Harry Potter - The Experience

I have returned from Florida in August to a swampy heat in Northern New Jersey that matches the Orlando and Boynton Beach sweat levels. We hit Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure this time, with one a la carte day in Disney's Magic Kingdom because the family was seriously Jonesing for the mouse. But this isn't about the mouse. This isn't about the Simpson's or Mummy ride at Universal. This is about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. All I can say is ... dude. They paid some serious attention to detail when they built the place.

When you walk in the joint, you first find yourself in Hogsmeade station. You must provide your own posing kids, however.

The Hogwarts Express

The station timetable
Once you're in Hogsmeade proper, there's loads to see.

Zonko's Joke Shop

Hogsmeade Shopping
Zonko's has a mix of their traditional items as well as some of Weaselys' Wizard Wheezes, but I suppose since they only had room for Hogsmeade, and not Diagon Alley, where the Weasely boys' shop exists, I won't complain. There were supposed to have been Pygmy Puffs, but it appeared as if they were fresh out.

Puking Pastilles - yum
The ol' extendables
More shops. Even the simple storefronts had living window displays, from quills that magically wrote on parchment themselves, to self playing cello's.

Just a storefront, but the window displays were alive
Honeydukes - Yum
And inside Honeydukes!

We got a Godric Gryffindor card

Pepper Imps

Yes, you read that right.

Cauldron Cakes!
Then, we have Dervish and Banges. The deal is you can either go in the backdoor, or head into Ollivander's first, which is connected inside. And just outside is the Owlery, where you can mail your letters, Hogsmeade postmark included.

The back entrance

Wizard Chess, anyone?

Neville's Gran apparently shopped here

It seems wrong to be able to buy one

Need a quidditch set?

Inside Ollivander's

The Owlery - Owl Post, don't you know.

Somebody got a howler!
And then there's both the Hogs Head, where the beer is cold, and the Three Broomsticks, where the feast is hearty, and the butterbeer comes in two types - frozen and frosted. There are owls and house elves about, so keep your eyes on the shadows.

It's a Hogs Head

It's an actual non-animatronic Hogs Head

A feast at the Three Broomsticks
We are getting very, very close to Hogwarts now. Let's go for a quick ride on a hyppogriff first, and see what we see.

Hagrid's Hut

Buckbeak, a.k.a. Witherwings
Hoggy Hoggy Hogwarts. 

Mirror of Erised

Potions classroom down in the dungeons

Keeping the mandrakes under lock and key in the greenhouse

The portraits move and talk!

The Sorting Hat

The house points hourglasses seemed a bit lame, though

What the pictures don't show you are the headmaster's study, where Dumbledore warns you about the differences between what is right and what is easy; nor the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, where Harry, Ron and Hermione explain what's about to happen. These holographic images are amazing, but don't appear on camera, likely due to the flash. Curses, you flash. My son snagged a picture of the Fat Lady portrait on his phone, thought. As for the Forbidden Journey ride through the castle... it breaks a LOT. But we rode twice, once after waiting 90 minutes, and once after 30. It's really, really cool. You sit in this bat-like contraption with your feet dangling, and zoom through the castle and then outside through the castle ground, into the middle of a quidditch match, and then every which way, trying to avoid dementors, while not losing your lunch.

There are also some performances going on outside.

The girls of Beauxbatons performing

These folks can sing. So can the toads

What a great experience. It would naturally be even better if it wasn't ridiculously crowded, but at least it wasn't the opening month. My son got himself a snitch and a dragon, and both kids purchased their very own wands at Ollivander's. I snagged a Gryffindor scarf. As Ron would say, "Seriously good haul this year."


Annie McMahon said...

Wow, great pictures, Jay! Looks like you had a great time. Did you bring me back some Felix Felicis potion like I asked?

Jay said...

Thanks, Annie. That's another thing they didn't carry at Dervish and Banges. I couldn't even find a tiny bottle while digging around in Filch's. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think if J.K.Rowling had a good agent, she's going to be the richest person in the world soon. Move over Bill Gates.

Your trip looked wonderful. I'm glad you had such a good time. back to reviewing for you!

Jay said...

I think she's the richest woman in England, anyway. :-) She's doing all right!

Emailman said...

Wow, Jay! This looks totally awesome! :) It's great to see you had a such a good time. I'm totally jealous!

I heard JK is richer than the queen! How mad is that haha!!