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Back From FL, also HARRY POTTER WORLD! - The art of Thornwolf
Back from my FL business trip. I have a lot to catch up on, so I thank you in advance for your patience!

I was able to take a break for a day and go visit snowwolfmystic and go to Harry Potter World in the Universal Islands of Adventure park. We've been talking about this since before the park opened, so we finally got to have our geeky adventure! Lots of pics to show you guys.



We picked the PERFECT day to go. It was a Wednesday, no school holidays in sight, plus the weatherman had predicted a 60% chance of rain. The way we figured it, the Harry Potter part of the park is very small, we could do it all in a couple of hours, if we were just able to see that before we got rained out we will have felt the trip was worth it. But yanno..it didn't rain once, and there were NO LINES.


Look how un-crowded this photo of the Hogwarts Express is!

First we went to ride the "main attraction" which was the Forbidden Journey ride.
It was inside Hogwarts. I wished so hard that they had merch of the flying boars but alas, they did not :( Have a photo though!

Universal's queue designs kick the pants off of Disney. The detail was amazing! Unfortunately the castle was so dark inside (actually pretty authentic to the movies) we couldn't get very many pictures, but just trust me when I say it was a total HP geek's dream. All the little intricacies from the movies to look at while you wait. We didn't even get to see half of it though because, like I said, no lines! We were breezing past everything XD

The paintings move and talk to each other :)


As for the ride itself, this is the first time in a long time I was actually "scared" on a ride, and not just like "Oh hey I'm screaming on a rollercoaster and its going fast" scared, but more like "really good haunted house" scared. It's part virtual reality and part set, so its kind of like if you combine Soaring Over California/Star Tours with the King Kong part of the Universal Studio Tour. Your car feels like you're floating and one minute theres a screen of Harry Potter taking you flying through the grounds at Hogwarts, and the next minute there's a giant animatronic dragon breathing hot steam on you just inches from your face. There's dementors *nnnnngh these scared me* and SPIDERS *NNNNNNGH DOUBLY SCARED*, definitely a little bit too perilous for most "children", so for those thinking that the park is just for kids, you are sorely mistaken! We got to ride this 3 times with a 10 minute wait whereas most people wait for 3 hours to ride it once :3

After that we went on Flight of the Hippogryph which is a relatively tame "family" coaster not unlike Thunder Mountain Railroad. It was just cute!

Buckbeak was NOT signing autographs unfortunately...

Next up was the Dragon Challenge coaster which was a repurposed dragon themed coaster that they've re-themed into the Tri-Wizard tournament.

They're two separate tracks that twist and turn around each other, making it seem like you're going to hit the other car with your feet (your feet dangle). REALLY fun.

We rode this one 5 times...for science. You see, we heard that the red coaster was faster and more intense, so we rode both the red coaster front and back, and the blue coaster front and back, and then once more in a random place on the red coaster. Red wins! In order of intensity, for us anyways, from most intense to least intense it goes Red Front, Red Back, Blue Back, Blue Front...In case you were wondering :)

And this is the point where we realized we did all of the rides in less than 2 hours. BEST. DAY. EVER! We rode them all again and again throughout the day, but up next on our "to do" list was BUTTERBEER! Butterbeer, for the curious, appears to be some sort of cream soda with half whipped whipped cream flavored like butterscotch floating on top. The frozen version is the same, just with frozen cream soda like a slurpee.

We enjoyed our butterbeers while we waited in line to go into Ollivander's wand shop. Yes there is a line to go into a store, but what happens is once you enter the wand shop its like you're entering the world of Harry Potter. All of the staff are in character, and in your group (they only let in about 12 people at a time), they pick one person to go through the whole wand picking experience just like the movie. They try out their wands and stuff is flinging off the shelves, they choose the right wand and lights shine and wind blows and magical music plays. It was a lot of fun!

Unfortunately after the "show" we were filtered into the world's most expensive HP gift shop. I had wanted so badly to get a scarf, but at $34, I could just make my own :P I did, however, get myself a Gryffindor pin. JK Rowling is likely rolling in the dough just from the merch at this place, good lord it's more expensive than Disney! We also went into Honeydukes and got our families some goodies. I got my stepsisters some Every Flavour Beans (which was fun watching them eat) and snowwolfmystic got her parents some chocolate frogs, which even came with a collectible trading card!

We got lunch at the Three Broomsticks

As far as theme park restaurants go, this one is worth eating at. The food is actually really good, and though it's expensive, you get a LOT of food. We got the Shepherd's Pie meal, a chocolate trifle (which was omg, way sweet, we shared it and we didn't even finish half of it), some butterbeer (Snow couldn't resist) and I got some apple cider.

I will say something else about our experience, is that the staff was amazing all throughout this portion of the park. You could tell they liked their jobs and really were getting into it. This made the overall experience even more magical. And all the people who were in this portion of the park were major HP fans. We'd be in line somewhere and people would go "You're a Gryffindor? ME TOO! What's your favorite book? I thought this ride could have used more Voldemort, etc. etc." It was like everyone was just as excited and giddy and giggly as we were :D It was like what I imagine a Potter-con would be like, but with rides.

Since we had done everything in the Harry Potter section of the park, we ventured to other places. We rode the Hulk coaster twice which was, oh my god...amazing. It is a very very good coaster that launches you up the hill before dropping, and then you go through a tunnel of fog.

There was also some ride called Dr. Doom's Fearfall, which didn't actually fall. It's one of those tower/freefall looking rides, and everything mentions the "fall" part, but what really happens is you sit in the car and it shoots you up at a moderate speed and then FLOATS back down. It is ridiculous, and not worth it.

We stayed away from the acid trip that was Dr. Seuss World, neither of us really dig that, but if you're into it, it's like walking through Dr. Seuss' brain.

We did go through the Jurassic Park themed part, although we didn't ride the ride. I've been on it before, and while yes it is fun, we weren't really keen on the threat of getting wet. But we did find these really nifty hats!

We kept walking through this section of the park right before HP World that was Lost Continent/Atlantis themed and we thought, wow, what a great set design! Surely there must be something awesome in there! We asked a staff member what it was and she said it was a walking tour of Atlantis. HECK YES SIGN US UP!

Anything with a man-armed sea gryphon has to be awesome right?

When we got in there, it was some actor acting like he and someone named "The Professor" had stumbled upon a temple where Neptune and some other dude duked it out, and now we've angered them and oh no they're going to fight again. We went into one room stood around and watched this actor do his thing, then we walked into another room and stood around, watched this actor talk to himself, then walked into ANOTHER room and watched him talk to himself AND some projections of Neptune in some epic battle armor WITH pyrotechnics.

It was horrible.

They could totally have used that beautiful set design for something not so lame XD But ah well.

We cheered ourselves up with this camel eating ice cream


And there you have it!
29 comments or Leave a comment
jaguargrin From: jaguargrin Date: February 7th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm filled with so much jealousy and envy now I cannot even comprehend the proper words I need to be saying to express how UTTERLY AWESOME THIS LOOKS.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 9th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC) (Link)
IT IS AWESOME OMG! XD I seriously want to go again and again.
amonomega From: amonomega Date: February 7th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hilarious they re-purposed the 'dueling dragons' ride to the Harry Potter park, though. Those were the first roller coasters I ever rode EVER x3 When I go back it will mean that much more to me.

Thank you for sharing your experience and the pictures! Even just those made me squee. :D

You're totally right about that Atlantis thing, though. It's so lame... I remember it being awesome many many years ago, but it's... it's totally lame :C

Glad you had fun!
Cheers for butter beer!
jaguargrin From: jaguargrin Date: February 7th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
OMIGOD. You use livejournal too? :O AND WE HAVE THE SAME ICON?

...It's fate. *adds you to friends list*

(This is Kanau/khyryn or whatever my name was btw!)
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 9th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you enjoyed the post!

Snow had mentioned that the dueling dragons coaster seemed like it would have been a really good Avatar The Last Airbender themed coaster, what with the red dragon and the blue dragon thing going on. It was a really good coaster, I'm glad they kept it.
snowwolfmystic From: snowwolfmystic Date: February 7th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why, this is so good... I'd like to try it a SECOND TIME!

I miss Red Front. And as it turns out, the pterodactyl ride is a kids ride. 8| Think we could convince them that we're young enough? I also forgot to tell you, you left your coffee and pizza change! Next time. XD

thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 7th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

I realized I left my coffee as I was driving on the freeway >_O OH WELL

ryokokitty From: ryokokitty Date: February 7th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
This looks.... so.... awesome @.@.

Thank you for posting this! I've been wondering about this place when I first heard about it - back in 2006 or something when they were designing it.

Too bad I'm not going to Florida anytime soon =(
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 9th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you liked it!

If you go to FWA I bet you could take a mini roadtrip down. It's a bit of a drive, but its still more "there" than the west coast. It's worth it O_O
solid_squid From: solid_squid Date: February 7th, 2011 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm actually really impressed, they've done a damn good job of giving it the impression of an old British town. The first and third photos in particular could be part of the Glasgow Univrsity old building (actually the interiors could be as well if the stone was a bit more aged. Although no where near as tall as that, they do actually have walls lined with portraits of the past principles of the university in some areas
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 9th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought so as well! The whole part of the park is extremely detailed too, I bet I could go there 10 times and see something new each time.
autumn_sunrise From: autumn_sunrise Date: February 7th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
OMG I absolutely adored Wizarding World of HP, tho when we went, it was super crowded...you guys got so lucky!!! And oh God, you actually went through Poseidon's Adventure thing? XD *laughs* I did that the first time I ever went to Islands of Adventure...and LOLed at the lame. XD
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 9th, 2011 03:26 am (UTC) (Link)
It wouldn't have been so bad if we got to sit down and watch the horrible, but walking from room to room and standing with railings and watching some guy flail around by himself wildly was really obnoxious XD
quatres_star From: quatres_star Date: February 7th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh wow they still have the Neptune thing? I thought that got pushed aside along with the part that went to HP world. Shows how often I have been to Islands of Adventure in recent years. lol

I am still kind of sad I didn't push for the job there at HP world. The drive plus pay wasn't worth it but getting to geek out would have been. ;_; It's the only job (well aside from EA) where I got quizzed on my nerdy ways for the interview.

Maybe I will save up for my birthday even though it will be horrendously hot and crowded in June.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 9th, 2011 03:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah if you're spending half your paycheck to get there it's just not worth it, but you should definitely try to go if you're able. Even if not for your birthday try to go early or otherwise off season (late september is good too because the kids are in school!)

And yes. The Neptune thing is still there :(
xxbalaaxx From: xxbalaaxx Date: February 7th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
WAUGH envies XD!! I am glad to hear HP world is as epic as I hoped it would be. BUT NO VOLDEMORT..well count me out >O. My creepy villain dude with a sunk in face fetish needs satisfying 8I. LOL jk, glad you got to escape work crazies for a day and hope the rest of the trip went relatively painlessly for you.

Also when ya want to visit? Im taking february easy :D! I'll be gone for a week though from the 9th to the 16th, but outside that, anytime you wanna come is grand with us C:. I think Baggy talked to you about Autumn's visit, so if you want to join the commotion then, you are welcome to!
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 9th, 2011 02:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Woo its been crazy since I got back x_x

Anyways, I'm pretty flexible, but yeah I'd actually love to come visit and see Autie too if that's cool? I'm kind of busy the 9th through the 16th anyways so that works out pretty well. Thank you! :D

And yeah there was a serious lack of both voldemort and snape. In fact, I saw a voledmort doll, but no snape ANYTHING. Weird!

idess From: idess Date: February 7th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aaah more envy rays! :D That looks so awesome, everything from the food to the rides just sound amazing! I'll definately have to make it a plan to go one day.
stokerbramwell From: stokerbramwell Date: February 7th, 2011 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Scary dementor dragon ride! :O DO WANT.
cesarin From: cesarin Date: February 7th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
you have not temped me to save money someday to visit that themepark D:
owl_song From: owl_song Date: February 7th, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
was1 From: was1 Date: February 7th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice photos. It sounds like a lot of fun. I was glad the dueling dragons ride was running when I was there, even though the rest of HP world wasn't open, as that's a fun coaster. The launch for the Hulk coaster was cool.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 9th, 2011 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Snow was commenting about how "dueling dragons" reminded her more of Avatar (the real one, not the blue cat people) and it would have been awesome if it were themed after that!

Its a good coaster though.
alexf0x From: alexf0x Date: February 7th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's something about a Harry Potter theme park in Florida, where it's normally hot and humid with rainfall that you can set your watch to. Yet Hogwalts is shown to be in a somewhere up in fantasy version of Northern England or Scotland, well known for being cold and damp, with unpredictable rain and snow.

That and I've been to a few of the locations used in the films, notably Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, and of course every time I go to London I nearly always step off on platform 9 (enough to know that it's location in both the books and movie is wrong).
tyrrlin From: tyrrlin Date: February 8th, 2011 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, but did you know that King's Cross put in a cheesy Platform 9 3/4? It's off of platform 8, I think.
alexf0x From: alexf0x Date: February 8th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
There is one there, and in the past platform 9 has been decked out with Harry Potter related things, normally when a film or book came out.

Platforms 8 and 9 however are the same length of platform though, also the mistake that both the movie and JK Rowling made though is that Platform 9 is in a separate building next door to the main terminal. The book and movie put the 9 3/4 entrance in the main terminal building.

Oh and they also had a panel mentioning the filming (including photos) at Lacock abbey too which was used for a lot of courtyard scenes, and I think for Voldemort first appearance in the philosophers stone.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 9th, 2011 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)
The weather and cloudy sky actually agreed with the theme this time, but yeah I agree its a little "off" otherwise with Florida's normal weather.

Interesting, I didn't know that about platform 9!
tyrrlin From: tyrrlin Date: February 8th, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
OMG I WANT that griffin prop. I totally *squee'd* in the theatre when they showed it in the movie.
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: February 9th, 2011 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
They had some AMAZING Buckbeak plushes there o_O I was so tempted.
29 comments or Leave a comment