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Photo TR: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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Over the last week, I have had two opportunities to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for soft opening (and hotel) previews. It has been an interesting past few years watching the land I used to jokingly refer to as "Potterville" rise from the ground up. Watching Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey grow from a box to a themed environ was one of the most interesting things I've seen in Orlando during my lifetime, and the anticipation that the watching brought on was nothing short of intense.


While not a specific Potter fan myself, I am familiar with the source material. Back in elementary school, I read the first four books (and part of the fifth) and have seen each of the six movies multiple times since their respective releases. With this background in mind, I considered my approach to the 'World' to come from that of a moderate perspective. I recognized different significances throughout the area, the rides and the shops--the subtleties that were probably lost on those that were mostly unfamiliar with the brand, but certain things are easy to understand, making this a far more accessible area than many would expect. That isn't to say that the major intricacies are recognizable to anyone other than the major fans, but a guest that knows only a small amount about Harry Potter could comfortably enjoy the whimsy, detail and teleportation brought on by the richly enveloping world beyond the gates of Hogsmeade.


Before I go any further in my written report, I must warn that there are parts that may spoil certain experiences. I know that there are those that are waiting for more and more details to leak each day, and so I have no issue sharing, but I certainly don't want to unintentionally spoil some of the greatest pleasures of the new Wizarding World for those (like myself) that prefer not to have their own expectations tinted by what others think. So, with that in mind, I'll post spoiler-free comments in the standard font and color, while the spoilers will be quoted in order to separate the spoiled from the unspoiled.


Let's start with Hogsmeade and move from bit to bit towards the back of the new area, ending with 'Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,' the addition's signature attraction.


The Hogwarts Express greets you at the gates of Hogsmeade, parked conveniently at the station, which I believe was an extension of the existing universe's canon, considering it is supposed to bring students to Hogwarts specifically. The train serves merely as a photo opportunity, with the conductor standing out from to serve as a "streetmosphere" character of sorts. Right next to the train is a covered station where lockers for the area are held. These are advertised as the main lockers for 'Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,' but there are lockers available just inside of the castle entrance for the main attraction.


Directly next to the Hogsmeade train station is the newly simplified entrance to Dragon Challenge, formerly known as Dueling Dragons. Almost all of the original queue layout was left intact with minor modifications to better fit the ride’s new theme. The walkway to the castle bears a little more color with some new banners and flags meant to show support for the four triwizard champions. Right before the slightly altered drawbridge are three new additions: the backside of Hagrid’s hut (which can be seen more closely in the queue for Flight of the Hippogriff), one of the two original flying cars from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and a giant flag-post structure that has the flags of the three participating wizarding schools in the tournament. From there, you enter the castle to see the one most dramatically changed room of the entire queue. You enter through one of the champion tents where a bed and several wizard items are strewn about, but in the middle of the room is the Goblet of Fire, complete with an endless blue flame emanating from the goblet’s mouth. From there, you walk along the same path you did for Dueling Dragons, only to find replacements that any Islands of Adventure fan would probably cringe over. Merlin’s book has been replaced with the Triwizard cup. The elaborate ceiling filled with frozen knights, armor and gems has been gutted only to be replaced with floating candles (something that can also be found in the loading station for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey). Most notably, the same holes in the tunnels where the skulls and skeletal remains of deceased dragon meals have remained untouched, with only a few filled with lamps, while the others leave guests questioning if the entire second half of the queue was merely overlooked in the retheme. You get to the former “Choose thy fate” room to see two new wooden boards painted with the same stylized images seen during the transition period between Dueling Dragons and the Potter alternative. The two dragons’ flames lights up which is a decent effect, but nothing to rave about in the overall scheme of things. The last and final change to be found is that the previous sheets/tarps above queuing guests’ heads in the main station room have ditched the red and blue mood colors in favor of shadowed projections of the chained dragons flying above. The effect is nice, but will probably be missed by those that don’t have the though to look up. The rest of the ride remains the same in every way, which is probably a good thing. The dragons have been running incredibly over the last few months, and in my mind, that is what counts.


On the left, you've got Zonko's and Honeyduke's, which are attached much the shops of Mainstreet at the Magic Kingdom parks around the world. Zonko's has a surprisingly colorful collection of pranks and unique merchandise, some of which has questionable application, such as the inflatable tongue. Over in Honeyduke's, Universal has served up another colorful (I repeat the word only because it is the best one available to describe the two stores' looks and the offerings they have inside) selection of candies, many exclusive to the Wizarding World. Chocolate Frogs, Chocolate Cauldrons, Chocolate Wands, and Pink Coconut Fudge stand out as signature items for the store, but the shelves are filled with choices for every palate. I was fortunate enough to try my hand at another of the store's exclusives--a Cauldron Cake. This milk chocolate-dipped brownie is filled with chocolate mousse, with a white chocolate top and a milk chocolate handle. Sensing a trend? This place has lots of chocolate, but they do have plenty of other options as well. Universal has even successfully redressed standard candy store candies by custom branding them, packaging them and even giving some theming to them (see the photos for further proof).


Across from Honeyduke's is the Owl Post, which is a covered seating area directly under a rafted roof home to several animatronic owls. Going for the authentic look, Universal went as far as to paint owl poop across the rafters, albeit subtly. Inside the smaller store, the Owl Post serves as the main gift shop for Hogsmeade (trumped in size only by Filch's Emporium at the exit of Forbidden Journey). It is here that you can buy Hogwarts notebooks, patches, clothes and a few other trinkets. The store is also attached to Ollivander's wand shop.


Ollivander's wand shop uniquely has two parts, the first being a show, and the second being a storefront. Groups of about 25-30 are brought into first room, which is a direct replica of the original Ollivander's featured in the first Potter film, although according to the land's canon, it is a separate branch of the Diagon Alley store. A wand-keeper serves as the main mover of the show, selecting a member of the group to try their hand at being chosen by the wand they will eventually be convinced to buy. Here's where the spoilers begin...


Once chosen, the wand-keeper and the chosen guest approach the bench, where they have a face-to-face experience. The wand-keeper suggests a first wand (interchangeable type) and asks the chosen guest to try using it to make magic happen. In the first show we saw, the guest attempted to move a ladder, only resulting in several boxes "freaking out." Another show had the first attempt as a try at watering flowers in the window, only making them wilt. The wand-keeper suggests a second wand, which both shows saw the holder attempting to turn a bell into another item, only resulting in the storewide ringing of many bells. Finally, some dramatic Potter music cues and the wand-keeper does a "Wait, I think I know the one for you..." and gives a final suggestion, which when held by the guest triggers a glowing light and a gust of wind over the guest. The wand-keeper wraps up his spiel, saying that everyone can move into the next room to find (meaning: buy) their respective wands.


Over to the other side the Hogsmeade breezeway, we have the Three Broomsticks and the Hog’s Head Pub, both of which are attached to allow for easy access and flow between the two. The Three Broomsticks offers breakfast, lunch and dinner options, although only the breakfast has been served to guests thus far. The kitchen itself is reused from the former Enchanted Oak Tavern (as it was the only portion of the building that wasn’t completely torn out). The breakfast menu consisted of plated meals, including eggs, meats or pancakes and a buttered croissant. I went with the American Breakfast, considering I wasn’t in the mood for English sausage and beans for the morning. For quick service, the food was pretty good—better than you’d find at most other locations. Also unique to the establishment, menu items were priced to include a drink as a part of the meal. Per J.K. Rowling’s specifications, this and all other locations within the Wizarding World are unable to sell soda products, so the drink options are far more specified. Many of the juices served in the carts within the area, including pumpkin juice were available for the meal, as was the regular butterbeer. Considering butterbeer was sweet, I chose to go with the more mild (and tempting) pumpkin juice, which was a good choice. After the meal, we moved on into the Hog’s Head to take a look.


The Hog’s Head emulates the dark and faded feel of the fictional pub from which it draws inspiration. The pub serves as a full service bar with several Anheuser-InBev brews on tap, plus a unique beer made specifically for the Wizarding World. Directly at the center of the bar is a large animatronic hog’s head, from which the pub’s name is derived. Although we didn’t see it move during our visits, it is said to awaken when the bartender is tipped—or at least that’s what we were told.


Deeper into Hogsmeade, you find a few buildings that are empty inside, but the facades have clever moving displays that are definitely a nice touch. See the video below for a better idea of what I mean.


Leaving the general area of Hogsmeade, you are able to Hogwarts Castle in clear view. On the right, you’ve got an ancient looking semi-circle of a standing theater where the Frog Choir and the Triwizard Champion dancing show alternate. I’ve yet to see the Frog Choir in anything other than video, but the dance show was something pulled straight out of the fourth movie, soundtrack, choreography and all. Representatives from the Durmstrang and Beauxbaton schools of wizardry dance before you with giant sticks and streamers, which is entertaining, yet not anything terribly special. It is fun to see a scene from the film so carefully recreated, but I think the fact that no coverage was given about this aspect of the World emphasizes its importance in the overall scheme of things in Potterville. The Frog Choir and dancing shows are said to alternate every 15 minutes, so if you miss one, just hang around and you’ll catch it eventually.


Beyond the show theater, you find the Flight of the Hippogriff, a rethemed version of The Flying Unicorn. The track layout, general color scheme and overall purpose of the ride remains the same while the theming has been slightly enhanced to better match its surroundings. Themed after the mythical hippogriff, you ride in a wicker-built carriage on wheels shaped like a hippogriff, where you fly briefly around the area before hitting the brakes. The publicity for the ride made claims that your vehicle wouldn’t move until riders bowed to Buckbeak, the famed hippogriff from the third movie, but the ride actually does the opposite. Buckbeak bows to you long after the ride has begun its ascent on the lift hill, contradicting Hagrid’s words of advice heard in the queue for the ride. One plus for this otherwise simple coaster: it offers a fantastic view of Hogwarts Castle, and gives some great photos ops at the lift’s peak.


Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is the major attraction that everyone has been waiting to know about for quite some time. As had been rumored for many years, the attraction utilizes the tracked variation of the KUKA robotic arm ride system on a major scale. The number of ride vehicles on the track has yet to be released, but each seat holds four riders (a third of the ridership per car on the comparable Adventures of Spiderman attraction) and surprisingly loads fast and efficiently when the ride is working fully. Time for the spoilery details…


You enter the queue from the bottom of the castle, traveling through a few hallways with vaulted ceilings. You exit the tunnel only to enter the greenhouse, visible from Jurassic Park. The greenhouse is probably the most simple of the themed areas of the queue, featuring tons of plants, both fake and real, and a few of the mandrakes (none of these were moving) like the ones seen in the film. Leaving the greenhouse, you reenter the castle to see two statues representing Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin, two of the four school founders (absent are Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff) as well as a contraption meant to show the current standing of the four houses in their competition for the house cup.


Moving deeper into the castle, you see the rotating phoenix door to Dumbledore’s office, although you go around it as opposed to through it. Onward, you see a hallway with a few portraits that have moving images, including audio. You walk deeper into the main portrait room where the four founders are talking to each other about Potter and muggles on a loop that lasts about three to four minutes. You pass a few more portrait halls, only to get to Dumbledore’s Office where a “live” Dumbledore is present and talking to guests (not an interactive kind of thing). The effect is good, but I still think that Disaster’s Frank Kincaid effect is far better.


You move into another room with a clever introduction to the “Magical Bench” through some more talking portraits. In the same room, a test bench with four seats has been placed so that team members can check any questionably fit riders to ensure that they don’t find out at the loading platform that they don’t fit, stopping the flow of the loading procedures in the process. You move into one final stretch of hallway where the Sorting Hat recites a short but clever rhyme about rider safety written by J.K. Rowling herself. The loading station is in the Room of Requirement, which cleverly uses a mirrored wall to simulate a lengthened room, masking the entire body of the KUKA arm so that only the seats of the enchanted bench are visible to the loading rider. A very long moving platform serves as the station for the ride, and the seats have an embedded tray for small items that riders may wish to safely store behind them. Once loaded, the ride begins.


You see Hermione reflected over a balcony to your view, and soon you are engulfed in green floo powder, pushing you up through the Hogwarts chimney and out into the upper level of castle. The combination of huge set pieces and film is seamlessly tied together with the fluid motions of the KUKA arm. Harry catches up to you on his broom, leading you outside of the castle. You zoom in towards Hagrid on the long bridge visited many times in the films, only to find that he has lost his dragon. The dragon suddenly appears, chasing you and Harry around the castle, only for you to return to the same bridge Hagrid was on seconds before. Your vehicle attempts to move forward, only to see the dragon clawing it apart, and as it breaks beneath you, you come face to face with the [animatronic] dragon which blows you over into the Forbidden Forest.


In the Forbidden Forest, you are swamped several [wet] encounters with spiders that are also very much in your face. Soon after, you have a run-in with the Whomping Willow, which knocks you out into the Quidditch ring during the game. You see a play or two before the dementors randomly arrive to chase you and Harry down. He leads you and the dementors away into a dark cavern. The ride returns to the physical set as several of the dementors pop out at you and a cool breeze comes across you as they attempt to suck the happiness out of you. One great effect in the area is that a projection shows a ghostly white image of yours and your fellow riders’ faces, as if your soul was being left behind in the fog. The first time I rode Forbidden Journey, it was not working, but the second time, it was a pleasant surprise.


Harry finishes by using the “expecto patronum” spell to ward off the dementors, quickly guiding you back to the Great Hall where there is a celebration for Gryffindor’s quidditch victory. Many of the school’s notable students and professors send you off before another puff of floo powder starts your descent back through the chimney of Hogwarts, where you return to the moving platform where you started. Cleverly, Dumbledore reminds you to take all of your carry-ons with you, lest you want Mr. Filch to have them confiscated. The ride then exits into the gift shop.


Overall, I think that this is the second greatest dark ride I’ve ever experienced, trumped only by Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo DisneySea. The ride’s incredible use of the tracked KUKA robotic arm system plus the use of incredibly detailed sets and video makes this attraction seem so natural, that you really question how real it all is. This is the new Spiderman, and will in many ways change the way we look at dark rides.


Besides the attractions, the Wizarding World has a few unique items to its name that are sure to be memorable aspects of the Potter experience. Butterbeer is a drink that really surprised me. Originally described to me as a sort of cream soda, which is somewhat accurate, it has a smooth flavor that is only amplified by the wonderful vanilla whip added to the top of the drink. It comes served as a regular and frozen option, both of which are great, though I am partial to the regular drink myself. The area also serves pumpkin juice that is best described as tasting like Thanksgiving.


Overall, I truly loved the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in all of its many aspects, but I am dreading what it will be like after opening day. I made it a point to visit before the grand opening so as to experience it as a J.K. Rowling had intended to be experienced—intimately. With 300 guests, it felt crowded. With 3000 or more, I can only imagine what kind of an experience it will be. I truly hope that Potter can work through its size issues, but I just foresee this thing being a bigger issue than it was meant to be. I would have sacrificed intimacy for comfort space, but that is just me.




This way to the Wizarding World!


#Potterwatch "The gates are actually open. My wingardium just leviosa'd."


The Hogwarts Express, plus some guy sending his finger on an express ride to his nose cavity.


Hogsmeade virtually empty...


Hogsmeade about to be full.


No soda for J.K.'s Potterville. But I'll happily settle for some pumpkin juice.


The second entrance to Hogsmeade will remain closed until the grand opening on June 18th.


This reminds me of a certain scene in Shannon Elizabeth's early film career...


I wonder if the Italian man from Eurotrip will make it on time.


Forget the Cupid Shuffle. We're doing the Conductor Shuffle.


The Owl Post is probably one of the best looking buildings in the village.


Tyler, I recommend you stay away from these owls.


The entire covered area is filled with animatronic owls, which is definitely a nice touch.


Made just for Tyler.


The simplified entrance to Dragon Challenge. I miss the old Dragons entrance, but I do like the look of the archway, for what it is worth.


Crooked chimneys make any day better!


There is a great Hogwarts photo op in the queue for Dragon Challenge. Note: I have pumpkin juice in hand.


We'll get back to you eventually...


This is actually one of the two original prop cars from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Unfortunately, it didn't hit any guests with its doors.


In other words, Herbie still wins.


The new flag structure up close.


It feels good to finally get to walk this bridge again, but I miss the sinister face in the arch.


Wizards aren't extravagant in their theming efforts.


The champion's tent features the Goblet of Fire in the center for some strange reason.


Oh, and B.Z.


Its the little things that count. Shame they couldn't have put details like this into the rest of the queue.


Looking familiar to anyone?


Merlin's book out. Triwizard Cup in.


Nothing different here.


To make up for an otherwise empty room, three golden eggs from the fourth film have been placed in a display case, serving both as theming and as a display for another authentic piece of the franchise's history.


Who needs frozen knights when you have floating candles?


Sounds from behind the dragon gate have returned to the tunnels, which is a good thing considering the awkward silence in the rest of the tunnels now that merlin's voice and that of the spieling skeleton have been silenced.


Indiana Jones will be back with the Shankara stones soon.


This is a cave. The last five minutes of walking has solidified the fact. Welcome to the cave.


Oh really?


The new "Choose thy fate" sign.


Ice still owns.


Pumpkin juice tastes like Thanksgiving.


The book is actually an animatronic that moves, snarls and bites. Check out the video to see it in action.


The Wizarding World has plenty of dragons. Just a severe lack of dueling.


You can actually mail items from inside Hogsmeade so that the post says it was mailed from Hogsmeade.


Dr. Tran can explain the art of Mocoddity which Potter has so wisely milked.


The Wizarding World also some neat moving posters.


The fact that the World has a moving image of Gary Oldman makes this place even better.


This is what you came here for, right?


Butterbeer comes in the standard and frozen varities. The spicket on the left drops a delicious layer of vanilla foam on the top of the drink that ensures a foam mustache with every sip.


This is almost better than Coca-Cola.






Each window has a unique display... Most of which are promoting merchandise sold within the area.


"All of these for sale, just around the corner."


"Pram is my new favorite word."


Zonko's is deliciously colorful.


What you can't see here is that, when dispensed, the candy floats gently in your candy bag.




And then charges you $10.


Some of the unique candies in the shop...

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Shakespeare is lame. So is a $10 chocolate skull.


Tebow on the Broncos? Now that is awesome!


I can haz whole shop?


Another $10 item... A milk chocolate frog. Woot.


The dangerous case.


When around me, chocolate cauldrons are quite deadly.


I bought some of this for the mum.


That's Potter-speak for the mother unit.


I think eating my wand would be counterintuitive, but that's just me.


Zonko's is even more colorful than Honeyduke's and is filled with unique gags and pranks.


Sadly enough, almost all of the store is pictured in this one frame.


Got no clue, what I should do. I'd go crazy if I can't get next to you.


A look at the store inside of the Owl Post.


Ollivander's wand shop is definitely the smallest store in the Wizarding World, and because of this, it was near impossible to get anywhere beyond this doorway.


The owls are waiting for you to buy more merchandise...


I was able to try a Cauldron Cake fresh from the bakery for $3. And it was sooo worth it. It may look like a turd, but it is a delicious turd.


This is the entrance to Flight of the Hippogriff, the former Flying Unicorn coaster.


"When I think Harry Potter, I think wicker baskets and rethemed coasters..."


Hagrid's Hut has been accurately recreated, but unfortunately you cannot go inside.


Again, nothing too different with this area.


More unfortunately, this hut does not serve pizza (on a buffet).


You can sleep easy knowing that the wheelchair seat was left intact.


Buckbeak got stuck in the briar patch. Brer Bear is on the other side trying to push him out.


It is actually a pretty good animatronic by Universal's standards...


The perfect view of Hogwarts can only be achieved from the top of the lift hill on Flight of the Hippogriff.


Between Hippogriff and Hogsmeade is a small theater where the Durmstrang and Beauxbaton dancers come out to dance. Every other 15 minutes, the Frog Choir is said to come out to perform.


Something wicked this way comes...


"I have a stick."


How many wizards does it take to pitch a tent?


This is where the licorice in Honeyduke's comes from...


Another look at the Owl Post from the streets of Hogsmeade.


The Three Broomsticks is the area's one and only restaurant.


The quick service location serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Since we were in a morning preview, we had breakfast there, and it was actually pretty good.


The interior of the eatery is dark and cozy to preserve the Inn feeling it is supposed to give off.


The Hog's Head Pub actually serves their own brew, plus a good selection of the Anheuser-InBev beers.


This the Hog's Head for which the pub is name. It supposidly is an animatronic that springs to life, but we didn't see it move during our visits.


A glimpse at the interior of the show section of Ollivander's. Almost all of the wands in the room can be bought, meaning you could take a box from the room and bring it into the checkout room once the "show" is over.


Exorcist Owl confuzzles me.


But I love it all the same!


Mark Woodbury, President of Universal Creative was out and about talking to guests during the preview.


A little somethin'-somethin' for the Index.


I am actually really proud of this photo!


Here comes a slew of castle photos...


Thank Nassal for making this look so fantastic.


Forced perspective rocks.


Notice how I've been magically changing my shirt between photos?


The queue basically starts in the greenhouse.


This tarped area may or may not have something to do with the grand opening ceremony on June 18th.


"Never left Mandrake Falls before. Ain't that a pip?"


Someone please tell me I'm not the only one who loved this movie.


"Why isn't he holding the rest of the giant white box beneath the castle in his hand?"


Things heard in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.


No, really. Where is it?


Gryffindorks in the lead!


Slytherin has a serious problem understanding the "two-finger point."

Edited by jedimaster1227
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The Phoenix door is supposed to be the entrance to Dumbledore's office.


Apparently, this is a copy of a tapestry that is somewhere in New York.


I'm excited to finally be taking the Potter tunnel!


A map of the grounds of the Wizarding World...


Lots of portraits in the portrait room.


And I mean lots!


Even more portraits...




I still like Frank Kincaid better...


Here we are in the Defense Against the Dark Arts room!


Ron. Ron. Ron Weasley. Hermione. Hermione. I'm Harry Potter. Harry Harry Potter.



Thankfully, the fat lady doesn't sing.


It is on these portraits that the "Enchanted Bench" is humorously introduced to riders.


The final hallway before the Room of Requirement (the loading station) features an animatronic of the Sorting Hat, which is actually pretty fantastic.


It reads a safety rhyme written by J.K. Rowling just for the ride, although it is only about 30 seconds long.


The exit of the ride yields a gift shop and on-ride photo purchasing booth, both of which make a deeper dent into your wallet.


Voldemort, Voldemort... Oooh Volde, Volde, Volde, Voldemort...


A glorified Viewmaster.


Lots of plushies to choose from...


Does this mean I can finally hit my brother with a bludger?


Even more dragons. Still no dueling.


Sure to be a hot ticket item soon...


A look at a few items from Zonko's.


If it weren't for the $8 price tag, I would have bought this without a second thought.


I'm mean... How cool is that?


And now a Derek-friendly finish with some Potter beer steins! Thanks for reading, watching and looking!

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The Special "Ale" that you speak of that Hogs Head Tavern serves isn't new or special to Potterland. It's the "Red Amber" brew that many restaurant chains like Red Lobster, Olive Garden (I think), Bahama Breeze, among others use as their own beer.


It's brewed by Anheuser Busch InBev. It's not that good. Too bad Orlando Brewing couldn't come up with a brew for them!

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This is probably the most in depth report I've seen of the new land yet.


Here are my thoughts -


1. Is "Hogsmede" the name of a town? I've seen in mentioned all the time in different ways, but I have no idea what it is in reference to. This entire time I thought it was a drink!


2. Do they actually explain what Butter Beer is or do they just assume everyone that goes into the area knows why it's supposed to be cool?


3. Every picture I see of the land makes it look more and more awesome...but...


4. ...I feel like I'm looking at some really cool section of an international park like Europa or Phantasialand where it looks FREAKING AWESOME, but everything is in a different language and I don't understand what's going on. I can appreciate what I see as a great looking themed area on the surface, but I have no idea what everyone is talking about. If I knew (or cared to know) the first thing about Harry Potter, I'd probably be jumping on a flight to Orlando right now, but since I don't know why a Quidditch Picture or Pink Coconut Ice is supposed to be cool, I really cannot fully appreciate what I'm looking at.


Oh...and this....


5. This is the first time I've seen pictures of the inside of the new Dueling Dragons queue.


--Robb "I'm sure I'll like this new land...and I'm looking forward to the new ride...but I have zero interest in rushing out to it." Alvey

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Is "Hogsmede" the name of a town? I've seen in mentioned all the time in different ways, but I have no idea what it is in reference to. This entire time I thought it was a drink!


Yes. I believe in the Potterverse that Hogsmeade is the town closest (like 10-minute walk or something) to Hogwarts Castle. The students go on day trips there all the time.

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Hogsmede is the town that the main characters spend alot of time at in for the last 5 books. And from what I remeber every time they were there something bad happened there because it was away from Hogwarts. As for butter beer it was just a drink that the characters drank a whole lot of but they never went into detail on what was in it. I take it Robb you never read the books or watch the movies too much.


My thoughts from seeing the pictures about the area, is that I think people who never followed the harry potter series really won't like the area a whole alot. But those who were fans of the series will love. Lets just say I think Universal put a little too much detail into the area. At least that is my opinions from pictures.


BTW could sombody out there please show some pictures of the FJ ride vehicles.

Edited by gforce532
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Thank you so much for this in-depth report. It took me quite a while to sift through all of the text, pictures, and videos but it was quite impressive. The shots of Hogwarts castle as a whole are quite stunning, and I'm glad the KUKA robotic arm and the FJ ride as a whole were working smoothly. Can't wait for the grand opening and my trip in March. Thanks again!

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This was a great report and I appreciate you posting it. I'll be honest though, I kind of just skimmed through most of it because I have absolutely no clue what any of the Potter references refer to. I looked at some of the main pictures, and really enjoyed them.


I really like what Robb said about this kind of being like a really nicely themed and constructed area at a park outside of this country. It seriously is like a foreign language to me, but I am sure I will appreciate how well done the area is. I just won't understand a thing in it. It will just be smile and nod all the way through it. And to be honest, I have absolutely no interest in learning anything about it, other than going to Universal to experience it a time or two. I am looking forward to the new ride as well. I am sure that I won't understand anything that goes on, but I am just hoping that it is really cool. I am not rushing to get there, but I will be down in Orlando in November for other things, so I will attempt to make it over to Universal, but I won't be overly disappointed or heartbroken if I am unable to make the time.

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but since I don't know why a Quidditch Picture or Pink Coconut Ice is supposed to be cool, I really cannot fully appreciate what I'm looking at.

Coconut Ice isn't specifically a Harry Potter thing. It's basically a combination of desiccated coconut (dried flakes of coconut), icing sugar and condensed milk, which is put into a tray, cooled in the fridge, and cut into squares like brownies...I'm presuming its unknown in the US, but it is popular sweet/dessert/ in the UK, Aus and NZ, and a staple at kids birthday parties.

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Ugh, see I have one big issue...no soda in this land!?!?!


Seriously!?!? I knew JK Rowling had been a bit controlling and annoying in this project but this just seems to go too far. How can you justify having no soda to remain 'authentic' yet sell shirts that say Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter and crap?!?!


Sorry, as nice as this is, you're still in a theme park...you're serving beer and pancakes and crap...serve soda too.

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4. ...I feel like I'm looking at some really cool section of an international park like Europa or Phantasialand where it looks FREAKING AWESOME, but everything is in a different language and I don't understand what's going on. I can appreciate what I see as a great looking themed area on the surface, but I have no idea what everyone is talking about. If I knew (or cared to know) the first thing about Harry Potter, I'd probably be jumping on a flight to Orlando right now, but since I don't know why a Quidditch Picture or Pink Coconut Ice is supposed to be cool, I really cannot fully appreciate what I'm looking at.


I just read through the whole thing and went, what the F is all of this?


Never read any Potter, and have no desire too. This whole land is lost on me, and I know I'm not the only one.

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Although I won't rush to get there I'm sure I'll enjoy the quality of the theming when I visit, even if I don't understand it.


I didn't know anything about the characters that Parc Asterix is based upon when I visited (and I still don't), yet I enjoyed the park.

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Ugh, see I have one big issue...no soda in this land!?!?!


Seriously!?!? I knew JK Rowling had been a bit controlling and annoying in this project but this just seems to go too far. How can you justify having no soda to remain 'authentic' yet sell shirts that say Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter and crap?!?!


Sorry, as nice as this is, you're still in a theme park...you're serving beer and pancakes and crap...serve soda too.


WHAT?!? OK, this is seriously dumb. And yeah, merchandise is OK, but something to drink is not? You'd think they'd be all over making cups with Potter stuff on them and charging an extra $5 or whatever. Hopefully they'll rethink this idea as time goes on.



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I don't think this new area requires you to know the context of its storytelling anymore than the area there before it did. I don't see why someone that hasn't read the books n stuff would feel too left out. It's a town where wizards go with weird stuff all over the place, just as Toon Town is a place where toons go with weird stuff all over the place. As for unicorns, they actually took out all the unicorns that had existed in the area.

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I feel like I'm looking at some really cool section of an international park like Europa or Phantasialand where it looks FREAKING AWESOME, but everything is in a different language and I don't understand what's going on. I can appreciate what I see as a great looking themed area on the surface, but I have no idea what everyone is talking about.


This is such a good analogy, it definitely sums up my thoughts as well. While I was interested to see the photos and read through this TR, I found myself having no idea what you were referring to, even with your "moderate perspective." Don't get me wrong, I appreciate it all and think it's cool and exciting, but part of me feels like I won't really get the whole experience (being a non-HP fan and all).


And I know it's been discussed time and time again, but I'll reiterate that I think a major flaw with this new area is that it's not a universal (no pun intended, I swear!), experience for all guests. I'm headed there earrrrllly Saturday to try and get a peak for myself--luckily it's local for me, otherwise I'd be in no hurry-- so I guess only time will tell if I'll walk away more confused than impressed.

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