Harry Potter Exhibit

Street sign pointing to Hogwarts School

Well I was confused!  Many years ago, I took my little girl of about 8 to the Universal Studios Theme Park.  One time is all it took and we never returned.  My girl is not the rollercoaster type (neither am I).  She loved Disney World, Epcot and the Disney water park.  She was not happy with all the rides that turn your stomach.  Then I found King Kong ride and as we were making the line, when she heard the growls of the huge gorilla, she said “Mommy take me out of here!” and that was it! We left never to return, 20 years ago!  All the time we have just gone to Disney theme parks where you at least have the option of getting your stomach place in your throat or not.

I love Harry Potter so when I heard the theme park opened with his exhibit I was dying to go.  I immediately assumed it would be in Disney since I had heard it was in the Adventure place.  The nuance of the Adventure Island and Islands of Adventure escaped me because I was not up with the Universal names.  So when I was ready to go, I look up Disney’s Adventure Island only to find they had NO Harry Porter!  It was in Universal Islands of Adventures!!!  Oh well I told myself.  I guess is time to return to Universal.

A disappointment…  A friend had told me that the so called Harry Porter park was a relatively small place and would not take me a day to see, but just a couple of hours.  I assumed a couple of hours because she does not care for Harry.  I expected I would take double the time sifting through all the details.  When I got there and found the ticket booth and got the map and found the place, (tucked at the back of the place), I was disappointed to find that my friend was right, no more than two hours to see what they have done with the concept.  I should have known, Universal was more focused into turning my stomach than pleasing my eyes and hearing.

The land escape is well done.  Diagon Alley is well represented with all its shops.  There is a nice candy store and the wand store and the typical souvenir place.  You can even buy “butter beer” and “pumping juice”.  Aside from the shopping, the options are four rides to make you seasick.  The have a couple of roller coasters that you can see from outside the exhibit and two other rides that you can not see from the outside.  All the rides come with several warnings:  You have to be at least so many feet tall (about 4), no history of heart disease, no fear of heights, no resent surgeries, no motion sickness, no high blood pressure, no pregnancy, and the catch all or any other condition that could be aggravated by this ride or something like that.  I was extremely disappointed that there was nothing to see, no ride that would display any creative, no motion picture segments, nothing other than the cautioned rides.  At the end of my visit, I went into one of the shops to purchase a mug.  The attendant asked me if I had enjoyed the park.  I responded honestly that part of it was fine but there were no exhibits for me there because I do not enjoy rollercoaster.  She asked if I knew there was a walking tour of Hogwarts! I was surprised and very happy and she gave me the instructions.  “just tell the guy at the door of the Hogwarts ride that you just want the walking tour, he will let you in”.  This was pure luck that I found this nice attendant that share this little known tour.

Hogwarts at Islands of Adventures Florida

Hogwarts School of Magic

I immediately went to Hogwarts and told the ride door keeper that I just wanted the walking tour.  He was quick to point out what I should do and that I should go to the next ride attendant further down the path and say the same thing.  (there were no signs that said anything about a walking tour).  So I found the next guy and said the same thing and they opened one of the chained off areas for me to go through and told me to walk on the left side of the halls.  I only found a couple of other people doing the same thing (who knows how they found out).  The area where you can walk in is actually a few feet long.  You can see Dombledore’s office, the hall where all the paining are moving and speaking to each other, and another area where they project moving pictures of Harry, Hermione and Rod talking to each other and finally running away.  That area is well done and looks much like Disney’s hunted mansion where they project images onto screens so you can see people although you know they are not there.  For me it was too little too late.  I wanted more of that like in the Hunted mansion, where you actually sit on a ride that takes you through the mansion and shows you different things.  Universal could have certainly done the same if they were no so obsessed with turning our stomachs.

Unfortunately, I will not return to this park.  Universal is not catering to the Baby Boomers but to the teens and X generation.  We all loose.

Not a repeat any time soon!


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