Part 2: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter–the Attractions/Shows
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in June 2010 in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, one of two Universal Studios parks in Orlando, Florida (the other is Universal Studios Florida) after 2-1/2 years in the making. When you enter Islands of Adventure, you head to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section and you will be given a voucher telling you when you may enter the area. For some, laying eyes on the park may be like my colleague after seeing the first film—it may bring tears to your eyes. There’s Hogsmeade. The Hogwarts Express train and train station. And Hogwarts Castle towers over it all.
There are three rides and two ongoing shows in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which we will abbreviate as WWOHP.
“Flight of the Hippogriff” is a roller coaster which both kids and adults can ride (it being the tamest of the three). Its premise is that you are getting Hippogriff riding lessons. Buckbeak and Hagrid’s hut can be seen from the queue of this ride.
“Dragon Challenge” is also a roller coaster which features two paths—you can choose either the Chinese Fireball or the Hungarian Horntail. Elements from the Triwizard Tournament can be seen in the queue of this ride.
“Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” has the longest line and is an awesome attraction! Housed in Hogwarts, the walk-up as you are waiting is equally awesome. You will see the talking portraits, Mirror of Erised, Dumbledore’s office, and the Sorting Hat talking and more on your way to the actual ride. (If fast rides that change direction frequently are not your thing, you may just want to do the walk-up, which is indeed worth it). Once on the ride, you are sprung from class by Harry and his mates to watch a Quidditch game but end up having to avoid giant spiders, dragons and Dementors—of which you can feel the breath!—and you are applauded at the end not only by Harry and his mates, but the Hogwarts faculty as well. (This ride has been described as Disney’s “Soarin’ over California” Meets Islands of Adventures “Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man”–!) If you want to go on this ride, this would be your first destination.
The two shows (non-rides) are the “Triwizard Spirit Rallies” featuring the Beauxbatons and the Durmstrang students, and the “Frog Choir,” starring students from Hogwarts singing and holding some very large frogs doing like-wise! (Check with park personnel for show times).