gained speed. The blue Hungarian Horntail was going a little slow until the Chinese Fireball came up beside it then they both took off at the same time. It was over all too soon as was my brief experience as a Tri-Wizard Champion. At least I managed to get a chocolate frog from the gift shop on the way out and a very overpriced coffee mug with Sirius Black’s mugshot on it.